Page 1

Inside Medical

Special Section Medical

A Special Section of The Washington Diplomat


February 2018



Middle East

All Sides Scramble to Emerge Victorious In Syrian Endgame




n an early step toward “onestop” screening for cancer, researchers report they’ve developed a blood test that can detect eight types of the disease. The blood test is dubbed Can-



cerSEEK. It was able to catch cancer cases anywhere from 33 percent to 98 percent of the time, depending on the type. The accuracy range was better — 69 percent to 98 percent — when it

came to five cancers that currently have no widely used screening test, the scientists reported in a new study. SEE SCREENING t PAGE 28


| 27

Long hailed as a beacon of gender equality, Sweden has found itself caught up in the eye of the #MeToo maelstrom that has become a global rallying cry for women to speak out against abuse and harassment. And that reckoning is a good thing, says Karin Olofsdotter, Sweden’s envoy to the U.S., who is one of only about two dozen female ambassadors in Washington. PAGE 19

With facts solidifying on the ground and the Islamic State having been largely uprooted, the power players in Syria’s civil war are scrambling to come out on top in any possible resolution — and that includes embattled President Bashar al-Assad. / PAGE 4


Trump Targets U.S.South Korea FTA, Stirring Fears The U.S. and South Korean governments have begun renegotiating their 2012 free trade agreement, as demanded by President Trump, even though most American industries that trade under the agreement are perfectly happy with it. / PAGE 16



Embassies Take Stage At Winternational A record 39 embassies participated in this year’s Winternational Showcase at the Ronald Reagan Building. / PAGE 32

United States

Diplomatic Spouses

McMaster Survives Brutal First Year

Paging Hungary’s Power Couple

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster has survived a rough year since taking office. But he’s also found himself in the crosshairs of an alt-right campaign to push him out, as well as a clash of personalities with a president who relies more on his gut than on the experts around him. / PAGE 8

They are both medical doctors, and their two oldest daughters have already appeared in a movie. Laszló Szabó is also a first-time ambassador while his wife Ivonn Szeverényi is eager to serve in a city that many still regard as the top diplomatic posting in the world. / PAGE 35

Volume 25


Issue 2


February 2018



Victor Shiblie

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Fuad Shiblie

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Photographer Contributing Writers

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ON THE COVER Photo taken at the House of Sweden in Georgetown by Lawrence Ruggeri of




19 16 38 36





Grassroots movements uproot graft, from Burkina Faso to Ukraine.

The Women’s Voices Theater Festival returns to D.C. with over two dozen new plays.



Syrian Endgame Proxy forces try to wind down Syria’s civil war, but Bashar al-Assad isn’t budging.

8 McMaster’s Maneuvering Despite a rocky first year, H.R. McMaster is still standing.

12 The Yemen Quagmire


Corruption Crusaders

‘One-Stop’ Screening

A blood test to detect eight types of cancers shows early promise.

Two former ambassadors lament the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.




#MeToo Takes Center Stage

Latin Landscape

“Palimpsestus” reflects on image and memory in 20th-century Latin American art.


Falling Over the Edge

“A Dark and Scandalous Rockfall” is a creative antidote to the downward U.S.-Mexican spiral.

Winternational Flair

KORUS Controversy Trump wants to fix the U.S.-South Korea free trade deal, but many U.S. businesses don’t.

Dozens of embassies put on a colorful display of culture and tradition.


Cover Profile: Sweden Hailed as a beacon of gender equality, Sweden finds itself saying #MeToo.




Global Vantage Point The Iran nuclear deal offers a glimpse inside the messy U.S. policy meat grinder.


Diplomatic Spouses

Medicine and the performing arts run in the family of one Hungarian couple. Mexican Modernist

“Tamayo: The New York Years” examines the Mexican artist’s cross-cultural imprint.


Cinema Listing

42 Events Listing 44 Diplomatic Spotlight 46 Classifieds 47 REAL ESTATE Classifieds THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | FebrUARY 2018 | 3

WD | Middle East

End in Sight? Proxies Maneuver to Resolve Syria’s War, But Assad Isn’t Going Anywhere for Now by Mackenzie Weinger


s the conflict in Syria moves into its seventh bloody year, one end state does seem increasingly inevitable: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his brutal regime are not going anywhere any time soon. With power dynamics solidifying in peace talks and on the ground, and the Islamic State having largely been dislodged from the country, experts say the war’s proxies are making moves to potentially resolve certain aspects of the civil war. According to the United Nations, about 5 million Syrians have fled the country and more than 6 million are internally displaced. The Syrian Center for Policy Research, an independent research organization, puts the death toll since war erupted in March 2011 at more than 470,000 people. The violence in Syria is becoming “more localized” as additional parts of the country are no longer scenes of fighting, former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford told The Washington Diplomat. “In those places where there is still fighting, such as Eastern Ghouta and Idlib, the horror of the war is still very real,” he said, referring to two besieged rebel-held enclaves. “But in parts of the country formerly wracked by violence, the Syrian government has a basic level of control in Aleppo, Homs, Deir ez-Zor, or the [opposition] Syrian Democratic Forces have taken control in Raqqa,” he said. But “there is one conclusion being established: The Syrian government under Bashar al-Assad will remain in power, even if it is greatly weakened,” Ford said. There will be no transition government, and “the ruthless security apparatus will remain in essential control of the major cities — Damascus, Homs, Hama, Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor, Latakia,” according to the former ambassador. With the majority of territory known as “useful Syria” under the regime’s control — including Aleppo, once the cradle of the opposition — Assad now holds much of the cards in any peace talks. A member of the Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, Assad received critical support from Iran and Shiite Hezbollah fighters, while Sunni rivals such as Saudi Arabia funded the rebel opposition. But Assad owes his survival largely to Russia, which entered the war in 2015 with a ferocious bombing campaign to preserve its geostrategic ally in the Middle East. Russia has now positioned itself to be one of the main arbiters of Syria’s fate. The opposition has been severely weakened and fractured, and its demand that Assad step down ahead of any political transition is a nonstarter for the Syrian government, which is unlikely to offer any concessions in the wake of military victories on the ground. The deadlock has essentially scuttled numerous rounds


Credit: U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cole Erickson /

Australian trainer Sgt. Dave Devlin, left, assigned to Royal Australian Artillery, waits for an Iraqi soldier to finish plotting points on his map before calling in air support at the Besmaya Range Complex in Iraq on Nov. 14, 2017. The training is part of Operation Inherent Resolve to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, where the U.S.-led coalition has largely dislodged the group from its de facto Syrian capital of Raqqa. The U.S. has focused on the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, rather than on deposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

[T]here is one conclusion being established: The Syrian government under Bashar al-Assad will remain in power, even if it is greatly weakened. Robert Ford former U.S. ambassador to Syria

of U.N.-backed peace talks in Geneva, where U.N. special envoy Staffan de Mistura could not even get the two delegations to meet in the same room last November. The rebels, seemingly resigned to the fact that Assad won’t leave as a precondition for talks, are now urging Russia to pressure the Syrian president into faceto-face negotiations. Even the United States — which intervened in Syria in 2014 to root out the Islamic State — has conceded that Assad could remain in power until presidential elections in 2021. “Diplomatically, Washington has been marginalized by the powerful troika of Russia, Iran, and Turkey, which now dominates the peace process,” wrote Robin Wright in a Dec. 11 article for The New Yorker. In January, the troika launched its own peace process in Kazakhstan, where talks quickly devolved into squabbling, with the rebels labeling the government “a

bloody despotic regime,” while the government called the opposition “armed terrorist groups.” Despite the lack of progress, this Russian-led diplomatic effort could supersede the official, struggling United Nations peace process. Moscow is hosting a national dialogue conference in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi in February, shortly after another round of Geneva talks is scheduled to take place. Randa Slim, director of the Track II Dialogues initiative at the Middle East Institute (MEI), argues that the Geneva talks are a sideshow to the “real” talks led by Russia. “To reach a sustainable peace agreement in Syria, Moscow needs buy-in from two stakeholder groups: the spoilers, including Damascus, Tehran and Ankara; and the funders, including the United States, E.U. and Arab Gulf countries. Without the spoilers’ buy-in, no peace agreement can be reached. Without the funders’ blessing, peace-building in Syria is difficult,” she wrote in a Nov. 27 MEI briefing. “While all share the objective of

ending the conflict in Syria, a wide gap remains within each group and between the two groups about the terms of an acceptable peace agreement.” Ford agrees that the U.N.-backed effort has reached a dead end. “The Geneva talks have nowhere to go, since the Syrian government refuses to make any serious compromises — it won’t even offer confidence-building measures such as prisoner releases,” Ford said. “Meanwhile, the opposition is fragmented.” There will be more “desultory talks,” he noted, but there is not any kind of rapid conclusion in sight. “Russia and its allies in Damascus and Tehran will move to marginalize the harder-line opposition as the political process crawls along,” Ford said. “In the meantime, there will be continued fighting in northwest Syria — Idlib and northern Hama — and in the eastern suburbs of Damascus.” “Make no mistake,” he added. “The Syrian government is advancing, very slowly, two steps forward, one step backward, but slowly it is expanding its control.” And Washington has taken a backseat, losing ground to Moscow as the long, violent conflict seems to be approaching some kind of, if not conclusion, then possible stalemate over the future of the country. But while Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed Assad, many experts say he is not particularly wedSee S yr ia • page 6




L E A R N M O R E AT �� T H A N D U.C O M ���THANDU � � � � U S T R E E T, N W W A S H I N G T O N , D C � � � � �


Syria Continued • page 4

ded to the Syrian president. Rather, Moscow is more concerned about retaining control of its naval facility in the Syrian city of Tartus, its sole foothold in the Mediterranean. Moscow may only have been interested in using its intervention in Syria as a way to try to position itself as a great power, according to Mark Katz, a professor of government and politics at George Mason University who is currently serving a three-month stint as a Fulbright scholar at the SOAS University of London. “Obviously, the regime and its allies have done pretty well, haven’t they — from being on the ropes both in 2011 and 2012, and then in 2015, now it seems the survival of the regime is pretty much assured,” Katz said. “I guess the question is, are they going to take over the entire country and are their allies willing to help with that? It appears the Russians aren’t willing. They got what they want, and they want to limit their involvement.” Putin has been maneuvering to be in a position of authority in bringing the civil war to some kind of close. But Katz said he does not believe Moscow is particularly invested in the diplomatic process it purports to be heading up. “They just want to keep watch over it, not for it to actually do anything,” he said. Ford, who served as ambassador from 2011 to 2014 and now is a fellow at the Middle East Institute and at Yale University, said Russia and Syria will likely seek to cut a deal with the opposition groups that have a softer stance on Assad. Such an arrangement would change “nothing” in the Syrian security apparatus or

presidency and offer merely “cosmetic changes” to the government, Ford said. “In a sense, the Syrian government will be imposing terms on softer elements of the opposition in return for minor or cosmetic changes — a minister here, or a deputy minister or secretary-general there,” he said. “When the armed opposition and harder-line elements of the political opposition reject this cosmetic deal, Russia-Syria will move to strip them of any remaining international legitimacy by saying these rejectionists are blocking a final end to the civil war.” But Washington is not totally out of the picture. Ford noted that in terms of its military presence, the United States has expanded its role, “extending the deployment of the roughly 2,000 military personnel in eastern and northeastern Syria.” Those troops will stay for the foreseeable future, not only to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State, but also to counter Iranian influence. And U.S. civilians are also going to work on various stabilization projects to try to rebuild some infrastructure, such as power and water, and services like schools and governance. Where that ends and “long-term reconstruction begins is very unclear,” Ford said. “In that light, the U.S. could be starting a longerterm engagement that lacks any international OK and will garner regional hostility from Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq.” While Russia, Iran and Turkey have teamed up to find a political settlement to the war, their interests do not necessarily align. The Kremlin seems open to cooperating with some communities opposed to Assad, while the other parties in the Russian-led talks, Iran and Turkey, are less inclined. One contentious issue is how a Russia-Syria deal would affect Syrian Kurdish militants, who have been trained and financed by the U.S. and largely make up the Syrian Democratic Forces, which have helped


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Photo: Khudr Al-Issa / UNICEF

A child in Syria carries manuals distributed by UNICEF volunteers following a session on identifying and reporting unexploded objects in early 2017 in East Aleppo. Last year, Aleppo, once the cradle of the oppositio n to Syrian Bashar al-Assad, fell to the regime, solidifying its control over key stretches of the war-torn country.

liberate territory seized by the Islamic State. Turkey, which had up until recently backed the Syrian opposition but has now aligned itself with Russia, is primarily concerned with blocking Syrian Kurdish territorial gains along its border, fearing a Kurdish separatist uprising in its country. It vehemently opposes a reported plan to create an American-backed, Kurdish-led border force in northeastern Syria that could create a de facto Kurdish state and went to Russia to green light attacks on the Kurdish-dominated enclave of Afrin. That offensive has reportedly killed some 300 fighters and possibly opened up a new front in the war. While Russia has made some overtures to Syria’s Kurds, it may approve of the Turkish assault as a way to sow division between the U.S. and NATO ally Turkey. Moscow also opposes any division of Syria, as does Iran. Iran is just as heavily invested in Syria’s outcome as Russia is, if not more so. The Islamic republic has supported the Assad regime with money, weapons and elite ground forces. Propping up his government means both having an ally against its major rivals in the region, namely Saudi Arabia and Israel, and a way to move weapons to Hezbollah. Katz noted that under Putin, Russia “has pretty decent relations with Israel, which it doesn’t want disturbed.” Washington, meanwhile, has been overwhelmingly focused on defeating the Islamic State, also known as ISIS — a military offensive that began under Barack Obama and has continued under Donald Trump. Last April, President Trump did order an airstrike against a Syrian base after reports that Assad used chemical weapons, but otherwise he has generally avoided direct conflict with forces backing the regime and the administration’s overall intentions are unclear. “As far as Syria’s concerned, we have very little to do with Syria other than killing ISIS. What we do is we kill ISIS,” Trump said in September. Katz said that Moscow does not want the U.S. involved in the peace negotiations, but “they do want the U.S. to contribute to the reconstruction effort.” “There’s a fundamental different approach or disagreement against the American approach, which is that people who win the war pay,” Katz said. “In the Soviet way, they make the people who lose pay.” But Trump, who campaigned on an “America First” platform that seeks to avoid overseas entanglements, is unlikely to foot the bill for Syria’s reconstruction, which is expected to massive. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a Jan. 17 speech, also said the U.S., EU and other partners “will not provide international reconstruction assistance to any area under control

of the Assad regime.” However, a recent report by Rand Corp. on a possible peace plan for Syria suggests that the United States, Europe and Gulf Arab states admit that military assistance to the rebels has failed, and instead use their ability to offer reconstruction aid to push a bottom-up, community-by-community political process that could lessen Russian and Iranian influence. “Rather than continue to resist that process by focusing U.S. and allied efforts on the unlikely goal of overthrowing the Syrian government, we suggested that [deconfliction] zones might become the basis of a long-term agreement that could help de-escalate, and ultimately end, the war,” wrote James Dobbins, Philip Gordon and Jeffrey Martini. “A decentralized Syria, we argued, was a more realistic goal than the continued pursuit of military efforts to overthrow the regime, which were merely perpetuating a conflict that was killing and displacing millions, exacerbating sectarianism and destabilizing Syria’s neighbors.” But rebuilding a country whose infrastructure, hospitals, schools and businesses have been leveled is a staggering task. “What’s going to happen is there just isn’t going to be much reconstruction, and hence, that will lead to chronic instability,” Katz predicted. “It’s going to be very hard for them to fully stabilize.” Ford says he expects “reconstruction will be very slow, hindered by a lack of financing.” As long as Assad was on the ropes, Katz said, Moscow and Tehran were largely aligned in Syria, “but now that he’s more stable, it seems their interests are somewhat divergent.” How that will play out will be “difficult,” he said. But it seems that Assad — a violent, ruthless leader who for years has ignored the international community’s demands for him to go — may emerge from the war still holding onto some semblance of power. “There are reports indicating that the Russians really don’t think all that highly of Assad, and Iranians don’t either. The real issue is what’s going to come afterward. Everyone agrees Assad is a loser, but the question is, what can replace him? That’s not clear at all. And I don’t think the Russians and Iranians would agree on it,” Katz said. “And Assad knows all this.” As Katz said, “The Syrian conflict has the local dimension, regional dimension, external great power dimension — and they’re not all in sync. It’s a separate competition, but all are interrelated.” WD Mackenzie Weinger (@mweinger) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.


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WD | United States

McMaster’s Battles Despite Bumpy First Year, National Security Advisor Leaves Imprint on White House by Aileen Torres-Bennett


he Trump presidency traffics in reality TV tropes, with a lot of drama both on stage and off. As Trump huffs and puffs with compulsive Tweets and off-the-cuff speeches, he brings the same type of unpredictability backstage when it comes to dealing with his staff at the White House. Michael Wolff ’s recent bombshell book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” details the palace intrigue that rocked Trump’s first year in office. The president even threatened to sue to stop publication of the book, which is filled with explosive allegations that question his intelligence, temperament and even sanity. While harsh, many of the allegations are not necessarily new. Wolff essentially portrays the president as a showman and a simpleton. He’s described as an unruly child who was “befuddled” and “horrified” by his own election victory, and has little interest in understanding the complexities of governing or legislation. “It’s worse than you can imagine,” Wolff quotes one unnamed White House aide. “An idiot surrounded by clowns. Trump won’t read anything — not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders Stephen Biddle because he is bored.” professor of political science and international affairs Other allegations are more salacious. at The George Washington University The book claims that Trump habitually tried to have sex with his friends’ wives and repeatedly demeaned women in his nudge Bannon out). McMaster’s Influence own administration. Wolff ’s tell-all now adds to Kelly’s National Security Advisor H.R. McWhite House press secretary Sarah woes as the chief of staff faces a poHuckabee Sanders has dismissed “Fire tential exodus of aides in the new year, Master, an active-duty army lieutenant and Fury” as “trashy tabloid fiction,” which could be compounded by the general, has exerted a smoothing influand Wolff has been criticized for rely- insults lobbed in the book. Among ence on Trump’s impulsive rhetoric in ing on anonymous sources other things, Wolff claims that the public eye since taking office Feband thinly substantiated maclose members of Trump’s or- ruary 2017. But he’s also found himself terial. bit routinely disparaged him, in the crosshairs of a sustained alt-right Whether true or not, Wolff ’s including Treasury Secretary campaign to push him out of office, as book created a very real rift Steven Mnuchin and former well as a clash of personalities with a between Trump and his forchief of staff Reince Priebus president who relies more on his gut mer chief strategist, Stephen (who allegedly called Trump than on the experts around him. “McMaster has tampered down K. Bannon, who is quoted “an idiot”) and economic adas saying that a meeting bevisor Gary Cohn (who sup- Trump’s worst instincts,” Lawrence tween Donald Trump Jr. and posedly referred to him as Korb, a senior fellow at the left-leaning National Security Advisor Center for American Progress and a sea Russian lawyer to dig up H.R. McMaster “dumb as shit”). dirt on Hillary Clinton was Trump is notoriously thin- nior advisor to the Center for Defense “treasonous.” While Bannon later tried skinned, but it remains to be seen how Information, told The Diplomat. But McMaster didn’t do himself any to walk back his comments, Trump seriously he takes Wolff ’s name-calldeclared that his one-time ally had not ing. Cohn is already rumored to be out favors by calling the president an “idiot” only lost his job, but also his mind. the door, and speculation has been rife and a “dope” and equating Trump’s inThe public feud with Bannon rein- for months that Secretary of State Rex telligence with that of a “kindergartner” forces the impression of a White House Tillerson is leaving soon as well. But it during a dinner that took place July besieged by dysfunction and squab- could be another member of Trump’s 2017 with Oracle CEO Safra Catz, as bling. Last August, Homeland Security team — who’s also been accused of reported by BuzzFeed. This kind of offloading seemed out of Secretary Gen. John Kelly was brought personally insulting his boss — who in as White House chief of staff to im- might be next on the chopping block character for McMaster, who has played pose order on an administration with in a volatile White House that operates more of an elder statesman role for the one of the highest turnover rates in re- more like an episode of “The Appren- White House. Fortunately for him, it seems Trump was willing to overlook cent memory (it was Kelly who helped tice” than “The West Wing.”

I would probably give McMaster a B-plus. He’s in a very tough role.


Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

From left, Vice President Mike Pence, President Donald Trump and National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster have lunch with service members on July 18, 2017.

what appeared to be a grave offense, as it was for Tillerson, who did not deny calling President Trump a “moron” after a Pentagon meeting in 2017. The revelation of this tiff led to Trump belittling his secretary of state, and rumor has it that Tillerson’s days are numbered at the State Department. Trump, however, has not undermined McMaster in public to the level that he did Tillerson after the leak of McMaster’s insults. A spokesperson for the National Security Council and Oracle’s senior vice president for government affairs both denied that the insults were ever uttered by McMaster. Wolff ’s book rehashes some of this gossip and also claims that Trump’s first impression of McMaster was not a good one. “That guy bores the shit out of me,” Trump allegedly said, according to Wolff, who paints a picture of a president with little patience for policy details. In describing a meeting McMaster had with Trump about how to respond to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons last April, Wolff writes that “it seemed obvious that the president was more annoyed about having to think about the attack than by the attack itself.” Despite constant speculation that Trump personally dislikes his national security advisor, McMaster is still

standing at the White House and it’s clear that Trump respects him enough to let him stay on and help put together the new National Security Strategy.

Alt-Right Attacks Michael Flynn, whom McMaster replaced, was supported by the alt-right. Flynn resigned after reports surfaced that he misled Trump administration officials about potentially illegal conversations he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. In late 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about those talks and disclosed that he is fully cooperating with the special counsel investigating Russian interference with the 2016 election. McMaster took on alt-right enemies when he became national security advisor, but he has outlasted his strongest opponents: Steve Bannon and former White House aide Sebastian Gorka, both of whom were fired in August. Bannon also stepped down as executive chairman of Breitbart News last month in the wake of the fallout over Wolff ’s book. McMaster drew the ire of far-right media outlets such as Breitbart and Infowars for his establishment, globalist views and for purging Flynn loyalists at the National Security Council. On issues ranging from Iran to Afghanistan, alt-right nationalists say McMaster represents the status quo that Trump voters specifically voted against. Frank Gaffney, president and CEO of the Center for Security Policy, has been one of McMaster’s most vocal opponents. Gaffney, who has been criticized for his anti-Muslim conspiracy theories — among them, that the Muslim Brotherhood is stealthily introducing Sharia law in the U.S. — argues that McMaster is trying to sabotage Trump’s agenda, including efforts to defeat radical Islamic terrorism. (McMaster persuaded Trump to avoid the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” during a speech in Saudi Arabia last year.) “At every turn, the Army general has been insubordinate to his commander-in-chief. For example, he has openly opposed Mr. Trump on ‘radical Islamic terrorism,’ Syria, Qatar, Iran, Russia and the Muslim Brotherhood,” Gaffney said in a nationally syndicated radio commentary last August. “Of late, McMaster has taken to purging Mr. Trump’s most loyal staff members, including senior intelligence advisor Ezra Cohen-Watnik [sic] — a man the president had previously, personally insisted be

Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

President Donald Trump and members of his Cabinet receive a briefing on April 6, 2017, from his national security team, including a video teleconference with Secretary of Defense James Mattis, on a U.S. military strike on Syria in response to President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons.

retained.” McMaster did indeed fire some of Flynn’s appointees, many of whom held hawkish views on terrorism, Islam and the perils of globalization. That included Cohen-Watnick, a 31-year-old political neophyte; Derek Harvey, an Iran hard-liner; K.T. McFarland, a former Fox News contributor who is currently under scrutiny in the Russia probe; and Rich Higgins, who wrote a conspiratorial memo about an alleged deep state of globalists, bankers, Islamists and establishment Republicans working against the Trump White House. The campaign to oust McMaster reached a fevered pitch last summer, with far-right media pushing the hashtag #FireMcMaster on Twitter, which Business Insider reported was spread by Russian bots and trolls. The website www.mcmasterleaks. com, which features only one post, dated Aug. 2, 2017, contains a list of “H.R. McMaster Facts” that portray him as undermining the Trump administration. Included in this list are the following items: “McMaster refuses to get rid of Obama holdovers who spied in [sic] Trump”; “McMaster has called Trump’s ‘America First’ foreign policy goals naïve”; and “McMaster publicly corrects and contradicts Trump.”



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Breitbart also claimed that McMaster was hostile to Israel, while Infowars went so far as to suggest that the national security advisor had a drinking problem. The smear campaign largely fizzled out and some of the rumors may have even backfired on Bannon and his supporters for going too far. While the personal attacks have died down, deep ideological differences remain between the traditional GOP views espoused by McMaster and Trump’s far-right base, which generally favors cooperation with Russia and adamantly opposes the Iran nuclear deal and overseas entanglements in Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere. The troop surge in Afghanistan was, in fact, the biggest sticking point between McMaster and Bannon, who advocated using private contractors instead of American soldiers to fight the war. (Wolff ’s book claims that Bannon planned to get rid of McMaster by dispatching him to lead the war effort in Afghanistan.) Trump was initially against increasing troop levels in Afghanistan. He was not interested in continuing America’s longest war, but Defense Secretary James Mattis, McMaster and Kelly convinced him otherwise, warning Trump of the dangers of pulling out of Afghanistan. The generals successfully conveyed to Trump that exiting Afghanistan would endanger American lives and American interests in the region and would leave a vacuum that the Islamic State and al-Qaeda would fill. On a cultural note, McMaster was able to persuade Trump that Afghanistan had some history of commonality with the West by showing him a picture of Afghan women wearing miniskirts in Kabul in 1972. In August, Trump announced his vision for Afghanistan, which included an emphasis on putting pressure on Pakistan to stop acting as a safe haven for terrorists. Trump gave no timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and said that conditions on the ground would inform troop levels, which he delegated to the Pentagon to set. The 16-year U.S. war in Afghanistan has seen troop levels increase from a peak of 100,000 in 2011 to about 8,500 when Trump took office. Under Trump, the Pentagon now has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, with another 1,000 possibly to come in the spring. See McMast er • page 10

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of the president’s speech accompanying its release: While the strategy has its flaws, it at least reads in tone like fairly traditional conservative national security policy; whereas the speech was much more of an alt-right rhetorical indulgence,” Joshua Geltzer, a fellow at New America and former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council staff, told The Diplomat in an email.

McMaster coNtINUEd • PAGE 9

REAlPolItIk SEcURItY StRAtEGY Trump likes to hammer his slogan “America First,” and the National Security Strategy (NSS) he released in December 2017 is no exception to what has turned into the president’s philosophy of governance. “An America First National Security Strategy is based on American principles, a clear-eyed assessment of U.S. interests, and a determination to tackle the challenges that we face,” according to the NSS. “It is a strategy of principled realism that is guided by outcomes, not ideology.” Trump’s National Security Strategy, which was put together by McMaster’s team, espouses a realpolitik worldview that puts U.S. national interests first and sees the world as a competitive stage. “The United States will respond to the growing political, economic, and military competitions we face around the world,” the NSS states. It calls out “revisionist powers” China and Russia and “rogue regimes” North Korea and Iran as antithetical actors vis-à-vis the U.S. “China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity. They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence. At the same time, the dictatorships of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran are determined to destabilize regions, threaten Americans and our allies, and brutalize their own people.” The new NSS has echoes of the Cold War, which isn’t surprising given that McMaster


cREdIt: U.S. AIR NAtIoNAl GUARd Photo BY SENIoR MAStER SGt. dAvId h. lIPP / WWW.dvIdS.hUB.NEt

U.S. Army Spc. kallie kappes of the North dakota Army National Guard kneels to hug her sons upon her return from a 10-month deployment to Afghanistan on Nov. 16, 2017. the contentious troop surge in Afghanistan was the biggest sticking point between National Security Advisor h.R. McMaster and former White house chief strategist Stephen Bannon, who advocated using private contractors instead of American soldiers to fight the war.

has declared that “geopolitics is back” after “this holiday from history we took in the socalled post-Cold War period.” The document veers away from ideology and eschews cooperation in favor of great power competition. “These competitions require the United States to rethink the policies of the past two decades — policies based on the assumption that engagement with rivals and their inclusion in international institutions and global commerce would turn them into benign actors and trustworthy partners. For the most part, this premise turned out to be false.” The previous National Security Strategies were “a little more idealistic,” according to Peter Haynes, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “This administration, particularly McMaster, they’re bringing a little more of a relational view,” Haynes told The Diplomat. The administra-

tion is “not just trying to solve the Russia or China problem. The North Korea problem can’t be separated from China. The perspective of McMaster and the team [is] much more of a Kissinger kind of viewpoint than Wilsonian.” In other words, the administration is focused on U.S. power and how to leverage it. How much of the National Security Strategy is Trump and how much is McMaster is anyone’s guess. It’s possible the core of the NSS is McMaster with a bit of Trump’s rhetoric here and there to put the president’s stamp on it. In his remarks announcing the NSS, for example, Trump boasted again of building a wall with Mexico and failed to mention Russian meddling in the U.S. election, even though Russia is described as a threat to democracy in the NSS. “Just look at the contrast between the National Security Strategy’s text and the language

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In general, many experts say McMaster has done a decent job in his first year as national security advisor. While his boss has warmongering tendencies, he has tried to dial back Trump’s outlandish statements. For instance, Trump has been threatening war with North Korea, fueled by personal animus against “rocket man” Kim Jong-un, but McMaster is trying to toe the line between acknowledging his boss’s itchy trigger finger and starting something the country, and the world, cannot back down from. So, while McMaster has said that the potential for war with North Korea is “increasing every day,” he also said that armed conflict is not the only solution. “Given the circumstances of his job, I think he’s doing very well,” said Korb. “To an important degree, Trump’s apparent lack of interest in most policy details has allowed professionals like H.R. to shape what the government actually does in ways that limit the damage relative to what one might expect from the commander-in-chief ’s Twitter account,” Stephen Biddle, a professor of political science and international affairs at The George Washington University and an adjunct senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, told The Diplomat in an email. When asked to give the national security adviser a grade for his first year in office, Haynes said, “I would probably give McMaster a Bplus. He’s in a very tough role.” WD Aileen Torres-Bennett is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

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WD | Middle East

Yemen’s Misery Two Former Ambassadors Speak Out on Deepening Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen by Larry Luxner


he civil war that has ravaged Yemen for nearly three years has now killed more than 10,000 people, sickened 1 million with cholera and displaced more than 2 million, leading the United Nations to call it “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.” Yet the fighting, which many see as a proxy struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has pretty much been ignored by the American press; nor has it gotten much attention from the Trump administration. And that’s a mistake, say two former U.S. envoys to Yemen who spoke Dec. 12 at a Washington event organized by the Council on Foreign Relations. Gerald Feierstein, the U.S. ambassador in Yemen from 2010 and 2013, shared the stage with his immediate predecessor in Sanaa, Stephen Seche, who served from 2007 to 2010. Moderating the discussion was Ellen Laipson, director of the international security program at George Mason University. The Dec. 4 assassination of Yemen’s longtime dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, actually changes little on the ground, because he had already been marginalized, according to Feierstein. “On the military side, the situation in Yemen has been stalemated for quite a long time. Over the course of the 30 months of the conflict, the influence of the pro-Saleh forces has steadily declined,” he said. “The Houthis had absorbed a lot of the military that originally was loyal to Saleh. They’ve replaced the officers with their own followers.” Seche, executive vice president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, called this “a significant moment” for the nation Saleh had ruled for 33 of his 75 years. “I don’t think Ali Abdullah Saleh was ever going to be part of the solution in Yemen,” said Seche. “He was going to be part of the problem forever, so you removed at least part of that problem by dispatching [him] — and I never say badly or ill about anyone who has just left this earth — but at least we don’t have Ali Abdullah Saleh to worry about in that regard right now.” Saheh ruled North Yemen since 1978 and became president of the entire country in 1990 after its unification. A wily political operative, Saleh often played tribal allegiances and foreign powers against one another to cement his rule. After the Arab Spring uprisings, however, he stepped down in 2012, paving the way for Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi to take over under a deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council. The northern-based Houthis, who follow the Zaydi branch of Shiite Islam, have long chafed under Sunni-majority rule. In 2015, they ousted Hadi from power with help from forces loyal to Saleh. In an illustration of the fickle alliances that dominate Yemeni politics, the former dictator teamed up with the Houthis even though he had waged several wars to tamp down a Houthi insurgency during his 33year rule. But the marriage of convenience unraveled when Saleh abandoned his Houthi allies and made overtures to Saudi Arabia, leading to his death. Meanwhile, following the Houthi takeover, Hadi — whose government enjoyed international legitimacy but scant popularity back home — fled to Saudi Arabia, which promptly launched a bombing campaign to return him to power. Saudi Arabia has a long history of meddling in its southern neighbor, which controls the Bab el-


Photo: Moohialdin Fuad / UNICEF

Children receiving treatment for cholera sit with their mothers at a ward in Alsadaqah Hospital in Saada, Yemen, on Sept. 16, 2017. Already the poorest country in the Middle East, Yemen is suffering through a humanitarian crisis, including a massive cholera outbreak, as a result of the war between Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led coalition. As of December 2017, almost every single child in Yemen was in need of humanitarian assistance.

One of the political obstacles to resolving the conflict is the fact that individuals and groups on both sides of the conflict are making a lot of money by keeping the war going. Gerald Feierstein former U.S. ambassador to Yemen

Mandeb Strait, a key chokepoint for the global transit of oil. This latest intervention is widely seen as a proxy battle to counter the growing influence of Riyadh’s regional and religious rival, Iran, which Saudi Arabia says is directly supporting the Houthis with weapons and money. While the Houthis are generally aligned with Iran, many experts say Saudi Arabia has exaggerated claims of Tehran’s ties with the rebel group. Since bursting onto the scene in 2015, Saudi Arabia’s ambitious up-and-coming ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has embarked on an aggressive foreign policy aimed at crushing Iran and consolidating power at home and abroad. That includes a largely unsuccessful blockade of Qatar, ostensibly in response to its support of terrorism and links to Iran; a clumsy attempt to pressure Lebanon’s prime minister to resign in protest of Hezbollah’s role in Lebanese politics; a purge of Saudi princes and businessmen; and the military foray into Yemen, which many observers say has become a quagmire for the Saudis and their regional partners. The Saudi-led coalition has also been roundly condemned by the international community for its indiscriminate killing of civilians in Yemen. According to Human Rights Watch’s “World Report 2018”, the coalition has repeatedly attacked populated areas, launched scores of airstrikes that have killed thousands of civilians and deepened the humanitar-

ian crisis through its blockade in 2017. (The report also accuses Houthi forces of blocking humanitarian assistance and committing serious abuses.) Yet Feierstein takes the opposite view of most human rights organizations by defending Saudi Arabia’s intervention and blasting Iran’s interference. Feierstein is now director of Gulf affairs and government relations at the Middle East Institute, a Washingtonbased think tank that has received funding from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as well as the U.S. State Department. During his 41-year Foreign Service career, he was posted to Saudi Arabia, Oman, Israel, Lebanon, Tunisia and Pakistan, most recently serving as principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. Feierstein called the Houthis “a sectarian Shia pro-Iran movement” that is “not terribly popular with the vast majority of Yemenis.” In addition, he said, a campaign by Houthi rebels to eliminate the senior leadership of Saleh’s General People’s Congress — which governed Yemen for over 30 years — “is going to make the recovery in Yemen much more difficult once the fighting stops, as inevitably it will.” But he doesn’t see that happening any time soon. “One of the political obstacles to resolving the conflict is the fact that individuals and groups on both sides of the conflict are making a lot of money by keeping the war going,” he said. “And until you


A blown-up car sits among the rubble of a residential neighborhood in Yemen that was struck by warplanes in April 2015 as part of the Saudi-led intervention known as operation decisive Storm.

address that part, it’s going to be very difficult to convince them.” Added Seche: “There is this equilibrium of misery that’s been established in Yemen now, and it’s where you have this stasis on the battlefield where both sides are neither winning nor losing; they’re just stuck. And you have this war economy in which both sides are profiting, and you have a level of human misery which is so bad — yet it’s not so bad where we’re going to get the international community to come rushing in to save Yemen. So things sit at this terrible, awful status quo.” So terrible, in fact, that the United Nations says 22 million of Yemen’s 28 million people need humanitarian assistance, including 8.4 million who are “a step away from famine.” Long the Arab world’s poorest country, war-ravaged Yemen — a desert country the size of Colorado and Oregon combined — imports 90 percent of its staple food and nearly all of its fuel. Despite recent progress in pressuring Saudi Arabia to open Yemen’s Red Sea ports to commercial and aid shipments, U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock recently warned that the situation is being made worse by a recent increase in fighting and airstrikes. The country has recorded more than 1 million cases of cholera, according to the World Health Organization, as well as a rapidly spreading diphtheria outbreak. “Yemen’s biggest disadvantage is the fact that it’s so isolated physically. You don’t have that flood of humanity washing abroad offshore in Europe. It’s been largely contained, and for that reason you don’t have this alarm sounding around the world about Yemen,” said Seche, who served at U.S. missions in Peru, Bolivia, Canada, India, Syria and Yemen before ending his 35-year Foreign Service career as deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. “And that’s why it falls off the front page of our newspapers, into page four and five and elsewhere. So until that changes — and it probably is not going to geographically — we’re going to have to figure out a way to keep this on the front burner for people,” Seche said (also see “Compassion Fatigue Sets in As Yemen Spirals Out of Control” in the October 2015 issue of The Washington Diplomat). On that note, Feierstein squarely criticized the White House for not paying more attention to the grinding crisis in Yemen. “One thing that’s absent from the approach that the Obama administration had versus the Trump administration is that [Secretary of State] John Kerry was personally engaged certainly toward the latter part of 2016 in trying to help drive some of the decision-making that would advance the U.N. process,” he said. “We have not seen

that same level of high senior leadership from the Trump administration that we saw in Obama. And I think that demonstrates a lack of real commitment on the part of the Trump people.” The U.S. has provided logistical and refueling assistance to the Saudis, but after Saudi airstrikes killed hundreds of people at a wedding and a funeral in Sanaa, the Obama White House eventually halted the transfer of cluster munitions and precision-guided missiles to Riyadh. Trump has been far more supportive of the Saudis in their bid to roll back Iranian influence, reversing Obama’s suspension of cluster bombs and pushing a $110 billion arms deal with Riyadh. At the moment, the United States has no active embassy in Yemen. Matthew Tueller, the U.S. ambassador to Sanaa since early 2014, is physically located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he runs the Yemen Affairs Unit. Feierstein urged Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to “be more directly engaged in trying to push” a negotiated end to the war in Yemen. He also suggested that “Iran might be willing to play a larger role in pushing a political resolution to the Yemen conflict. It would be, without a doubt, the most direct way for them to reduce tensions with Saudi Arabia.” Tensions have escalated, however, since Houthis fired several rockets inside Saudi Arabia. On Nov. 4, a missile came close to hitting Riyadh’s international airport, and on Dec. 19, the Saudi-led coalition intercepted a ballistic missile that had apparently targeted a meeting at al-Yamama Palace “in response to the heinous crimes committed by the U.S.-Saudi aggression against the people of Yemen,” according to the Houthis’ Al Masirah website. Saudi Arabia accused Iran of supplying the Houthis with the Burkan H2 missile and has said the missile attacks could constitute an act of war by Iran. Nikki Haley, America’s U.N. ambassador, tried to bolster the Saudis’ case during a December presentation in which she argued there was “undeniable” evidence that Iran supplied Yemini insurgents with missiles and other weapons. Haley’s claims were met with skepticism by defense experts and the U.N. panel charged with investigating the missile fragments. As Riyadh and Tehran point the finger at each other for Yemen’s suffering, Feierstein disputes the notion that the hostilities in Yemen amount to a proxy war between the Saudis and the Iranians. “This is not a Saudi-Yemeni war. It is a Yemeni civil war where each of the parties have seen fit to appeal to external friends, to partners,” he explained. “Obviously, the government, looking to Saudi Arabia [and]


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coNtINUEd • PAGE 13

‌ the Iranians were more engaged in support of the Houthis really going back at least to 2012‌. So they are engaged in supporting their Join us for a one-on-one various friends, but again, I would say that ultimatelyevent it’s going with to be a interview Sponsor: Yemeni solution.â€? To that end, the Houthis not Ambassador of are Belize “a wholly owned subsidiary of the government Iran,â€? as manyand ob- The DanielofGutierez servers often suggest. Hosted by: “They are pursuing what is largeWashington Diplomat’s ly a domestic political objective for themselves. But I Editor would sayAnna that Managing Gawel. Iran has played a significant role in terms of enhancing Houthi capabilities,â€? he said. “The ability of the Houthis to fire these extendedrange Scuds is almost certainly the result of assistance that they’ve received — either from the Iranians directly or via Hezbollah, which is certainly operating at Iranian diPhoto: MoAth AlGABAl / UNIcEF rection. And so while I don’t think People queue to fill jerry cans and other containers with water from a tank provided by UNIcEF in Sanaa, Yemen, on March 5, 2017. that the war would stop if the Ira- According to the U.N., 22 million of Yemen’s 28 million people need humanitarian assistance, including 8.4 million who are “a step nians walked away, I also think that away from famine. Houthi capabilities would diminish “One is a secure Saudi-Yemen “And I think that, from a U.S. per- sadors were asked what exactly Yeif it were not for the support that they’ve received from Iran and from border. Secondly, a friendly govern- spective, we should agree with all men’s Houthi rebels want. Seche ment in Sanaa, a government they three of them. I think they are three said he really doesn’t know. Hezbollah.â€? “One of the great mysteries of From the Saudi point of view, can deal with. And third, no Ira- legitimate objectives.â€? During the Q&A that followed the Houthis, to me, has always been three things are absolutely required, nian foothold in Yemen that would threaten their security,â€? he said. their panel discussion, the ambas- they’ve never issued a manifesto. Feierstein said.

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They’ve never said, ‘This is who we are. This is what we expect to have, and this is our overall, overarching ambitions and goals,’� he said. “So it’s still very murky territory. And it’s open to redefinition at any moment for them when they decide it’s in their interest to do so.� Toward the end of the event, moderator Laipson drew laughter when she asked about qat, a mildly narcotic weed chewed by 90 percent of Yemen’s men and over a third of its women. Men sometimes spend upward of $800 a month to feed their qat addiction, according to a Jan. 4 article in The Economist that also said qat cultivation is growing by 12 percent a year. “I’ve never been in a Yemeni conversation where we haven’t talked about qat,� Laipson quipped. “So I need to know, are the crops still thriving? Has the qat culture survived the war?� “Yes,� Feierstein replied. “That’s one aspect of the economy that still functions.� WD Larry Luxner is the Tel Aviv-based news editor for The Washington Diplomat.

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WD | Asia

KORUS Crackdown Trump Takes Aim at U.S.-South Korea FTA, Despite Wishes of Many U.S. Industries by John Brinkley


he U.S. and South Korean governments have begun renegotiating their 2012 free trade agreement, as demanded by President Trump, even though most American industries that trade under the agreement are happy with its present form. This is the second renegotiation of the agreement since the U.S. and Korean governments signed it in 2007. “I suspect, from a practical standpoint, that they [the Koreans] would like this to be the last,” said Troy Stangarone of the Korea Economic Institute. This renegotiation also occurs at a time of high tension between the United States and North Korea. So, maintaining a good relationship with South Korea is doubly important. “Given what’s going on, any friction [between the U.S. and South Korea] would be unfortunate,” said a former U.S. trade official. The renegotiation of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (also known as KORUS) is part of Trump’s broader “America First” agenda that includes an aggressive trade crackdown on countries that he says are unfairly hurting American workers. More notably, Trump dropped out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping trade accord that is now being reworked by the 11 remaining Pacific-Rim member states. Canada, Mexico and the U.S. are also in the midst of contentious talks to renegotiate NAFTA at Trump’s instigation. This year, Trump is expected to slap tariffs on China for a range of products, including steel, aluminum and solar panels and washing machines. American manufacturers in these industries support the move, arguing that China has been flooding the market with cheap products. But any protectionist barriers Trump erects may trigger a massive trade war that experts warn could backfire on the president by making goods more expensive for American consumers and threatening U.S. businesses. National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and others have urged restraint, fearing that harsh tariffs will spark a costly trade war, alienate allies and possibly push South Korea closer to China or other trade competitors such as the European Union. Korea and the EU have a free trade agreement, ratified in 2015. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, trade advisor Peter Navarro and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross have pushed for a more aggressive approach, especially toward China. Lighthizer said on Jan. 5, after the first round of the current KORUS renegotiation, that there was “much work to do to reach an agreement that serves the economic interests of the American people.” He didn’t elaborate, but a USTR statement from December 2017 said the renegotiation’s purpose was to “resolve several problems regarding market access in Korea for U.S. exports and, most importantly, to address the significant trade imbalance.” Lighthizer’s Korean counterpart, Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong, said he would negotiate with the Americans in good faith, but would rather terminate the agreement than end up with a bad deal for Korea. Trump’s animus for KORUS, which he said was “a horrible deal,” is based on the U.S. merchandise trade deficit with Korea, which has more than doubled since KORUS took effect — from $13.2 billion in 2011 to $27.6 billion in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That deficit is relatively small compared to



A South Korean-made KIA car drives past buildings in Seoul. The issue of America’s automotive trade deficit with South Korea has become a major sticking point in the renegotiations over the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement.

We agree that in some areas that the Koreans need to do more to faithfully implement the deal. But overturning it would hurt American farmers and manufacturers — and benefit only our foreign competitors. Thomas Donahue president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

America’s trade deficit with China, which in 2016 totaled nearly $350 billion. Nevertheless, Trump has threatened to end KORUS, but that may just be a negotiating tactic. He has said the same about NAFTA. No president has ever terminated a free trade agreement. The United States has 14 of them with 20 countries. American industries such as beef and dairy have benefited greatly from the agreement, which also removed car tariffs in 2016. While the the sale of U.S.made cars in Korea has significantly increased over the last five years, they are still dwarfed by the sale of Korean-made cars to the U.S. In fact, the bulk of the trade deficit stems from the gap in car sales. Except for the auto industry, there is no significant constituency in the United States that is pushing for a major revision of KORUS. U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue said in a speech that it was “a vital trade pact with a key ally…. We agree that in some areas that the Koreans need to do more to faithfully implement the deal. But overturning it would hurt American farmers and manufacturers — and benefit only our foreign competitors.” Myron Brilliant, executive vice president and head of international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, writing in an op-ed for Korea Joongang Daily, points out that U.S. exports to Korea are on pace to set a record in 2017, chipping away at the trade deficit. He

also argues that KORUS kept U.S. exports to the country steady even as Korea’s imports from around the world plunged over 20 percent in the 2015-16 period. But he adds that South Korea needs to address longstanding concerns among U.S. companies, including the auto, pharmaceutical and medical device sectors. “Furthermore, unpredictable and inconsistent regulations, coupled with Korea-unique standards and thinly veiled industrial policies have given investors pause,” he wrote. A Korean official, who asked not to be named, said the government agreed to the renegotiation to “enhance the benefits of the original agreement.” He declined to say what that might entail, with one exception: “We have made it very clear that agriculture cannot be discussed.” It has been reported that the Trump administration planned to push for agriculture-related concessions from the Koreans, even though the U.S. enjoyed a $5.7 billion agriculture trade surplus with Korea in 2016, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. David Salmonsen, senior director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau, said American farmers and ranchers didn’t want or need any further agricultural concessions from the Koreans. “KORUS has been positive for U.S. ag exports…. We want to keep that going,” he said. Salmonsen said other economic sectors may hope for changes to the


Photo: Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke / Pixabay

Under the U.S.-South Korea free trade deal, U.S. beef exports to South Korea grew from $806 million in 2015 to $1.1 billion in 2016.

agreement, “but we haven’t heard that from the ag community.” KORUS has been particularly good for U.S. beef producers. Before it took effect, Korea imposed a 40 percent tariff on U.S. beef imports. It was to be reduced gradually to zero over 15 years and now stands at 24 percent. The renegotiation may lead to a faster phase-out of the beef tariff, and “if that happens, that’s good,” Salmonsen said. “U.S. beef and beef product exports to South Korea grew from $806 million in 2015 to $1.1 billion in 2016, an increase of 32 percent. Beef and beef products remain the top U.S. agricultural exports to South Korea,” says a December 2017 report by the Foreign Agricultural Service. The Korean official said KORUS had bestowed benefits on both countries. For example, American car sales in Korea rose after KORUS took effect and Korea gradually lowered the Korean car tariff on American cars from 8 percent to zero. U.S. auto exports to Korea have more than tripled from 13,700 units in 2011 to 49,100 in 2015, according to the Korean government. The U.S. tariff of 2.5 percent fell to zero for imported Korean cars when KORUS took effect. Still, the U.S. auto industry thinks it can and should do better. So does the Trump administration. In 2016, U.S. imports of Korean-made cars totaled $21 billion, while American-made car imports to South Korea only reached $2.2 billion. “Among the most important reasons for the increased [trade] deficit has been the imbalance between automotive imports and exports,” Commerce Secretary Ross said in a speech in December 2017. He said the Koreans imposed “significant non-tariff trade barriers” on imports of American cars, but he didn’t identify them. “The Korean market is one of the most difficult markets to ship to in the world, if not the most difficult,” said American Automotive Policy Council President Matt Blunt. He said the car industry wants two outcomes from the renegotiation. One is an assurance from the Koreans that “if a product is acceptable for sale in the United States, it’s acceptable in Korea.” Specifically, that means not applying environmental and safety standards that are tougher than American standards, he said. Doing away with these requirements is not likely to significantly affect the U.S.-Korean auto trade balance, especially when you consider that the Korean auto market is onetenth the size of the U.S. auto market, Stangarone said. Moreover, the auto trade imbalance may stem in part from a lack of interest in American-made cars among Korean consumers, who tend to gravitate toward luxury models from German automakers, Reuters

reported last July. The auto industry’s other hoped-for outcome is that Korea “will address currency manipulation. The won is a highly managed currency,” Blunt said. He acknowledged that the Treasury Department does not consider Korea a currency manipulator, although it has the country on a “monitoring list” of trading partners whose currency practices merit close attention. U.S. service industries, such as banking, finance, communications, equipment leasing and express delivery, have also reaped measurable benefits from KORUS. They aren’t lobbying for changes to it. The office of the U.S. Trade Representative estimates that U.S. service exports to Korea totaled $21.6 billion in 2016 and that service imports therefrom came to $10.9 billion. Thus, the United States had an estimated $10.7 billion service trade surplus with Korea, thanks in part to Korea’s agreement to treat U.S. service companies the same as it treats domestic ones. “The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement has provided generous opportunities for growth in services trade and investment,” says a statement from the Coalition of Service Industries. “As the U.S. administration continues engagement with Korea and seeks to find ways to potentially improve KORUS, CSI urges preservation and continuation of the agreement given the vast benefits KORUS has provided to U.S. services firms exporting to and operating within Korea.” KORUS was negotiated and signed by the George W. Bush administration in 2007, but Bush didn’t submit it to Congress for ratification. It languished until 2010, when thenPresident Barack Obama decided to move ahead with it, but not before demanding changes favorable to the U.S. auto industry. U.S. and Korean negotiators held several rounds of talks in 2010 and agreed on changes that won the approval of the industry and the United Automobile Workers union. Obama then submitted it to Congress, which ratified it in March 2012. Trade experts are in unanimous agreement that a $27.6 billion bilateral trade deficit cannot be significantly reduced through renegotiation of a free trade agreement, as Trump and Lighthizer seem to expect. Calculating a trade deficit is not simply a matter of subtracting exports from imports. Household savings and investing also play a role, and economists predict that the tax cuts that recently took effect will increase the U.S. trade deficit with Korea and the rest of the world. WD

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John Brinkley is a freelance writer and was chief speechwriter for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in the Obama administration. THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | FebrUARY 2018 | 17

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Sweden Says #MeToo Hailed as Champion of Gender Equality, Sweden Learns It Still Has Some Catching Up to Do by Anna Gawel


ime’s Up and #MeToo have become global rallying cries for women to speak out against abuse and harassment and demand equal treatment. The avalanche of accusations associated with the movements — which run the gamut from lewd remarks to vicious assaults — have ensnared high-profile men such as Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Al Franken, Charlie Rose, Mario Batali and even our own president, Donald Trump. The fact that the accused come from all walks of life — Hollywood, Congress, newsrooms, restaurants, Wall Street and Silicon Valley — shows that no one is immune to the systematic disenfranchisement of half the world’s population. That includes, apparently, Swedes. Long hailed as a beacon of progressive politics and gender equality, Sweden has found itself in the midst of the #MeToo maelstrom. The Nordic nation of nearly 10 million developed the world’s first (and only) “feminist” foreign policy. It also boasts a long tradition of government policies such as generous parental leave that have made it a trailblazer in promoting women’s rights. Yet #MeToo has highlighted not only the country’s successes, but also its shortcomings — including the misperception that women in Sweden somehow have it made compared to other countries. Swedish journalist Jenny Nordberg, writing in a Dec. 15 New York Times article, said that despite “reams of progender equality rules and regulations,” Sweden is still plagued by traditional patriarchal attitudes and a culture of silence. “We find ourselves incredulous that such things could happen here, despite all of our (very expensive) efforts at becoming the world’s best place to live,” Nordberg wrote. But that reckoning is a good thing, says Karin Olofsdotter, Sweden’s ambassador to the U.S., who is one of roughly two dozen female ambassadors in Washington. In fact, Olofsdotter, a mother of two, says she can’t comprehend how anyone would be opposed to the ideas behind #MeToo. “How can you not think that women should be included, that we should not have exactly the same rights as men, that there should be any difference at all? Why shouldn’t women be able to hold the same positions, take part in political life, decide over their own bodies like men do? How can you not think like that?” she wondered as she spoke to us inside Sweden’s contemporary glass-enclosed embassy overlooking the Georgetown Waterfront. And considering that everyone has a

mother and many have daughters, “I’m more astounded by anyone who doesn’t share this agenda actually.”

From #WithWhatRight to #LetThereBeLight Tens of thousands of Swedes agree. #MeToo has spawned a similar wave of viral campaigns in Sweden detailing stories of rape and harassment in virtually all sectors of society. The film industry has taken up the manifesto #silenceaction signed by top-tier actresses such as Alicia Vikander and Noomi Rapace. Other hastags focus on the fields of law (#withwhatright), music (#whenthemusicends), politics (#inthecorridorsofpower), the clergy (#lettherebelight), medicine (#noconfidentiality), military (#standtoattention), sports (#timeout), unions (#nonnegotiable) and archaeology (#diggingisunderway). Even the country’s vaunted Swedish Academy, which hands out the Nobel Prize for Literature, was rocked by a sex scandal. The stories that have proliferated on social media are often graphic and disturbing. In one testimony described in the Svenska Dagbladet daily newspaper, a signatory recalled a meeting with a music label that had signed a children’s group of 9- to 12-year-olds. “When we had a meeting about the band, me and four men in executive positions, one of these men played an upcoming video with the children when he suddenly says: ‘they don’t have hair on their p*****s yet,

Photo: Lawrence Ruggeri

Why shouldn’t women be able to hold the same positions, take part in political life, decide over their own bodies like men do? How can you not think like that? Karin Olofsdotter ambassador of Sweden to the United States

they have nice shaved p*****s.’” Another woman revealed that she was raped by an actor colleague. “When I told a director I was working with about the assault, he jokingly replied, ‘Now I’m worried you’ll report me for sexual harassment.’” Yet another woman recalled an actor suggesting to suck the milk from her breasts. A journalist writing under the hashtag #Deadline recounted some of the humiliations she routinely endured on set: “When a TV anchor colleague told me I was so hot that if he wasn’t already sexually satisfied, he had gone straight to the bathroom to jerk off. When another TV anchor colleague sneaked up behind me and put his whole arm between my

legs, grabbing my vagina. When a third TV anchor colleague established that I looked great with my hair up, and slutty with it down.” Meanwhile, hundreds of female students — some as young as 6 — have reported teachers assaulting them or propositioning them to receive better grades and even being urinated on during swim lessons. Olofsdotter said the allegations have exposed how pervasive — and universal — the problem is. “In some areas, we have come further than other countries, and in some, we are just on the same level,” she said, speculating on some of the reasons why #MeToo has ignited such a fierce reaction in her homeland.

One could be that there’s less stigma in talking about sexual abuse. For instance, Sweden has among the highest incidence of rape in the world, but that could stem from the fact that women are likelier to report a rape in Sweden than in other countries. Also, the ambassador noted that Sweden has the highest employment rate of women in the European Union (about 80 percent). That translates to more women in the workforce and therefore more women potentially subject to sexual harassment on the job. The country is also highly connected via social media. “So I think it’s a combination of those three factors. It’s not easy to talk about that you have been assaulted or harassed, but when it started, I guess women just decided that this is it. This is our chance. We will not tolerate this. So it became an enormous movement, and I don’t think it means we have more or less harassment than anywhere else — it’s probably the same — but it was really a moment where Swedish women just cried out in maybe a broader way than other countries,” she told us. See S w eden • page 20 THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | FebrUARY 2018 | 19

Credit: U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Rebecca Floto, 2D MARDIV Combat Camera

Swedish forces conduct reconnaissance during Exercise Cold Response 16 at Namsos, Norway, on Feb. 29, 2016. While Sweden is officially militarily nonaligned, it works closely with NATO — cooperation that has ramped up in the wake of Russia’s provocations in the region.

Sweden Continued • page 19

through what our foreign minister has been through. But that you can relate to personal experiences is a driving force in politics.”

Personal Resonance

A Feminist Government

Olofsdotter, who served as director-general for trade in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ambassador to Hungary before taking up her current post last September, said she herself has not encountered much discrimination in her 23-year career. That could be in part because her government adopted a policy in the 1970s to recruit more women in an effort to evenly split the diplomatic corps between men and women. Today, she said female ambassadors comprise over 40 percent of Sweden’s Foreign Service. She admits that other nations don’t have the same high ratio of women ambassadors, but “personally for me, it’s always been an advantage because especially on the international scene, it is a male-dominated career, so you stick out.” But her boss approaches the issue of women’s empowerment from a far more personal perspective. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström was in her early 20s when her boyfriend beat her. When she tried to break the relationship off, he held a knife to her throat, leaving behind a small scar on her chin. The psychological wounds also left an indelible mark on Wallström, who throughout her career has tackled women’s issues head-on, ranging from pornography and prostitution to the rape of women in armed conflicts. “I think it’s very important that politicians can use their own stories because it makes people believe them more and not question where they’re coming from,” said Olofsdotter. “Luckily and hopefully most people have not been

In 2014, years before #MeToo took off, Wallström spearheaded Sweden’s feminist foreign policy that incorporates women’s rights into its international agenda. This means promoting the role of women in peacekeeping, human rights, health, the environment, trade and other areas. For example, when Olofsdotter visited Tanzania as director-general for trade, she saw gender-focused development projects firsthand, including one that taught women how to use smartphones for banking. This allowed women to work from home and better manage the family’s finances. “That strengthens the woman’s role in many societies and also increases the economy of the country,” she said. “And which politician doesn’t want to grow its country’s economy?” Likewise, Sweden has adopted policies that prioritize gender equality at home. This includes “gender-responsive budgeting” to support programs that, among other things, aim to narrow the pay gap between men and women; increase assistance to single parents; fund nonprofits that help women refugees; invest in women’s health; and push businesses to raise the number of women in top managerial positions. In the wake of the #MeToo outcry, the government is considering other initiatives as well, including the creation of a new department to specifically deal with gender issues by year’s end. Women have also called for measures such as strengthening protections for whistleblowers, increasing the statutes of limitations for sex crimes, improving


The Riksdag is Sweden’s parliament located in the capital of Stockholm.

Photo: By Arild Vågen - Own work / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Photo: U.S. State Department

U.S. and Swedish flags fly alongside each other on May 14, 2013, as then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Stockholm for meetings with Swedish officials.

Credit: UN Photo / Rick Bajornas

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, seen here speaking last October at the U.N. Security Council’s open debate on children and armed conflict, has spearheaded the world’s first “feminist” foreign policy.

education in schools and expanding the legal definition of rape to cover all forms of nonconsensual sex. Olofsdotter predicts that the #MeToo movement will be a historic milestone, not a passing fad. “I don’t think that sexual harassment will disappear, but I hope that the awareness means that the perpetrators will be more aware that this is not acceptable and that women or men who are harassed will be much more prone to report it. Yes, I think it is a long-term change.” Wallström’s outspoken tenure, however, has sparked a backlash — not so much against her feminist views, but against what critics say is an activist foreign policy that puts idealism ahead of

realism. Her first controversial move as foreign minister was to recognize Palestine as a state. She also lashed out at Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, drawing the ire of businesses, particularly Sweden’s lucrative weapons industry. Olofsdotter did not address the criticism, but pointed out that Wallström and her Social Democratic party — along with its center-left policies — won the last election. “Politics is by nature ideological,” she said. “And you can compare that to this administration recognizing Jerusalem. It’s an ideological and political statement, so all governments usually act in a way with the policies that they have been elected on. So I don’t think it’s

strange…. We have elections every four years, so if the policies of the government are not liked by the public, which includes business people, it will change.” We asked the ambassador if there’s been any resistance to the pro-women policies pushed by the government, especially costly ones like free mammography screening and contraception. “No,” she said, arguing that such policies are not only morally sound, but fiscally smart. “Preventive care saves a lot of money. It’s first of all good for people. That’s the most important thing. But then secondly it also saves a lot of money because you can treat people earlier and it doesn’t cost as much in the end.” The same rationale goes into Sweden’s parental leave system, which is one of the world’s most generous. Parents are entitled to 480 days of paid parental leave when a child is born or adopted, with 90 days of paid leave reserved exclusively for fathers that cannot be transferred to the

mother. Olofsdotter pointed out that as a result of its childfriendly policies, Sweden has one of the highest birthrates in Europe, especially among highly educated women. In stark contrast to Sweden’s expansive childcare approach, the United States has among the skimpiest maternal leave systems in the developed world. It was an uphill battle in the recent Republican tax reform bill just to increase the child tax credit from $1,000 per child to $2,000. But the ambassador says that Sweden’s model of a strong social safety net can’t necessarily be replicated in the United States. “Our systems are built completely differently,” she said, explaining that when you compare Sweden’s high taxes and high benefits to the larger paychecks that Americans take home in return for fewer benefits, “we usually have the same amount left. So it’s an ideologically different way of having a society set up, and one can’t say one is bet-

ter than the other. It’s just very different,” she told us, although she did note that the “female employment level is quite lower in the United States.”

reLationS UnDer trUmP Governing philosophies aside, the differences between Sweden and the United States have been laid bare by an unpredictable American president who hinted at a terrorist attack in Sweden on Twitter that never actually happened. Trump’s lack of foreign policy prowess is compounded by the allegations of sexism that have dogged his presidency. This is a man who bragged about being famous enough to grope women, still faces a litany of harassment lawsuits and reportedly paid a porn star hush money prior to his election to cover up an alleged affair. Olofsdotter skirted around the topic of Trump’s less-then-stellar reputation with the opposite sex to focus more broadly on U.S.Swedish relations, which she said are very good, though not perfect. “We work very closely on a lot of issues. We see eye to eye on Russia, for instance. North Korea is another area we work closely together on…. We don’t see eye to eye on climate, and we don’t see eye to eye on trade. We truly believe in free and open markets, with an even playing field for all countries, and we don’t know yet what U.S. policies will be,” she said, lamenting the administration’s decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade accord. She added that Swedes are worried about the U.S. withdrawing funding for women’s health organizations that perform abortions (Sweden has offered to replace the money). While Olofsdotter did not comment directly on Trump, she did visit “Trump country” in a trip that was chronicled by Greg Jaffe

Sweden at a Glance National Day june 6 (1983) Location northern europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, gulf of Bothnia, Kattegat, and Skagerrak, between Finland and norway

GDP growth 3.1 percent (2017 estimate)

Capital Stockholm

Population below poverty line 15 percent (2014 estimate)

Population 9.96 million (July 2017 estimate)

Unemployment 6.6 percent (2017 estimate)

Ethnic groups indigenous population – Swedes with Finnish and Sami minorities; most common countries of origin among immigrants – Finland, Syria, iraq, Poland, iran

Industries iron and steel, precision equipment (bearings, radio and telephone parts, armaments), wood pulp and paper products, processed foods, motor vehicles

GDP (purchasing power parity) $521.7 billion (2017 estimate)

Flag of Sweden

GDP per-capita (PPP) $51,300 (2017 estimate) SoUrCe: Cia WorLD FaCtBooK

of The Washington Post. Olofsdotter stopped by Pittsburgh “in search of some true-believing, climate-change-denying, anti-free-trade, ‘America first’ Trump voters,” as Jaffe put it. The ambassador spoke with editors at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, students at the University of Pittsburgh and voters in a local library, although she had trouble “finding some aggrieved Trump supporters who were willing to make time for a discussion,” according to the article. Olofsdotter — who previously served in Washington from 2008 to 2011 as deputy chief of mission and also studied at UCLA as a graduate student — told us she was surprised by the attention the article received. “What I think is the most astonishing reaction I received is, ‘Oh you travel.’ Yes, diplomats travel,”

she laughed. “It’s our job to get to know the country where we serve. It just happened that this trip was covered by a journalist.” She was equally surprised by the crowd that showed up at the library to learn about her country and issues such as immigration. “I was extremely impressed that [120] people took the time to come out on a weeknight, and people were very interested and they knew a lot about my country,” she said. “It was fun.” Also impressive was the city of Pittsburgh and its transformation from a rundown steel manufacturing town into a thriving hub for tech and health care companies.


ployment and rising wages, Pennsylvania voters elected Trump, fueled in large part by populist frustrations that Rust Belt states are being left behind. Those same frustrations have propelled the rise of far-right, anti-establishment, anti-immigrant parties in Europe. Olofsdotter said she sees a lot of parallels with the discontent on both sides of the Atlantic. “The cities are growing, attracting a lot of people — that’s where all the jobs are. And you have areas where there are no jobs and people are stuck. So it’s the same kind of frustrations that we have in our societies. “It’s a challenge for our society, both when it comes to new Swedes, to get them into working life, feeling that they are part of their new home and contributing to that, as well as people who live in areas where the jobs have moved or the factories have just closed.” She added: “We have like 100,000 open jobs in Sweden and we have roughly 200,000 unemployed. But it doesn’t match. People don’t have the right skills for the new jobs, which is exactly the same here, so how do we gear our education systems to make people interested in where the jobs are and learning to do those kinds of jobs?” Asked whether Sweden’s two mainstream political parties are capable of taking on such a challenge, she offered a wry smile. “I really hope so because otherwise we would be in a very serious situation.” For many, that serious situation comes in the form of the Sweden Democrats, a far-right party that has emerged in a time of widespread fears over jobs, globalization and immigration, especially refugees from war-torn Muslim nations. Olofsdotter said she could not comment on the Sweden Democrats or any other politi-

Ironically, despite Pittsburgh’s low unem-

See S w eden • Page 22

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Sweden Continued • page 21

cal party, although she cited a recent opinion poll showing support for the Sweden Democrats at 16 percent, down significantly from the popularity it enjoyed in 2015 at the height of Europe’s refugee crisis. Still, politicians are keeping a close eye on the party ahead of Sweden’s elections this September. “Sweden has been a key center of white nationalism for decades…. Nationalists have built this network in a country that immigration opponents worldwide have been closely watching with the belief that it will be the first Western nation to collapse beneath the weight of Muslim immigration,” wrote J. Lester Feder and Edgar Mannheimer in a May 3, 2017, report for Buzzfeed. “With a population of just under 10 million, Sweden accepted around 240,000 asylum-seekers in 2014 and 2015, the largest number per capita of any nation in Europe. Sweden also has one of the fastest-growing nationalist parties, the Sweden Democrats, which grew out of skinhead and neo-Nazi circles in the 1990s and is now polling as Sweden’s second-largest party,” they wrote.

Photo: The Umbrella Syndicate

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The ambassador acknowledges that even though the influx of migrants has slowed down, the refugee crisis is far from resolved. But she says “the election this year will not be about immigration; it will be about integration.” “Since 2015, when Sweden received some 163,000 asylum seekers, the Swedish Migration Agency has made decisions in more than 200,000 cases. Efforts to provide decisions to those who have been waiting for a long time continues, and the agency plans to make decisions on a minimum of 80,000 asylum cases this year,” Olofsdotter said. “The priority for those who have received a decision to stay in Sweden is to provide them with access to the labor market and to education. As for the public sentiment, there is still strong support in Sweden for accepting refugees and asylum seekers,” she added, although she lamented that “EU solidarity and joint responsibility was lacking.” Olofsdotter also disputed the notion that Swedes have turned on Muslim immigrants in the wake of a spate of terrorist attacks, including a string of bomb blasts

last October that didn’t cause any injuries and an April truck hijacking that killed five people. The ambassador said the attacks have unified swedes, including many immigrant communities. She also insisted it is important to differentiate between religions and terrorism, pointing out that many terrorists are homegrown. “It’s easy to blame immigrant communities,” she said. To address the problem, the government is pursuing tougher punishments and increased surveillance, along with outreach to religious groups and families, “so there are various measures, but I don’t think anyone can be immune [to terrorism] in the end.”

Russian Rumblings Another top security concern is Russia, although at least on that front, Olofsdotter says the U.S. and Sweden are on the same page, despite Trump’s repeated praise of Vladimir Putin and denunciations of NATO. “I am not concerned about a transatlantic rift over Russia policies. In fact, our policies and analysis on Russia are to a large extent overlapping and mutually reinforcing,” said the ambassador, who served in Sweden’s embassy in Moscow and its mission to NATO. “One example of our ongoing cooperation is the Aurora 17 military exercises last year in which Swedish and U.S. forces exercised together.” While Sweden is technically “militarily nonaligned,” it does partner with NATO and participate in regional military drills. Still, it is not a member of the 28-member security bloc. Given Russia’s annexation of Crimea and ongoing provocations in the Baltics and Scandinavia, many Swedes are wondering whether they should abandon 200 years of de facto neutrality and join NATO. But fears of provoking Russia, a key trading partner, loom large. The ambassador is circumspect on the issue. “Ongoing cooperation and strong relationships with NATO, the EU, the U.N. and other international bodies are critical for regional stability. Whether Sweden’s future includes NATO membership is to be determined, but it is not something that is on the table at the moment.” WD Anna Gawel (@diplomatnews) is the managing editor of The Washington Diplomat.

Your Source for Diplomatic News

Global Vantage Point | WD

Op-ed: Policy Meat Grinder What the Iran Nuclear Deal Tells Us About Making Foreign Policy Today by Dennis Jett


n July 2015, the United States and five other countries concluded an agreement with Iran concerning that country’s nuclear program. The negotiations stretched over 20 months and the resulting accord ran to more than 30,000 words, but it was based on a simple tradeoff: Iran would get relief from economic sanctions and in return would dismantle parts of its nuclear infrastructure and place limitations on the rest. The goal was to provide the world assurances that the program would not be used to develop nuclear weapons. While some hailed the successful conclusion of the talks as one of the greatest achievements of the Obama administration, others could not condemn the result strongly enough. It became one of the most contentious foreign policy debates in years, and Congress came very close to overturning what the diplomats had accomplished. Opponents of the deal in the United States continue their efforts to undermine it, and it is by no means clear that it will survive under President Trump, who has repeatedly threatened to pull out of the deal. The debate over the agreement revealed not just a sharp difference of opinion, but also how difficult making foreign policy is today. That is because the process is affected by five factors: globalization, partisan politics, money, technology and truth. None of them is new, but all have more impact than in the past.


Photo: U.S. State Department

Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and other officials debate the terms of the Iran nuclear deal in July 2015 shortly before passage of the agreement, which President Trump has tried to unravel despite its support among the other European signatories and China and Russia.

Simply put, globalization is people, things and ideas crossing national boundaries with greater speed, frequency, impact and reach. Anything constrained by those boundaries, like national governments, becomes weaker, while anything that can ignore them grows stronger. Globalization also means that even the world’s only superpower is not all-powerful. And globalization is the reason why the United States cannot confront Iran alone unless it wants to wage another war in the Middle East — this time without any significant allies. Some insist that harsher sanctions will bring Iran to its knees and cause the Iranians to give up their entire Dennis Jett nuclear program. But in the absence of Iran testing a nuclear weapon or committing some other undeniable violation of the agreement, harsher sanctions are not going to happen because the other parties to the agreement — France, Germany, the U.K., Russia and China — will not support them. Given the growing dis-

Nothing ever gets settled in this town. It’s a seething debating society in which the debate never stops, in which people never give up. George P. ShultZ, former U.S. secretary of state

trust abroad of the American government and its intentions, an assertion by Washington of a violation based on an intelligence assessment would convince no one other than Iran’s Sunni enemies. Acting unilaterally to impose harsher sanctions will not work either. Unless broadly adopted by other nations, sanctions would have little impact. Our negotiating partners are not going to tear up the existing agreement simply because Trump thinks it is a bad deal. And they have no desire to return to the negotiating table to seek a better one. To the contrary, our partners recognize Iran must receive some benefit from the agreement for it to succeed, and they are moving ahead with expanded commercial ties. America’s options are therefore limited by the increasing international trade that is part of globalization.

Partisan Politics Globalization isn’t the only thing

constraining the formulation of foreign policy. Toxic partisan politics has become as much a part of the Washington environment as heat and humidity in August. Not a single Republican in Congress supported the agreement, and the contenders for the party’s presidential nomination in 2016 acted as if they were in a contest to claim who would tear it up fastest upon taking office. John Isaacs, a senior fellow at the Center for Arms Control and NonProliferation, pointed out in an article in The Hill that the opposition did not stem from careful consideration: “Most GOP members did not even wait for the ink to dry on the agreement to vigorously oppose the deal presented to Congress on Sept. 14. They did not bother to read the 120page document, study the details, wait for hearings or consult with experts.” The opposition went so far that 47 of the 54 Republican senators wrote an “open letter” to “the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” pointing out that the next American president could

Photo reverse : Palg rave MacM illan any agreement with the stroke of a pen. It was drafted by Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who at that point had been in the Senate for all of 10 weeks. He admitted in a speech at the right-wing Heritage Foundation that “the end of these negotiations isn’t an unintended consequence of congressional action; it is

See Ir an • page 24 THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | FebrUARY 2018 | 23

Iran ContinUeD • Page 23

very much an intended consequence.”

money Senator Cotton’s attempts to put partisan politics ahead of national security in his effort to derail the Iran nuclear deal can be linked to another factor affecting foreign policy: the corrupting influence of money on politics. His election campaign received millions of dollars from pro-Israel billionaires and groups. The Emergency Committee for Israel spent $960,000 to support Cotton. Paul Singer and Seth Klarman, both billionaire hedge fund managers, gave $250,000 and $100,000 respectively. The political action committee run by John Bolton, George W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations whom a Republican Senate refused to confirm, chipped in at least $825,000. Thanks to Citizens United and other decisions by the conservative majority on the Supreme Court, the floodgates have been opened wider than ever before, and there is no longer any real limit on what the wealthy can spend on elections in the hopes of influencing policy. As Trevor Potter, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, described it in a New Yorker article: “A single billionaire can write an eight-figure check and put not just their thumb but their whole hand on the scale — and we often have no idea who they are. Suddenly, a random

by groups outside of government. Think tanks, political advocacy organizations, proIsrael and religious groups, nonprofit associations, veterans’ groups, media outlets, arms control organizations and others weighed in on both sides of the debate. It was a foreign affairs food fight with positions both for and against the agreement argued with great passion and intensity. In an open letter to Congress in April 2015, more than 70 national organizations implored congressmen and senators to support the Iran nuclear deal. Three months later, just after the deal was signed, a large rally was held by dozens of other organizations in New York City, to argue the opposite. Estimated at between 10,000 and 15,000, the crowd urged Congress to vote the deal down. The turnout at the rally was large because the organizers used your socialad media andofother means in to supNOTE: Although every effort is made to assure is free mistakes spelling and the effort. In addition to theproof. rally and content it is ultimately up to the port customer to make the final the open letter, tens of thousands of people contacted their congressmen and hundreds The first two faxed changesPhoto: made at no cost to the advertiser, subsequent State DePartment of thousands signed petitions to express their changes will be billed at a rate of $75 per faxed alteration. Signed ads are considered support or opposition to the agreement. approved. Foreign affairs ministers and other officials from the P5+1 countries, the european Union and iran announce the framework of the iran nuclear deal in Lausanne, Switzerland, on april 2, 2015.

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billionaire can change politics and public mittee (AIPAC) and the Foundation for DeThe involvement of so many organizations Democracies thatfax dedicated thempolicy — to sweep everything else off If thethe fense ad isofcorrect sign and to: (301) 949-0065 needs changes table — even if they don’t speak publicly, and selves to defeating the Iran deal. AIPAC and individuals demonstrates that foreign even if there’s almost no public awareness of spent between $20 million and $40 million policy is not limited to diplomats holding The Washington Diplomat (301) 933-3552 in the effort, and a good bit of that was Adel- quiet discussions behind closed doors. Apparhis or her views.” ently, the Founding Fathers did not anticipate One such billionaire, who makes no secret son’s money. Approved __________________________________________________________ Whether driven by ideology or money, the the creation of the internet and the spread of of his policy preferences, is casino owner debate over the Iran nuclear issue marked a social media. They didn’t plan for the tens of Sheldon Adelson. He once suggested detoChanges ___________________________________________________________ nating a nuclear weapon in the desert in Iran new low in relations between the Republican thousands of lobbyists engaged in that multi___________________________________________________________________ majorities in Congress and the Obama ad- billion-dollar industry and the thousands of just to show them America means business. He is a major funder of a number of groups ministration. It also prompted a remarkable, like the American Israel Public Affairs Com- perhaps unprecedented, level of involvement See Ir an • Page 46

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International Affairs | WD

Corruption Crusaders From Burkina Faso to Ukraine, Grassroots Movements Take on Graft by Larry Luxner


hat do Burkina Faso’s Blaise Compaoré, Ukraine’s Viktor Yanukovych and Guatemala’s Otto Pérez Molina have in common? Answer: All three were deeply corrupt presidents ousted by peaceful, democratic grassroots movements, despite aggressive, often violent efforts to remain in power. Recently, leaders of those movements gathered at Washington’s U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) to share their experiences — and to inspire like-minded activists in other countries from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe that are ruled by authoritarian regimes. For those who couldn’t make it, the title of the Oct. 23 event says it all: “To Curb Corruption and Violence, Engage the Grassroots: Policies and Programs Can Do More in Sync with Local Movements.” William Taylor, executive vice president at USIP, emphasized right from the start that the United States is certainly no exception when it comes to abuse of power. “We Americans have our own problems with corruption,” said Taylor, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009 and an expert on the Middle East. “When I was in Ukraine, I would often tell people that in any local newspaper in the United States — and in any state of the union — you can find some story about corruption,” Taylor said, rattling off a string of headlines. “Honolulu police officer arrested in continuing probe of public corruption. Former Navy comptroller sentenced for accepting illegal gratuities. Baltimore city police detective pleads guilty to racketeering. Congressional staffer pleads guilty to extensive fraud and money laundering. Former New York deputy secretary of state sentenced to 30 months in prison for perjury. So this happens all over. The question for us today is what’s the link to conflict, how can we mitigate it, how can we avoid it and how can we deal with it when it comes.”

Widespread Scourge Of course, corruption is a relative term, and the perception of corruption varies greatly from one country to the next. According to Berlin-based Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2016, Denmark and New Zealand tied for the title of cleanest country on Earth, both scoring 90 on a zero-to100 scale. They were followed by Finland (89), Sweden (88), Switzerland (86), Norway (85), Singapore (84), the Netherlands (83) and Canada (82). The United States, with a score of 74, ranked 18th on the list — right behind Austria and just ahead of Ireland. At the bottom of the barrel were five failed states whose awful scores should surprise no one: Yemen (14), Syria (13), North Korea (12), South Sudan (11) and Somalia (10). Sadly, two-thirds of the 176 countries and territories in the latest index fall below the midpoint, with the global average score a paltry 43 out of 100. The issue of corruption has gained notoriety in recent years with a string of high-profile scandals, including the web of pay-to-play scandals that have rocked Brazilian politics since 2014. The so-called Operation Carwash investigations into money laundering and billions of dollars in illegal payments related to Brazil’s state-owned oil company and the

Credit: UN Photo / J. Carrier

Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina prepares to address the U.N. General Assembly in September 2012. In 2015, the #RenunciaYa (Resign Now) grassroots movement exposed corruption in Molina’s administration, leading to his ouster and arrest.

In too many countries, people are deprived of their most basic needs and go to bed hungry every night because of corruption, while the powerful and corrupt enjoy lavish lifestyles with impunity. José Ugaz

chair of Transparency International

construction company Odebrecht has been called the biggest corruption scandal in history. In fact, bribery and corruption at Odebrecht alone has ensnared former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, along with the presidents of Colombia and Guatemala, as well as top officials in the Dominican Republic. But the problem is widespread and crosses borders. In South Korea, President Park Geun-hye resigned last year and now faces possible jail time after allegations she collected or demanded over $50 million in bribes from corporations and even the state spy agency. High-level corruption in South Africa that is often described as state robbery has repeatedly threatened the presidency of Jacob Zuma. Romania has been rocked by fierce protests against a government effort to erode the rule of law and lessen punishments for corruption-related offenses. Indonesia’s parliament is embroiled in a graft scandal that has revealed how entrenched corruption is at the highest levels. Chinese

President Xi Jinping has made tackling corruption among high-level communist party officials a hallmark of his agenda. And Saudi Arabia made news with a massive corruption purge that arrested scores of prominent businessmen and officials and seized billions of dollars in assets. Smaller nations are also working to address the problem of graft. Laos has launched an anti-corruption drive to recoup over $100 million in lost money. Tanzanian President John Magufuli, who says he takes home a monthly salary of $4,008, has cracked down on lavish government trips, fired unqualified civil servants and forced corporations to cough up unpaid taxes. Corruption not only touches practically every nation in the world, it also infiltrates every level of society, whether it’s a policeman demanding a bribe at a traffic stop or a top-ranking official receiving kickbacks in a business contract. Not only does this sap the public’s faith in governments, it exacerbates inequality and poverty, feeding populist movements. It can even fuel radicalism and revolutions. In her book “Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security,” Carnegie senior fellow Sarah Chayes links corruption with violent extremism. She argues that social dysfunction in countries ranging from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan can often be traced to endemic corruption, which has soared to such levels that “governments resemble glorified criminal gangs, bent solely on their own enrichment,” she writes. This in turn, Chayes says, drives average citizens — fed up with the daily humiliation of propping up a mafia-like system — to revolution (as was the case in Egypt) or puritanical religion, often in the form of radicalism. Corruption also has the more direct effect of unSee C or r u pt ion • page 26 THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | FebrUARY 2018 | 25

Corruption Continued • page 25

dercutting economic growth. For example, in 2014, a former central bank governor in Nigeria lost his job after claiming that $20 billion had been pilfered from government coffers. In a February 2016 report, The Economist claimed that this theft, while staggering, was just the tip of the iceberg. Citing studies from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the magazine said that by 2030, the size of Africa’s largest economy should triple. “Yet if Nigeria manages to reduce corruption to levels comparable to Malaysia (itself hardly above suspicion: its prime minister recently had to explain how almost $700 million had made it into his bank account), its economy could be some 37 percent bigger still. The additional gain would be worth some $534 billion (adjusted for inflation), or about as much as the economy is currently worth,” it wrote. By enriching the privileged, corruption diverts money that might otherwise be used to pull people out of poverty or build schools and hospitals. “In too many countries, people are deprived of their most basic needs and go to bed hungry every night because of corruption, while the powerful and corrupt enjoy lavish lifestyles with impunity,” said José Ugaz, chair of Transparency International. USIP senior fellow Shaazka Beyerle agrees. “Corruption can function as a system of abuse of power for personal, economic or political gain,” she told her audience. “It involves all kinds of complicated relationships. Most of them we’ll never know about, which is one of the reasons it’s so hard to tackle. Those who are gaining from corruption have a vested interest to perpetuate the system. So when we try to introduce reforms, all those vested interests will be fighting back, because it threatens all their gains.” Moderated by Philippe LerouxMartin, director of USIP’s Rule of Law, Justice and Security program, the Oct. 23 panel featured three activists: Idrissa Barry of Burkina Faso, Taras Shevchenko of Ukraine and Lucía Mendizábal of Guatemala. Here are their stories:

Burkina Faso: Idrissa Barry Idrissa Barry is a founding member of Burkina Faso’s Le Balai Citoyen (Citizens Broom) movement. The editor-in-chief of Mutations — an investigative journal in the capital city, Ouagadougou — he helped launch the movement in response to efforts by President Blaise Compaoré to remain indefinitely as the leader of this landlocked, Coloradosize West African nation of 19 million. “Our symbol is the broom, because you can find a broom in every house — and we wanted to sweep away bad governance,” explained Barry, speaking in French through an interpreter. “We had a president whose regime had been around for 26 years. That presidency was remarkable for its bad governance and

Photo: Anton Wagner / Pixabay

Women create pottery in a village in Burkina Faso. Fed up with rampant corruption and poverty, the Citizens Broom movement launched protests in 2014 in response to efforts by President Blaise Compaoré to remain indefinitely as the leader of this landlocked, Colorado-size West African nation of 19 million.

corruption. Sometimes there was political violence and murder. And that president was trying to modify the constitution to stay in power even longer.” Le Balai Citoyen, which was cofounded by two musicians in July 2013, eventually merged with other political movements into a unified grassroots effort to prevent Compaoré from running again. “We, the youth of Burkina Faso, decided to request that the constitution be respected,” he explained. “To us, the most important thing is respecting the constitution, which was adopted by all the people.” Members, who carry brooms during their protests, were a prominent part of the street uprising in October 2014 that culminated in the burning of the National Assembly and other key government buildings, as well as the headquarters of Compaoré’s ruling party. Compaoré eventually fled to Côte d’Ivoire, and an interim government was installed. “We decided we would not be a part of that new government or congress, because we knew the situation was not yet completely stable. It was important to make sure we still have a civil society that was completely independent and available to watch over the whole process, to make sure the elections were free,” said Barry. “We were right in doing so, because later in September, there was an attempted coup by the former government’s security forces. We had to rally people again to resist that attempt. People came out with their bare hands against the security forces. A dozen people died and many people were injured, but at least we were able to save democracy in Burkina Faso.” Since then, the country’s political situation has stabilized. In November 2015, voters elected Roch Marc Christian Kaboré president with 53.5 percent of all ballots cast. “We got a law passed against corruption and a law allowing us free access to documents after a year of fighting to obtain that access,” Barry said. “We were also successful in getting a law in place that protects peo-


ple who advocate for human rights.”

Ukraine: Taras Shevchenko Joining USIP via Skype from his home in Kiev was Taras Shevchenko, executive director of the Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law. Shevchenko was one of thousands of young people sick and tired of the endemic corruption Ukrainians had to endure under pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, who had been elected president in February 2010 but was removed from power four years later following the popular Euromaidan uprising. “Ukrainian civil society is united to combat corruption and advocate for reforms, and that happened three and a half years ago when we had our Dignity Revolution,” he said. “At that moment, when most people were protesting against corruption, against impunity, against Yanukovych, a smaller proportion of people started thinking about a positive agenda.” Shevchenko said things had deteriorated drastically since the socalled Orange Revolution of November 2004, when thousands of demonstrators occupied Kiev’s Independence Square following presidential elections tainted by massive corruption, voter intimidation and electoral fraud. “At that time, people supported Yanukovych. After he won, people thought, ‘OK, we did our job,’” he said. “But the Euromaidan revolution in 2014 didn’t really support any candidate. Nobody was thinking about who would become the next leader of Ukraine. In fact, people are actually motivated to follow the government, monitor what they’re doing and engage in anti-corruption initiatives.” After the 2014 revolution, Shevchenko and his fellow Euromaidan activists co-founded the Reanimation Package of Reforms (RPR), a coalition of 73 NGOs that develops, promotes and implements reforms. To date, it has advocated

more than 100 laws. He’s also helped draft numerous legislative acts, including the Access to Public Information Law. Despite Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and an ongoing separatist war in eastern Ukraine fueled by Kremlin propaganda, Shevchenko said the focus remains on getting rid of corrupt officials and ending impunity. “Ukraine is still quite corrupt, but a lot has changed,” he said, explaining that the enthusiasm of public protests has been successfully channeled into institutions with rules and expertise. In many cases, civil society is now stronger as an institution than most political parties. “We cannot expect foreign countries to come and reform our state,” he said. “We’re not waiting for donors to make reforms. We’re really thankful for their support, but we understand it’s the job of the Ukrainian people to reform their own country.”

Guatemala: Lucía Mendizábal Founder of the #RenunciaYa (Resign Now) movement, businesswoman Lucía Mendizábal decided she was fed up with Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina and the country’s vice president, Roxana Baldetti. Together with half a dozen of her friends, she formed an online protest group that galvanized tens of thousands of protesters and eventually brought both leaders down — without a single violent incident. Mendizábal’s movement took off following an April 2015 report by CICIG, a United Nations-backed anti-corruption agency, that linked Pérez Molina, Baldetti and other high-ranking politicians to an enormous corruption ring involving customs fraud, illegal kickbacks and a secret phone line called “La Linea.” “Every time an investigation got too close to power, they had to stop it because these people were protected by law and could not be investigated,” she said. “People commit crimes

but they never see a day in court.” On April 16, 2015, Mendizábal created an event on Facebook inviting her friends to go downtown and demand Baldetti’s resignation. “I said to myself, ‘If we get 350 people, that would be very successful,’” she recalled. “People started saying, ‘Yes, I’m coming.’ I remember that when were at 1,000, I started asking friends to join me. One friend said, ‘Let’s use the hashtag RenunciaYa’ — and that’s how we became a movement.” But nobody in the group knew much about politics. “I was in real estate and another worked in a bank. We didn’t quite know what to do, and we were very scared. But it started growing and growing, to the point that 10,000 people showed up on April 25. It was amazing,” said Mendizábal, adding that despite their fear, “as long as we were peaceful, there was nothing they could do.” To further protect themselves, organizers asked the protesters not to cover their faces or wear the colors of any particular political party, and to follow the law. To their surprise, crowds grew larger and larger every day, until Baldetti actually resigned. Energized by their success, Mendizábal and her fellow activists began demanding the resignation of Pérez Molina too. On Aug. 27, more than 100,000 people took to the streets throughout Central America’s largest country — the largest mass political protest in Guatemalan history. The following month, CICIG unveiled recordings of phone conversations that directly linked both Pérez Molina and Baldetti to the customs scandal. Within 24 hours, the president had resigned; the next day he was put in prison. “I believe the State Department, through [then U.S. ambassador] Todd Robinson had a big role in this,” Mendizábal said in answer to a question from The Washington Diplomat on how influential the United States was in ending the crisis. “At some point, we felt the American government was behind Pérez Molina, but then something happened, and the government realized it didn’t want anything to do with him. I have no proof of this, but I believe they had a big role in convincing him to resign as well.” For her efforts, Mendizábal was included in CNN’s list of nine women who changed the world in 2015 — alongside such luminaries as former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Yet Mendizábal herself warns that much remains to be done back home. And for that, she said, Guatemala will need help from groups like USIP. “In Guatemala, the whole system is corrupt,” she said. “We have corruption in the courts, in Congress, in the presidency and in the lower ranks of bureaucracy, because it’s not always the higher ranks that are corrupt. We need to change the law — and it’s not easy for us to press for that if we don’t have organized civil society or international aid helping us.” WD Tel Aviv-based journalist Larry Luxner is news editor of The Washington Diplomat.

Medical A Special Section of The Washington Diplomat

February 2018

‘One-Stop’ Screening Blood Test to Detect Eight Types of Cancers Shows Early Promise •


n an early step toward “onestop” screening for cancer, researchers report they’ve developed a blood test that can detect eight types of the disease. The blood test is dubbed Can-

cerSEEK. It was able to catch cancer cases anywhere from 33 percent to 98 percent of the time, depending on the type. The accuracy range was better — 69 percent to 98 percent — when it

photo: RoMaSet / ShutteRStoCK

BY aMY noRton

came to five cancers that currently have no widely used screening test, the scientists reported in a new study. See Screening • page 28


Screening Continued • page 27

Those cancers included ovarian, pancreatic, stomach, liver and esophageal cancers. The researchers said the findings are an “exciting” initial step. The hope is to eventually have a single blood test that can screen people for a range of common cancers. “This is a proof-of-concept,” said Dr. Anne Marie Lennon, one of the researchers on the work. “Will this eventually impact patients’ care? I think it will. This is a first step, but it’s an important one.” In recent years, researchers have been studying “liquid biopsies” — tests that look for cancer markers in the blood or other body fluids. Those markers can include, for instance, mutated genes or abnormal proteins shed from tumors. But it can be like looking for “less than a needle” in a haystack, said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. So far, liquid biopsies have mostly been tested in patients with advanced cancer. Early stage cancers shed fewer markers. “You have to detect smaller and smaller molecules that are swimming in a sea of background noise,” Lichtenfeld said. CancerSEEK is different because it combines tests that look for 16 genes and 10 proteins linked

Photo: Fotolia

In an early step toward “one-stop” screening for cancer, researchers report they’ve developed a blood test that can detect eight types of the disease.

to cancer, explained Lennon, of Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore, Md. “That’s a big move forward,” she said. This test also tries to tackle a limitation of other liquid biopsies: namely, that they can suggest cancer is present, but can’t show where. The CancerSEEK test uses a computer algorithm to try to pinpoint the organ, or at least narrow it to a couple of possibilities.

But much work remains. “This is not ready for routine clinical use,” Lennon said. For one, the current study did not look at whether CancerSEEK can actually screen for tumors. Its accuracy was tested in patients already diagnosed with cancer. Screening, by definition, means testing apparSee Screening • page 30

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Screening CONTINUED • page 28


ently healthy people for early signs of cancer, before symptoms arise. “We still need to study this prospectively in people who aren’t known to have cancer,� Lennon said. The findings are published in the Jan. 19 issue of Science. They’re based on 1,005 patients who had any of eight cancers: breast, colon, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, stomach, liver or esophageal. Most had stage 2 or 3 cancer, which generally means the tumor is growing and may be spreading into nearby tissue. Twenty percent

Will this eventually impact patients’ care? I think it will. This is a first step, but it’s an important one. dR. anne MaRie lennon


director of the Multidisciplinary Pancreatic Cyst Clinic at Johns Hopkins University

“Just because we’re able to detect a protein, had smaller, stage 1 tumors. Overall, the blood test typically detected 70 that doesn’t mean we’ll save everyone’s life,� he percent of cases, though the accuracy varied noted. Still, he said he’s “hopeful� that this or similar depending on the cancer. It spotted only 33 percent of breast cancers, but caught 98 percent of tests will eventually offer a way to catch particuovarian cancers — a particularly lethal disease. larly deadly cancers, such as ovarian and panAnd it was better at detecting stage 2 or 3 can- creatic tumors, earlier. The study was funded by grants from foundacers, versus stage 1, the investigators found. The researchers also tested blood samples tions and the U.S. National Institutes of Health. from 812 healthy people, to see how often the Lennon and several co-researchers are inventest gave “false-positive� results. That happened tors on patents or patent applications covering technology used in the study. less than 1 percent of the time. That’s promising, Lennon said, because for any test to be useful for screening, its false-pos- Amy Norton is a HealthDay reporter. itive rate has to be low. Copyright Š 2018 HealthDay. “This is an important study. It’s elegant science,� said Lichtenfeld. “We’re moving farther All rights reserved. down the path toward using [a test like this] for screening. But there’s a long way to go.� NOTE: Although every effort is made to assure your ad is free of mistakes in spelling and content it is ultimately up to thethe customer to make the final proof. As for cost, the researchers estimate the blood LeArn MOre: u.S. national Cancer test could run less than $500 — comparable to institute has more on liquid biopsies at The first two faxed changes will be made at no cost to the advertiser, subsequent changes will be billed at a rate of $75 per faxed alteration. Signed ads are considered approved. a colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer, check non thisnoted. ad carefully. Mark any changes to your ad. Ultimately, Lichtenfeld said, the big question currents-blog/2017/liquid-biopsy-detectsIf the ad is correct sign and fax to: (301) 949-0065 changes will be: Does this kind of testing save people’s needs treats-cancer. photo: SCienCe RF / Fotolia lives? The Washington Diplomat (301) 933-3552 Approved __________________________________________________ Changes ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

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Culture arts & entertainment art

diplomatic spouses


Doctors of Diplomacy Hungary’s Laszló Szabó and his wife Ivonn Szeverényi are both doctors who have switched gears to focus on diplomacy during his first ambassadorial posting in D.C. / PAGE 35




The Washington Diplomat




February 2018



GLOBAL VILLAGE Oil paintings, beaded jewelry, hand-carved masks, silk scarves and plenty

of food turned the atrium of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center into a microcosm of global culture at the sixth annual Winternational Embassy Showcase on Dec. 6. / PAGE 32


Modernist Imprint The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s innovative exhibition on Mexican modernist Rufino Tamayo explores the links between the artist’s dynamic work and the vibrant world of New York’s art scene in the 20th century. / PAGE 36


Equality on Stage Before the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, there was D.C.’s Women’s Voices Theater Festival, a forward-thinking month-long celebration that gave female-penned plays their proper due. / PAGE 37

text / PAGE 32




Art / Dance / Discussions Music / Theater / PAGE 42

Choral Arts Society Gala / Albanian National Day / PAGE 44 THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | FEBRUARY 2018 | 31

WD | Culture | Festivals

Winternational Wonderland Dozens of Embassies Showcase Cultures and Traditions at Ronald Reagan Building •



il paintings, beaded jewelry, hand-carved masks, silk scarves and plenty of food turned the atrium of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center into a microcosm of global culture at the sixth annual Winternational Embassy Showcase on Dec. 6. A record 39 embassies participated in this year’s event, ranging from Afghanistan, the European Union and Malawi, to Saudi Arabia, Peru and Vietnam. Over 3,500 people converged on the colorful midday celebration to visit an array of embassy booths that highlighted the art, food, handicrafts, trade and tourism of their respective nations. “This event started as an idea we had to do a winter festival of traditions from around the world. It started as a very, very small event,” said John P. Drew, president and CEO of TCMA (a Drew Company), the exclusive manager of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. “Over the years, we’ve expanded and welcomed more and more embassies. And the theme kind of broadened — showcase your culture, your traditions and your countries here all in one setting. And that’s what we do at the Trade Center. We try to bring people together to promote trade, commerce and culture, so this is just a perfect offshoot of that.” Drew added that in a time of heightened political tensions, especially in Washington, D.C., “cultural diplomacy is more important than it’s ever been,” noting that many foreigners have the impression that Americans are not particularly interested in affairs outside their borders. “In fact, we have more embassies in D.C. than we have anywhere in the world. And we’re able to basically talk about what is going on in these countries and expose people to traditions and cultures that maybe they wouldn’t read about in today’s climate.” Mohammad Ziauddin, ambassador of Bangladesh, told The Diplomat that this is the second time his embassy has participated in Winternational. “This is a huge experience for me. People from practically all over the world are here,” he said. “It’s just like a miniature replica of a global village, and this is the way the world should be right now — people from all parts of the world, irrespective of their race, religion, caste, creed and color, they intermingle as one people, as one race,” he added. “And this is a good thing that it’s happening in Washington, D.C., which is the capital of the United States. In fact, whatever happens in Washington, D.C., is seen all over the world, so we’re happy this is expanding, and we want to keep on participating in this event every year. And we also hope more and more countries come as well.” Ambassador of Botswana David John Newman said he’s also seen the event grow and attract more people since the embassy began participating in it. “We think it’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase our country, showcase our cultural activities and our food,” he said. “We’ve highlighted our hand-woven baskets, [which are] particularly famous. They’re made in the northwest of the country by the women there in certain communities in the Okavango Delta, which is very famous for safaris, but little known in terms of the baskets that are made there, so we like to showcase that.” Other embassies featured a broad spectrum of items. The Moldovan



Above, ambassadors and representatives from 39 embassies participate in the sixth annual Winternational Embassy Showcase. At right, art, handicrafts and other items were on display at the 2017 Winternational Embassy Showcase. John P. Drew, president and CEO of TCMA, the exclusive manager of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center; Ambassador of Botswana David John Newman; Ambassador of Bangladesh Mohammad Ziauddin and Ambassador of Kosovo Vlora Çitaku.

Embassy highlighted its homemade wines, while handmade wrist-warmers and holiday decorations were on sale at Lithuania’s booth. At the European Union station, guests spun a pinwheel with the names of the 28 member states. Each country came with a trivia question and a prize if the person got the answer right. Elephant sculptures and masks made of redwood graced Malawi’s table, while elaborately crafted Islamic dresses reflected the artistry of designers from Saudi Arabia. SEE WINTERNATIONAL • PAGE 34

Festivals | Culture | WD

The Embassy of Pakistan participates in Winternational.


Above, over 3,500 people attended Winternational 2017. At left, the Embassy of Malawi participates in Winternational.

Ambassador of Kosovo Vlora ร‡itaku and Andrew Gelfuso, vice president of global business development for TCMA.

Ambassador of Costa Rica Romรกn Macaya and John P. Drew, president and CEO of TCMA.

The Embassy of Panama participates in Winternational.

The Embassy of Bangladesh offers henna painting.


WD | Culture | Festivals

The Embassy of Australia participates in Winternational.

The European Union Delegation features a trivia quiz on its member states. PHOTOS: RONALD REAGAN BUILDING AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE CENTER

Winternational CONTINUED • PAGE 32

Many of the handicrafts on display also came with intriguing backstories. The Embassy of Turkey showcased handmade wind chimes that are meant to convey positive energy and are often given to young couples as gifts. The intricate metalwork on the chimes represents pomegranates, a critical export for Turkey that also symbolizes abundance and fertility. Ornate jewelry and stunning beaded slippers fit for a princess were on display at Singapore’s booth, which took its inspiration from the Peranakan peoples, Ambassador of Botswana David John Newman, left, and his staff display who descended from marriages between basket-weaving techniques from the Okavango Delta. Chinese or Indian men and local Malay or Indonesian women. This rich hybrid of ethnic traditions produced the Peranakan style, which includes “nyonya kebayas,” a traditional blouse-dress combination punctuated by meticulous embroidery depicting roses, orchids, butterflies, bees and other designs. The Embassy of Bulgaria touted a little-known but lucrative national industry: the production of rose oil and essential oils that are used as ingredients in French perfumes and other products all over the world. “We’re also promoting Bulgaria as a tourist destination. Tourism is quite developed in my country, and it’s an important part of our GDP,” said Bulgarian Ambassador Tihomir Stoytchev. “We have wonderful resorts on the Black Sea and in the mountains, so it’s a good combination between winter and summer resorts.” Costa Rican Ambassador Román Macaya has participated in Winternational for the last three years. “It’s a great event. It’s a great venue, and it draws from the Washington community. It’s a community that’s well-educated and well-traveled, so it’s a good venue to promote our country, and we’ll never miss it,” he said, noting that the traditional delicacies at his booth “literally give you a flavor of Costa Rica.” “Winternational is an exciting celebration which showcases the cultural and culinary traditions of D.C.’s diplomatic community. This festival is a global marketplace which offers flavors of various countries culture and cuisine as well as insights on their country promotion, trade and investment opportunities,” said Andrew Gelfuso, vice president of global business development for TCMA. “It is a one-of-a-kind experience for our audience to learn and mingle with ambassadors and diplomats.” As one visitor mentioned while perusing the various booths: “It embodies what internationalism is all about.” WD Anna Gawel (@diplomatnews) is the managing editor of The Washington Diplomat. 34 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | FEBRUARY 2018

Beaded slippers at the Singapore booth illustrate the designs of the Peranakan peoples, who descended from marriages between Chinese or Indian men and local Malay or Indonesian women.

The Embassy of Turkey showcased handmade wind chimes.

Nurasyikin Azman, first secretary of the Embassy of Singapore.

The Embassy of Colombia participates in 2017 Winternational.

Singapore’s Peranakan style includes “nyonya kebayas,” a traditional blouse-dress combination punctuated by meticulous embroidery.

Diplomatic Spouses | Culture | WD

The Doctors Are In Hungarian Doctors Now Focus on Diplomacy, While Daughters Dabble in Film •



hey are both medical doctors. Their two oldest daughters have already appeared in a movie even though they are only 8 and 10 years old. He is also a firsttime ambassador and she is eager to serve in a city that many still regard as the top diplomatic posting in the world. “Hungary is strong in filmmaking,” said Hungarian Ambassador Laszló Szabó, who had just lit a fire in the fireplace as he joined us for the interview with his wife, Dr. Ivonn Szeverényi. “Hungary is the second country in the world after the U.K. in movie production.” This particular film though was shot in Hollywood and Budapest and is beHungarian Ambassador Laszló Szabó ing edited in Rome. Their two older and his wife, Ivonn Szeverényi, also girls, Laura and Sylvia, along with their above, pose for a family photo with 3-year-old sister Sophia, attend the Brittheir three daughters. ish School of Washington, where a movie producer came looking for young actors for the film “A Rose in Winter.” school, she taught certified good “Ten-year old Laura was chosen for clinical practices organized by the her English but had to learn to talk with National Drug Institute of Huna German accent,” Szabó said. “The film’s gary. This training is necessary for in postproduction now and we’re not clinical trials and lab research. sure when it will be ready or where it will When her husband left medibe shown.” cal school, he went into private “The girls are in an after-school club, practice in the early 1990s. Then musical theater. I talked with them he left medicine and joined several [when they got the offer] and told them it pharmaceutical companies, includmight be fun to try it but not to have high ing Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, where expectations,” Szeverényi told us, noting he served, among other things, as that the girls are also learning to play the team leader for the United Kingpiano on a Yamaha. She said that music dom; country manager for New and performing run in the family. “My Zealand and the South Pacific; husband plays the guitar, both electric general manager for Hungary; and and acoustic, and the sitar. He’s already vice president of China human retalked with former Hungarian Ambaslations. From 2010 to 2014, he was PHOTOS: TONY POWELL sador András Simonyi, who lives and CEO of Teva Hungary in Budapest works here and continues to play guitar in the before switching gears to work in diplomacy. rock band The Coalition of The Willing.” He previously served as state secretary for forMedicine also runs in her family. Szeveréeign affairs and trade, as well as parliamentary nyi’s father and brother are OB-GYN specialstate secretary deputy minister before being ists and her mother is a dentist. “Our medical appointed ambassador to the U.S. in July 2017. school is six years long but when my mother “When I told the girls we were coming to finished medical school, she decided to go on Washington and why, they wanted to know to dental school, which is another five years.” where we would live. I told them it was a new Both Szeverényi and her husband went to house with a swimming pool. They were althe University of Debrecen Medical School, 15 ready planning their sleepovers,” Szeverényi years apart. It was Central Europe’s first mediquipped. “It is a cozy life.” cal school campus, opening in 1918. Debrecen But they do miss Budapest and are very DR. IVONN SZEVERÉNYI is the second-largest city in Hungary after Buproud of how their Hungarian capital, now a wife of Hungarian Ambassador Laszló Szabó dapest. “A lot of Hungarian-Americans return popular tourist destination, has transformed to Hungary to go to medical school there and itself. “There is a new visitor’s center, a gastrocome back to practice here. We also get many medical students from Norway and nomical explosion with five Michelin-star restaurants and live music everywhere. China,” Szeverényi said. We have a famous rock festival, Sziget, lots of movies, jazz and more people “It is difficult to be a doctor and a mother,” she added. “Plus, if you have two speaking English. It’s a high cultural life,” she said. 24-hour careers in one family, you have to decide who will work full time and “Budapest has the world’s fastest mobile phone network, high-speed internet who will work part time. Two full careers is a bit much. all over town by the end of the year, and we are testing self-driving cars this com“I stayed home three years with the children,” she explained. “In Hungary, your ing year,” the ambassador added. “We have the most [Summer] Olympic medemployer has to keep your place [job] for you…. If your child is less than 3, you als per capita, the most Nobel Literature and Science awards per capita and two get a pension for staying home and your regular paycheck too. You don’t have Oscar winners.” to choose between staying home with your child or making money. Hungarian “Hungary’s quality of workforce is well known,” his wife chimed in. “Everyone society appreciates you staying home with your children.” has one or two foreign languages, usually English and German — and a view of Currently, Szeverényi is working part time as a professional leader with the the whole world.” European Healthcare Projects at the Government Healthcare Financing Center When I asked the ambassador if he will continue in foreign service or return to in Budapest. Instead of choosing private practice, she has always picked pub- pharmaceuticals and medicine, his response was quick. “I will go back to private lic health or pharmaceutical work. When the family spent several years in In- business where my salary is 10 times higher. This is not a charity job. I am doing dianapolis, she became a medical writer for Eli Lilly and Co. Between 2005 and it out of an act of patriotism. This was not a financial decision.” WD 2008, she worked as a clinical research associate for AstraZeneca in their Central and Eastern European Regional Clinical Center. During her last years of medical Gail Scott is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

It is difficult to be a doctor and a mother. Plus, if you have two 24-hour careers in one family, you have to decide who will work full time and who will work part time. Two full careers is a bit much.


WD | Culture | Art

Give and Take ‘Tamayo: The New York Years’ Chronicles Mexican Artist’s Modernist Legacy •



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he Smithsonian American Art MuPHOTO: © THE IRVING PENN FOUNDATION seum’s innovative exhibition on “Tamayo: The New York Years” examines Mexican modernist Rufino Tamayo Mexican modernist Rufino Tamayo’s explores the links between the artist’s influence on New York’s art scene through dynamic work and the vibrant world of New works such as Tamayo’s 1942 “Dog Barking York’s art scene in the 20th century. at the Moon (Perro ladrando a la luna),” “Tamayo: The New York Years” takes a look left, 1936’s “Carnival,” bottom, and Irving Penn’s portrait of the artist in 1947, above. at the way the artist was shaped by his time living in the city intermittently from the late 1920s to 1949, and how he infused that transformaTamayo’s work “becomes emtive experience with his study of pre-Columblematic of a new phase in the art of bian and Mexican folk art to develop his own the Americas, one that very much vision. The inventive show also reflects on the engaged in representing the crises ways he crossed borders and influenced other of the day in a language that was artists with his aesthetic focus, placing Tamayo much more emotive and formal,” at the heart of American modernism in the last Ramos said. century even as his path diverged from some of “His work and ideas really overthe most famous Mexican artists of the era. lap with the burgeoning generation E. Carmen Ramos, the museum’s deputy of abstract expressionists who were chief curator and curator of Latino art, wanted familiar with his work and also PHOTO: © TAMAYO HEIRS/MEXICO/LICENSED BY VAGA, NY to host an exhibition that drew attention to a found inspiration — not so much prominent Latin American artist who “had an from his actual art making and the important impact on American art.” She said mechanics of his art making — but she was interested in expanding beyond the from his outlook and how he was more widely known Mexican muralism movepositioning Mexican art in a local ment and exploring “the next chapter of that and universal, international way,” impact.” Tamayo — with his aesthetic focus she added. and melding of modernism with Mexican culTamayo’s work is notable for its ture — emerged as a natural focal point for a often playful and dreamy approach new show, she told The Washington Diplomat. to subjects, with objects and figures “He was very interested, like the muralists, that float through the space of his in exploring Mexican culture and creating a canvases. Wandering through the Mexican art. But he was very interested in also gallery, museumgoers are able to dialoguing with international trends, and his trace the artist’s thematic interests work was much less interested in and invested and explore his visions of both the in radical politics,” Ramos said. modern city and of Mexican tradiThrough his time in New York, Tamayo was tions. His paintings grab the eye able to interact with key artists such as Stuart with their rich colors and use of Davis and Reginald Marsh and to see, for the symbols — a massive dog set against PHOTO: GREG PAGE / PAGE ONE STUDIO / © TAMAYOHEIRS/MEXICO/LICENSED BY VAGA, NY first time in person, the works of major Euroa stunning blue background howls pean artists such as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. “Coming to New York at the moon, statuesque figures hold the viewer’s gaze in family portraits, and an was really important to him in exposing him to a whole world of art making,” exuberant clown that seems to pop out of the painting grins at passersby. Ramos noted. The Mexican diplomatic community played a key role in this exhibition, Ra“That transformed his approach to Mexican art, his dedication to formal mos noted. Gerónimo Gutiérrez Fernández, Mexico’s ambassador to the United issues. He remained committed to wanting to represent Mexican culture and States, serves as the honorary patron for the exhibition, and the Mexican CulMexican history. But he approached it in a very different way from the muralists, tural Institute also provided support. And that assistance offers a reminder of and I thought that was an important story to tell,” she said. the importance art played in diplomatic relations between the United States and According to the museum, the exhibit considers how New York, with its Mexico in the 1920s. sights, artists, critics, collectors and venues, “nurtured Tamayo’s vision of mod“Tamayo plays a slight role in that. His work was exhibited in exhibitions that ern Mexican art. In this context, he created an art that resisted clear narratives, were being actively promoted by the Mexican government during the 1920s, emphasized the creative rather than political underpinnings of art making and when Mexico was trying to rehabilitate its image after the Mexican Revolution,” mined the ancient myths and forms of indigenous art to express the existential Ramos said. “They had a great desire to spread knowledge of Mexican culture, crisis of World War II.” so that diplomatic period in Mexican and U.S. history was really critical to the For example, after seeing Picasso’s “Guernica” and a retrospective on the artist development of Mexican art in the United States.” at the Museum of Modern Art, Tamayo was so impressed with Picasso’s imagery This exhibition highlights the fascinating ways that crossing borders influand use of African art that he reconsidered his own use of Mexico’s pre-Hispanic ences an artist’s vision and the larger world of international art. In the colorful, and folk art in a series of wartime paintings. lush works on display, viewers also catch a glimpse of the way art and diplomacy “By the 1940s, his richly colored and abstracted compositions modeled an are intertwined, making it a must-see show for Diplomat readers. WD alternative ‘American’ modernism that challenged social realism and dovetailed with a rising generation of abstract expressionists who were also seeking a visual Mackenzie Weinger (@mweinger) is a contributing writer language that fit their uncertain times,” according to an exhibition press release. for The Washington Diplomat.


Theater | Culture | WD

Spotlight on Equality Women’s Voices Theater Festival Returns to D.C. with Over Two Dozen New Plays •




efore the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, there was D.C.’s Women’s Voices Theater Festival, a forward-thinking month-long celebration that gave female-penned plays their proper due. The festival that premiered in 2015 returns this January and February with an even stronger conviction to equal the playing field on stage, where plays written by women playwrights make up a mere 22 percent of new productions. “Theater is a male-dominated profession where the leadership is heavily gender unbalanced,” Nan Barnett, the festival’s coordinating producer, told The Washington Diplomat. “When examining theater companies’ seasons around the country, you ask, ‘Why are they producing one black history play while the rest are typically written by white men? How do we get women’s scripts into the pipeline?’” The response was to gather as many theaters in the area as possible to produce full productions of new plays written by women and invite Washingtonians to view them, Barnett said. The hope is that from there, these plays will have subsequent lives, either in New York or on regional stages. With the area’s top theaters involved in the effort — including Arena Stage, Ford’s Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Studio, Signature, Round House and Woolly Mammoth — the festival is also a showcase of top local talent in the nation’s capital. While in 2015, the festival showed 50 plays, this year the organizers have scaled the number back to 25, to offer full-length productions for every play, Barnett said. The plays include world premieres as well as second- and third-time productions. “Audience members at the festival will have the unique opportunity of helping to create a rise in the women’s careers,” she said. For example, Polish playwright Martyna Majok’s world premiere of “Ironbound” at the first Women’s Voices Festival has since gone into production in New York and her career has taken off, Barnett said. This year’s festival features many plays with international themes, including Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s “Familiar,” by Danai Gurira; Round House Theatre’s “Handbagged,” by Moira Buffini; Mosaic Theater Company’s “Queens Girl in Africa,” by Caleen Sinnette Jennings; Rainbow Theatre Project’s “No Word in Guyanese for Me,” by Wendy Graf; and Shakespeare Theatre’s “Noura,” by Heather Raffo. Many deal with the struggles of individuals with different cultural identities. “‘Familiar’ deals with merging identities in a world where cultures blend,” said director Adam Immerwahr. “It tells the story about a wave of first- and second-generation immigrants from Zimbabwe to ILLUSTRATION: GREGORY FERRAND America in a funny, delightful and deeply moving way. It’s about what one must do to become an American, and at what costs?” The play is somewhat autobiographical, in that playwright Gurira was born in America to Zimbabwean parents, was raised in Zimbabwe and then came back to America for college. She’s since gone on to a successful acting career, including roles in AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and the upcoming Marvel films “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War.” Buffini’s “Handbagged” is about the relationship between the Queen of England and then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, imagining what the world’s most powerful women talked about behind closed palace doors, said director Indhu Rubasingham. Rubasingham is also the artistic director of Tricycle Theatre in London. She commissioned the play in 2012, produced it in 2013 and then it transferred to the West End


The Women’s Voices Theater Festival will feature over two dozen new plays written by female playwrights, including Round House Theatre’s “Handbagged” by Moira Buffini, above; Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s “Familiar” by Danai Gurira, at left; and Mosaic Theater Company’s “Queens Girl in Africa” by Caleen Sinnette Jennings, far left.

and toured nationally. “Both the queen and Thatcher were from the same generation and both are powerful women,” she said. “It’s about what could have been and what might have been regarding their relationship. They met every week at the palace in real life and the play surmises what these meetings were like, given that theirs wasn’t an easy relationship. The play follows the time Thatcher gets into power until she leaves.” Jennings’s “Queens Girl in Africa” premiered what is now the play’s first act at Theater J as part of the 2015 festival, the playwright said. PHOTO: CADE MARTIN “It’s semi-autobiographical; about my growing up in a black neighborhood in Queens, then being put in a Jewish school in Greenwich Village, and then moving to Nigeria where my parents got jobs,” Jennings said. “Then I came back to the States for college.” “At that time in the ’60s, a lot of blacks turned to Africa to get away from the racism in the U.S., but at the same time African countries were experiencing civil strife in getting their independence. The play is about what the main character learns about herself [going from one culture to the next],” she said. Raffo’s “Noura” uses the lens of Iraqi immigrants living in New York to explore what home means and what we will do to protect it “The overarching message in this script explores how we are torn between living as an individual and as part of a community. It’s about being a woman, modern marriages, motherhood, refugee crises and assimilation,” Raffo said. “The play follows the story of a young woman architect from Iraq who comes to America as a refugee from Mosul, where she has lost everything. She comes to America — a rugged individualistic, capitalist culture, while still carrying her Middle Eastern culture and social structure. She struggles to take steps on her own behalf and on behalf of her family and community.” The Women’s Voices Theater Festival, in partnership with National New Play Network and New Play Exchange, also announced the creation of International Women’s Voices Day. The event on Jan. 21 coincided with the anniversary of the revolutionary 2017 Women’s March in D.C. and around the world in response to President’s Trump’s election. As part of that day, the organizations encouraged theaters around the world to host free readings of unproduced plays by women. WD Lisa Troshinsky is the theater reviewer for The Washington Diplomat. THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | FEBRUARY 2018 | 37

WD | Culture | Art

‘Magic Realism’ ‘Palimpsestus’ Reflects on Image and Memory in 20th-Century Latin American Art •



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he OAS Art Museum of the Americas offers a sweeping survey of Latin American art over the last century in “Palimpsestus: Image and Memory.” There are 70 artworks on display, spanning from 1900 to 2014, with over 30 artists from 10 countries featured in the exhibit, which is curated by Alejandro de Villota Ruiz. It was a three-year project for Ruiz, who said the exhibit captures the “magic realism” of Latin America. The exhibit, presented in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the OAS and the Mexican Cultural Institute, is an overview of the main artistic trends and cultures that emerged in Latin America in the second half of the 20th century. It highlights works drawn from Colección Memoria, assembled by Ruiz, as well as a selection of iconic modern and contemporary pieces from the OAS permanent art collection. The term palimpsest is reference to the scarcity of paper as a good for roughly 15 centuries. It is defined as a manuscript or piece of writing on which the original writing can be erased to make room for more writing, even though traces of the old remain. Ruiz wanted to use this concept to show the relativity and interrelation of art narratives and aesthetic discourses. While every single piece of artwork espouses its own meaning, Ruiz encourages guests to think about the whole symbolic meaning of the artwork in general. It really is a “cabinet of curiosities,” he added. Ruiz has a personal connection to the exhibit: He is the son of one of the artists in the project. “I’m curating my own father’s work in the exhibit; it has a personal meaning and feeling to me,” he said. “Every piece in the show is very special.” The exhibit dives deep into art movements from abstraction to new figuration. Pieces range from Chilean painter Gracia Barrios’s haunting collection of anonymous, barely distinguishable faces in 1973’s “Desaparecidos” to Mexican photographer Pedro Meyer’s provocative 1985 depiction of a semi-buried and fenced-off Statue of Liberty in “Lost Otros.” There’s also work that examines the notion of collective memory through an experimental curatorial exercise based on anachronistic and antagonistic visual essays. “Artists reflect the memory of events,” Ruiz said. “I’ve tried to put together memory and critical moments in 20th-century Latin America and Europe.” The exhibit is broken down into three thematic sections based on chronology and geography. Mainstream aesthetics are introduced in “A(rt) nachronism,” followed by “The Bestiary” and “Diaspora: Reconstructing Identities,” reflecting on the exile of artists to Latin America during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). The core of the exhibit lies in “The Bestiary,” which contains 20 drawings by Spanish artist Javier de Villota, who is Ruiz’s father. The 20 drawings called “The Grays” are a reference to the popular name given to longtime Spanish dictator Francisco Franco’s armed police forces. Villota’s swirl of colors and menacing,





“Palimpsestus: Image and Memory” at the Art Museum of the Americas is a wide-ranging survey of 20th-century Latin American art, spotlighting works such as, from top clockwise left: Garcia Barrios’s “Desaparecidos”; Pedro Meyer’s “La Frontera: Serie ‘Los Otros’”; Javier de Villota’s “Los Españoles no se manifiestan (Serie Los Grises)”; and a “Diaspora-Exile Wall,” with exhibit curator Alejandro de Villota Ruiz seated in front.

amorphous figures hint at the violence percolating beneath the abstract depiction. The pieces also connect to the larger turmoil of the period, including the dictatorships that reigned in Latin America and Europe and suppressed freedom of expression around the world. Ruiz, who collaborates with the Museum of Fine Arts of Houston and works in Spain and Mexico, told us PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND COLECCIÓN MEMORIA that the exhibit transcends cultures, time and borders. “We have something that differentiates us from animals and that is creating beauty,” he said. “It is very interesting and something I believe is universal.” WD Kate Oczypok (@OczyKate) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

Sculpture | Culture | WD

Precipitous Fall ‘Dark and Scandalous Rockfall’ Offers Visual Antidote to Downward U.S.-Mexican Spiral •


A Dark and Scandalous Rockfall THROUGH MAY 5 MEXICAN CULTURAL INSTITUTE 2829 16TH ST., NW



iven the dramatic state of U.S.-Mexico relations under President Trump, the title of a new exhibition at the Mexican Cultural Institute is appropriately dramatic: “A Dark and Scandalous Rockfall” is a collaborative installation by Perla Krauze and Barbara Liotta, two sculptors from both sides of the U.S.Mexico border. The title of the exhibit is derived from the poem “Dry Rain” by Mexican poet Pedro Serrano that begins: “At times the poem is a collapse / a slow and painful landslide / a dark and scandalous rockfall.” The exhibit aims to offer a visual gesture of healing as an antidote to the current downward slide of relations between the two neighbors. Laura Roulet, curator of the exhibit, said she likes to use the metaphorical language of poetry to describe abstract art. Serrano references the dry, rocky landscape that inspired both artists, and Roulet calls the poem a perfect metaphor for the current political situation. “It may be a bit obvious to point out that we’re seeing a lapse in the ‘good neighbor’ policy. Art is influenced by the zeitgeist, reflecting and also transcending the political climate,” Roulet said. “These two artists create abstract, apolitical work, yet bringing them together allows for political undertones in the exhibition.” Both artists use material as metaphor, relying on stone to evoke landscape and shared history. The central element of the exhibit is a gallery-length, collaborative sculpture. The sculpture is built entirely with locally sourced stone (from Tri-State quarry on River Road in Bethesda, Md.). Slabs of Krauze’s black slate line the floor, while Liotta’s jagged rock is suspended in air, making for a breathtakingly beautiful display. Both artists used the functionality of natural stone as an ancient primary building material, emphasizing its origins, form, color and texture, to enhance their stacked and suspended creations. “I think the joint sculpture reveals the artists’ contributions as complementary and distinctly individual at the same time. It forms a landscape within an exhibition partly about landscape,” Roulet said. In celebration of the Jewish heritage of the featured artists, the Mexican Cultural Institute partnered with PBS host and cookbook author Pati Jinich to host a dinner featuring a Mexican-Jewish menu that included stories from the history of the Jewish-Mexican community. The Jan 26 dinner highlighted items like matzo ball soup with steamed mushrooms and jalapeños, as well as a Mexican chocolate flourless cake. “The theme was chosen not only because the artists share the Jewish faith, but because of the vagaries of the European Jewish diaspora,” Jinich said. “Barbara Liotta’s grandfather emigrated from Russia to the U.S. in the late 19th century and Perla Krauze’s family emigrated from Poland to Mexico in the 1930s.” Today, Liotta lives and works in D.C., while Krauze lives and works in Mexico City. Serrano will also be coming to the institute in April to give a poetry reading. WD


Perla Krauze’s mixed-media installation, at left, and Barbara Liotta’s “Next Square Chorus,” above, join to form a collaborative installation at the Mexican Cultural Institute known as “A Dark and Scandalous Rockfall.” PHOTO: GREG STALEY

Kate Oczypok (@OczyKate) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat. THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | FEBRUARY 2018 | 39

WD | Culture | Film

Cinema Listings *Unless specific times are listed, please check the theater for times. Theater locations are subject to change.

Arabic The Insult (L’insulte) Directed by Ziad Doueiri (Lebanon/Belgium/Cyprus/France/ U.S., 2017, 112 min.) In today’s Beirut, an insult blown out of proportion escalates, resulting in Tony, a Lebanese Christian, and Yasser, a Palestinian refugee, facing off in court. A media circus quickly begins to grow around the high-profile case, which exacerbates the already-high tensions between the Muslim and Christian groups in Lebanon’s Arab community. Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema Opens Fri., Feb. 2

English Black Panther Directed by Ryan Coogler (U.S., 2018) T’Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. Angelika Mosaic Opens Fri., Feb. 16

Call Me By Your Name Directed by Luca Guadagnino (Italy/France/Brazil/U.S., 2017, 132 min.) In Northern Italy in 1983, 17-year-old Elio begins a relationship with visiting Oliver, his father’s research assistant, with whom he bonds over his emerging sexuality, their Jewish heritage and the beguiling Italian landscape (English, Italian, French and German). Angelika Mosaic Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema Landmark’s E Street Cinema

Darkest Hour Directed by Joe Wright (U.K., 2017, 125 min.) During the early days of World War II, the fate of Western Europe hangs on the newly-appointed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler, or fight on against incredible odds. Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema Landmark’s E Street Cinema

Disappearance (Napadid shodan)

(U.K., 2017, 105 min.) In 1978 Liverpool, eccentric actress Gloria Grahame enters into an affair with Turner, a much younger man. Quickly it grows into a deeper relationship, with Turner being the person Gloria turns to for comfort. Their passion and lust for life is tested to the limits by events beyond their control. Angelika Mosaic

The Final Year Directed by Greg Barker (U.S., 2018, 89 min.) “The Final Year” is a riveting, unique insiders’ account of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy team during their last year in office. Over the course of 2016, they travel the world attempting to solidify and “lock-in” policies that they believe will define their legacy, promote diplomacy over large-scale military action, and fundamentally alter how the U.S. government confronts questions of war and peace, as they prepare to hand over the machinery of American power to a new administration. Landmark’s E Street Cinema

I, Tonya Directed by Craig Gillespie (U.S., 2017, 119 min.) Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding rises amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but her future in the activity is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband intervenes. Angelika Mosaic Landmark’s E Street Cinema

The Informer Directed by Arthur Robison (U.K., 1929, 83 min.) Set in the revolutionary ferment of the newly independent Ireland, among a cadre of poor political activists, this silent version captures the essence of Liam O’Flaherty’s novel, that atmosphere of a world without possible escape, very like the closed system of later film noir. National Gallery of Art Sun., Feb. 18, 4:30 p.m.

Loving Vincent Directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman

Photo: Warner Brothers / Gordon Timpen, SMPSP

Diane Kruger as Katja dances with her husband, portrayed by Numan Acar, in the gritty thriller “In the Fade,” which follows Katja as she takes revenge for the death of her son and husband in a Neo-Nazi terrorist bombing.

(U.K./Poland, 2017, 94 min.) In a story depicted in oil-painted animation, a young man comes to the last hometown of painter Vincent van Gogh to deliver the troubled artist’s last letter and ends up investigating his final days there. West End Cinema

Milada Directed by David Mrnka (Czech Republic, 2017, 118 min.) Set against the complex, political landscapes of post-World War II, “Milada” tells the story of a strong woman, a heroine fighting for democracy, who survived imprisonment in Nazi concentration camps only to be arrested and executed by the communists in 1950. In this character-driven film, the internationally acclaimed actress Ayelet Zurer and Czech star Aňa Geislerová take on the roles of Milada and the state prosecutor via a suspenseful plot. The Avalon Theatre Wed., Feb. 14, 8 p.m.

Molly’s Game Directed by Aaron Sorkin (China/U.S., 2018, 140 min.) Molly Bloom, a beautiful young Olympic-class skier, ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17

Directed by Christopher Nolan (U.K./Netherlands/France/U.S., 2017, 106 min.) Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German Army, and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II. Atlantic Plumbing Cinema

Directed by Paul McGuigan

FBI agents wielding automatic weapons. Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans, and finally, unbeknownst to her, the Russian mob. Atlantic Plumbing Cinema

hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between journalist and government. AFI Silver Theatre Atlantic Plumbing Cinema Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema

Naples ’44

The Shape of Water

Directed by Francesco Patierno (Italy, 2017, 80 min.) Benedict Cumberbatch gives life to the words of British soldier Norman Lewis, whose remarkable memoir of postWorld War II Naples form the basis for this haunting evocation of a ravaged land, and later a city of infinite charm. Edlavitch DCJCC

Directed by Guillermo del Toro (U.S., 2017, 123 min.) This otherworldly fairy tale, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962, takes place in the hidden high-security government laboratory where lonely Elisa is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa’s life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda discover a secret classified experiment. AFI Silver Theatre Angelika Mosaic Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema Landmark’s E Street Cinema

The Party Directed by Sally Potter (U.K., 2018, 71 min.) To celebrate her long-awaited prestigious post as a Shadow Minister for Health and, hopefully, the stepping stone to party leadership, the newly appointed British opposition politician, Janet, is throwing a party for friends at her London flat. But once the guests arrive it becomes clear that not everything is going to go down as smoothly as the red wine. Angelika Mosaic Opens Fri., Feb. 23

Phantom Thread Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (U.S., 2017, 130 min.) Set in 1950s London, Reynolds Woodcock is a renowned dressmaker whose fastidious life is disrupted by a much young, strong-willed woman, Alma, who becomes his muse and lover. AFI Silver Theatre Angelika Mosaic Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema Landmark’s E Street Cinema


Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool


The Post

Photo: Merrick Morton / Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Woody Harrelson, left, and Frances McDormand star in the Oscarnominated “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”


Directed by Steven Spielberg (U.S., 2018, 115 min.) A cover-up that spanned four U.S. presidents pushed the country’s first female newspaper publisher and a

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Directed by Martin McDonagh (U.K./U.S., 2017, 115 min.) In this darkly comic drama, a mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder, when they fail to catch the culprit. AFI Silver Theatre Angelika Mosaic Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema Landmark’s E Street Cinema

Farsi Breath (Nafas) Directed by Narges Abyar (Iran, 2016, 112 min.) Iran’s official 2018 Oscar entry is the bittersweet tale of Bahar, a bookloving girl growing up during the Iranian Revolution and the subsequent Iran-Iraq War. Set against the culturally rich Yazd region, this plucky young heroine spins the travails of her working-class family into the folktales and legends that she loves. AFI Silver Theatre Wed., Feb. 21, 7:15 p.m.

Directed by Ali Asgari (Iran/Qatar, 2017, 89 min.) Veteran short-film director Ali Asgari’s feature debut is a deftly crafted Tehran nocturne. It begins with a young woman entering a hospital, claiming to have been raped and asking to see a doctor. Soon her boyfriend appears, posing as her brother, and it becomes clear that something else is afoot. Thus begins a journey through the night, from hospital to hospital, as the young couple tries to circumvent Iran’s restrictive treatment of premarital sex and women’s health, in search of a doctor to end her unwanted pregnancy. AFI Silver Theatre Sat., Feb. 24, 11 a.m.

Negar Directed by Rambod Javan (Iran, 2017, 100 min.) The patriarch of a moneyed family dies under mysterious circumstances following a bankruptcy. He appears to his daughter in a dream, and she resolves to find the truth. But the more she uncovers, the more dangerous her investigation becomes in this utterly unique combination of fantasy, revenge and an honest-to-goodness Iranian female action hero. Freer Gallery of Art Sun., Feb. 4, 2 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre Sun., Feb. 25, 11 a.m.

Tehran Taboo Directed by Ali Soozandeh (Austria/Germany, 2017, 90 min.) Employing a rich color palette and beautiful rotoscope animation, Germany-based Iranian expatriate Ali Soozandeh conjures a vision of Tehran’s underbelly that would be impossible to achieve by more traditional means. Weaving together the stories of a prostitute, a musician, and a party girl engaged to a violent brute, Soozandeh reveals the resourcefulness with which Tehranis seek out illicit pleasures. Freer Gallery of Art Fri., Feb. 9, 7 p.m.

When God Sleeps Directed by Till Schauder (U.S./Germany, 2017, 88 min.) “My songs didn’t make me famous. The fatwa did.”“When God Sleeps” unfolds against the backdrop of the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks in the Bataclan concert venue and European right-wing backlash against Middle Eastern refugees. It deftly weaves the journey of exiled Iranian musician Shahin Najafi (“the Salman Rushdie of rap”) with historical context and intimate biographical detail. The narrative is rooted in Najafi’s immediate and unavoidable reality after the attacks, living under a fatwa issued against him by hardline Shiite clerics. Najafi juggles a personal life and budding romance in Cologne, far from loved ones, with a professional career whose high profile may cost him his life (Farsi and German).

Film | Culture | WD displaced and oppressed inhabitants around her. West End Cinema

Freer Gallery of Art Fri., Feb. 16, 7 p.m.



Day for Night (La nuit américaine)

The Road Movie

Directed by François Truffaut (France/Italy, 1973, 116 min.) The routine commotion and confusion of a movie set is (ostensibly) the subject of François Truffaut’s comedy — the French equivalent for “day for night,” a term referring to the process of simulating night scenes while actually filming in broad daylight, often done to save money or to avoid a night shoot (French and English). National Gallery of Art Sat., Feb. 3, 4 p.m.

Directed by Dmitrii Kalashnikov (Belarus, 2018, 67 min.) A mosaic of asphalt adventures, landscape photography and some of the craziest stuff you’ve ever seen, “The Road Movie” is a stunning compilation of video footage shot exclusively via the deluge of dashboard cameras that populate Russian roads. West End Cinema

Silent Photo: Sony Pictures Classics


Francisco Reyes as Orlando, left, and Daniela Vega as Marina star in “A Fantastic Woman.”

In the Fade (Aus dem Nichts)

West End Cinema Opens Fri., Feb. 2

(Germany/France, 2017, 106 min.) In this gritty thriller set in contemporary Hamburg, Diane Kruger stars as Katja, a grief-stricken woman who takes revenge for the death of her son and husband in a Neo-Nazi terrorist bombing. Tattooed, street-smart Katja, her ex-con Kurdish-German husband Nuri and their young bespectacled violin-playing son Rocco might seem at first glance like an atypical family, but in a few short scenes we come to understand the messy and beautiful reality of their life.


Japanese Double Suicide

Directed by Masahiro Shinoda (Japan, 1969, 104 min.) Foxtrot This striking adaptation of a famous bunraku puppet play follows a paper Directed by Samuel Maoz merchant who sacrifices everything (Israel, 2017, 114 min.) — including his life — over his erotic A grieving father experiences the obsession with a prostitute. absurd circumstances around death of 6.875Freer in.Gallery of Art his son, in this latest critical reflection Wed., Feb. 7, 2 p.m. on military culture from Israeli filmmaker Samuel Maoz (Hebrew, German Portuguese and Arabic). Edlavitch DCJCC Vazante



Directed by Daniela Thomas (Brazil/Portugal, 2018, 116 min.) Forced to marry a slave trader, young Beatriz faces physical and emotional unrest beyond her years in this lyrical and nuanced historical mood piece. Upon returning from a trading expedition, Antonio discovers that his wife has died in labor. Confined to a decadent but desolate property in the company of his aging mother-in-law and numerous slaves, he marries his wife’s young niece, Beatriz. Separated from her family and left alone on the rugged farmhouse in the Brazilian mountains, Beatriz finds solace in the

24 Frames Directed by Abbas Kiarostami (Iran/France, 2017, 120 min.) “I always wonder to what extent the artist aims to depict the reality of a scene,” the late Abbas Kiarostami wrote of what would be his final film, which consists of 24 shots, mostly of Kiarostami’s own photographs, that he brought to life using computer animation. Freer Gallery of Art Sun., Feb. 18, 2 p.m.

Once Upon a Time, Cinema Directed by Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Iran, 1992, 90 min.) This silent movie-inspired comedy

follows a cinematographer who introduces movies to the Qajar shah. The sovereign strongly disapproves of the new medium, until he falls desperately in love with an actress he sees on-screen. (Shown with “Images from the Qajar Dynasty” (Iran, 1992, 18 min.), which combines the first film footage shot in Iran with paintings and photography from the time.) Freer Gallery of Art Fri., Feb. 23, 7 p.m.

Spanish A Fantastic Woman (Una Mujer Fantástica) Directed by Sebastián Lelio Chile/Germany/Spain/U.S., 2018, 104 min.) Daniela Vega shines in a wonderful performance as a transgender nightclub singer, Marina, in love with Orlando, a successful businessman 20 years her senior. He has left his disapproving family to be with her, and they are planning a happy future together when Orlando suddenly falls ill and dies, leaving Marina stunned and bereft. Instead of being able to mourn her lover, Marina is attacked and excluded. Angelika Mosaic Landmark’s E Street Cinema Opens Fri., Feb. 9



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WD | Culture | Events

Events Listings

THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | February 2018 between 1900 and 2014, include more than 30 artists from 10 different countries drawn from Colección Memoria, as well as a selection of iconic modern and contemporary pieces from OAS permanent art collection. The exhibit surveys the main artistic trends and visual cultures that have developed in Latin America in the second half of the 20th eentury. The term Palimpsest, a capitalistic practice stemming from the scarcity of paper as a good for 15 centuries, is appropriated by the curator to conceptualize the relativity and interrelation of art narratives and aesthetic discourses. OAS Art Museum of the Americas

*Unless specific times are listed, please check the venue for times. Venue locations are subject to change.

ART Through Feb. 1

Double Look: The Other Latin American Photography Is it possible to talk about a Latin American documentary photography? Curators Carla Möller and Jose Pablo Concha propose a widening of documentary language exploring the path of active photographers who have achieved critical autonomy to observe their own historical time. Embassy of Chile

Through Spring 2018

Syria: Please Don’t Forget Us

Feb. 2 to 24

In Transit Americans have been on the move since they set foot on this continent — whether by car, bicycle, airplane, boat, train or walking. They get where they need to go by actually moving, studying or making a career move. See Touchstone artist’s explorations of transitions and mobility in their photographs, paintings, collages, hand-pulled prints, sculptures, clay forms and drawings. Touchstone Gallery

Feb. 2 to 28

Crossover: East and West This new group exhibition features ceramic, installation, painting and video art that question and inform the Asian immigrant experience in America through the works of four accomplished Korean American artists: Victoria Jang, Christina Ko, Jang Soon Im and Eun Kyung Suh. “Crossover” explores the relationship between common notions of Eastern and Western culture from a Korean-American perspective and the effects of crosscultural phenomena on individuals and minority groups in society. Set between two timely and important occasions, Korean American Day in the U.S. on Jan. 13 and Korea’s traditional Lunar New Year holiday that falls on Feb. 16 in 2018, this exhibition presents a diverse array of art that visualizes current cultural and social issues in terms of both Korean contemporary identity and past heritage. Korean Cultural Center

Feb. 3 to May 6

Ten Americans: After Paul Klee This exhibit explores the seminal role of Swiss-born artist Paul Klee (1879-1940) in the development of mid-20th century American art. “Ten Americans” sheds new light on important figures in American Abstract Expressionist and Color Field painting who adapted aspects of Klee’s art and ideology into their own artistic development. It showcases more than 60 paintings, prints and drawings from collections in the U.S. and Switzerland. The Phillips Collection

Feb. 8 to March 13

Phenomenon Masaryk In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Czech independence, this exhibition focuses on Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the founding father and first

Photo: Hirshhorn Museum / © Krzysztof Wodiczko / Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., New York

Krzysztof Wodiczko’s “Homeless Vehicle in New York City” is part of the Hirshhorn exhibition “Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s.”

president of Czechoslovakia. The project depicts his many roles as professor of philosophy, sociologist, writer, politician, journalist, visionary, democrat, father and husband. A combination of display panels and projections portrays Masaryk’s worldly inspiration and broad influence as well as his critical thinking and courage to oppose the majority while defending justice and human values. Embassy of the Czech Republic

Through Feb. 10

Unnecessary Force In an economy motel room, an embezzling mayor is supposed to meet with his female accountant. In the room next door, two undercover cops are supposed to catch the meeting on videotape. But there’s some confusion as to who’s in which room, who’s watching the video, who’s taken the money, who’s hired a hit man and why the accountant keeps taking off her clothes. Tickets are $45. Andrew Keegan Theatre

Feb. 14 to May 13

Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s It’s the ’80s as you’ve never seen it before. Explore the iconic decade when artwork became a commodity and the artist a brand. Razor-sharp, witty, satirical and deeply subversive, these nearly 150 works examine the origins and rise of a new generation of artists in 1980s New York who blurred the lines between art, entertainment and commerce, a shift that continues to define contemporary art today. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Through Feb. 17

Painting Shakespeare Discover the paintings collection at the Folger — its stories, its glories and Shakespeare’s power to inspire visual artists. From humble oil sketches to international masterpieces, this exhibition presents kids and adults alike, with a sometimes surprising, and always eye-catching, view of the man and his works. Folger Shakespeare Library


Feb. 24 to June 3

Beyond Words: Book Illustration in the Age of Shakespeare With visually interesting illustrated books and single sheet prints that have been rarely or never before displayed, this exhibition explores the production of the images in books in early modern Europe. Folger Shakespeare Library

Feb. 24 to Aug. 5

The Prince and the Shah: Royal Portraits from Qajar Iran In our age of social media and selfies, it may be difficult to grasp the importance of painted portraits and studio photographs in 19th-century Iran. During this time, known as the Qajar era, rulers such as Fath-Ali Shah, a contemporary of Napoleon, and Nasir al-Din Shah, a contemporary of Queen Victoria, used portraiture to convey monarchical power and dynastic grandeur. Through a selection of about thirty works from the Freer and Sackler collections, this exhibition explores how Persian artists transformed modes of representing royalty and nobility. Freer Gallery of Art

Through March 11

into their surreal world in miniature and offer a rare glimpse into the duo’s artistic process. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Through March 11

Kateřina Vincourová: Arteria This exhibition focuses on the fragile nuances of interpersonal relations while at the same time abstracting these notions into an examination of time and space. Kateřina Vincourová’s work thus becomes a holistic system — a large-scale spatial drawing rather than a collection of individual pieces. American University Museum

Through March 11

Words Artist Brian Dailey’s multiscreen video installation investigates the relationship between language, culture, national identity and the challenges of communicating key concepts across linguistic boundaries and national borders in the age of globalization. His virtual Tower of Babel is a contemporary turn on the Biblical story explaining the worldwide diversity of languages, a tale with parallels in ancient Sumerian and Assyrian myths. American University Museum

ERIK THOR SANDBERG: Out of reach...there is hope

Through March 18

This overview of the artist’s work from 2005 to the present brings together some 40 works, mostly paintings and several drawings, which oscillate in scale between small and full-body size. American University Museum

Rufino Tamayo’s lushly colored paintings portraying modern Mexican subjects earned him widespread acclaim as an artist who balanced universal themes with a local sensibility. Tamayo (1899-1991) was drawn to New York City in the early 20th century at a time when unparalleled transatlantic and hemispheric cross-cultural exchange was taking place. “Tamayo: The New York Years” is the first exhibition to explore the influences between this major Mexican modernist and the American art world with 41 of his finest artworks. Smithsonian American Art Museum

Through March 4

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: The Utopian Projects Spanning 1985 through present day, this survey comprises more than 20 of the Kabakovs’ maquettes, whimsical models, for projects realized and unrealized, including monuments, allegorical narratives, architectural structures and commissioned outdoor works. Opening nearly 30 years after the Hirshhorn hosted Ilya Kabakov’s first major U.S. exhibition, these intricate creations invite the viewer

Tamayo: The New York Years

Through March 25

Palimpsestus: Image and Memory The 70 artworks on display, produced

The Syrian conflict has raged for almost seven years and claimed the lives of more than 500,000 of the country’s citizens. Eleven million people, one-half of Syria’s pre-war population, have fled their homes. The Assad regime is detaining more than 100,000 of its people in secret detention centers where they are starved, tortured, and killed. This exhibition is a powerful testament to not only what the Syrian people have endured, but also their quest to document the crimes, tell their stories and hold their perpetrators accountable. U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Through May 5

A Dark and Scandalous Rockfall This collaborative installation by Perla Krauze and Barbara Liotta, artists from both sides of the Mexico-United States border, incorporates material and metaphorical qualities of stone to evoke landscape and classical sculpture. The title of the exhibit is drawn from the poem “Dry Rain” by Mexican poet Pedro Serrano, which begins: “At times the poem is a collapse/ a slow and painful landslide/ a dark and scandalous rockfall.” Given the current state of U.S.-Mexico relations, this exhibition presents a healing gesture, recognizing our shared history. Mexican Cultural Institute

Through May 13

Michel Sittow: Estonian Painter at the Courts of Renaissance Europe Undoubtedly the greatest Renaissance artist from Estonia, Michel Sittow (c. 1469–1525) was born in Reval (now Tallinn), likely studied in Bruges with Hans Memling and worked at the courts of renowned European royals such as King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile. Through some 20 works representing most of Sittow’s small oeuvre, the exhibition will offer an opportunity to examine his art in a broader context. National Gallery of Art

Through May 13

Outliers and American Vanguard Art Some 300 works explore three distinct periods in American history when mainstream and outlier artists intersected, ushering in new paradigms based on inclusion, integration and assimilation. National Gallery of Art

Through June 24

Jim Chuchu’s Invocations The museum is the first institution to acquire and display Kenyan multimedia artist Jim Chuchu’s mesmerizing suite of video projections, in which two distinct videos loop in succession and follow the structure of initiation rituals. Surrounded by Chuchu’s pulsing house beats and evocative imagery, viewers are invited to contemplate the separations and releases that shape our individual and collective identities. National Museum of African Art

Through July 8

Hung Liu in Print This spotlight exhibition features 16 prints and a tapestry by painter and printmaker Hung Liu that invites viewers to explore the relationship between Liu’s multi-layered paintings and the palpable, physical qualities of her works on paper. Her multifaceted body of work probes the human condition and confronts issues of culture, identity and personal and national history. National Museum of Women in the Arts

Through Aug. 15

Tomb of Christ Be virtually transported to Jerusalem and discover the fascinating history of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in an immersive 3-D experience unlike anything you’ve seen in a museum before. Groups will be able to virtually visit the church and learn about its storied history and enduring mysteries. National Geographic

Through Nov. 12

Mark Bradford: Pickett’s Charge For his first solo exhibition in D.C., acclaimed artist Mark Bradford debuts a monumental site-specific commission inspired by Paul Philippoteaux’s 1883 cyclorama depicting the Battle of Gettysburg. Covering the curved walls of the Hirshhorn’s Third Level Inner Circle, “Pickett’s Charge” presents 360 degrees of abstracted historical narrative. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Through Dec. 25

Visionary: Viewpoints on Africa’s Arts More than 300 works of art from the museum’s permanent collection are on view within this exhibition. Working in media as diverse as wood, ceramics, drawing, jewelry, mixed media, sculpture, painting, photography, printmaking, and video, these works of art reflect the visionary ideas and styles developed by men and women from more than half of Africa’s 55 nations. The installation is organized around seven viewpoints, each of which serve to frame and affect the manner in which African art is experienced. National Museum of African Art

DANCE Feb. 2 to 4

Image China: Dragon Boat Racing This an award-winning Chinese dance-

Events | Culture | WD

drama performed by the Guangdong Song and Dance Ensemble tells the story of the creation of one of the most iconic and enduring pieces of Cantonese music. Set in 1930s China against the backdrop of the Japanese occupation, “Dragon Boat Racing” follows two lovers whose passion for each other is equaled only by their passion for music. Tickets are $30 to $110. Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater

Through Feb. 4

American Ballet Theatre: Whipped Cream – Works by Ratmansky, Millepied and Wheeldon American Ballet Theatre’s starry roster of dancers is just one of many assets fueling its ever-growing fan base. The company performs a stunning lineup of works, including the D.C. premiere of Ratmansky’s full-length story ballet “Whipped Cream.” Tickets are $49 to $249. Kennedy Center Opera House

Feb. 14 to 18

The Washington Ballet presents John Cranko’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’ The Washington Ballet returns to the Kennedy Center Opera House to celebrate love and fate in an evening of unbridled passion set to Prokofiev’s dynamic score. The intricate and timeless tale of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers is told through vivid characterizations, clear dramatic structure and masterful dancing. Tickets are $25 to $160. Kennedy Center Opera House

DISCUSSIONS Tue., Feb. 6, 8 p.m.

World Affairs Council-DC: Costa Rica Join the World Affairs Council-DC as it hosts Costa Rican Ambassador Román Macaya Hayes for a discussion on the United States and Costa Rica’s bilateral relationship. The U.S. is Costa Rica’s largest trading partner, accounting for over half of Costa Rica’s exports, imports, tourism and foreign direct investment. Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center

Wed., Feb. 14, 10 a.m.

The Prague Coup d’État in 1948: Heretical Thoughts Igor Lukes, Boston University professor of history and international relations, proposes to challenge the established view that the outcome of the postwar political

crisis in Prague was a preordained affair. He posits that, except for the communist plotters, the greatest share of responsibility for the loss of Czechoslovakia’s democratic identity rested on the shoulders of the democratic politicians. Embassy of the Czech Republic

MUSIC Thu., Feb. 1, 6:45 p.m.

La Música de México: A Lecture and Recital by Dr. Francisco Castillo Trigueros As part of its 2018 Music Series, “La Música de México,” the Mexican Cultural Institute presents Dr. Francisco Castillo Trigueros, a composer of contemporary chamber, orchestral and electronic music from Mexico City. Focusing on electroacoustic music, sound art and film, the presentation will include his “Canciones desde Xilitla,” a film-audio reflection on the surreal sculpture gardens built in the Mexican Huasteca by Edward James. Admission is free but $5 donation is suggested; to register, visit www. Mexican Cultural Institute

Thu., Feb. 1, 6:30 p.m.

Polish Jazz Nights The duo of vocalist Grazyna Auguscik and accordionist Jarosław Bester is a fusion of two extraordinary personalities in the global music market. Drawing inspiration from traditions of jazz, avant-garde and folk music, but also within the framework of classical music, the duo creates a subtle, yet extremely precise and virtuosic musical story. Seating is limited; for registration information, washington. Polish Ambassador’s Residence

Feb. 2 to 3

A Branch of Freshest Green: The Music of Hildegard Von Bingen In the Gothic nave of Washington National Cathedral, the Folger Consort presents a bouquet of soaring and ecstatic melodies of the great 12th-century visionary and composer. Female voices join with medieval instruments to capture the mysticism of Hildegard’s hymns and sequences. Tickets are $30 to $60. Washington National Cathedral

Mon., Feb. 5, 7 p.m.

East Meets West: A Chinese New Year Celebration Hong Kong is the primary crossroads

Signature Theatre

Events Highlight

‘Swedish Footprints’ in D.C. T

he House of Sweden opens its next series of 2018 exhibition and events, “Swedish Footprints – Shaping the Future,” in March. “Music Tech,” on display in the Anna Lindh Hall, examines Sweden’s global role as an incubator for the tech and music industries and demonstrates the country’s contribution to the U.S. economy in this burgeoning field. It also explores how Sweden has become one of the world’s largest exporters of popular music and showcases instruments, equipment and other forms of audio entertainment. “Still Life” in the Alfred Nobel Hall is solo

between the cultures of East and West. For this concert, the celebrated Hong Kong String Orchestra (HKSO), led by the Artistic Director Yao Jue, will join forces with Georgetown University students in a celebration of the Chinese New Year. Georgetown University Davis Performing Arts Center

Feb. 5 and 6

Ladysmith Black Mambazo For over 50 years, South Africa’s fourtime Grammy Award-winning group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, has warmed the hearts of audiences worldwide with their uplifting vocal harmonies, signature dance moves, and charming onstage banter. Tickets are $40 to $42. Wolf Trap

Thu., Feb. 8, 7:30 p.m.

Dorothea Röschmann, Soprano Vocal Arts DC presents the luminous German soprano Dorothea Röschmann, a world-renowned Bach and Mozart specialist and lieder recitalist, who has rarely performed in the U.S. and only once previously in Washington, D.C., in 2006. Tickets are $50. Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

Tue., Feb. 13, 6:30 p.m.

Trio Immersio The Austrian Cultural Forum of D.C. presents the celebrated Vienna-based ensemble Trio Immersio, which performs masterpieces of Austrian and French composers from the 19th, 20th and 21st century. Admission is free; for information, visit Embassy of Austria

Sun., Feb. 18, 6 p.m.

Washington Concert Opera Presents Donizetti’s Maria di Rohan A classic love triangle with a tragic twist, this rare bel canto work follows the story of a woman torn between the man she loves and the man to whom she is secretly married. Tickets are $40 to $110. GW Lisner Auditorium

Fri., Feb. 23, 8 p.m. Photo: Jeremy Daniel

Nick and Nigel Bottom are two playwrights stuck in the shadow of that Renaissance rock star Will Shakespeare in “Something Rotten!” at the National Theatre.

Through Feb. 18

exhibition of large-scale paintings by Karin Broos, one of the most acclaimed artists working in Sweden today. Broos draws from her early experience with abstract painting to create contemplative and photo-realistic works, often inspired by an empathetic woman’s perspective. As part of the “Ingmar Bergman Centennial Celebration,” the exhibit “Fanny and Alexander ‘A Never-Ending Whispering Conversation” delves into the filmmaker’s 1982 film “Fanny and Alexander,” alongside a related display, “Costumes by Nina Sandström.” — Anna Gawel

and Brahms’s chamber music. Tickets are $50 to $250. Kennedy Center Concert Hall

RECEPTIONS Fri., Feb. 9, 7 p.m.

D’Vine Affair: Balletoo and Vino in Verona Be transported to Italy’s City of Love, Verona, in an evening that includes exquisite Italian wines, paired with a savory Italianinspired multicourse meal in the incomparable Embassy of Italy in celebration of The Washington Ballet performances of “Romeo & Juliet” during Valentine’s week. This “Romeo and Juliet” themed event will also include performances by The Washington Ballet including works by two Italian choreographers, Marco Pelle and Mimmo Miccolis. Tickets are $300; for information, visit Embassy of Italy

THEATER Feb. 1 to 25

La Foto – A Selfie Affair Two families are changed forever when a provocative selfie goes viral. Who bears responsibility for the consequences and who is the victim in what has become a common occurrence? With biting humor, issues of privacy, relationships and body image are explored as Gustavo Ott’s characters deal with mid-life crisis and try to find meaning and emotional connections between generations in an age of social media. Tickets are $45. GALA Hispanic Theatre

Through Feb. 4

Guilt This world premiere by Australian playwright John Shand produced by Scena Theatre draws on the trial of the priest Urbain Grandier for witchcraft in France in 1633-34. It is Shand’s response to witch hunts of all eras (including our own), when scores are settled and innocence becomes no defense. The play also explores the nexus between sexual and religious rapture. Tickets are $30 and $35. Atlas Performing Arts Center

Washington Performing Arts Presents: Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos and Yo-Yo Ma

Feb. 5 to March 4

This “super trio” of musicians lend their artistic mastery the richness of Schubert

It’s winter in Minnesota, and an immigrant Zimbabwean family is preparing for


the wedding of their eldest daughter. But when the bride insists on observing roora, a traditional bride-price ceremony, it opens a deep rift in the household. Rowdy and affectionate, “Familiar” pitches tradition against assimilation among the members of one devoted family. Which will prove stronger: the customs they keep or the secrets they’ve kept buried? Tickets start at $49. Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Feb. 6 to 8

Something Rotten! Nick and Nigel Bottom are two playwrights stuck in the shadow of that Renaissance rock star Will Shakespeare. When a soothsayer foretells the next big thing in theatre involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, the Bottom brothers set out to write the world’s very first musical. Tickets are $48 to $98. National Theatre

Through Feb. 8

Jefferson’s Garden Christian, a Quaker pacifist, defies his family to fight in the American Revolution. Susannah, an enslaved woman, is tempted to fight for the British when they promise her liberty. On their travels, Christian and Susannah cross paths with Thomas Jefferson, George Mason and Sally Hemings. These encounters force them to confront the compromises America makes after the promise of equality. Please call for ticket information. Ford’s Theatre

Through Feb. 11

The Way of the World Mae is a sweet-natured woman with just a little baggage: a $600 million inheritance. When her womanizing boyfriend Henry dallies with her protective aunt, both women become the object of scandal — but Henry has a plan to win the heiress back. Tickets are $35 to $79. Folger Theatre

Through Feb. 18

4,380 Nights For the last 12 years, or 4,380 days, Malik Djamal Ahmad Essaid has been held without charge by the U.S. government at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. As he languishes in his cell, his interactions with those on the outside are juxtaposed with historical events in a riveting exposé into the most dangerous prison of all: fear. Please call for ticket information.

Sovereignty Based on the stories of playwright Mary Kathryn Nagle’s Cherokee grandfathers, this world premiere spans 1830s Cherokee Nation (now present-day Georgia) and Andrew Jackson’s presidency to the Cherokee Nation in present-day Oklahoma. It follows a young Cherokee lawyer fighting to restore her nation’s jurisdiction and defend the constitutionality of the 2013 Violence Against Women Act. Tickets are $40 to $90. Arena Stage

Through Feb. 18

The Trial A 30-year-old man is going about his day when suddenly, without cause or warning, he is arrested while at work. Two unidentified agents from an unknown agency arrest this man for an unspecified crime. In its retelling of Franz Kafka’s “The Trial,” Synetic Theater will explore the struggles of “K” and his encounters with the invisible Law and the untouchable Court. Ticket start at $35. Synetic Theater

Feb. 23 to April 8

Hold These Truths Jeanne Sakata’s one-man drama tells the true story of Gordon Hirabayashi, the American son of Japanese immigrants who defied an unjust court order when America placed its own citizens in internment camps during World War II. Midway through Arena Stage’s 2017/18 season, “Hold These Truths” brings an untold story to the stage that represents the diversity of our country and examines what it means to be an American. Tickets are $40 to $90. Arena Stage

Through March 4

Hamlet In the wake of his father’s abrupt death, Hamlet returns home from university to find his personal and political world changed as he never imagined it could— his mother remarried, his uncle on the throne and a world seemingly gone insane. When his father’s ghost appears and demands vengeance, the increasingly desperate Danish prince must decide: submit or resist. Accept or avenge. Live or die. Please call for ticket information. Shakespeare Theatre Company

Through March 4

The Wolves Winter indoor soccer. Saturdays. Over quad stretches and squats, a team of young women prepares to defend the Wolves’ undefeated record, their banter spilling from tampons to genocide to the pressures of preparing for their adult lives. With an ear for the bravado and empathy of the teenage years, “The Wolves” explores the violence and teamwork of sports and adolescence, following a pack of 16-year-old girls who turn into warriors on the field. Tickets are $20 to $85. The Studio Theatre

Culture arts & entertainment

Plan Your Entire Weekend.


WD | Culture | Spotlight

Diplomatic Spotlight

February 2018

37th Annual Choral Arts Holiday Concert and Gala Finnish Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi served as the honorary patron of the Choral Arts Society of Washington’s 37th Annual Holiday Concert and Gala at the Kennedy Center on Dec. 18, part of Finland’s centennial Suomi celebration. The evening featured the Choral Arts Choir performing Christmas songs of the season in the Concert Hall, followed by silent auction, dinner and dancing on the Roof Terrace. Established in 1965 by Norman Scribner, Choral Arts is composed of a 175-member auditioned symphonic chorus, as well as chamber singers and a youth choir, and it is the third-largest budgeted, all-volunteer chorus in the U.S. Photo: Shannon Finney Photography

National Democratic Institute Treasurer Robert Liberatore and Debra Kraft Liberatore.

Olin Wethington, former U.S. Ambassador Michael Smith, Deborah Smith, Nobuko Sasae and Ambassador of Japan Kenichiro Sasae. Photo: Shannon Finney Photography Photo: Shannon Finney Photography

The Choral Arts Youth Choir performs.

Connie Carter, Ambassador of Finland Kirsti Kauppi and philanthropist Bonnie McElveen-Hunter.

Photo: Shannon Finney Photography

Choral Arts Board of Directors Chair Nadine Wethington of MedStar Health System and Choral Arts Executive Director Ted Czyzewski.

Photo: Shannon Finney Photography

Photo: Shannon Finney Photography

Ambassador of Peru Carlos Pareja dances with his wife Consuelo Salinas-Pareja.

Artistic Director Scott Tucker leads the Choral Arts Society of Washington.

Photo: Shannon Finney Photography

Guests dance on the Roof Terrace.

Adriana Gil-Ordoñez, PostClassical Ensemble Angel Gil-Ordoñez and Ann Herrera.

Lisa Koven of the Department of Homeland Security and David Zee.

Yasamin Al-Askari, John and Evelyn Lee, all from SunTrust Bank.

Jermaine Johnson of PNC Bank, Courtney Spaeth of growth[period] and Jon Spaeth of Zebra Technologies Corp.


Ambassador of the Netherlands Henne Schuwer and Ambassador of Switzerland Martin Dahinden.

Guests dance on the Roof Terrace.

Photo: Shannon Finney Photography

Guitarist Michael Bard.

Photo: Shannon Finney Photography

Jackie Bensen of NBC Washington and Gary Zinkgraf of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Photo: Shannon Finney Photography

President and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy Greg Wetstone, Kathy Kiernan and CEO of American Wind Energy Association Tom Kiernan.

Lindsey Strisik, health care attorney Marshall Strisik and Emily Riffle, vice president of philanthropy at MedStar National Rehabilitation Network and MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

Wladimir Louis-Charles and Syncia Louis-Charles.

Wife of the Dutch ambassador Lena Boman Schuwer and wife of the Swiss ambassador Anita Dahinden.

Martin Doerschlag and Julie Doerschlag.

Guests peruse the auction items.

Spotlight | Culture | WD

Albanian National Day and Armed Forces Day The Albanian Embassy hosted its National Day and Armed Forces Day on Nov. 30 at the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, where the embassy also announced the introduction of the Codex Purpureus Beratinus, a UNESCO Memory of the World item, into the World Digital Library. Grant Harris, head of the Library of Congress European Reading Room, views an exhibition of Albanian books.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.); Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.); Ambassador of Albania Floreta Faber; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Hoyt Brian Yee; and Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania Ditmir Bushati.

Albanian Embassy Military Attache Col. Ardian Bali and former U.S. Ambassador to Albania Alexander Arvizu.

CARE at Afghanistan CARE, a global poverty-fighting organization, hosted a reception at the Afghan Embassy to honor the progress made toward girls’ education in Afghanistan, where CARE has worked since 1961. The event – the first in a series of quarterly embassybased receptions – was presented by the CARE Global Leaders Network, a strategic initiative aimed at supporting humanitarian and development aid through an active network of national security, business and military veteran leaders.

Photos: Embassy of Albania

Representatives of the Albanian Embassy pose at their country’s National Day reception: Military Attaché Col. Ardian Bala; Second Secretary Eni Jucja; Ambassador Floreta Faber; Minister Counselor Visar Zhiti; Minister Plenipotentiary Mamica Toska; and Police Liaison Officer Artan Didi.

Ambassador of Albania Floreta Faber greets former U.S. Ambassador to Albania Marisa Lino.

Ambassador of Albania Floreta Faber greets Ambassador of Nepal Arjun Kumar Karki.

Ivna Gaique, desk officer for Albania at the State Department, and Katerina Bojoska and Marigona Marku, both from the Embassy of Macedonia.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.); Ambassador of Afghanistan Hamdullah Mohib; former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco Dwight L. Bush Sr.; President and CEO of CARE Michelle Nunn; and Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates Youself Al Otaiba.

Qorvis MSL Party British politician Nigel Farage, who led the U.K. Independence Party through the Brexit referendum, quitting as party leader after the results, was a surprise guest at the annual Qorvis MSL Group’s holiday party on the roof of the Hay-Adams hotel. Hosted by Qorvis Executive Vice President Matt J. Lauer and Michael Petruzzello, guests dined on baby lamb chops, fried shrimp, pasta and salad while the Hollywoodesque Farage worked the room and offered guests a history lesson on Britain’s divorce from the European Union. “Finding shared values and common interests over a glass cheer is one of the things that make Washington great,” said Lauer. — Janet Donovan

Barbara Lang, third secretary at the Afghan Embassy Bahishta Talash and Marco Aguilar.

British politician and broadcaster Nigel Farage regales guests.

Christine Warnke of Hogan Lovells and Ambassador of Afghanistan Hamdullah Mohib.

The Washington Life’s Kevin Chaffee and author Karin Tanube.

Samantha Sault of the U.S. Fashion Industry Association; Qorvis Executive Vice President Matt J. Lauer; Qorvis’s Michael Petruzzello; Jim Wholey; and Gage Petruzzello.

Nigel Farage and Nick Owens of Magnolia Strategy Partners. Photos: Ben Droz

Photos: Neshan H. Naltchayan

Arab-American Day NUSACC Honors Algerian Envoy For the first time since its awards program began in 2004, an Algerian diplomat has been named “Ambassador of the Year” by the National U.S-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC). Madjid Bouguerra accepted the award during at a Dec. 20 lunch at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel attended by about 100 business and government leaders. He said the distinction is a “testimony to the highquality relations between Algeria and the United States, with both countries resolutely committed to a confident, dynamic and promising partnership.”

Photos: Mission of the League of the Arab States to the U.S.

Photos: National U.S-Arab Chamber of Commerce

NxtVn Group board member Lewis Shadle; National U.S-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC) President and CEO David Hamod; Ambassador of Algeria Madjid Bouguerra; and NxtVn Group board member Joel Ogren.

Ambassador of the Arab League Salah A. Sarhan, right, honors Palestinian-Dutch filmmaker and Oscar winner Hany Abu-Assad at the group’s Arab-American Day reception held at the Organization of American States (OAS).

Ambassador of Algeria Madjid Bouguerra, center, accepts the Ambassador of the Year award from National U.S-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC) President and CEO David Hamod, left, and Nancy Ziuzin Schlegel, NUSACC board member and vice president of international government affairs at Lockheed Martin. Ambassador of Algeria Madjid Bouguerra, center, receives three awards: the Ambassador of the Year award from National U.S-Arab Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Hamod, left, and Nancy Ziuzin Schlegel of Lockheed Martin, right; the Honorary Citizen of Elkader, Iowa, award from Elkader Mayor Josh Pope, second from right; and a commemorative brick from Kathy Garms, second from left, executive director of the Abdelkader Education Project.

At left, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Joan Polaschik, Rev. Joseph Rahal of the St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church and Ambassador of Algeria Madjid Bouguerra.

Guests enjoy Arab-American Day 2017 at the OAS hosted by the Mission of the League of Arab States, which included a buffet and live music by the Saltanah Ensemble. THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | FebrUARY 2018 | 45

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cult if not impossible to have a serious discussion on national interests, threats to those interests or how to deal with them. People can believe Iran will never hold up its end of the bargain or they can think that diplomacy is the only way to avoid another war. And both camps can buttress their arguments with proof found online.

Iran continued • PaGe 24

nongovernmental, nonprofit and religious organizations, think tanks and business associations that have also set up shop in Washington to have an impact on government policy. When a policy attains a high profile, it attracts the attention of a broad range of actors, assuring the debate about what direction to take will be vigorous. These kinds of debates are usually orchestrated by the Washington establishment — those who live in and around the nation’s capital and who are in government or the business of influencing it. But occasionally, as the general public becomes aware of and concerned about a particular foreign policy, any number of individuals can join in. That is easier to do today, with email, the internet, social media and other technologies enabling those who want to broaden participation in the debate to do so. Thanks to technology, connecting with likeminded people is only a few keystrokes away. And all those means of connecting came into play in the making of the Iran nuclear agree-

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lookinG ahead

credit: oFFicial White house Photo By Pete souza

President Barack obama and his national security team meet sept. 29, 2009, in the situation room at the White house with undersecretary of state Bill Burns, right, as Burns departs for P5+1 talks with iran in Geneva.

ment as those who favored it and those who opposed it attempted to influence the outcome. The range of information sources made possible by technology also means that, in effect, everyone can have his or her own version of the truth. Whatever one wants to believe, a justification can be found on the internet. Back when people got their television news from NBC, CBS and ABC, there was not much


needs changes

difference in the world that was presented to them, all from a limited number of media outlets. Now liberals watch MSNBC, conservatives tune in to Fox and independents can catch CNN. Beyond that there are unlimited sources of news, much of it unreliable and even untrue. Because of these divergent realities that Americans live in, there is often no agreement on even the most basic facts. That makes it diffi-

The successful conclusion of the Iran nuclear agreement and its first years in existence did not end the debate. Congress required the president to certify every 90 days that Iran is abiding by the agreement, thus ensuring the debate will be renewed every three months. This was no doubt an effort to embarrass what everyone thought would be a Democrat as president. Instead it provided the current president an opportunity for bluster and unpredictability. Since the agreement did not solve all of America’s problems with Iran — nor was it meant to — other issues such as Tehran’s support for Hezbollah and reported ballistic missile testing also offer an excuse to refuse to certify that Iran is complying with the deal because Iran is not living up to its “spirit.” Former Secretary of State George

P. Shultz once said, “Nothing ever gets settled in this town. It’s a seething debating society in which the debate never stops, in which people never give up.” Shultz made those remarks in 1986, as he tried to explain to the House Foreign Affairs Committee why he was so ignorant about the Iran-Contra scandal, which included selling Iran 1,500 anti-tank missiles and spare parts for antiaircraft missiles. But he could have been talking about Iran today. The people who think diplomacy is a sign of weakness and that regime change is the only answer — as they did when they pushed for war in Iraq — have not given up. And with an unstable president who divides his time between Twitter rants and demolishing his predecessor’s accomplishments, the only thing for sure is that the Iran issue will not go away. WD Dennis Jett is a professor at Penn State’s School of International Affairs and served 28 years in the State Department, including assignments as ambassador to Peru and Mozambique. His book, “The Iran Nuclear Deal: Bombs, Billionaires, and Bureaucrats,” was published in October. A version of this article has appeared in the Foreign Service Journal.

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Children’s National is proud to be named

#1 for newborn intensive care in the U.S. News & World Report Best Children’s Hospitals survey and ranked among the Top 10 children’s hospitals overall. Find out more at 48 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | FebrUARY 2018

February 2018  

The Washington Diplomat is an independent, monthly newspaper serving the Washington D.C. international and diplomatic community with regular...

February 2018  

The Washington Diplomat is an independent, monthly newspaper serving the Washington D.C. international and diplomatic community with regular...