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Education and Hotels & Travel Special Sections INSIDE Education

A Special Section of The Washington Diplomat


As President Trump works to curb immigration to the U.S., his administration is shaking up the the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program that has allowed about 300,000 people from countries such as Haiti, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras to set up lives in the U.S. / PAGE 8


France, Germany Look to Lead United Europe

January 2018



ing Doors Diplomacy F

United States

Trump Puts “T� In Temporary Protected Status




DIVIDED NEIGHBORS GerĂłnimo GutiĂŠrrez FernĂĄndez may have the toughest job on Embassy Row. After all, what training prepares any ambassador to represent a country whose people are continually dumped on by none other than the chief occupant of the Oval Office? But GutiĂŠrrez takes pains to differentiate Donald Trump, the man, from the American people who voted him into office, saying that the “average American just wants a respectful, mutually beneficial relationship with Mexico.â€? / PAGE 15




GAWEL or the second year in a row, more than 1 million international Institute of International Education 11th consecutive year (IIE) and the State Department, of expansion in students came to study in the that the number of internationalshowed the number of foreign students U.S., but the 2017 Open in the stuDoors Report U.S. This year’s dents in the United States on International Educational increased by lion internationalrecord high of 1.08 milExchange 3.4 percent over the students is also a draalso reveals a mixed prior year, while bag when it comes matic jump from the the number of American to America’s global appeal. fewer than 600,000 students who studied here just studying abroad spiked The annual report, conducted a decade ago. by 4 percent by the from the prior year. The rise marks the

Haley Gets High Marks As U.N. Ambassador SEE OPEN DOORS t PAGE 22


| 21

In an administration characterized by a tumultuous, chaotic foreign policy, one figure has received reasonably favorable reviews from experts: Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Although the former South Carolina governor entered the post with little foreign policy experience, Haley has proven to be quite a shrewd political operator on the world stage. / PAGE 4

President Trump’s global isolation has brought French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel closer together, creating a FrancoGerman alliance that seeks to project a united European front in the face of growing populist forces. / PAGE 12


‘Magnetic’ Artists Defy Categorization “Magnetic Fields� looks at the neglected history of black female artists in a practice dominated by white men. / PAGE 32

Southeast Asia

Afghan Peace May Hinge On Women Achieving peace between the Afghan government and Taliban has been elusive, fruitless goal. But some experts say a third party is missing in the country’s moribund peace talks: Afghanistan’s women. / PAGE 18

Your Next Vacation Is Waiting.

Volume 25


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January 2018

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A new study suggests that artificial intelligence may be able to help doctors diagnose diseases.

Outlier at U.N. Amid a chaotic year, Trump’s envoy to the U.N., Nikki Haley, has fared pretty well.

8 TPS in Jeopardy Trump ends Temporary Protected Status for Haitians and Nicaraguans.

12 Franco-German Alliance Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron try to put up a united European front.

15 Cover Profile: Mexico Mexico’s Gerónimo Gutiérrez wants to break down bilateral walls, not build them. 18



Cutting-Edge Cathedral

PostClassical becomes the ensemble-in-residence at the Washington National Cathedral.


Dutch Golden Age

“Inspiration and Rivalry” looks at the symbiotic relationship between Vermeer and Dutch painters.

Open Doors

For the second year in a row, the U.S. has welcomed over 1 million international students.


‘Crazy’ Moves

Tap dancing and Gershwin make for a feel-good combo at Signature Theatre.


Winter Wonderland

Winter in Washington can be a dreary affair, but there are plenty of activities to brighten the day.

Inclusive Peace Afghanistan takes tentative steps to include women in its peace process.




Global Vantage Point In an age of Twitter diplomacy, nation-branding needs to go beyond the Beltway.


‘Magnetic’ Pull

Black female abstract artists get their due in “Magnetic Fields.”


Cinema Listing

38 Events Listing 40 Diplomatic Spotlight 46 Classifieds 47 REAL ESTATE Classifieds THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | JANUARY 2018 | 3

WD | United Nat ions

Haley Gets High Marks Trump’s U.N. Ambassador Survives Brutal First Year Relatively Unscathed by Mackenzie Weinger


n an administration characterized by a tumultuous, chaotic foreign policy, one figure has received reasonably favorable reviews from experts: Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Haley has at times seemed an outlier in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet. Although the former South Carolina governor entered the post with no substantive foreign policy or diplomatic experience, Haley has shown an aptitude for the job and proven to be quite a shrewd political operator on the world stage. “Haley has had a pretty remarkable first year at the U.N.,” Richard Gowan, a U.N. expert who teaches at Columbia University, told The Washington Diplomat. “She has gone from foreign policy novice to a central player in the administration.” Thomas Weiss, the presidential professor of political science at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and director emeritus of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, said he would give Haley a “passing grade” for her first year. “It’s a decent report card on somebody you thought was going to be a D minus,” he said. “She’s performed well with a very bad dossier.” Haley, the American-born daughter of Sikh Indian immigrants, previously served as the governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017 before stepping into her current position at the U.N. Prior to that, she was a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives. Political watchers in the United States were familiar with Haley thanks to her high national profile within the Republican Party. Mitt Romney considered her in 2012 as a possible vice presidential running mate and she gained further prominence after delivering the Republican Party’s response to the 2016 State of the Union address delivered by then-President Barack Obama. Soon after President Trump’s election, he nominated Haley to be the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and she was confirmed by a Senate vote of 96-4. She was sworn in on Jan. 25, 2017 — one of the fastest moves in an administration that continues to seriously lag behind in key appointments in the diplomatic sphere. Originally, Haley was under consideration to become Trump’s secretary of state, a position she reportedly turned down due to her lack of foreign policy experience. Trump came back to her with the U.N. position. Haley responded that she wanted to have a voice on the president’s Cabinet and National Security Council, as well as the freedom to speak candidly. “I said ‘I am a policy girl, I want to be part of the decision-making process,’” she told CNN’s Elise Labott for a September 2017 profile. “He said, ‘done.’ And I said,


Credit: UN Photo / Mark Garten

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, center, walks to speak to journalists about a wide range of issues, including the situation in Lebanon, in August 2017. Despite coming to the U.N. with scant foreign policy experience, Haley has generally earned high marks for her performance.

[S]he’s about the best you can hope for from this administration…. She actually seems to have been a somewhat stabilizing, calming influence on the dear president. Thomas Weiss presidential professor of political science at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

‘I don’t want to be a wallflower or a talking head. I want to be able to speak my mind.’ He said, ‘That is why I asked you to do this.’ In all honesty, I didn’t think they were going to take me up on everything I asked for. And they gave me all that. So how do you turn that down?” She didn’t, and since then, Haley has used that voice to forcefully denounce human rights abuses abroad and racism at home — louder than the president himself — while vociferously condemning Russia, North Korea, Iran and Syria. More recently, she said that the women accusing Trump of sexual misconduct “should be heard,” a break from the administration’s denials on the matter. At the same time, she has toed the Trump line on downsizing America’s financial support for the United Nations and criticized the world body’s alleged anti-Israel bias, even as she’s deftly maneuvered diplomacy at Turtle Bay and earned the respect of her colleagues. Given her relatively impressive track record, many have speculated that Haley

would take over for embattled Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, although The New York Times reported last month that CIA Director Mike Pompeo is rumored to be Tillerson’s replacement if Trump decides to dump Tillerson. So for now, Haley — who has straddled a fine line of elevating her profile without eclipsing the president — looks set to remain in New York, although with her star on the rise, she may harbor grander political ambitions in the future. Weiss described himself as “pleasantly surprised” by Haley on the U.N. stage. “Nobody had ever heard of her. She has not, I think, made a fool of herself. And on a couple of occasions — setting up the conversation on U.N. reform, in trying to discuss the North Korean issue — she has been much more straightforward and closer to a modest, sensible Republican foreign policy stance than I expected and anybody else did as well,” Weiss said. As far as the post of U.S. ambassador to the U.N. goes, “she’s about the best you can hope for from this administration,”

according to Weiss. “She actually seems to have been a somewhat stabilizing, calming influence on the dear president,” he added. Some of the only notable foreign policy stands by the Trump administration have been a result of Haley’s tenure, experts noted. “Haley’s biggest achievement has been to find common ground with China over sanctions on North Korea,” Gowan said. “The fact that she got two serious sanctions resolutions through the Security Council was a real diplomatic coup. If she had failed to do that, the Korean crisis could have escalated even more dangerously than it has done so far.” But it has not been an entirely successful year at the U.N. The devastating Syrian conflict has forced more than half of all Syrians to flee their homes, according to the U.N., and likely more than 470,000 people have died from the conflict as of February 2016, the independent Syrian Center for Policy Research estimates. Russia entered the conflict in September 2015 and since then has established itself as a military power in the region, with President Vladimir Putin propping up the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “Haley has not been able to make any real impact on Russia over Syria in the Security Council,” Gowan said. “She has made some strong moral statements over the war, but the Russians have See Haley • page 6


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simply shrugged them off. This is not really Haley’s fault though. Moscow had already achieved a dominant diplomatic position over Syria before the Trump administration took office.” Broadly, Weiss said that with Haley, “no red flags have gone up because of her,” unlike with the Trump administration at large. He also pointed out that Haley seems to have a “decent relationship” with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, which is important in that bureaucracy. “There are lots of red flags that have gone up over the administration’s politics and policies. But she has been a more measured voice for even the policies most people find questionable — pulling out of Paris [climate accord], UNESCO. She will defend those as in the U.S. interests, but at least she doesn’t tweet invectives,” Weiss said. Trump delivered his debut address at the U.N. General Assembly in September, largely sticking to the expected script — until he didn’t. He called North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a “rocket man” on a “suicide mission for himself and his regime.” He threatened that the U.S. would have “no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” if forced to defend itself or its allies. According to Weiss, that speech showed that Haley “didn’t keep him totally under control.” At the same time, Haley too has occasionally gone off the rhetorical rails, declaring for instance that North Korea is “begging for war.” But she has balanced her bellicose statements with a politician’s touch for wooing over her fellow diplomats. While Trump approaches foreign policy chaotically and on an ad-hoc basis, Haley appears to take a more recognizable approach, U.N. observers said. Gowan noted that Haley has “mainstream Republican foreign policy instincts.” “She is tough on Russia and a fierce defender of Israel. She is more of an internationalist than the president, and more willing to talk about the value of human rights and foreign aid than either Trump or Tillerson,” he said. Early on, he added, it appeared as though Haley’s instincts “would set her apart from the White House.” “But she has delivered on North Korea for Trump and also been a strong defender of his tough line on Iran. So despite some fairly big differences about foreign policy, she has actually ended up very close to the president on the big issues of 2017,” Gowan pointed out. For instance, Haley has consistently pushed for stepped up sanctions on North Korea. In

September, the U.N. Security Council agreed on its toughest-ever sanctions against the regime, a key success for Haley, according to experts. The measures included restricting North Korea’s imports of crude oil and banning textile exports — a critical source of hard currency. One noteworthy point of departure from Trump has been Haley’s tough stance on Russia, a typical establishment Republican foreign policy view that does not line up with what the president has said. Trump has consistently spoken highly of Russia and Putin, called for warmer relations with the country and has repeatedly cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that the Kremlin directed a cyber and information campaign aimed at interfering in the 2016 election and promoting Trump. But in her first speech to the Security Council in February, Haley struck a strong tone on Russia. “Eastern Ukraine of course is not the only part of the country suffering because of Russia’s aggressive actions. The United States continues to condemn and call for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea,” she said. “Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine.” As for Haley’s reception at the U.N. itself, “foreign diplomats at the U.N. really want to see Haley succeed,” Gowan told The Washington Diplomat. “They see her as a moderating force in the administration and admire her for saving the U.N. from really vicious budget cuts at the hands of Trump,” he said. “Despite frictions over issues like Iran, Haley has solid working relations with diplomats from major U.S. allies in New York. She is reportedly less interested in cultivating ties with ambassadors from smaller countries. Most diplomats think that Haley won’t stick around at the U.N. very long, and that she’ll either replace Tillerson at State or prepare for a presidential run.” As for Haley’s future, she will face more challenges in the year ahead at the U.N. — from North Korea, Russia, Syria and the Israel-Palestine issue, for instance — if she decides to stick around. But with the possibility of a higher-profile post or even a future run at the presidency, the former South Carolina governor may look beyond New York. Although, as Gowan pointed out, “right now, she is a safe distance from the constant mess around Trump, but if she returns to Washington, she’ll risk getting mixed up in it.” “It may be better to stay in the New York bubble and keep building her reputation as a safe pair of hands,” he said. WD Mackenzie Weinger (@mweinger) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

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WD | United States

Putting ‘T’ in Temporary TPS Ends for Haiti, Nicaragua; El Salvador, Honduras Still in Question by Aileen Torres-Bennett


merica first” is a rallying cry of President Donald Trump, and that sentiment is at the heart of the administration’s protectionist policies. On immigration, the effect is a closing of some doors. The administration has recently been performing what it considers bureaucratic cleanup related to Temporary Protected Status (TPS) immigrants, specifically those from Haiti, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras. The TPS program began in 1990 under President George H.W. Bush. The executive branch can designate and extend TPS for migrants if they come from countries with ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, an epidemic or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. Last month, the Trump administration announced it was ending TPS for about 59,000 Haitians in the U.S. on July 22, 2019. Earlier, the administration said it was ending protections for 2,500 Nicaraguans on Jan. 5, 2019. TPS was extended to Haitians following the 2010 earthquake, while Nicaraguans were given protection after Hurricane Mitch in 1998. The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Acting Secretary Elaine Duke has yet to make a decision on whether to extend TPS for those from El Salvador. At the moment, that TPS expires March 9, 2018. Duke is also mulling over what to do about TPS for Honduran migrants. To give herself time, she extended TPS for Honduras by six months to July 5, 2018. In total, the TPS program covers about 320,000 people living in the U.S. from 10 nations, many from Central America. Some have been living in the U.S. for decades with deep roots in the community, having given birth to American children and started businesses here. That’s why immigration advocates say ending TPS is a cruel decision that will uproot hundreds of thousands of law-abiding immigrants who have established lives in the U.S., forcing them back to countries that are ill-equipped to take them. In particular, that includes Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, as well as El Salvador and Honduras, which continue to be plagued by drug trafficking and gang violence. But the administration counters that Temporary Protection Status was meant to be just that — temporary — and not a program that allowed recipients to repeatedly extend their stays for decades on end. It also says conditions on the ground in countries like Haiti have improved enough for immigrants to return. The TPS effort is part of a broader push


Credit: UN Photo / Marco Dormino

Ending TPS will rip families apart and we cannot let that happen. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.)

by Trump to curb immigration to the U.S. that includes accelerating the deportation of illegal immigrants, shrinking legal immigration to the country, ending the “dreamers” program and cutting the number of refugees.

DHS Deliberations A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti in 2010. In the aftermath, up to 316,000 died and 1.5 million people were displaced, according to CNN. In May 2017, then DHS Secretary John Kelly, who is now White House chief of staff, decided to extend TPS for Haitians by six months, letting it expire in January 2018. Kelly came to the conclusion that Haiti has recovered sufficiently from the 2010 earthquake and said that “Haitians need to start thinking about returning.” “Haiti has made progress across several fronts since the devastating earthquake in 2010,” he said. “The Haitian economy continues to recover and grow, and 96 percent of people displaced by the earthquake and living in internally displaced person camps have left those camps…. Also indicative of Haiti’s success in recovering from the earthquake seven years ago is the Haitian government’s

stated plans to rebuild the Haitian President’s residence at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, and the withdrawal of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti.” Kelly admitted that country has yet to fully recover, but added that TPS should not remain in place “until Haiti is a completely functioning economy with no problems.” Duke ultimately agreed that Haiti’s TPS designation should expire, although she gave Haitians in the U.S. an additional 18 months to leave. The 18-month deadline will allow for an “orderly transition” so that Haitians can “arrange their departure” and their government can prepare for their arrival, Duke said. “Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens,” she said in a statement in November 2017. But critics of the move say conditions remain bleak in the poverty-stricken nation, which is still recovering from a massive cholera epidemic and damage from Hurricane Matthew in 2016. According to a recent U.N. report, 2.5 million people in Haiti need humanitarian assistance. Schools, hospitals and entire

Workers with the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti and the Jenkins and Penn Haitian Relief Organization remove street rubble in the capital of Port-au-Prince following the massive 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people. In November, the Trump administration announced it was ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for about 59,000 Haitians living in the U.S. by July 2019, saying conditions had improved enough for them to go back home.

communities have yet to be fully rebuilt, and according to the World Bank, nearly 60 percent of Haitians live below the national poverty line of $2.41 a day. The return of Haitians currently living in the U.S. could further weaken Haiti’s economy, which relies heavily on remittances from the diaspora, accounting for more than one-fourth of the nation’s income. “There is no reason to send 60,000 Haitians back to a country that cannot provide for them,” Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, home to a large Haitian population, said on Twitter following the DHS announcement. “Almost eight years later, Haiti remains in total disarray and still requires much rebuilding,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (RFla.) said in a statement. “These individuals are established, respected members of our communities who have made significant contributions, and I urge the administration to reconsider its decision regarding Haitian and Nicaraguan nationals.” Nicaraguans were granted TPS in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, which led to about 3,000 deaths and over $1 billion in economic damage in See T PS • page 10


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TPS Continued • page 8

the country, according to the BBC. DHS officials determined that “temporary conditions caused in Nicaragua by Hurricane Mitch no longer exist,” and the government of Nicaragua did not ask the U.S. for an extension of TPS. In January and February 2001, several earthquakes hit El Salvador, resulting in at least 1,100 deaths, over 7,800 injured and more than 2,500 missing, according to U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services. The natural disasters also displaced about 1.3 million people out of the country’s total population of 6.2 million. In the aftermath of the quakes, more than 80,000 lived in temporary camps. Losses in housing, infrastructure and the agricultural sector totaled about $2.8 billion, the equivalent of more than half of El Salvador’s annual budget. TPS was extended for El Salvador back in July 2016 to the new March 2018 end date. The government of El Salvador has asked the U.S. for another extension. Duke will have to make a decision by early January. Like Nicaragua, Honduras was struck by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, which led to its TPS designation. The hurricane resulted in more than 5,000 deaths and the destruction of at least 70 percent of the country’s agriculture, according to the BBC. Duke is still weighing factors, including advice from the State Department, before she decides what to do about Honduras. She has tasked her team to continue engaging with the government of Honduras as part of the pro-

Photo: Samuel Morazan / Pixabay

The Department of Homeland Security is mulling whether to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Hondurans in the U.S., which was given to Honduras in the wake of Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Critics of the move say the country, seen above, is still plagued by poverty and drug violence.

The ‘T’ in TPS stands for temporary. Dave Ray

communications director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform

cess. “Information I received, including the Honduras country condition report from the Department of State, was inconclusive as to the ability of Honduras to adequately handle the return of its nationals into the country without major disruption,” Duke said in a statement.

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“Although not the basis for my conclusion as to the need for additional information, I note that the successful reintegration of TPS nationals back into the Honduran economy could have a significant impact on the Department’s recent efforts to stem the flow of illegal immigration, confront violent gangs, and thwart transnational criminal organizations.” There have been reports that Kelly pushed for the end of TPS for Honduras, but Duke held her own, giving herself time to continue gathering information before deciding.

What Happens to TPS Immigrants? The Pew Research Center, citing statistics from DHS, reports the following numbers of people with Temporary Protected Status: 46,000 from Haiti, 2,550 from Nicaragua, 195,000 from El Salvador and 57,000 from Honduras. Haitians under TPS have potentially been in the U.S. for about seven years; Nicaraguans and Hondurans for almost 20 years; and Salvadorans for about 17 years. In all, TPS beneficiaries accounted for about 3 percent of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. in 2015, according to Pew. TPS is a temporary designation, but affected immigrants don’t necessarily want, or are prepared, to return to their original countries. Some Haitians have reportedly traveled to Canada and asked for asylum, for instance, to avoid being deported back to their home country. Bipartisan groups in Congress have gone to bat for TPS immigrants. On the House side, Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) introduced legislation to allow qualified migrants that arrived to the U.S. and received TPS protection prior to Jan. 13, 2011, to adjust their status to legal permanent residence. This could affect more than 300,000 qualified Nicaraguan, Honduran, Salvadoran and Haitian migrants. The bill is called the Extending Status Protection for Eligible Refugees (ESPERER) Act. “Epserer” is the French verb for hope, and the bill is perhaps a riff on the so-called “dreamers,” undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and are affected by the Trump administration’s rescinding of the Deferred

Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. It has been left up to Congress to determine how to deal with those affected by DACA when that program expires in March. “While hoping and waiting they would be able to return to their native countries for years, Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, Honduran and Haitian migrants have become essential parts of the South Florida community by contributing to our local economy and our culture,” Curbelo said in a statement. “The continued short-term extensions of TPS have created anxiety and uncertainty not only for these migrants and their families, but also for their employers and neighbors whose prosperity also depends on them. While I will continue to support extensions for Temporary Protected Status, this bipartisan legislation would give these migrants the peace of mind to continue giving back to their communities, contributing to our economy and supporting their families.” On the Senate side, Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.); Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.); Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.); Jack Reed (D-R.I.); Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii); Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.); Ed Markey (D-Mass.); Kamala Harris (D-Calif.); Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.); Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.); and Elizabeth Warren (DMass.) introduced the Safe Environment from Countries Under Repression and Emergency (SECURE) Act that would allow qualified TPS recipients to apply for legal permanent residency. This bill is more extensive than the House bill, encompassing all TPS countries, including Nepal, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and potentially affecting 437,000 people, according to Cardin’s office. “Congress needs to pass legislation to protect those with TPS,” Cardin said in a statement. “We need to give predictability and safety to people who are in uncertain status, and we need to stand up for the American values of compassion and diversity that have made this country stronger. Ending TPS will rip families apart and we cannot let that happen. We want the president to do the right thing, but only Congress can provide the permanent relief that is needed to take away the fear that families have right now.” The American Immigration Council sees the latest TPS decisions as the heavy hand of the administration in action. “We think that the administration is not friendly toward, or amenable toward, Temporary Protected Status and appears eager to subject as many people as possible to deportation, despite the fact that these countries remain unsafe or unable to take them back right now due to the challenges they face, whether environmental disasters or conflicts or other types of violence,” Royce Bernstein Murray, the American Immigration Council’s policy director, told The Diplomat. The counterargument emphasizes that TPS was not meant to spawn communities rooted in the U.S. “The ‘T’ in TPS stands for temporary,” Dave Ray, director of communications for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), told The Diplomat in an email. “TPS was established to allow citizens of countries affected by some unforeseen event and were legally in the U.S. to remain here temporarily — until the triggering incident had passed. In each and every case under consideration, the immediate crises have long since passed, and, for the most part, the home countries are no worse off today than they were before the triggering event. In the case of Honduras, for example, the triggering event occurred in 1998. Temporary does not mean forever.” TPS is in danger of being abused, Ray thinks. “If temporary isn’t temporary, then it will be hard to justify future TPS programs. TPS was never meant as an easy way to sidestep the legal immigration process.” WD Aileen Torres-Bennett is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C.




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WD | Europe

Franco-German Alliance Macron, Merkel Navigate Populism, Russia, Unpredictable U.S. to Unify Europe by Ryan R. Migeed and Anna Gawel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, top, watch as European Union Foreign Policy Representative Federica Mogherini and others sign the launch of the Alliance for the Sahel in Paris in July 2017. Macron has increased France’s global presence, although Germany continues to be Europe’s most influential country.


he election of President Donald Trump scrambled what had already been a fraught, fractured political landscape in Europe. His “America first” doctrine has undermined alliances and his reluctance to forcefully confront Russian aggression has driven a wedge in Europe. Yet Trump’s unpredictability has also brought French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel closer together, creating a Franco-German alliance that seeks to project a united European front in the face of growing populist forces. Indeed, The Economist reported that in his first three months in office, Macron met with Merkel nine times, more than twice as often as America’s president and three times as often as heads of state from Britain and Russia. But Trump is also a symptom of the populist frustrations sweeping both sides of the Atlantic. This backlash to globalization and elitism has inspired nativist, anti-immigrant parties to establish a foothold in countries from Austria to the Netherlands to Britain, which is in the midst of divorcing itself from the European Union. So while European leaders must recalibrate their foreign policy strategies in response to Trump, many of the underlying problems the continent faces existed before Trump and will likely fester beyond his presidency. In response to right-wing populism, euro-skepticism and Russian efforts to sunder NATO, Europe’s leaders are tasked with a challenge they have not faced since the formation of the European Union. They must prove to their publics that the project of integration — including a single currency, free movement across borders and high courts for human rights and trade disputes — has brought unprecedented prosperity and security to the region since World War II. Both Merkel and Macron have bucked the rising tide of populism by insisting that unity remains key to the continent’s success. As head of Europe’s strongest economy for the last 12 years, Merkel has been the de facto leader of the EU itself, guiding the bloc through the euro and refugee crises while defending the liberal international order. In contrast to Merkel’s established reputation, Macron is neophyte renegade. A former investment banker who had never before held political office, the 39-year-old centrist candidate upended French politics by forming his own party and winning presidential elections in May. Macron also defied convention by openly embracing the EU and advocating for business-friendly reforms. But both Merkel and Macron have


Photo: European External Action Service

In response to right-wing populism, euro-skepticism and Russian efforts to sunder NATO, Europe’s leaders are tasked with a challenge they have not faced since the formation of the European Union. encountered stiff resistance at home that could hamstring their power on the world stage. After failing to form a coalition government following elections in September, Merkel faces three unpalatable options: try to convince a reluctant opposition party to join her government, rule as a weakened minority government or hold new elections. Macron’s political position is less precarious, but he too has faced plummeting approval ratings and strong opposition to his proposed labor reforms. Meanwhile, his drive to reform the EU hinges on cooperation from Germany, but Merkel’s domestic troubles have put his ambitious agenda on hold. Macron warns that failing to improve the EU could lead to a resurgence of far-right populist parties next year. Beyond the individual struggles of Merkel and Macron, France and Germany historically have held different outlooks on various economic and security issues. While the two countries laid the foundations of Europe’s common market, they diverge on critical questions such as how to help indebted EU member states and whether to accept refugees from war-torn nations — differences that could further hamper the two countries’ ability to keep Europe together.

Eurozone Reform While the eurozone crisis that rocked the continent in 2009 has faded from the headlines, anemic growth and high debt remain a major concern throughout Europe. The euro crisis led to controversial bailouts of states with weaker economies, such as Greece, by states with stronger economies, namely Germany. Resentment festered on both sides: Northern EU member states were bitter about rescuing nations on the “periphery” of the eurozone, such as Greece, Spain and Portugal, that they accused of racking up debt and mismanaging their economies. Greece and others countered that these “bailouts” focused largely on austerity measures that exacerbated unemployment and slowed their recoveries, with the money largely going to the northern banks that financed their debt in the first place. The fact that eurozone members such as Greece use a single currency also made it harder for them to dig out of the crisis. Normally, when countries face asset bubbles, they raise interest rates and devalue their currency to boost exports and stimulate growth. But this isn’t an option for eurozone members because

they use a shared currency, which they cannot manipulate to stabilize their individual markets. Despite criticism of the single currency and its inherent constraints, Macron surprised many by not only backing the 19-nation eurozone, but doubling down on it. In a lengthy speech on Sept. 26 — two days after the German election — Macron outlined his vision for EU reform and pressed Germany to partner with him on a long-term agenda to deepen integration in the 27-member bloc. Macron’s proposals include a common eurozone budget, finance minister and parliament, as well as the establishment of a European Monetary Fund. The fund, comparable to the U.S. Federal Reserve, would centralize monetary policy and replace the European Stability Mechanism, the bloc’s current bailout fund. Macron also called for common EU policies on defense, taxes and asylum. “To reduce inequalities across the EU, Macron suggested greater harmonisation of tax policies,” including taxing technology companies such as Facebook and Apple and imposing a financial transaction tax, wrote Angelique Chrisafis and Jennifer Rankin in a

Sept. 26 article for The Guardian. On defense, Macron called for a Europe-wide “rapid-reaction force” to work with national armies and a joint European defense budget and policy, ideas already under discussion but in the early stages, The Guardian noted. And on migration, Macron promoted closer coordination through a possible European asylum agency and standard EU identity documents. The timing of Macron’s speech, just after Germans voted in parliamentary elections, was “conspicuous, if not a little aggressive,” wrote Sophia Besch and Benjamin Haddad in an Oct. 7 article for The Atlantic. “Macron’s real audience seemed to be the parties in the Bundestag with whom [Merkel] now seeks to build a coalition, and find common ground with on divisive issues of European integration.” But Macron’s pleas seem to have fallen on deaf ears. The German Free Democrats (FDP) — one of two parties Merkel had been in coalition talks with — rejected the notion of a joint eurozone budget or a single finance minister. Meanwhile, the party most receptive to Macron’s plans, the Social Democrats, got trounced at the polls. Germany has long prided itself on its fiscally conservative, cautious policies. So while Merkel and other German politicians praised Macron’s calls for greater unity, his ideas for overhauling the eurozone were met with a lukewarm response, even though the proposals were more modest than initially expected. German officials — wary of having to bail out profligate EU members — generally oppose the pooling of budgetary resources and shared borrowing across the eurozone. For example, Macron’s vision of a European Monetary Fund would allow European states to spread financial risk. But for Berlin, the focus of such a fund would be on enforcing fiscal discipline, not redistributing wealth between states. And while Merkel does not oppose the concept of a eurozone finance minister or eurozone budget, she differs with Macron in that she prefers a less powerful minister and a smaller budget. Merkel also wants to tackle the issue of creating a single digital market and common asylum policy before addressing eurozone reform. Given its tradition of fiscal restraint, Germany would not agree to the fully centralized fiscal union envisioned by Macron, according to Charles Lichfield, Europe associate at Eurasia Group. “What we can hope for is a very limited pot to be used in times of crisis,” Lichfield told The Diplomat. A more “limited pot” would most likely be a bailout fund to assist individual countries’ banks in the event of another financial crisis. Or it could be something like a European version of

Photo: Gerd Altmann / Pixabay

France and Germany differ significantly in how to handle the euro crisis, with Berlin favoring more rigid rules and austerity and Paris pushing for more flexibility and help for indebted countries.

the World Bank, which would provide loans to struggling economies within the eurozone. Whatever form it takes, the debate over eurozone reform reflects the two opposing views of the countries that would lead the effort. “The German view centers on a system of rules and the French view centers on discretion,” said Hans Kundnani, a senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund. The German vision for a eurozone finance minister is an “enforcer” of economic rules, while the French vision is for one who “would have much more space to make policy,” Kundnani told The Diplomat. The French would prefer to build as much flexibility into the system as possible while the Germans would seek strict fiscal conditions on loans to eurozone member states, according to Kundnani.

German Holding Pattern The future of eurozone reform was further put in doubt by the German elections on Sept. 24. While Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU/ CSU) emerged victorious, the bloc and its coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD), both saw their vote shares plummet.

On election night, the SPD announced it would not rejoin the grand coalition it had formed with Merkel. Talks between Merkel and the Free Democrats and Greens to form a governing coalition collapsed last month. A last-ditch effort to team up with the SPD is still not out of the question. Its leader, Martin Schulz, has since met with the CDU and may negotiate another coalition government after the SPD “met a backlash for its ‘party first, country second’ position,” as Margaret Wiggins reported Nov. 26 for The Cipher Brief. If talks don’t work out, Merkel has said she prefers fresh elections over a minority government. According to a Nov. 21 poll, half of German voters want a new election in the wake of failed coalition talks. However, the same poll found that new elections would not significantly alter the September results. “I don’t see any huge change taking place in German policy because of the consensus among the four main parties,” Kundnani told The Diplomat. Another election would also inject more political uncertainty into the EU — as it tries to deal with issues such as Brexit and Catalonia’s independence bid — and threaten to derail Macron’s agenda. “With Ms. Merkel weakened and Germany facing the possibility of a caretaker government before new elections in the spring, European Union reform will be put through another extended delay,” wrote Steven Erlanger in a Nov. 21 article for The New York Times. Meanwhile, the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party — formed in 2013 to oppose Merkel’s eurozone rescue — surged on election night, becoming the third-largest party in the Bundestag. “This means that Germany’s new parliament will be the most fragmented in postwar history,” The Economist reported on Sept. 30. As a result, “the chances of a Franco-German deal are slim,” said Kundnani. “Even if Merkel were personally inclined to make concessions to Macron — something that is far from clear — she has been weakened by this election,” Kundnani wrote in an article for the German Marshall Fund in October. By giving parliamentary seats to AfD and the Free Democrats, another euroskeptic party, the message German voters sent was that they wanted “an even tougher approach” to eurozone reform, according to Kundnani. See Allian c e • page 14

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Alliance Continued • page 13

“They [gave] Merkel permission to say no to Macron,” he told us. Whatever German parliamentary coalition Merkel can construct “will agree to piecemeal measures, nothing big,” according to Lichfield. Ultimately, Lichfield says it is far more likely that the SPD will agree to a renewed coalition government “out of duty” rather than allow, or force, new elections. Regardless, the political haggling could take months. In the meantime, some have speculated that Merkel’s diminished position opens up an opportunity for Macron to step up and seize the mantle of EU leadership. But most experts agree that given its economic heft, Germany will remain in the driver seat of any major decisions. In fact, partly because of the AfD’s rise, Kundnani already sees Macron pulling back his grander vision of European integration. “Macron’s strategy seems to be, rather than make ambitious demands of Germany … he’s already kind of scaled down his ambitions and is already making much more modest requests of Germany,” Kundnani said. Ironically, this could mean greater cooperation on the Syrian refugee crisis, a divisive issue in Europe.

Photo: Pixabay

Paris, above, and Berlin, below, have forged a renewed alliance to fend off populist resentment throughout the European Union, especially given the rise of anti-immigrant, anti-EU parties in both nations.

The Refugee Crisis “Because there’s so little prospect of a deal on the eurozone, the focus of a Franco-German deal has shifted to other areas,” such as absorbing the large influx of refugees from the Syrian civil war, Kundnani said. In 2015, Merkel opened Germany’s doors to about 1 million refugees despite fears that unfettered immigration, particularly from Muslim nations, could lead to terrorism, threaten jobs and drain social services. Those fears run deep in France, which has been the victim of highprofile terrorist attacks in Paris and Nice that killed over 200 people. Macron, however, like Merkel, has bucked populist pressure and urged compassion for those fleeing war and persecution. “Making a place in Europe for refugees who have risked their life is our duty,” he said in his Sept. 26 speech. In October, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi praised Macron for working to improve the management of refugees in Europe. But he warned that “only a common approach at the European Union level can make a real difference and make the management of refugees fairer and more effective.” That seems unlikely, though, even if France and Germany back the idea. Plans to more evenly distribute refugees to ease the burden on front-line countries such as Greece and Italy have wilted in the face of fierce opposition from countries such as Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. The refugee crisis that saw record numbers of people fleeing for Europe has subsided since the EU struck a 2016 deal with Turkey under which Ankara agreed to stop asylum seekers from crossing the sea to Greece

Photo: FelixMittermeier / Pixabay

in return for billions of euros in aid to help Syrian refugees living in Turkey. Even though it has abated, the refugee crisis has had long-lasting repercussions, giving rise to xenophobic sentiment throughout Europe, even in traditionally welcoming nations such as Germany. Merkel’s decision to accept 1 million asylum-seekers in 2015 grated on Eastern European countries such as Romania and Hungary, through which thousands of refugees passed on their way to Germany. These countries “felt trampled” by Germany’s unilateral decision, according to Lichfield. Plenty of Germans weren’t happy either, and Merkel’s decision cost her at the polls. “There is no stronger reason people voted for AfD than Merkel’s response to the refugee crisis,” Lichfield said.

Rise of Right-Wing Parties Many experts agree that Macron’s domestic position is stronger than Merkel’s, despite a sharp decline in his popularity since winning the presidential election over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. Macron’s overwhelming victory was a clear re-


buke to Le Pen’s National Front party, which railed against immigration and even floated the idea of France leaving the EU, the eurozone and NATO. “Macron has very favorable conditions and is in a strong political position,” said Lichfield. Many members of the French parliament owe their positions to him, he noted. Indeed, the centrist political party Macron created just 19 months ago, En Marche!, swept into office with an absolute majority in the National Assembly in France’s legislative elections in June. The party’s fortunes will rise and fall with Macron’s performance — and popularity — while in office. But Macron’s position remains tenuous — and the National Front remains a formidable force in French politics, having won 34 percent of the presidential vote. Like Le Pen’s National Front party, Germany’s AfD has capitalized on the refugee crisis to stoke anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim nativism and pursue its core mission of slowing, and even reversing, European integration. Despite Le Pen’s loss in France, the surprising success of AfD and the October victory of the anti-immigrant People’s Party in neighboring Austria show that the far right’s influence is

waxing, not waning, in Europe. Right-wing parties “are slowly becoming normalized in the political system,” Lichfield said. This is worrisome to Russia observers, who see the Kremlin’s support of far-right parties as a longterm strategy to sow division in the West.

Countering Russian Influence That support has come in the form of propaganda, fake news and a direct infusion of funds. The CIA, NSA and FBI have already concluded that President Vladimir Putin ordered an “influence campaign” to “denigrate” Hillary Clinton and boost Trump. Meanwhile, special prosecutor Robert Mueller continues his investigation into whether highlevel officials in Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia. But Moscow has also set its sights on influencing politics in Europe, pushing pro-Russia parties that take a hard line on immigration and terrorism. In December 2016, Putin’s United Russia party signed a five-year “cooperation agreement” with Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, according to a Feb. 13 report by Matt Bradley for CNBC. As of this writing, the Free-

dom Party is in coalition talks with the People’s Party to form a conservative government. Earlier this year, Russian state media demonized Macron while praising Le Pen. And in 2014, a bank with ties to the Kremlin made a loan to Le Pen’s National Front worth 9 million euros, according to a BBC report by Gabriel Gatehouse. Russia’s election meddling appears to have a secondary, but more immediate, motive: getting sanctions against the country lifted. Those sanctions were originally imposed by the U.S. and EU in 2014 after Russia annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea. In a meeting with Putin at the Kremlin in March 2017, Le Pen reiterated her opposition to the sanctions. “I would envisage lifting the sanctions quite quickly” if elected, she said. But Russian influence extends beyond elections. Russia is a critical economic partner for many European nations. The continent’s dependence on Moscow for its energy needs has also complicated its response to Russian aggression. The EU relies on Russia for about a third of its oil and gas, according to Reuters. As the BBC reported at the time, Europe’s 2014 sanctions — unlike America’s — included an exemption for Russian gas and nuclear energy because many EU countries relied “heavily” on these exports. A new round of U.S. sanctions imposed by Congress this summer in response to Russia’s election meddling has caused fresh concerns in Europe because they target companies involved with Russia’s gas pipelines, such as the controversial Nord Stream 2 project. This new pipeline, being built under the Baltic Sea to bypass Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states, will carry another 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year to its European customers, according to a July 25 report by Steven Erlanger and Neil MacFarquhar for The New York Times. They write that the U.S. push for additional sanctions “raised concerns that unity could be broken between the United States and the European Union on how to deal with Russia over its annexation of Crimea and its sponsorship of warfare in eastern Ukraine.” “There’s always business pressure to back off sanctions,” said Jan Lodal, who served as principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy in the Clinton administration and on the National Security Council in the Nixon and Ford administrations. Merkel needs to “exercise leadership to keep the sanctions” against Russia, Lodal told The Diplomat. While Merkel has been key to preserving those sanctions, Germany also has strong trade ties to Russia and is a key partner in Nord Stream 2. Moreover, this time around, Merkel will be working with a U.S. president who is far less willing than his predecessor to take a tough stance on Russia.

Need for U.S. Leadership “It’s hard to know what Trump’s See Allian c e • page 46

Cover Prof ile | WD

Not- So-Neighborly Ties Mexico’s Gerónimo Gutiérrez: Break Down Bilateral Walls, Don’t Build Them by Larry Luxner


erónimo Gutiérrez Fernández may very well have the toughest job on Embassy Row. After all, what training prepares any ambassador to represent a country — an ally and neighbor of the United States, no less — whose people are continually insulted, ridiculed and dumped on by none other than the chief occupant of the Oval Office? “It’s been intense. It’s been interesting,” the 47-year-old Gutiérrez said when we asked what his first eight months as Mexico’s top envoy in Washington have been like. Talk about an understatement. Donald Trump’s hostility toward the land of “bad hombres,” as he himself put it, is legendary. It all began on July 10, 2014 — nearly a year before he decided to run for president — with this nasty tweet: “When will the U.S. stop sending $’s to our enemies, i.e. Mexico and others?” In late February 2015, Trump tweeted: “The Mexican legal system is corrupt, as is much of Mexico. Pay me the money that is owed me now — and stop sending criminals over our border.” A week later came a further escalation: “Mexico’s court system corrupt. I want nothing to do with Mexico other than to build an impenetrable WALL and stop them from ripping off U.S.” On June 16, 2015, Trump kicked off his presidential campaign at the New York tower he named after himself, warning his audience — in remarks that would be replayed over and over throughout the campaign — that “when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Immediately after Trump’s election, the Mexican peso crashed by 11 percent, and within three days of his surprise victory, the country’s stock market had lost 19 percent of its value. Yet even after winning the presidency, Trump didn’t tone down his provocative Twitter feed one bit. In late August, he tweeted that “with Mexico being one of the highest crime Nations in the world, we must have THE WALL. Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other.” Mexican officials have been far more restrained and diplomatic than the former real estate/reality TV star, although the country has essentially laughed off suggestions that it will foot the bill for Trump’s “big, beautiful wall.” During our one-hour interview with Gutiérrez, this polite, extremely articulate Mexican official took pains to differentiate Donald Trump, the man, from the American people who voted him into office just over a year ago. “President Trump is not the United

States,” Gutiérrez told The Washington Diplomat from his embassy, which sits three blocks west of the White House along Pennsylvania Avenue. “Living for the past 15 years in the U.S., I’ve learned that the average American just wants a respectful, mutually beneficial relationship with Mexico. The average Mexican wants the same thing. There are different views within society here. I have to build on the positive ones, and persuade those who are skeptical about Mexico why it makes sense to have a good relationship.” He added: “Mexicans have become more nuanced about the United States over time. So they understand that the views expressed by the president do not necessarily reflect the views of the majority of Americans — not even the views of government institutions like Congress, and not even the views of the administration itself.” As such, Gutiérrez sees his role “not necessarily to paint Mexico as a rosy story, but simply to explain what Mexico is and what it’s not — and sometimes explaining what it’s not is a greater challenge.”

Gutiérrez: NAFTA Crucial to Mexican Economy With just over 120 million inhabitants, Mexico ranks as the world’s 10th-most populous country. It’s also

Photo: Lawrence Ruggeri

President Trump is not the United States…. Living for the past 15 years in the U.S., I’ve learned that the average American just wants a respectful, mutually beneficial relationship with Mexico. The average Mexican wants the same thing. Gerónimo Gutiérrez Fernández ambassador of Mexico to the United States

America’s third-biggest trading partner; its $525.1 billion in 2016 bilateral trade ranks just behind China’s $578.6 billion and Canada’s $544.9 billion. Every day, the two countries trade more than $1.5 billion in goods and services. That’s largely thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which took effect in 1994 and which Trump vehemently opposed during his campaign. As president, he’s sought to renegotiate the free trade accord to reinvigorate U.S. manufacturing and bring jobs back to the United States.

“Since NAFTA was enacted, we’ve worked under two assumptions. The first is that it makes sense to have a free trade agreement as a means to integrate our economies further and take advantage of a globalized world. The second was that it makes a lot more sense to be talking to each other than to be pointing fingers at each other,” Gutiérrez told us. “It’s no secret that those assumptions have been questioned recently. The possibility of a major setback in bilateral relations is certainly there, but so is the possibility of having a much more mature, beneficial relationship. I see that as

the central role of my mission.” While many experts say the trade pact is in need of updating to reflect a 21st-century digital economy, Trump’s team seems determined to not only reform NAFTA, but also fundamentally remake it to America’s advantage — at Mexico and Canada’s expense. The latest fifth round of talks in Mexico ended with little headway, as Canada and Mexico rebuffed U.S. demands to increase rules of origin so that more NAFTA-made cars and auto parts are manufactured in the United States — a requirement that even American automakers oppose because it would drive up costs and erode their global competitiveness. Other sticking points include trade dispute mechanisms and the awarding of government contracts, as well as a U.S. suggestion to implement a sunset clause under which NAFTA would expire every five years unless the three countries renew it — a nonstarter for Mexico and Canada. NAFTA has linked the economies of the U.S., Mexico and Canada, making them a more competitive regional bloc, See mex ic o • page 16


Credit: UN Photo / Rick Bajornas

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto addresses the Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping Leaders at the U.N. in New York in September 2015. On July 1, Mexicans head to the polls to elect a new president.

Mexico Continued • page 15

creating a highly connected supply chain and increasing trilateral trade to over $1 trillion (also see “NAFTA 2.0: Prodded by Trump, U.S., Canada and Mexico Prepare to Renegotiate Trade Deal” in the August 2017 issue). Economists warn that if NAFTA unravels, it would disrupt those supply chains, which in turn could cripple the U.S. auto industry and hurt American exporters by raising tariffs on a range of goods, from berries to trucks, thus raising costs to consumers. Mexico, which is highly dependent on trade with the U.S., would be particularly hard hit. NAFTA forced the country to modernize its formerly protectionist, debtriddled economy, helping it transition from agriculture to industrial manufacturing and become an automotive hub. But Mexico’s success led to accusations by Trump and others that NAFTA stole American blue-collar jobs and widened the trade deficit between the U.S. and Mexico. While NAFTA did not precipitate the enormous American job losses that some economists feared, like any trade deal, it did produce winners and losers. U.S. farmers benefited from increased market access to Canada and Mexico, but many automotive jobs did indeed shift to cheaper factories in Mexico. While economists concede that some sectors have been disadvantaged by globalization, they argue that in general, free trade has been a net gain. They also point out that automation, not trade, is responsible for the bulk of manufacturing job losses. Nevertheless, Trump blames multilateral trade deals for hurting the American worker. On Aug. 27, the

president took to Twitter again. “We are in the NAFTA (worst trade deal ever made) renegotiation process with Mexico & Canada,” he wrote. “Both being very difficult, may have to terminate?” That led Mexico’s exasperated Foreign Ministry to issue a statement saying, “Mexico will not negotiate NAFTA nor any other aspect of the bilateral relationship through social media or the media.” Gutiérrez — who, like Trump, is also quite active on Twitter — says there’s no doubt NAFTA has boosted the economies of all three countries. Even if the United States pulls out, Mexico and Canada will remain in the pact, although the ambassador concedes that “the relationship is not going to be the same.” “Over the last 25 years, we have built supply chains throughout North America. That is precisely what makes the three countries competitive, and that allows not only trade among ourselves, but also allows us to export,” he said. “If those supply chains are disrupted, all three countries will suffer.” That’s why Mexico and Canada, while working with the U.S. to preserve NAFTA, are also hedging their bets. Both are part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping trade deal among 11 PacificRim nations that is currently being reworked since Trump dropped out of it. Mexico is also reportedly eyeing trade agreements with the European Union and Brazil.

Rhetoric Rising But Mexican Immigration Isn’t As important as NAFTA is to Mexico’s relationship with the United States, issues like immigration, border security and the “war on drugs” have grabbed far more headlines. All of them were themes


Photo: U.S. State Department

From left, Mexican Secretary of Government Miguel Angel Osorio Chong and Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray Caso join Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and then-Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly at a high-level dialogue on strategies to combat transnational criminal organizations at the State Department on May 18, 2017, also seen below.

Photo: U.S. State Department

Photo: U.S. Immigration and Customs Service

Jorge Ochoa-Martinez, 35, is transferred Nov. 14 from the U.S. to the custody of Mexican law enforcement in Laredo, Texas. According to Mexican authorities, in 2006 Ochoa-Martinez and other suspects are accused of fatally bludgeoning a man with a screw driver. Since President Trump’s election, arrests of foreigners living illegally in the U.S., especially those with criminal backgrounds, have gone dramatically up.

Trump relentlessly played on during the campaign. Gutiérrez suggested that ignorance about Mexico allowed the GOP candidate to prey on voters’ fears and use his country as a scapegoat for their problems. “Important regions and segments of the population here genuinely feel left out of mainstream social and economic development. If you look at history, when things get tough, people sometimes rely on alleged foreign threats or enemies to explain this,” he said. “People who are not do-

ing well — for reasons that in my view are completely independent of Mexico — find it easy to blame Mexico.” In addition, the number of U.S. Hispanics of Mexican origin has swelled over the last 30 years, further fueling tensions. In 2014, according to the Migration Policy Institute, about 11.7 million Mexican immigrants resided in the United States, accounting for nearly 28 percent of the 42.4 million foreign-born population. While that constitutes the largest immigrant group in

the country, Mexico is no longer the top origin country among recent immigrants. In 2013, China and India overtook Mexico for that title, and according to the Pew Research Center, more Mexican immigrants have returned to Mexico than have migrated to the United States since the end of the 2007-09 recession. “We have to recognize that the vast majority of Mexicans who have come here over the last 30 years have done so because they did not find opportunities in our country. That’s not the fault or responsibility of the United States. It’s up to Mexico to generate the best opportunities for its people.” To that end, Gutiérrez pointed out, immigration to the U.S. is decreasing thanks to a recent series of economic reforms to improve living conditions in Mexico. “In 2014, President [Enrique] Peña Nieto decided to take a very ambitious, courageous action, opening up our energy sector for the first time in 70 years,” he said, estimating $60 billion worth of investments in natural gas, electricity transmission and other sectors as a result — particularly as oil production

has fallen from around 3 million barrels a day to just under 2 million. “I’m actually not of the president’s party, but the structural reforms he undertook are, in my view, the right ones.”

‘An Adult in the Room’ Gutiérrez, who’s been on the job since March 2017, is the fifth man to head Mexico’s mission to the United States since the retirement of longtime envoy Arturo Sarukhan in 2013; his predecessors include Eduardo Medina Mora, Alejandro Estivill (chargé d’affaires), Miguel Basáñez Ebergenyi and Carlos Manuel Sada Solana. The appointment of three ambassadors over the span of just two years may be a reflection of the confusion and uncertainty that Trump’s erratic presidency has caused in foreign ministries around the world. Mexico has 50 consulates throughout the United States. From 2003 to 2006, as Mexico’s undersecretary for North American affairs, Gutiérrez supervised all of them. He then spent four years as un-

dersecretary for Latin America and the Caribbean and finally six years in Texas as managing director of the San Antonio-based North American Development Bank. Gutiérrez has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Mexico City’s Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) and a master’s in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. “I cannot think of a better, more effective and talented individual to be Mexico’s ambassador to the United States,” Ramiro Cavazos, CEO of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, told the San Antonio Business Journal earlier this year. “Now more than ever, his skills and experience should help bridge economic and immigration tensions between our countries.” Mary Sanchez, writing Oct. 27 in the Kansas City Star, also praised Gutiérrez. “Among the qualities any good ambassador must have are manners, dignity and grace. These are especially important for an emissary to an unruly and a less-than-respectful ‘frenemy’ power,” she wrote. “In Mexico’s relations with the U.S. government, Mexico needs to be the adult in the room. After all, it can’t be assumed that President Donald Trump will take the high road. Trump has far too much to gain with his base by picking at the wounds he opened during his campaign.” Yet any poll that measures Mexican attitudes toward its northern neighbor shows the damage Trump has already caused. According to one major survey, about 11 percent of Mexicans distrust the U.S. — a figure that had been slowly declining throughout the years. But within a few months of Trump’s inauguration, that had jumped to 44 percent. “On both sides of the aisle, there are people who are not in agreement with the way the administration has approached this relationship,” said Gutiérrez, suggesting tension with Mexico is the last thing Washington needs right now. “The U.S. has a pretty difficult scenario worldwide,” he said. “The Middle East is in turmoil, you have a resurgent China challenging the United States for political, economic and military leadership. You have the EU and the NATO alliance under a lot of strain; some people even talk about a new Cold War with Russia. So it’s not a pretty picture. Why complicate things in North America?”

Mexico at a Glance National Sept. 16 (1810)

GDP growth 2.3 percent (2016 estimate)

Location North America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, between Belize and the United States and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Guatemala and the United States

Population below poverty line 46.2 percent

Capital Mexico City Population 124.5 million (July 2017 estimate) Ethnic groups Mestizo (Amerindian-Spanish) 62 percent, predominantly Amerindian 21 percent, Amerindian 7 percent, other 10 percent (mostly European) GDP (purchasing power parity) $2.3 trillion

Unemployment 3.9 percent (2016 estimate) Industries Food and beverages, tobacco, chemicals, iron and steel, petroleum, mining, textiles, clothing, motor vehicles, consumer durables, tourism

Flag of Mexico

(2016 estimate)

GDP per-capita (PPP) $18,900 (2016 estimate) SOURCE: CIA WORLD FACTBOOK


Skyscrapers dot the landscape of Mexico City, above, and Guadalajara, at left. Mexico is the secondlargest economy in Latin America, with expected GDP growth of 2.3 percent in 2017, according to the World Bank.

NO TO TRUMP’S ‘BIG, BEAUTIFUL WALL’ Trump’s proposed border wall, which could end up costing well over $20 billion if it’s ever built, is at the center of a long-running immigration debate that has inflamed passions on both sides. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox summed up his country’s attitudes quite clearly in February 2016, when he told a TV reporter: “I’m not going to pay for that fucking wall.” Fox later produced a four-minute, expletiveladen diatribe against Trump that has been watched on YouTube nearly 2.7 million times. Gutiérrez, who unlike Fox isn’t given to theatrics, dismissed Trump’s January 2017 threat to slap a 20 percent tariff on Mexican imports to finance the wall’s construction. “We don’t think the wall is a good idea, we will not pay for it and we will continue to voice that whenever we have the chance,” he said flatly. Apparently, the governors of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas don’t think it’s a good idea either. In late September, California sued the Trump administration to stop what Gov. Jerry Brown calls the “absolutely preposterous” plan. Trump originally called for a wall 35 to 55 feet high to run across the nearly 2,000-mile

(2016 estimate)


border. He since revised the plan to include about 1,000 miles of wall, with the rest of the border protected by natural obstacles including deserts and mountains. “The vast majority of federal legislators and governors of border states are not in favor of a wall,” Gutiérrez pointed out. “We all want border security. We understand it is not only the right, but the obligation, of any government to protect its borders. The question is how you do it. A security strategy is about identifying risks, assigning a probability that those risks could materialize and then using whatever resources you have to minimize that probability.” To that end, he noted that “there are already over 500 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border and significant elements of infrastructure. In fact, the U.S. and Mexican governments work together on a daily basis to improve security. We don’t want drugs going north, as much as we don’t want cash and weapons going south.” Even if the president never gets his wall — a likely political scenario — he has already

succeeded in creating barriers, physical and otherwise, to curb immigration to the U.S. According to statistics released in early December by the Department of Homeland Security, the number of people caught trying to sneak over the border from Mexico has plummeted to the lowest level in 46 years. The drop in apprehensions began shortly after Trump’s election victory, perhaps a sign that his tough rhetoric was already dissuading immigrants from making the trek. Trump has also beefed up border security and increased arrests of illegal immigrants. Between his inauguration and the end of September, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers made over 110,000 arrests of foreigners living illegally in the U.S., a 42 percent jump over the same period last year. Beyond clamping down on illegal immigration, Trump is also targeting legal pathways to come to the U.S. He is working to shrink the pool of visas available for legal immigrants, especially for extended family members; he ended the so-called “Dreamers” program for

800,000 illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children; he has slashed the number of refugees allowed into the country; and he is ending Temporary Protected Status for countries such as Haiti and Nicaragua (also see story on page 8). In October, Trump, who had already threatened a government shutdown to force Congress to fund construction of his wall, leaned on lawmakers to appropriate money for its construction in exchange for letting Dreamers avoid deportation. In a joint statement, Democratic leaders called such demands unreasonable. “This proposal fails to represent any attempt at compromise,” said their letter. “This list includes the wall, which was explicitly ruled out of the negotiations. If the president was serious about protecting the Dreamers, his staff has not made a good faith effort to do so.” Offered safe haven by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — a legacy of the Obama administration — about 79 percent of these Dreamers are of Mexican origin; the rest mainly come from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. If Congress doesn’t act by next March, CNN recently reported that as many as 983 undocumented people could lose their protected status every day. “These people are more than welcome in Mexico. It would be our gain to have them back, because they are lawyers, doctors and engineers. By and large they’re resilient, and they’ve succeeded under very difficult conditions,” the ambassador told us. “But the fact is, they grew up as any kid in the United States. Mexico might be their birthplace, but they call the U.S. home. They don’t want to return — and the Mexican government has a moral and legal obligation to help them stay here.” He added: “If people are given the opportunity to work here temporarily through a legal channel, then we can concentrate our resources better on true security threats.” Are Trump’s actions all about undoing everything Obama did? “For me it really doesn’t matter,” he replied, “because the end result is the same.”

MEXICO HAS ELECTIONS, TOO Gutiérrez visits frequently with both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, as well as state governors, mayors, business leaders and think tanks. “Many people on both sides have worked for decades to temper anti-Mexican and anti-American sentiment in our two countries,” he said. “To a large extent, these groups have been successful. But the possibility of a resurgence of anti-Americanism has always been there. It can happen.” The real test may come in July 2018, when Mexicans go to the polls to elect a new leader. Recent polls show the early front-runner is Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a fiery populist and leader of the leftist Morena party who has called Trump an “irresponsible bully.” The mayor of Mexico City from 2000 to 2005, he left with an 84 percent approval rating. Often compared to Bernie Sanders, AMLO — as he’s known — has also been labeled a dangerous demagogue whose election as president would trigger an even worse deterioration of U.S.-Mexico ties, as if they’re not already bad enough. Even so, Gutiérrez, who declined to comment on his country’s upcoming elections, says he prefers to remain optimistic. “The relationship between Mexico and the United States is never going to be perfect. But it can be a very good relationship,” he said. “I wouldn’t have agreed to be the ambassador if I didn’t believe that.” WD Tel Aviv-based journalist Larry Luxner is news editor of The Washington Diplomat.


WD | South Asia

Other Half of Peace Afghanistan Takes Tentative Steps to Include Women in Peace Process by Aileen Torres-Bennett


new animated film called “The Breadwinner” was screened in October at the Canadian Embassy in Washington. It’s a touching tale of an Afghan family’s hardships under Taliban rule, which began in 1996. The protagonist is an 11year-old girl who disguises herself as a boy to move freely outside her home so she can provide basic needs for her family. In many ways, life has dramatically changed since the Taliban’s grip on Afghanistan loosened in 2001 after the U.S. declared its “War on Terror” in response to the 9/11 attacks masterminded by Osama bin Laden, then the head of al-Qaeda who was living in Afghanistan. In other ways, however, life remains just as bleak. Despite being kicked out of government, the Taliban is still very much alive, and even thriving, in the country that now holds the dubious distinction of being the longest war in American history. It has regrouped into an ongoing insurgency that disrupts daily life and is estimated to hold sway over 50 percent of the nation. The Taliban has demonstrated its resiliency through terrorist attacks that continue to strike the heart of civil society in places such as markets and restaurants in major cities, as well as government, police and military facilities. These security concerns have been bolstered by the Islamic State, an offshoot of al-Qaeda, joining the jihad. In response to the ongoing instability, President Trump announced in August that he would send several thousand additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan to join the 8,400 already stationed there. While that number is still far below the 30,000-troop surge that President Obama ordered in 2009, Trump did not put a timeline on how long troops would stay in the country, despite longstanding promises to extricate the U.S. from the 16-year conflict. Trump’s troop buildup could push the costs of the war in Afghanistan to well over $1 trillion. The president stressed, however, that his strategy hinges on countering terrorism, not nation building. That Herculean task falls to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, a Western-educated technocrat who recently admitted to the BBC that he has “the worst job on Earth.” That’s not to say the country has not made significant strides since the fall of the Taliban, because it has. Infant mortality has dropped and life expectancy has jumped, while access to basic health services and education has soared. But by most measures, Afghanistan remains one of the poorest, most corrupt and least-developed nations in the world. Ghani has embarked on an ambitious reform agenda that would tackle the country’s endemic corruption, professionalize its security forces and wean the economy off foreign aid. Equally ambitious is his vow to retake control of about 80 percent of the country’s territory in four years. Key to Ghani’s vision is a peace agreement with the Taliban, an elusive goal that has bedeviled past administrations. Trump’s recently announced strategy has a similar endgame: Train and assist Afghan forces to strengthen their capabilities on the battlefield and pressure the Taliban to the negotiating table. For years, however, the Taliban has been reluctant to participate in peace talks, especially since the killing of its leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor by a U.S. drone strike in May 2016. The Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) comprising Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the U.S. 18 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | JANUARY 2018

Photo: Pixabay

Women in Afghanistan read online in a classroom. While women in Afghanistan have made significant strides in education and health care since the overthrow of the Taliban, they remain marginal figures in the Afghan government’s attempts to negotiate a peace settlement with the Taliban.

The message that women need to be a part of [the peace process] is taking hold…. If they are ignored and sold short, as they greatly fear, then the peace will not be sustainable. Melanne Verveer

executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security

was launched January 2016 with the goal of peace and reconciliation, but the QCG has not yet yielded measurable progress. The group met in mid-October to revive talks, but the Taliban stated that it wants “nothing to do” with the effort. Ghani has also complained that, with myriad international actors in the picture, there are too many separate tracks attempting to achieve peace in Afghanistan. So, how can the moribund peace process advance? Consider the overlooked half of Afghan society: women. Afghanistan has a population of 34 million, with a ratio of one female to every male, according to CIA stats. Granted, women playing a role in the peace process is very tricky, given that Afghanistan is often labeled one of the world’s worst countries in which to be a woman. Oppression and abuse are rampant. In 2008, Global Rights estimated that almost nine out of 10 Afghan women face physical, sexual or psychological violence, or are forced into marriage. In the majority of cases, the abuse is committed by someone close to them, such as a family member. Women who speak out often face retribution and sometimes death. So allowing women to play a greater leadership role in such a repressed society is wrought with cultural obstacles, and yet, it is not impossible. It is far from a mainstream idea, but it’s beyond a mere theory. The country, which only 17 years ago was ruled by a regime

that kept women in the dark literally and figuratively — they could not work, could not leave their homes without a burqa and male accompaniment, faced public beatings and were denied education — is actually trying it out, with mixed results.

Institutional Changes Ghani has said that women should be involved in the peace process, and he has made pointed efforts to appoint women to senior government positions. Women now make up 27 percent of the Afghan parliament. So far, however, women have been largely excluded from peace talks. According to the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR), women served a formal capacity in only two of 23 rounds of talks between the government and the Taliban. The think tank points out that when women participate in a peace process, the resulting agreement is 35 percent more likely to last at least 15 years. Yet research shows that in major peace processes from 1990 to 2017, women made up just 2 percent of mediators and 8 percent of negotiators. In fact, the majority of peace agreements signed from 1990 to today include zero female signatories, according to CFR. Attitudes are beginning to shift, however. As U.S. Gen. John Allen said at a CFR symposium on the issue See Afghan istan • page 45

Global Vantage Point | WD

The New Nation Branding Op-ed: In Age of Trump’s Twitter Diplomacy, Nations Need to Go Beyond Beltway by Richard Levick


f half-numb from jet lag you’ve ever stared at the international commercials in an airport lounge TV, you’ve probably “learned a thing or two,” as they say in the Farmers Insurance ads. India is “incredible.” Meanwhile, South Africa is “inspiring new ways.” And presumably once you’ve figured out how to get there, there’s “so much to discover” in Kyrgyzstan. The advertisements are part of a wave of nationbranding campaigns that apply corporate branding techniques to enhance the reputations of countries in a bid to boost tourism, attract investment or simply garner political influence. For years now, countries have distilled “the fundamental common purpose” of their identities into (sometimes too) flashy ads spotlighted on BBC World News, CNN International and other all-news networks. Certain countries, especially the new states of Eastern Europe, have achieved success in using nation-branding campaigns to revitalize tourism after decades of war and conflict. Other countries have used it to attract capital and stimulate investment in markets that have just begun to develop. More nascent countries, meanwhile, are trying to put themselves on the map and stir name recognition. “In a global marketplace, one of the most important assets of any state is encouraging inward investment, adding value to exports, and attracting tourists and skilled migrants,” says David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, which publishes an annual ranking of national brands. To date, nation-branding campaigns, at least those that achieve airport lounge status, have primarily focused on U.S. business executives. Policymakers, opinion elites and the American people writ large have been only peripheral targets. That’s quickly changing. The person who reinvented presidential politics is forcing global leaders to rethink how they engage in deliberations with the U.S. Despite his Twitter-fueled rhetoric and a proclivity for picking undiplomatic fights, Donald Trump’s foreign policy has largely been conventional, if you can look past his disquieting ties to Russia, his controversial declaration that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, his withdrawal from the Paris climate accords and Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and his decision to undercut the Iranian nuclear agreement. The president’s lengthy mid-autumn trip to Asia certainly came out of a traditional year-one playbook. As Politico recently observed, Trump has, “for all his fire and fury,” yet to change the conduct or trajectory of foreign policy. Yet, every country — whether friend or foe — is just 140 characters removed from presidential pique and the inevitable media scrum to follow. Diplomats of all political stripes worry that Trump’s Twitter belligerence presents an unflattering image to the world and undermines the State Department’s capacity to negotiate, whether through official or back-channel diplomacy. Following one of Trump’s Twitter barrages on Russia and Vladimir Putin, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly advised people not to take the president’s tweets too seriously. “The only thing maybe predictable about [Trump’s] foreign policy is that he says to the

Photo: Adobe Stock

Trump’s Twitter diplomacy forces diplomats to go beyond the Beltway…. Just as they consider a nation’s brand for tourism and investment, countries need to think of their brand in domestic political terms. Justin Wallin, marketing concept strategist

world, ‘I’m going to be unpredictable,’” Michael Anton, director of strategic communications at the National Security Council, told Susan Glasser for The Global Politico podcast. “[Trump] said he thinks that America has been too predictable, and I think he relishes that, to keep adversaries, competitors alike, sort of off balance.” The denizens of Foggy Bottom have certainly gotten the message. “There’s a lot of unexpected things that happen to us in the world of diplomacy,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said. “We know how to adapt to that, we know how to work with it.” There’s also no mistaking that Trump’s Twitter diplomacy allows him to bypass the media and make a direct appeal to his base. If countries want to effectively navigate Trump’s impetuous nature, they need to mitigate the prospects of drawing his ire and insulate themselves by building a rapport directly with the American public. That makes their nation branding more important than ever, especially as the Robert Mueller investigation into the Trump team’s possible collusion with Russia intensifies. What’s the best way beyond commercials and public affairs outreach to communicate with a larger American audience, especially for countries whose brand isn’t necessarily well known? To date, a handful of nations have experimented with nation-branding entertainment, such as movies and

television shows, to appeal to a larger audience. The outcomes have been mixed, and occasionally, as in the case of a Cambodian attempt at nation branding through censorship, they’ve backfired. Earlier this year, the Cambodian government banned the action film “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” because it portrayed the country as a base for a criminal drug ring. It’s not the first time Cambodia, and other Southeast Asian nations, have censored films or TV shows that depict them in an unflattering light, although such censorship itself often casts these nations in an even more unflattering light. So how can countries convey their values and importance to American audiences? Marketing concept strategist and pollster Justin Wallin says that by cultivating decision-maker and grassroots support in the U.S., countries will be betterequipped to handle communication in a Trump era. “Trump’s Twitter diplomacy forces diplomats to go beyond the Beltway,” Wallin says. “Just as they consider a nation’s brand for tourism and investment, countries need to think of their brand in domestic political terms.” “Nations will be better able to weather a diplomatic conflict or scandal if they’ve established an authentic, resilient reputation with the American people,” Wallin adds. “This may not be of interest See Br an din g • page 47 THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | JANUARY 2018 | 19

WD | Medical

AI Revolution Will Artificial Intelligence Be Part of Your Health Care Team? by Amy Norton


rtificial intelligence is assuming a greater role in many walks of life, with research suggesting it may even help doctors diagnose disease. One new study suggests artificial intelligence (AI) might some day detect breast cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes. Researchers found that several computer algorithms outperformed a group of pathologists in analyzing lymph tissue from breast cancer patients. The technology was specifically better at catching small clusters of tumor cells known as micrometastases. “Micrometastases can easily be missed during the routine examination by pathologists,” said lead researcher Babak Ehteshami Bejnordi of Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands. But the algorithms “perform very well in detecting these abnormalities,” he said. “I think this is exciting and will likely be the key element for enhancing the efficiency and quality of pathologists’ diagnoses,” Bejnordi said. Clinical pathologists examine samples of body tissue to help diagnose diseases and judge how serious or advanced they are. It’s painstaking work — and the hope, Bejnordi said, is that artificial intelligence can help pathologists become more efficient and accurate. The study is the latest to delve into the idea of using artificial intelligence to improve medical diagnoses. Most of the algorithms in the study were “deep learning”-based, where the computer system essentially mimics the brain’s neural networks. “To build the system,” Bejnordi explained, “the deep learning algorithm is exposed to a large dataset of labeled images, and it teaches itself to identify relevant objects.” Dr. Jeffrey Golden is a pathologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He agreed that artificial intelligence holds promise for “making pathologists more efficient.” However, there’s a lot of work to be done before that is a reality, said Golden, who wrote an editorial published with the findings. The study has its limits, he said. The computerversus-human test was only a simulation exercise and not truly reflective of the conditions that clinical pathologists work under. So it’s not really clear how the algorithms would compare against pathologists in the workplace, Golden said. Plus, there will be practical obstacles to overcome, he added. At this point, the field of pathology is only beginning to use digital technology, Golden explained. That’s key because for any computer algorithm to work, there have to be digital images of tissue specimens to analyze. Cost and education — training pathologists on how to use the technology — are other issues, Golden pointed out. For now, one thing seems certain: “Artificial intelligence will never replace the pathologist,” Golden said. “But it may improve their efficiency.” The study tested 32 computer algorithms that


Photo: Gerd Altmann / Pixabay

Artificial intelligence will never replace the pathologist. But it may improve their efficiency. Dr. Jeffrey Golden chair of pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

were developed by different research teams for an international competition. The challenge was to create algorithms that could detect the spread of breast tumor cells to nearby lymph nodes, which is important in estimating a woman’s prognosis. The algorithms were tested against the performance of 11 pathologists, who independently analyzed 129 digitized images of patients’ lymph nodes. The doctors were given a time limit to accomplish the task. In a separate test, the algorithms were pitted against one pathologist who was free of time constraints. It turned out that some algorithms bested the pathologists who were under time limits. In particular, they outperformed humans when it came to detecting micrometastases. Even the best-performing pathologist missed 37 percent of cases where the lymph tissue contained only micrometastases, the study found. Ten of the

LEARN MORE: The Association of Amer­ ican Medical Colleges has more information on artificial intelligence in medicine at

computer algorithms performed better than that. However, Golden said, the pathologists were facing obstacles they would not face in the real world. “The limits were artificial,” he said. “We’re never in a position where there’s a deadline.” And, he noted, the computer was not better than the pathologist who had no time pressure. Bejnordi acknowledged the study’s limitations and said the technology has to be tested in realworld practice. But in general, he said, the health care field is increasingly seeing the potential of artificial intelligence. “We are now at a turning point where computers perform better than clinicians at specific tasks,” Bejnordi said. Another new study tested a computer algorithm for diagnosing diabetes-related eye damage. In that study, Dr. Wong Tien Yin of the Singapore National Eye Centre and colleagues found that the algorithm accurately picked up all cases of visionthreatening damage to the retina. It also correctly gave a negative result to 91 percent of people who did not have severe retinopathy. Both studies were published Dec. 12 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. WD Amy Norton is a HealthDay reporter. Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Education A special section of The Washington Diplomat

January 2018

Expanding Doors

photo: pamela moore / istoCK

International Students in U.S. Surge to Over 1 Million for Second Year in a Row •


or the second year in a row, more than 1 million international students came to study in the U.S., but the 2017 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange also reveals a mixed bag when it comes to America’s global appeal. The annual report, conducted by the

Institute of International Education (IIE) and the State Department, showed that the number of international students in the United States increased by 3.4 percent over the prior year, while the number of American students studying abroad spiked by 4 percent from the prior year. The rise marks the

By anna gawel

11th consecutive year of expansion in the number of foreign students in the U.S. This year’s record high of 1.08 million international students is also a dramatic jump from the fewer than 600,000 who studied here just a decade ago. see Open DOOr s • page 22


Open Doors Continued • page 21

At the same time, much of the recent growth came from foreign students already in the U.S. who chose to continue their studies here, as opposed to a surge of fresh arrivals. In fact, the number of new students enrolled at a U.S. institution in fall 2016 declined by nearly 10,000 students to about 291,000, a 3.3 percent decrease from the previous year. This is also the first time that these figures have dipped in the 12 years since Open Doors began reporting on new enrollments. IIE attributed this flat-lining to various factors, including expanded higher education opportunities at home, declining populations and the scaling back of popular Saudi and Brazilian government scholarship programs that brought droves of students to the U.S. A smaller snapshot of 500 colleges and universities revealed a similar trend. That separate online IIE survey, conducted in the fall of 2017, reported a decrease of 7 percent in the number of new enrolled students. But these numbers were not evenly distributed: 45 percent of campuses reported declines in new enrollments for fall 2017, while 31 percent reported increases and 24 percent reported no change from last year. “Institutions attributed this decline to a range of factors, which include their concerns about growing competition from other countries and institutions, their concerns around visa processing delays and their concerns around the continuing rising cost of U.S. higher education,” said Rajika Bhandari, director of IIE’s Center for Academic Mobility Research and Impact, during a briefing on the report’s launch on Nov. 13.

Illustration: Institute of International Education

Another looming worry is President Trump’s immigration policies, which include a controversial travel ban and more extreme vetting of foreign travelers. “We did hear from some institutions that they are concerned about both the social and political climate in the U.S. this year, and they’re particularly concerned about students from the Middle East, but also students from Asian countries like China and India,” Bhandari said. She added that experts will be better able to assess the ramifications of Trump’s tightened border policies later this year. “We’re really only going to know the full picture in fall 2018. Some [institutions] will see increases, some will see de-

clines, others will be flat,” Bhandari said. An official from the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs who was in the audience pointed out that despite the increased scrutiny under Trump, “legitimate travelers should have nothing to fear from the new screening procedures.” He added that “American campuses are sending out strong messages of welcome,” citing efforts such as the #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign to attract international students. The outreach is crucial to many schools’ bottom lines. In 2016, international students contributed $39 billion to the U.S. economy through spending on tuition, room and board and living expenses, according to the Department of Com-

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Illustration: Institute of International Education

merce. IIE also notes that international students often serve as teaching and research assistants that support many campus departments, especially in the critical STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). In fact, nearly half of international students in the U.S. are STEM majors. Their diverse backgrounds also enrich the classroom experience for U.S. students — which in turn helps young Americans compete in a globalized world. “Countries and multinational employers around the world are competing to attract top talent. As more countries become active hosts of international students and implement national strategies to attract them, the competition for top global talent in higher education and the workforce will only in-

tensify,” IIE President and CEO Allan E. Goodman said in a press release. “Students continue to be attracted to the high quality and diverse opportunities offered by U.S. colleges and universities. But it is critical for U.S. institutions to set strategic goals and be proactive in reaching out to students and families in a wide range of countries in the coming year, and for the United States to keep its academic doors open to students from all over the world.” “The good news is that institutions reported working very hard to keep their doors open,” Bhandari said, noting that China continues to be a big recruitment draw for U.S. institutions, along with Vietnam, India, South Korea and Japan.

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Open Doors Continued • page 23

China by far ranks as the top host country for international students in the U.S., with over 350,000 Chinese students coming last year. The largest growth, however, was from India, which came in second place with 186,000 students. Together, China and India alone account for roughly 50 percent of the total enrollment of international students in the United States. Rounding out third and fourth place were South Korea (58,000) and Saudi Arabia (52,000). There’s also been strong growth from South Asian countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

International students currently make up 5.3 percent of all students in the U.S., with California, New York, Texas and Massachusetts being the top destinations for them. Throughout the world, today’s students are increasingly mobile in seeking higher education opportunities outside their home countries. According to IIE, there were a total of 2.1 international students in 2001. Today, that figure is 4.6 million. While Bhandari said that America’s overall share of these global students has somewhat decreased, that is not necessarily a poor reflection on the U.S. education system, but rather a sign that other nations’ education systems are improving. She also notes that the U.S. has far more capacity than similar countries such as the U.K., Canada and Australia, with over 4,000 institutions of higher learning.

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Like their international counterparts, Americans, too, are increasingly going abroad to broaden their horizons. In the 2015-16 school year, over 325,000 American students received academic credit for study abroad programs, an increase of 4 percent over the previous year. Study abroad by American students has more than tripled in the past two decades, although the rate of growth had slowed following the financial crisis in 2008. The top host destinations for Americans studying abroad were the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France and Germany. Europe, in fact, was the top host region, attracting more than 50 percent of Americans who studied abroad. China dropped out of the top five host countries, as the number of U.S. students studying there slipped by 9 percent. While the number of American stu-

dents going abroad is at an all-time high, IIE points out that only one out of every 10 U.S. undergrads will ever study abroad by the time they graduate. That’s something IIE and the State Department are hoping to change. “When individuals go abroad to study, they make connections that broaden their worldview. They become part of an international network of people who share the experience of navigating new and unfamiliar landscapes, languages, cultures and institutions, gaining knowledge and skills and developing resourcefulness and critical-thinking abilities. This experience is crucial for young people who compete and interact in an increasingly interconnected world,” Alyson L. Grunder, deputy assistant

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Education OPEN HOUSES Open Doors Continued • page 25

secretary of state for policy in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, said at the Nov. 13 briefing, which coincided with International Education Week, a joint initiative between the State and Education Departments. Grunder also noted that the State Department continues to promote its flagship Fulbright and Gilman Scholarship programs, as well as a global network of EducationUSA advising centers in more than 170 countries. “International student exchange is an essential contributor to America’s economic competitiveness and national security. The U.S. higher education sector remains the global leader in welcoming students from around the world, and at the same time, we are committed to increasing opportunities to study abroad for Americans,” she said. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, speaking via video link, echoed that sentiment. “For example, a student in Wisconsin may need to communicate with their German counterparts about the latest auto industry technology, or perhaps a young person in South Carolina will have to understand Korean practices to successfully interact with her colleagues in a new manufacturing plant. The work our students will pursue, even in fields we can’t imagine yet, will be increasingly technical and global in nature. We must prepare them

illustration: institute of international eduCation

for what lies ahead,” she said. “Students help keep America safe when they learn other languages, are exposed to other cultures and, most importantly, know the principles that make America great,” she added.


The 2017 edition of Open Doors surveyed over 2,100 U.S. institutions. The report is published by IIE, a nonprofit that has conducted an annual statistical survey on international students in the U.S. since its founding in 1919 and in partnership with

the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs since 1972. WD Anna Gawel (@diplomatnews) is the managing editor of The Washington Diplomat.

Hotels & Travel A special section of The Washington Diplomat

January 2018

“Top of the Skate” at the Watergate Hotel features an ice rink and 12 heated igloos.

photo: daVid preta

Washington Wonderland Area Teems with Activities to Escape Winter Doldrums •


his time of the year can be dark and dreary, but that doesn’t mean wintertime in Washington doesn’t have its bright spots. We put together plenty of interesting ideas for you to get out and enjoy the season based on local advice, including the hotel experts who are some of the most reliable insiders around town. You

By Kate oCZypoK

may even discover that winter may be the best time of year to explore a snowy — and sleepy — nation’s capital. Elliott L. Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC, says that D.C. is a wonderland of options, “whether your ideal winter getaway includes a family photo at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memo-

rial; an afternoon of ice skating at the National Gallery of Art’s rink and a Michelin-star dinner; or a matinee in a plush theater followed by an exhilarating ride on the water taxi to The Wharf and high-octane night at The Anthem.” Happy adventuring! see WOnDerLAnD • page 28 THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | JANUARY 2018 | 27

Wonderland Continued • page 27

January Even though the holiday season is technically over at the start of 2018, there are still plenty of ways to soak up the festive spirit in late December and early January. Head over to the Ritz-Carlton on 22nd Street to see a 30-foot-tall edible gingerbread replica of the Washington Monument. The outer structure is made of baked goods and candy while the entire creation incorporates 900 pounds of icing, 600 pounds of white gingerbread sugar dough and 251 layers of stacked gingerbread stones. At the St. Regis, every Thursday and Friday in December features holidayinspired live jazz music by Christopher Linman in the lobby, where guests can indulge in some hot cocoa and cookies by the fire. Or kick off the season with a staycation at the Rosewood Hotel in Georgetown. Its Winter in Washington package includes a two-night minimum stay; hot chocolate and cookie-deco-

the new wharf in d.C.’s southwest waterfront neighborhood features a floating stage and fire pit.

rating for two; breakfast for two; an iceskating experience at the Washington Harbor; and a selection of two seasonal cocktails at the Rye Bar. The package runs through the end of February. Speaking of cocktails, POV, the rooftop bar of the W Hotel, boasts a quirky seasonal cocktail menu with concocThe Park Hyatt ® trademark and related marks are trademarks of Hyatt Corporation. © 2015 Hyatt Corporation. All rights reserved.

FOR THE GLOBAL CONNOISSEUR, YOUR IDEAL STAY IS WAITING AT PARK HYATT WASHINGTON D.C. Park Hyatt Washington combines dynamic modernism with classic American style, reflecting timeless attributes of the nation’s capital and the U.S. For reservations please visit #LuxuryIsPersonal



tions like “Andy’s Harvest Punch,” made with Cointreau, allspice dram, cranberries, cinnamon, brown sugar and lemon, as well as “The Side Chic,” made with Martell VSOP, maple and lemon. If you prefer exercise over imbibing, the Watergate Hotel recently debuted an ice skating rink on its roof. Dubbed “Top of the Skate,” the rink offers a one-of-a-kind synthetic skating rink with plenty of amenities. One that sounds particularly intriguing are the Next Whisky Bar Igloos, actual 12-foot heated domes on the Watergate’s outdoor terrace that are available for parties of two to eight. There are four different experiences you can add to your “igloo” experience: a three-course dessert tasting menu and pairing of wine, cordial or tea; a whisky flight, burger and cigar; or a “romantic night out.” The rink and igloos will be available all winter long. “We wanted to create fun, yet upscale winter offerings you can’t find anywhere else in Washington, D.C. at the Watergate Hotel,” said Rakel Cohen, the co-owner and senior vice president of design and development for Euro Capital Properties. “The igloos, for example, are meant to make guests feel like they are in a winter wonderland snow globe. As far as the Top of the Skate, it’s just good old-fashioned fun. You can skate around on the synthetic ice rink or enjoy s’mores and mulled wine by our rooftop fire pits, all while taking in our unparalleled 360-degree views of D.C. Between our two new winter venues, we offer activities for the whole family … and definitely some amazing photo opportunities at each, too.” For a more classic D.C. ice rink experience, head over to the National Gallery of Art, where you can glide around the Sculpture Garden surrounded by contemporary masterpieces through March 11. Meanwhile, the Potomac-side rink at the newly opened Wharf along the Southwest Waterfront joins the party of neighborhood rinks in Georgetown and the Capitol Riverfront. The massive $2.5 billion development project also features 20 trendy new restaurants and

photo: steVe ruarK / ap images for hoffman-madison waterfront

shopping at about 15 stores, including a 2,300-square-foot Politics and Prose Bookstore and Harper Macaw, the first store of a local chocolate manufacturer. Other highlights of D.C.’s newest hotspot include the 57,000-square-foot Anthem concert and events venue, as well as a cozy fire pit and a cobblestone street lined with intimate music venues (also see “$2.5 Billion Development Project Set to Transform Southwest Waterfront” in the December 2017 issue). “Washington has a brand new Wharf. It is an opportunity to relish in the newest amenity D.C. has to offer, take in a show at the Anthem, a drink or meal at one of the fab new restaurants or stroll down the promenade,” said Hector Torres, general manager of the Beacon Hotel & Corporate Quarters, which is offering various complimentary perks for winter meetings booked through March 31. “One comment I heard from a friend was, ‘Is this really Washington?’ It puts D.C. in a very different light, creating a new paradigm of hipness and pride in our city from a local perspective, not to mention a new amenity that is great for visitors from out photo: Kate romero of town to explore.” Torres added: “The Actress Allison only issue is I miss the Janney quiet that was once Southwest D.C.” If the weather isn’t cooperating and outdoor activities aren’t an option, there are plenty of indoor diversions. You won’t want to miss the 2018 Women’s Voices Theater Festival, running from Jan. 15 to February 15. The second edition of this citywide festival, chaired by actress Allison Janney, unites 26 theater groups across the region to present works by women playwrights and cast a light on the issue of gender parity in American theater. Other local theater offerings in January include “Hamlet” at the Shakespeare Theatre from Jan. 16 to Feb. 25 and Synetic Theater’s take on Franz Kafka’s “The Trial” from Jan. 17 to Feb. 18.

February More in the mood to admire a Lamborghini Spyder than Shakespeare or Kafka? Then check out the Washington Auto Show, which runs from Jan. 26 to Feb. 4 at the Washington Convention Center. Expect to see hundreds of production models and unique cars from 35 manufacturers. There will also be a contest sponsored by Hyundai and celebrity appearances. This year, plan to celebrate Mardi Gras unlike any year before. Union Market’s Dock 5, a popular spring and summertime spot, is going to be transformed into the largest Fat Tuesday block party to ever hit D.C. The extravaganza, which begins at 6 p.m. on Feb. 28, includes Southern-inspired street food and cocktails from the city’s top chefs and mixologists. If you need ideas to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a loved one, Destination DC’s “Date Nights DC” campaign offers a plethora of romantic date options with discounts on area hotels, restaurants and more. One quirky excursion: Check out the love letters at the National Postal Museum. If you’re looking to take your relationship to the next level, the Hay-Adams is offering an elaborate Proposal Package. Sweep your sweetheart off their feet with a meticulously planned proposal experience at the stately hotel that includes fresh flowers, chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne. You’ll also be able to indulge in a two-hour tour of private monuments by night and a relaxing breakfast the next morning. If you’re looking to plan a staycation this winter, the Hay-Adams also has a Discover D.C. Family Package. It includes a full American breakfast and a backpack full of fun for the young ones, with a baseball cap and lots of goodies. For a more grown-up outing, revel in the classic tale of love and fate with The Washington Ballet’s rendition of John Cranko’s “Romeo & Juliet,” set to Prokofiev’s dynamic score, from Feb. 14 to 18 at the Kennedy Center. For an all-out extravagant experience to celebrate another couple’s modernday love story, Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco in Penn Quarter is offering a Royal Engagement package in honor of newly betrothed Prince Harry of Wales and American actress Meghan Markle. At $10,000 a night, the package includes a one-night stay in the luxurious 810square-foot Robert Mills Presidential suite; a private consultation with a local jeweler; a bespoke suit in honor of Markle’s show “Suits”; dinner courtesy of Dirty Habit; in-room couple’s massage; champagne; flower arrangements; the use of a private car; and a donation to United Nations Women, Markle’s favorite charity. Plus, you can imbibe on two “When Harry Met Meghan” gin and Earl Grey tea cocktails crafted by bartender Sarah Ruiz. Are you looking for something simpler in the form of a nice, cozy fireplace? A variety of D.C. restaurants and hotels offer dining by a warm fire, including 1789 Restaurant; Plume in the Jefferson Hotel; Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons; Blue Duck Tavern in the Park Hyatt Hotel; Dirty Habit at the Hotel Monaco; the Dignitary at the Marriot Marquis; Quadrant Bar & Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton; and Art and Soul in Capitol Hill. At the Hirshhorn, visitors can travel back in time with “Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s (Feb. 14-May 13), the largest museum exhibition to ex-

illustration: riChard daVies tom

“the great society” runs feb. 2 to march 11 at arena stage.

plore the collision of art and commerce in the 1980s, an iconic decade when artwork emerged as a product and the artist became a brand. At the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, “The Prince and the Shah: Royal Portraits from Qajar Iran” (Feb. 24-Aug. 5) highlights the importance of painted portraits and studio photographs in 19th-century Iran. Finally, throughout the month of February, Buttercream Bakeshop on 9th Street, NW, is bringing back its #RemembertoBeKind campaign. For the entire month, customers can buy any bakery item and gift it to another customer, with a handwritten note that will hopefully brighten their day.

March The National Gallery of Art is hosting a wide-ranging slew of shows throughout the winter and spring, including: “Michel Sittow: Estonian Painter at the Courts of Renaissance Europe (Jan. 28-May 13); “Outliers and American Vanguard Art” (Jan. 28-May 13); “Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings” (March 4-May 28); and “Cézanne Portraits” (March 25-July 1). Meanwhile, contemporary culture takes center stage at the Kennedy Center in March with “Direct Current,” a twoweek festival of modern masterpieces, cutting-edge composition, dance, drag, film, jazz, hip hop, video games, electronica, ecology and activism. Arena Stage is spotlighting two timely politically themed shows: “The Great Society” examines how President Lyndon B. Johnson tries to maintain his relationship with Martin Luther King Jr. while completing a raft of impossibly ambitious social projects. And “Hold These Truths” tells the true story of Gordon Hirabayashi, the American son of Japanese immigrants who defied an unjust court order to uphold the values on which America was founded. On a lighter note, sports is always a great way to ease into spring. Beginning March 7 at Capital One Arena is the 2018 Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship. There will be 14 teams competing, including local ones like the George Mason Patriots and George Washington Colonials. WD Kate Oczypok (@OczyKate) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.



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Culture arts & entertainment •

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Spiritual Experience PostClassical Ensemble, one of D.C.’s most unconventional and adventurous musical experiments, is set to transform the iconic Washington National Cathedral into a cutting-edge venue for the city’s vibrant music scene. / PAGE 33





The Washington Diplomat





January 2018





Dutch Teamwork “Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry” explores the work of Vermeer and fellow Dutch Golden Age painters, delving into how they influenced and borrowed from each other as they experimented with new ways to depict domestic interior scenes. / PAGE 34


‘Crazy’ Fun Tap dancing, a witty plot and songs by Gershwin make for a winning combination at Signature Theatre with the feel-good production of “Crazy for You.” / PAGE 35

Within the artificially constructed confines of the art world, black female artists often are expected to create work that comments on race or gender, but that’s just one more stereotype atop a pile of stereotypes these women face.“Magnetic Fields,” an enlightening exhibition of abstract art by 21 black female artists, displays a range of talent and a neglected history of their contributions in a practice dominated by white men. / PAGE 32 Shinique Smith’s “Bale Variant No. 0017”




Art / Dance / Discussions Music / Theater / PAGE 38

Ambassador Insider Series - Panama Cafe Milano’s 25th / PAGE 40 THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | JANUARY 2018 | 31

WD | Culture | Art

Diversifying Abstraction ‘Magnetic Fields’ Offers Rare Look at Wide-Ranging Work of Black Female Artists •


“Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today” features the work 21 black female artists, including, from clockwise top: Mildred Thompson’s “Magnetic Fields”; Lilian Thomas Burwell’s “Autumn Flight”; Chakaia Booker’s “El Gato”; and Mary Lovelace O’Neal’s “Racism is Like Rain, Either it’s Raining or it’s Gathering Somewhere.” PHOTO: © THE MILDRED THOMPSON ESTATE, ATLANTA, GEORGIA

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ithin the artificially constructed confines of the art world, black female artists often are expected to create work that comments on race or gender, but that’s just one more stereotype atop a pile of stereotypes that these women face. “Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today,” an enlightening exhibition of abstract art by 21 black female artists at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, displays a range of talent and a neglected history of their contributions in a practice dominated by white men. While some pieces challenge racial perceptions, most of the work is more abstract, defying narrow categorization or definitive interpretations. The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City organized the exhibition, which features artwork created by artists born between 1891 to 1981. Including sculpture, paintings and mixed media, the exhibition reveals how contemporary artists have learned from their forebears while making their own contributions. The exhibition takes its title from Mildred Thompson’s oil painting triptych that is on display. Thompson, who died in 2003 in Atlanta, used bright, swirling, dotted lines of red and turquoise on a sunny yellow background that conveys happiness and unbridled abandon, or a scientific exploration of how invisible magnetic fields surround us with their undetectable pull. In another gallery, Maren Hassinger’s sculpture titled “Wrenching News” rises from the floor like a coral reef or tangled nest of cobras. It is constructed from shredded and twisted pages of The New York Times with articles about Hurricane Katrina and its devastation of New Orleans in 2005, in particular many black neighborhoods where residents are still struggling to rebuild their lives. The work indirectly tackles issues of race and class in America and how we don’t learn from our past or take steps to avoid the next round of tragedy. Mary Lovelace O’Neal also addresses racial inequality in her large-scale painting titled “Racism is Like Rain, Either it’s Raining or it’s Gathering Somewhere.” A smooth black ground on one half of the painting is contrasted with a swirling mass of colors and loosely defined figures that appear to be struggling while marching toward — or over — the black ground. The title provides a more pointed context to an abstract work whose meaning isn’t readily apparent. In “Autobiography: Japan (Shisen’do, Kyoto),” Howardena Pindell skirts across a former trip to Japan that also represents an ongoing struggle to maintain her own



memories after suffering a brain injury in a 1979 car crash. An amorphous form of accumulated paper-hole punches is interspersed with torn fragments of postcards and exhibition invitations that can’t be read. Born in 1943, Pindell grew up in the segregated South when racism was rampant. She filmed “Free, White and 21” in 1980, a 12-minute video in which she describes the racism she has endured since childhood. The video is intercut with images of Pindell disguised as a white woman who makes snide remarks about these racist encounters, including a biting critique that Pindell’s artwork isn’t political enough and doesn’t adequately reflect her own experiences, a tragic refrain still heard by many black female artists today. “If your symbols aren’t used the way we use them, then we won’t acknowledge them,” the “white” Pindell says. “In PHOTO: BEBE AND CROSBY KEMPER COLLECTION / © CHAKAIA BOOKER / PHOTO BY DAN WAYNE fact, you won’t exist until we validate you. If you don’t want to do what we tell you to do, then we’ll find other tokens.” Abigail DeVille’s “Harlem Flag” owes a debt to painter Robert Rauschenberg’s pop art in her use of discarded materials that she scavenged from the streets of Harlem, including sheetrock, a door and a burnt American flag that hangs in tatters. A stretched wallpaper scrap and window shade create a sense of tension, perhaps between the triumphs and travails in the history of Harlem. A menacing mass of twisted and shredded black tires sits on a pedestal in Chakaia Booker’s “El Gato,” which is in the Kemper Museum’s permanent collection. Booker began experimenting with rubber tires in the 1990s in a new visual language, with many possible associations to race, industrialization, scarification or our throwaway consumer culture that fills landfills and rivers with old tires that will take decades to decompose. This heavy tangle of rubber spikes and tentacles is open to many different interpretations, like much of the work in “Magnetic Fields.” WD Brendan L. Smith ( is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat and a mixed-media artist in Washington, D.C.

Music | Culture | WD

At the Altar of Change PostClassical Becomes Ensemble-in-Residence at Washington National Cathedral •


ne of D.C.’s most unconventional and adventurous musical ensembles is set to transform the iconic Washington National Cathedral into a cutting-edge venue for the city’s vibrant music scene. PostClassical Ensemble, named the new ensemble-in-residence at the cathedral, is bringing an exciting, innovative inaugural season of music to Washingtonians. Expect unusual, utterly surprising performances from this self-described “experimental orchestral laboratory” that will shake up your view of both classical music and the cathedral itself. The group will be focused this season on contextualizing history — re-examining musical responses to World War II in a Pearl Harbor Day Commemoration Concert on Dec. 7, 2017, and exploring the cultural Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union on May 23, 2018, for instance — as it presents music in an extraordinary space. “We do thematic cross-disciplinary immersion experiences,” Executive Director Joseph Horowitz told The Washington Diplomat. “We don’t do concerts.” As PostClassical Music Director Angel Gil-Ordóñez put it, “We are out of our minds here and doing things that are not the ‘correct’ things to do when you talk about symphony orchestras.” That often includes integrating theater, dance or film and gravitating toward works that tend to fall below the radar. For example, “Deep River: The Art of the Spiritual,” which will be held Feb. 28, 2018, will showcase Harry Burleigh (1866-1949), a forgotten hero of American music. Burleigh was an assistant in New York City to Czech composer Antonín Dvořák and subsequently the composer/ singer who was most responsible for turning spirituals into art songs. Past PostClassical performances have focused on a diverse range of musical styles, including works by Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas and American composer Lou Harrison, who often incorporated Javanese-style gamelan instruments into his music. As the ensemble-in-residence, PostClassical and the Washington National Cathedral’s director of music worked together to craft concerts and themes that will both surprise Washingtonians and still exist within the cathedral’s mission. “My own view of what the cathedral should be doing is not to try and compete or pretend to be the Kennedy Center or the Strathmore, but to go back to medieval times when cathedrals were the civic centers or the hub of the community,” Michael McCarthy, director of music at the Washington National Cathedral, said. “We wanted to take that idea of a cathedral building being at the center of the community. “We are at a bit of a threshold here as an institution strategically in wanting to develop this as a venue for the arts, but in a way that we do it uniquely,” McCarthy noted. Part of pushing that goal is working with innovative groups such as PostClassical Ensemble. According to Gil-Ordóñez, one of the challenges for the ensemble is to find


PostClassical Ensemble, under the musical direction of Angel Gil-Ordóñez, below, recently became the ensemble-inresidence at the Washington National Cathedral.


partners that share its mandate of “creating events that have a sense of occasion.” McCarthy “has a vision for the cathedral that actually resonates with our vision,” he noted. “This is a real partnership,” Gil-Ordóñez said. “To me, as a conductor and the music director, to make music in such an extraordinary space is an incredible experience.” This marks the first time the group, founded in 2003, will have a dedicated performance space. With the residence at the cathedral, Horowitz said the ensemble is “more than ever embracing a mission to explore music as an instrument for mutual understanding and human betterment.” The Washington National Cathedral offers performers a variety of spaces, from the famous nave to smaller, more intimate chapels. “We want to create some magical experiences, and we’re trying to take the big space of the cathedral and make an intimate experience,” McCarthy said. The group is an excellent fit for the cathedral, he said. PostClassical is “not daunted by the space — they’re intrigued by the space,” McCa-

rthy told us. “I was really fascinated with the way they approach presenting music, which is not in a twodimensional way. It’s something that creates a different dynamic in how you experience classical music,” McCarthy said. Horowitz told The Diplomat the ensemble plans to “use the nave in unusual ways and we want it to be a surprise, but we’re going to use the full space, not just the stage up front. The cathedral is an amazing playground for producing concerts with unusual formats.” Gil-Ordóñez added, “The infinite possibilities of the sides, the balconies — it’s exciting.” And the acoustics are “phenomenal,” he said. PHOTO: ANDRÉ CHUNG But there’s something else that comes from performing in the Washington National Cathedral. “It is an incredible musical experience for the musicians and for the audience to be in such a special place, a communal place, that brings out a spiritual component no other auditorium in town would bring to the experience,” Gil-Ordóñez said. For those looking to plan out their 2018 arts calendar, the May 23 concert will be of particular interest to the international community in D.C., Horowitz suggested. “I cannot imagine an event more pertinent to the diplomatic community than one revisiting the cultural Cold War,” he said. SEE POSTCLASSICAL • PAGE 39 THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | JANUARY 2018 | 33

WD | Culture | Art

Dutch Synergy ‘Influence and Rivalry’ Looks at Relationship Between Vermeer and Contemporaries •



(202) 737-4215 | WWW.NGA.GOV


n expansive show on the art of Johannes Vermeer and his contemporaries lingers in private PHOTO: © NATIONAL GALLERY OF IRELAND spaces and moments, reveling in the common themes and motifs that emerge “Inspiration and Rivalry” at the National Gallery of Art looks at the ways Johannes in this landmark showcase of Dutch high-life Vermeer and his Dutch contemporaries paintings. influenced each other’s work and “Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Paintincludes pieces such as Vermeer’s “The ing: Inspiration and Rivalry” is a stunning Astronomer,” left, and Gabriel Metsu’s exhibition at the National Gallery of Art “Woman Reading a Letter.” (NGA), certainly deserving of the velvet rope that visitors must walk through to ening to letter writing. The show also ter. The show explores the work of Vermeer delves into the fascinating world of and fellow Dutch Golden Age painters such signs and symbols in 17th-century as Gerard ter Borch, Gabriel Metsu, Pieter de Dutch painting. The ace of hearts Hooch and Jan Steen from 1650 to around card on the floor suggests the ro1675, delving into how the painters influmantic nature of Gerard ter Borch’s PHOTO: MUSÉE DU LOUVRE, DÉPARTEMENT DES PEINTURES, PARIS / © RMN-GRAND PALAIS / FRANCK RAUX enced and borrowed from each other as “Officer Writing a Letter,” addthey experimented with new ways to depict ing a layer of surprise and mystery domestic interior scenes. to those looking to decipher the The show features a remarkable 10 paintbackstories behind these otherwiseings by Vermeer — scholars currently agree benign domestic scenes. These artthat there are only 34 paintings definitely atists used symbols as varied as dogs, tributable to him — and that alone demands petals and broken eggs to entice and a visit. The gallery, after all, notes that many suggest specific emotions or ideas of the works on display have not been seen to their viewers. Museumgoers can in the United States since its 1995-1996 also bask in the paintings’ shimmerblockbuster show “Johannes Vermeer.” ing fabrics, secretive glances, halfThis exhibition builds off of Vermeer, hidden meanings and the effects of but his contemporaries are absolutely given light and shadow as they explore their proper time in the spotlight as the 17th-century Dutch interior life at a show unveils the prominent motifs and artime when Golden Age artists were PHOTO: © THE LEIDEN COLLECTION, NEW YORK tistic devices they spearheaded and that the at their prime. Delft painter often emulated. “These are incredibly high-quality Dutch Golden Age painters often captured domestic interior scenes, paintings,” Wheelock said. “The instalThe themes developed in the show build as seen in Johannes Vermeer’s “The lation flows nicely and there’s variety in on the collections of the three organizing Lacemaker,” left; Frans van Mieris’s institutions of the NGA, the National Galthe ways the rooms look and how the “Woman Feeding a Parrot,” above; and PHOTO: MUSÉE DU LOUVRE, DÉPARTEMENT DES PEINTURES, PARIS / lery of Ireland and the Louvre in Paris, said © RMN-GRAND PALAIS / FRANCK RAUX Gerard ter Borch’s “Lady at Her Toilet.” story evolves in different ways.” Arthur Wheelock, the gallery’s curator of northern baroque paintings The show is packed with surprises, and one of the curators of “Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painteven for those well-versed in Dutch art. ing.” The impact of ter Borch’s innovative portrayal of a woman “This was really a collaborative show, and that is always fascinating standing with her back to the viewer on his fellow artists is in terms of organization and challenges,” he said, noting that each verparticularly noteworthy, as the motif is emulated more than sion of the show at the three museums slightly varied the groupings on any other in Dutch art. This artistic device offered a reveladisplay as some paintings could not make it for the entire tour. tory moment for Wheelock, who noted that he had never The exhibition came together over the course of six years, stemthought of Jan Steen’s “Itinerant Musicians,” the one exterior ming from conversations with Adriaan Waiboer, head of collections painting on display, in connection with ter Borch before this and research at the National Gallery of Ireland and a former NGA show. intern. “It’s interesting to see other artists of the time adapting “We came up with this schema that you would have these groups that figure for their own purposes in very different ways,” he of paintings, of comparable themes, and then be able to ask the questold The Diplomat. tions: To what extent did these artists look at each other’s works? How The exhibition, notable for its 10 Vermeers, is also filled did they know each other’s work? And when they did respond, how with loans from across public and private collections alike. carefully did they respond? And how much of their most inherent “It’s quite an array of generosity of lenders,” Wheelock said, PHOTO: THE DETROIT INSTITUTE OF ARTS style did they retain?” Wheelock told The Washington Diplomat. adding that there was “great enthusiasm for the concept.” For viewers, it is clear that “seeing the paintings side by side makes you see them “It really has stuck a chord.” WD differently and respond in different ways,” he noted. Quiet spaces and solitary figures in private households are a key innovation of Mackenzie Weinger (@mweinger) is a contributing writer Dutch art, and the gallery showcases paintings on a variety of topics from lacemak- for The Washington Diplomat.


Theater | Culture | WD

‘Crazy’ Good Tap Dancing and Gershwin Makes for Feel-Good Combo at Signature •



(703) 820-9771 | WWW.SIGTHEATRE.ORG


ap dancing and Gershwin – what’s not to love? Humming the prolific composer’s iconic tunes with plans to finally learn how to dance like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers would be a normal response after witnessing the genius that is Signature Theatre’s production of “Crazy for You.” Even compared to the overabundance of remarkable plays and musicals brought to life under associate artistic director Matthew Gardiner’s leadership, this high-octane gem is close to perfect. Entertaining plot? Check. Witty humor? Check. On-point comedic timing? Check. Costumes, scenery, difficult and intricate choreography, joyous and touching music, flawless singing voices? Check, check, check. Well, you get the picture. Signature made a clever choice to reward likely downtrodden Washingtonians who’ve been otherwise saturated with political scandals with this feel-good production in time for the holidays. It would have been hard to go wrong with a play featuring music by George Gershwin; lyrics by his brother Ira Gershwin; and book by Ken Ludwig, which rightfully won the 1992 Tony Award for Best Musical. With a show largely based on the Gershwin team’s 1930 musical “Girl Crazy,” adapted into a movie starring Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, one can expect sentimentality, heartfelt timeless tunes and, yes, a dash of welcomed corniness. This, my friend, is the perfect blend for holiday cheer. Let’s start with Broadway veterans and triplethreats Danny Gardner and Ashley Spencer, who portray Bobby Child and Polly Baker, respectively. Gardner, who has a lengthy resume as an actor and choreographer, plays Bobby, a musical-loving, trust-fund New York banker ordered by his overbearing mother (a delightfully feisty Sherri L. Edelen) to travel to the Wild West and foreclose on a small theater in a town named Deadrock. There awaits Polly, the only lass left in a forlorn town of has-been cowboys, who threatens to get even with Bobby because she is the daughter of Everett Baker, the owner of the once thriving Gaiety Theater — Bobby’s target. As one can imagine, the plot follows the wellworn formula of boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, girl hates boy and so on, with an ending that isn’t exactly a surprise. But that’s the beauty of it all. Make no mistake: this play is far from trite. In fact, it parodies its own triteness, as well as numerous other infamous references, keeping audiences poised and alert for the next satirical joke. Bobby loudly exclaims, “Let’s put on a show!” in an effort to save the Gaiety Theater and win Polly’s affections, referencing Mickey Rooney’s hackneyed line of in “Girl Crazy.” The townsfolk lament their show’s ability to attract only two customers: Eugene and Patricia Fodor, quirky British tourists writing a guidebook on the


Broadway veterans Ashley Spencer as Polly Baker, above left, and Danny Gardner as Bobby Child, at left, join a rambunctious ensemble trying to save a small theater in a town of has-been cowboys in “Crazy for You” at the Signature Theatre.

American West. The reference to the popular travel manuals is obvious. The Fodors’ song “Stiff Upper Lip” to the dejected cast makes fun of the barricade scene from “Les Misérables.” Meanwhile, the Zangler Follies — a bevy of scantily clad, tap-dancing and high-kicking chorus girls from the New York Zangler Theater where Bobby flubs his dance audiPHOTOS: C. STANLEY PHOTOGRAPHY tion — riff on the real-life Ziegfeld Follies of the 1930s, which featured beautiful chorus girls in elaborate theatrical revues. The show’s vigorous pace is propelled by intricately difficult and expertly executed tap dancing (via choreography by Denis Jones). The razor sharp slapstick and fast and furious one liners, mixed with infectious charm, seem effortless from this talented cast. Spencer as Polly executes a red-hot “I’ve Got Rhythm” number with the company, and croons the lovesick “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “But Not for Me” with an innocence that will melt the biggest cynic in the house. Gardner and Spencer glide their way through the classic “Embraceable You,” transporting us back to the glorious days of Fred and Ginger Hollywood glamour. Other cast talents include Bobby Smith, as the crotchety and lecherous Bela Zangler, owner of the Zangler Theater, and Natascia Diaz, the wealthy and demanding Irene Roth, Bobby’s jilted fiancé. The show is topped off with period costumes by Tristan Raines and elaborately detailed sets by Paul Tate dePoo III. If joyful escapism is what the doctor ordered, run, don’t walk down to the Signature Theatre and see what a little farce and fluff can do for you. WD Lisa Troshinsky is the theater reviewer for The Washington Diplomat. THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | JANUARY 2018 | 35

WD | Culture | Film

Cinema Listings

THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | January 2018 growing up during the Iranian Revolution and the subsequent Iran-Iraq War. Set in 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. Freer Gallery of Art Sun., Jan. 14, 2 p.m.

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

English 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. Angelika Mosaic Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema Landmark’s E Street Cinema

Downsizing Directed by Alexander Payne (Norway/U.S., 2017, 135 min.) In this social satire, a guy realizes he would have a better life if he were to shrink himself (English and Spanish). Angelika Pop-Up Atlantic Plumbing Cinema

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool Directed by Paul McGuigan (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 Opens Fri., Jan. 12

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

King: A Filmed Record. Montgomery to Memphis Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and Sidney Lumet (U.S., 1970, 185 min.)


Photo: Kerry Hayes / Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

From left, Michael Shannon, Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer star in “The Shape of Water.”

This is a riveting compilation of documentary footage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., from the Montgomery bus boycott to the “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial, from the dogs of Selma to the Nobel Prize and the fateful motel balcony in Memphis. AFI Silver Theatre Opens Mon., Jan. 15

Loving Vincent Directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman (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

Murder on the Orient Express Directed by Kenneth Branagh (Malta/U.S., 2017, 114 min.) A lavish train ride unfolds into a stylish and suspenseful mystery in this story based on the Agatha Christie novel that follows 13 stranded strangers and one man’s race to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again. Atlantic Plumbing Cinema

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. Angelika Mosaic Opens Fri., Jan. 12

Pollock Directed by Ed Harris (U.S., 2001, 122 min.) A passion project for actor-director Ed Harris, “Pollock” required a decade of concentrated research and labor on Harris’s part. One of the more credible artist biopics of recent years, the film


owes its success in large part to persuasive performances from Harris as the artist himself; Marcia Gay Harden as his partner Lee Krasner; and Amy Madigan as friend, dealer, and ardent champion Peggy Guggenheim. National Gallery of Art Sat., Jan. 27, 3:30 p.m.

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

The Shape of Water 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

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. Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema Landmark’s E Street Cinema

The Young Karl Marx Directed by Raoul Peck (France, 2017, 118 min.) Haitian-born director Raoul Peck

tackles the early days of the friendship between Karl Marx (August Diehl) and Friedrich Engels (Stefan Konarske) as they struggle to establish the Communist Party and complete the Communist Manifesto (English, German and French). Edlavitch DCJCC Tue., Jan. 30, 7:30 p.m.

Farsi AVA Directed by Sadaf Foroughi (Iran/Canada/Qatar, 2017, 102 min.) The film’s titular character is a musically talented teenager who rebels when her mother takes her to an ob-gyn to confirm her virginity. The rift that develops in a once-close family reveals secrets that the parents have hidden from their only daughter. While rooted in the particulars of Iranian society, the film’s themes of family secrets and teenage rebellion are universal. Freer Gallery of Art Sun., Jan. 21, 3 p.m.

Blockage Directed by Mohsen Gharaie (Iran, 2017, 82 min.) This fast-paced, intense social drama races through a few stressful days in the life of a scheming Tehran municipal officer. Tired of shaking down illegal street vendors for kickbacks, Qasem is hoping to use his wife’s inheritance to start a trucking business. But she would rather use it to buy a house and is on the verge of leaving him. When Qasem is accused of assault by one of the peddlers under his charge, he faces the prospect of losing his marriage and his job on the same day, and he resorts to desperate measures. Freer Gallery of Art Fri., Jan. 12, 7 p.m.

Breath Directed by Narges Abyar (Iran, 2016, 112 min.) Iran’s official 2018 Oscar entry is the bittersweet tale of a book-loving girl

Directed by Ali Asgari (Iran/Qatar, 2017, 89 min.) This Tehran nocturne begins with a young woman entering a hospital, claiming to have been raped and asking to see a doctor. Soon her boyfriend, posing as her brother, appears, and it immediately 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. Freer Gallery of Art Fri., Jan. 19, 7 p.m.

Simulation Directed by Abed Abest (Iran, 2017, 85 min.) Abed Abest’s film unfolds in reverse chronological order, in a completely black space decorated only with bright-green furniture. Using this Brechtian deliberate artifice, “Simulation” examines what went wrong when three drunk young men showed up at an enigmatic older acquaintance’s home unannounced. Freer Gallery of Art Sun., Jan. 21, 1 p.m.

Finnish The Other Side of Hope Directed by Aki Kaurismäki (Finland/Germany, 2017, 100 min.) Middle-age shirt salesman Wikström abruptly leaves his prickly wife and unfulfilling job and buys a conspicuously unprofitable seafood restaurant, which he tries to turn into a success with a hilarious series of culinary re-inventions. After displaced Syrian Khaled is denied asylum, he decides not to return to Aleppo, staying on illegally in Helsinki — and the paths of the two men cross fortuitously, with unexpected results (Finnish, Arabic, English and Swedish). Landmark’s E Street Cinema

Tom of Finland Directed by Dome Karukoski (Multiple countries, 2017, 115 min.) This stirring biopic follows the life of the artist Touko Laaksonen, known to the world as Tom of Finland, whose proudly erotic drawings shaped the fantasies of a generation of gay men, influencing art and fashion before crossing over into the wider cultural consciousness (Finnish, German and English). West End Cinema

French Au Hasard Balthazar Directed by Robert Bresson (France/Sweden, 1966, 95 min.) Robert Bresson cast 18-year-old Anne Wiazemsky as the young heroine Marie in what is arguably the French director’s most admired work. From modest rural origins, Marie comes of age and is fatefully separated from her donkey companion, Balthazar, although the two follow separate but parallel fortunes. National Gallery of Art Sun., Jan. 28, 4 p.m.

Japanese Ugetsu Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1953, 97 min.) “Quite simply one of the greatest of filmmakers,” said Jean-Luc Godard of Kenji Mizoguchi. And “Ugetsu,” a ghost story like no other, is surely the Japanese director’s supreme achievement. Derived from stories by Akinari Ueda and Guy de Maupassant, this haunting tale of love and loss — with its exquisite blending of the otherworldly and the real — is one of the most beautiful films ever made. Freer Gallery of Art Wed., Jan. 3, 2 p.m.

Kurdish Peshmerga and The Battle of Mosul Directed by Bernard-Henri Lévy (France/Iraq, 2016/2017, 92 min./53 min.) Renowned French philosopher, activist, writer and filmmaker Bernard-Henri Lévy offers a special presentation of his two most recent documentaries, “Peshmerga” and “The Battle of Mosul.” In “Peshmerga,” the Kurdish fighters he encounters in Mosul and the Sinjar Mountains demonstrate heroic resolve in their fight against jihadi fundamentalism, and relay unforgettable and harrowing stories that give human dimension to a conflict with immense global implications. “The Battle of Mosul” opens on Oct. 17, 2016, the first day of the battle to liberate Mosul from the Islamic State. It ends in mid-January 2017 with the complete liberation of the eastern half of the city, including the spot on the Tigris where the Prophet Jonah is buried, a place of significance for the three Abrahamic religions. In between the screenings, Lévy discuss the Kurdish will for a state and national independence; the current status of ISIS following the liberation of Mosul; and the role of foreign nations in this conflict (Kurdish, Arabic, English and French). Edlavitch DCJCC Tue., Jan. 23, 6:15 p.m.

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WD | Culture | Events

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

ART Through Jan. 5

El Tendedero / The Clothesline Project Mexico City-based artist Mónica Mayer transforms the clothesline, a traditionally feminine object, into a tool designed to engage the community and facilitate a dialogue around women’s experience with violence, including topics such as sexual harassment, domestic violence, and trafficking. National Museum of Women in the Arts

Through Jan. 7

84th Annual Exhibition of Fine Art in Miniature Strathmore’s Mansion bursts with an enormous collection of more than 750 miniature artworks for the 84th Annual Exhibition of Fine Art in Miniature. This annual showcase of tiny treasures, some as small as a fingernail, features 292 artists from 11 countries, including Iran, Pakistan, Malta and Australia. Music Center at Strathmore

Through Jan. 7

Bosch to Bloemaert: Early Netherlandish Drawings from the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam Founded in the 19th century, Rotterdam’s Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen possesses one of the world’s finest collections of 15th- and 16th-century Netherlandish drawings. “Bosch to Bloemaert” offers American audiences an exceptional opportunity to see a selection of 100 master drawings from this collection. The exhibition presents a beautiful and remarkably comprehensive overview of the period, encompassing nearly all media and types of drawings of the time. National Gallery of Art

Through Jan. 7

GLOW Nine local, regional and international artists, including Joachim Sługocki and Katarzyna Malejka from Poland, will show commissioned light-artworks juxtaposed against the backdrop of Georgetown’s historic environs during the fourth edition of the Georgetown “GLOW” exhibition. For information, visit Washington Harbour

Through Jan. 7

Renoir and Friends: Luncheon of the Boating Party This special exhibition will focus on The Phillips Collection’s celebrated “Luncheon of the Boating Party” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and the diverse circle of friends who inspired it. The first exhibition to focus on this singular masterwork in more than 20 years, it is comprised of more than 40 carefully chosen works — paintings, drawings, pastels, watercolors and photographs from public and private collections around the world — that reveal the story of “Luncheon of the Boating Party” and the artists and patrons who


were instrumental in its creator’s success. The Phillips Collection

Through Jan. 7

Scraps: Fashion, Textiles and Creative Reuse Textile and apparel manufacturing is one of the most polluting industries in the world. This exhibition explores the work of innovative designers taking a lead in sustainability and reducing waste in the design process. The George Washington University Textile Museum

Through Jan. 12

Changing Landscapes: Janelle Lynch and Pedro David Landscapes are constantly shifting, marking points across the lengthy timeline of evolutionary changes and, more recently, changes caused by human-induced technological and economic impact. Today, these landscapes inform our subjectivities, reflecting our present through the past’s mirror, as evoked by photographs by Janelle Lynch and Pedro David. The notion of the “settler” and the concept of the landscape as a romantic convention are present in Lynch’s photographic series made in México City, where the “settler” becomes a corpse dumped into a mass grave. Meanwhile, for the last 13 years, David has been photographing transgenic eucalyptus that are replacing natural forests throughout Latin America. OAS Art Museum of the Americas

Through Jan. 15

Architecture of an Asylum: St. Elizabeths 1852-2017 Established by Congress in 1855 as the Government Hospital for the Insane, St. Elizabeths is widely considered a pioneering psychiatric facility. The hospital is a prime example of the “Kirkbride Plan” for mental health hospitals, which promised to help patients with a specialized archi­tecture and landscape. This exhibition traces St. Elizabeths’ evolution, reflecting shifting theories about how to care for the mentally ill, as well as the later reconfiguration of the campus as a federal workplace and a mixed-use urban development. National Building Museum


ARTECHOUSE reimagines “The Nutcracker” with the latest digital technology.

Jan. 19 to 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 Jan. 21

Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today This landmark exhibition of abstract paintings, sculptures and works on paper by 21 black women artists places the visual vocabularies of these artists in context with one another and within the larger history of abstraction. This exhibition celebrates those under-recognized artists who have been marginalized, and argues for their continuing contribution to the history and iconography of abstraction in the United States. National Museum of Women in the Arts

Through Jan. 21

Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry

Cats’ personalities have made them internet stars today. In ancient Egypt, cats were associated with divinities, as revealed in “Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt.” Cat coffins and representations of the cat-headed goddess Bastet are among the extraordinary objects that reveal felines’ critical role in ancient Egyptian religious, social and political life. Freer and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

This landmark exhibition examines the artistic exchanges among Johannes Vermeer and his contemporaries from 1650 to 1675, when they reached the height of their technical ability and mastery of depictions of domestic life. The exhibition brings together some 65 works by Vermeer and his fellow painters of the Dutch Golden Age, including Gerard ter Borch, Gerrit Dou, Pieter de Hooch, Gabriel Metsu, Frans van Mieris, Caspar Netscher and Jan Steen. Juxtaposing paintings related by theme, composition, and technique, the exhibition explores how these artists inspired, rivaled, surpassed and pushed each other to greater artistic achievement. National Gallery of Art

Through Jan. 15

Through Jan. 24

Through Jan. 15

Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt

Imaginary World of The Nutcracker ARTECHOUSE reimagines the all-time favorite winter tradition, “The Nutcracker,” with projections, interactive experiences and augmented reality elements — inspired by the original story and powered by the latest digital technology. ARTECHOUSE


Two Reflections: Korean and American Artists Confront Humanity and Nature “Two Reflections” draws thematic connections and contrasts between the visual languages of artists Don Kimes and Suh Yongsun, each of whom portrays a common sense of anguish brought about by fundamental and inescapable forces in life:

nature and humanity. While Kimes’s work reflects on recovering his creative life in the wake of a natural disaster, Suh explores the universal struggle of individuals to live in just harmony with society. Korean Cultural Institute

Jan. 25 to 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 Jan. 26

Canadians by Bryan Adams in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, the Embassy of Canada displays a collection of photographs by Grammy-winning music legend Bryan Adams. The exhibition features 29 portraits of Canadian icons, including: Céline Dion, KD Lang, Michael J. Fox, Margaret Atwood, Robbie Robertson, The Weeknd, Wayne Gretzky, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau. Embassy of Canada

Through Jan. 26

German Jazz Very few music genres have been – and continue to be – formed through such a turbulent history as that of jazz. Deeply rooted in the Afro-American blues and ragtime scene of New Orleans, jazz transformed and redefined itself in the 1920s, spreading like musical wildfire worldwide as a messenger of a new esthetic. It quickly gained a foothold in Germany, where it became the soundtrack for the roaring ’20s Berlin. Goethe-Institut

Through Jan. 28

Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death This fascinating exhibition explores the surprising intersection between craft and forensic science. Frances Glessner Lee (1878-1962) crafted her extraordinary “Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death”

— exquisitely detailed miniature crime scenes — to train homicide investigators to “convict the guilty, clear the innocent, and find the truth in a nutshell.”These dollhouse-sized dioramas, created in the first half of the 20th century and still used in forensic training today, were the equivalent of virtual reality in their time and helped to revolutionize the emerging field of forensic science. They also tell the story of how a woman co-opted traditionally feminine crafts to advance a male-dominated field and establish herself as one of its leading voices. Renwick Gallery

Through Jan. 28

Posing for the Camera: Gifts from Robert B. Menschel A selection of some 60 photographs in the National Gallery’s collection made possible by Robert B. Menschel are on view in an exhibition that examines how the act of posing for a portrait changed with the invention of the medium. Featured works come from the early 1840s — just after photography was invented — through the 1990s. National Gallery of Art

Jan. 28 to 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

Jan. 28 to 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 Jan. 29

The Box Project: Uncommon Threads This exhibition explores contemporary fiber artworks commissioned through a challenge to international artists and features pieces by 36 acclaimed international artists, including Richard Tuttle, Cynthia Schira, Gerhardt Knodel, Helena Hernmarck and Gyöngy Laky, among others. It showcases a diverse collection of works that reflect the artists’ creative and ingenious use of fiber to create new works of art. The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum

Through Jan. 31

DIS/PLACE: Notions of Home in Latin American Photojournalism “DIS\PLACE” is an invitation to reflect on notions of home through the lens of

displacement. Topics include migration, violence, and humanity’s impact on the environment as a direct consequence of displacement. The aim is to “displace” viewers and their senses as they look out at the world as well as inward toward their own perceptions of place and home. Inter-American Development Bank Cultural Center

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 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 eyecatching, view of the man and his works. Folger Shakespeare Library

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

Through March 18

Tamayo: The New York Years 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 25

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

Events | Culture | WD

Music Center at Strathmore

temporary 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

Sun., Jan. 28, 5 p.m.

Kings Singers

Through Spring 2018

Syria: Please Don’t Forget Us 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 June 24

Jim Chuchu’s Invocations

Photo: marCo BorGGreVe

The Kings Singers celebrates the group’s 50th anniversary on Jan. 28 at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 8 p.m.

Through Nov. 12, 2018

Four global guitar masters come together to create two exhilarating evenings of entertainment. Germany’s gypsy jazz legend Lulo Reinhardt returns along with Canadian contemporary sensation Calum Graham, Poland’s innovative classical composer/performer Marek Pasieczny and award-winning American guitarist Michael Chapdelaine. Tickets are $27 to $30. Wolf Trap

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

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 Aug. 15

Jan. 30 to Feb. 4

Tomb of Christ

American Ballet Theatre: Whipped Cream – Works by Ratmansky, Millepied and Wheeldon

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

In 1968, the original six King’s Singers came together through their shared love of singing and quickly became renowned for their performances and diversity of their music. In 2018, the group looks back over the last 50 years with a program of works from Renaissance polyphony and international folk songs to new commissions. Tickets are $40. St. John’s Episcopal Church

Sun., Jan. 14, 2 p.m.

Tickets are $49 to $249. Kennedy Center Opera House

Music Tue., Jan. 9, 6:45 p.m.

Un Viaje por México with Trio Nova Mundi “Un Viaje por México (A Trip through Mexico)” features works by three storied Mexican composers — Manuel M. Ponce, Juan Ramírez and María Grever — by Trio Nova Mundi, a dynamic all-women ensemble spanning the Americas in musical training and heritage. To RSVP, visit Mexican Cultural Institute

Dancer of Japan: Grand Master Onoe Kikunojyo

Wed., Jan. 10, 6 p.m.

Japanese classical dancer and choreographer Onoe Kikunojyo III returns to the U.S. as the Grand Master (lemoto) of Japan’s prestigious Onoe School of Dance. Tickets are $25 to $100. Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

The Latvian Radio Big Band will deliver a one-night-only performance where they will bring some of the best Latvian jazz from the past decades, as well as some of their latest projects such as jazz arrangements of Latvian folk songs. Kennedy Center Millennium Stage

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.”

Latvian Radio Big Band

Thu., Jan. 25, 7:30 p.m.

Joel Fan, Piano Joel Fan is celebrated for his exuberant virtuosity and repertoire that embraces piano classics and inspired discoveries of contemporary and world music. A member of Silk Road Ensemble featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Fan’s latest album focuses on the intersection of music and dance. Tickets are $30.



Jan. 9 to 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

Jan. 11 to 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

Jan. 15 to Feb. 15

2018 Women’s Voices Theater Festival In its landmark effort to stage a paradigm shift in American theater, the Women’s Voices Theater Festival announces nearly 30 productions, penned by women playwrights and women-led collectives, for the festival’s second iteration. The festival is a unified effort by theaters across Washington, D.C., to highlight the scope of plays being written by women and the range of professional theater being produced in the capital region. For information, visit Various locations

Photo: tom wolF

PostClassical ensemble describes itself as an “experimental orchestral laboratory” that often incorporates music, theater, dance and film.

KGB, where each agency sought to promote the notion that the arts only succeeded in their own respective country and political system. With U.S.-Russia relations so strained and the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 presidential election under investigation by a spe-

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

Jan. 16 to Feb. 25

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. The Shakespeare Theatre

Jan. 17 to 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

Jan. 17 to March 4

The Wolves

illustration: Goni montez


“Sovereignty” at Arena Stage looks at the fight for a Cherokee Nation.

Through Jan. 7

Jan. 12 to Feb. 18

An American in Paris


“An American in Paris” is the new Tony– winning musical about an American

Based on the stories of playwright Mary Kathryn Nagle’s Cherokee grandfathers,

lEarn MOrE: For more information, on PostClassical ensemble, visit or call (240) 630-4322.


That show will feature three speeches from then-President John F. Kennedy, “very eloquently saying the arts cannot flourish in a totalitarian society,” juxtaposed against magnificent music by Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich that challenges that very notion, he said. “Shostakovich was made into a stooge,” Horowitz said. “The Western propaganda that I grew up with and I bought was that he was a great talent and was ruined by the communists. That’s a false story. It turns out he wrote great music during the Stalin period, and some of it is very political, and political in complex ways. It’s a very complicated tale.” The May performance will look at the cultural Cold War fought by the CIA and the

International Guitar Night

soldier, a mysterious French girl and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war. Please call for ticket information. Kennedy Center Opera House

cial counsel and several congressional committees, this performance will be particularly timely and fascinating. “We think we’re really hitting the nail on the head with this event,” Horowitz said. “There’s no telling what magnitude of importance it will acquire.” McCarthy said one of the appealing aspects of PostClassical is the way it uses art as a means of expressing cultures and history beyond the U.S. experience. With the May concert in particular, “the way that music and art has been used as a tool is fascinating and will be of interest to the broader diplomatic community,” he said. “The ensemble will take an international

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

set of themes and embed them in an edifice that, while gothic, is quintessentially American,” McCarthy pointed out. When discussions began about the group coming on board as the ensemble-in-residence, PostClassical and McCarthy scoped out three years of programming ideas. Already in the planning stages are possible events connected to the 200th anniversary of poet Walt Whitman’s birth in 2019, for instance. Whatever the group does at the cathedral, expect the unexpected, Horowitz said. “We regard ourselves as experimental,” Horowitz said. “We’re complete renegades, we’re like guerrilla warriors, and we’re very focused on the question: Why give a concert at all? What’s the point of it? We think we have a pretty good idea of what the point is.” “We put ourselves in danger,” he said. WD Mackenzie Weinger (@mweinger) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.


WD | Culture | Spotlight

Diplomatic Spotlight

January 2018

Ambassador Insider Series with Panama On Nov. 14, Ambassador of Panama Emanuel Gonzalez-Revilla talked about the Panama Papers, the Panama Canal, U.S. relations, foreign investment and myriad other topics at The Washington Diplomat’s latest Ambassador Insider Series (AIS). The event was held at The Darcy hotel, a member of Hilton’s Curio Collection that opened in April 2017 as a stylish, upscale addition to the nation’s capital. While most Americans associate Panama with the Panama Canal, a feat of modern engineering that links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Central American nation of 4 million people is also home to one of Latin America’s most competitive economies, with thriving banking, commerce and tourism sectors. Gonzalez-Revilla is himself a renowned businessman with experience in a broad array of industries, including clean energy and shipping. On the topic of the Panama Papers leak that revealed widespread global tax evasion, Gonzalez-Revilla said, “To us it was a blessing in disguise because it brought to the forefront something we all knew was happening…. When President Juan Carlos Varela was elected, he was very adamant about transparency. And his government started working diligently, passing over 15 laws and regulations,” he told the audience of 150 guests, noting that Panama now has more regulatory entities than the U.S. Ambassador of Panama Emanuel Gonzalez-Revilla talks with Anna Gawel, managing editor of The Washington Diplomat, who moderated the event.

Ambassador of St. Kitts and Nevis Thelma Phillip-Browne, Ambassador of Malta Pierre Clive Agius, Ambassador of Nicaragua Francisco Obadiah Campbell Hooker, Ambassador of Panama Emanuel Gonzalez-Revilla, The Washington Diplomat managing editor Anna Gawel, Ambassador of Somalia Ahmed Awad, Ambassador of Monaco Maguy Maccario Doyle and The Washington Diplomat publisher Victor Shiblie.

Miriam Hooker, Daniela Fazoli of MGM National Harbor, Ambassador of Nicaragua Francisco Obadiah Campbell Hooker, Daniel Erikson of Blue Star Strategies LLC and Ambassador of Monaco Maguy Maccario Doyle.

Eni Jucja of the Embassy of Albania, Craig Cobine, President and CEO of the World Affairs Council-DC Tony Culley-Foster and Timothy Cox, chair of Cultural Tourism DC.

Socialite Jill Kelley, President of DeskPub LLC Jean-Francois Orsini, Ambassador of Panama Emanuel Gonzalez-Revilla, The Washington Diplomat publisher Victor Shiblie and Guillermo Areas of BMW Group’s Latin America and Caribbean Office.


Martina Leinz and Carlos Ruiz Hernandez, both of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and Nick Weinberg of Enterprise Holdings.

Sue Flaherty and Shadi Sadeghi, both of Children’s National Medical Center.

Misgina Gebresilassie of the Embassy of Ethiopia and Ambassador of Somalia Ahmed Awad.

Debbie Beard of Windows Catering and Carla Portalanza of the Embassy of Ecuador.

Tara Compton-Parsan and former Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago Neil Parsan.

Nick Weinberg of Enterprise Holdings and Jean-Patrick Antoine of The Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square.

Jennifer Jose and Kasper Zeuthen of the European Union Delegation to the U.S.

Spotlight | Culture | WD

Ambassador of Panama Emanuel Gonzalez-Revilla shares a laugh with the audience.

Melaine Diogo and Eduardo Diogo.

Martha Guerrero of Georgetown University, Jacob Comenetz of the Embassy of Germany, Sofia Gegechkori of the Embassy of Georgia, Ioseb Jorjoliani and Vigal Schiefer.

Tobias Arff, general manager of The Darcy, welcomes guests.

Ambassador of St. Kitts and Nevis Thelma Phillip-Browne, Leila Beale, Ambassador of Malta Pierre Clive Agius and Ambassador of Belize Daniel Guierrez.

Victor Zak of Oracle, Algirde Pipikaite of CyberSponse, Grace Hanna and Kimberly Anderson-Felga, both of The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City.

Pam Karem and reporter Brian Karem.

Ambassador of Monaco Maguy Maccario Doyle, Ambassador of Belize Daniel Guierrez and Leila Beale, wife of the former Barbadian ambassador.

Ambassador of Malta Pierre Clive Agius and Leila Beale of Hollywood Real Estate.

J.M. Saxton-Ruiz of the State Department, Carmen Mora and Laura Castro, both of the Embassy of Panama.

Ambassador of Panama Emanuel GonzalezRevilla and Karla Vargas of Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Va., which sponsored the event.

Fouad Kanaan and Yamina Ennaciri, both of Johns Hopkins Medicine International.

Emilio Lopez and Gizem Salcigil White of Turkish Coffee Lady.

Ambassador of Panama Emanuel Gonzalez-Revilla talks with Anna Gawel, managing editor of The Washington Diplomat.

Algirde Pipikaite of CyberSponse asks a question.

Phil Beshara of Blank Rome LLP, Andrea Mucino of UnidosUS and Kenneth Arnold of T. Dean Reed Co.

Marinela Arresi of Keller Williams Reality, Thomas Guastini of the Department of Homeland Security and Brenda Guastini.

David Myung and Gregory Bernstein, both of Georgetown University.

Olivia Wong of WETA and Aaron Bandremer.


WD | Culture | Spotlight

diplomatic spotlight Cafe Milano’s 25th Anniversary

Jordan Embassy Series Concert on nov. 30, singer and guitarist Farah siraj and her band held court at the Jordanian embassy for an embassy series concert. Jordanian virtuoso Farah siraj balances a career that spans the u.s., europe and the middle east. she has performed for King abdullah ii, u.n. secretaryGeneral Ban-ki moon and at venues such as the world economic Forum, Kennedy Center and mtV. since 1994, the embassy series has worked with over 200 ambassadors and hosted over 600 concerts in 73 different embassies involving more than 800 international artists and over 300 artists from the D.C. area.

January 2018

on nov. 10, Cafe milano, an italian landmark in Georgetown, celebrated its 25th anniversary with a slew of high-profile guests, from former national security advisor susan rice to D.C. mayor muriel Bowser to a cast member of “the real housewives of Potomac.” the restaurant has been the place to see and be seen by washington luminaries. “i always felt that washington was a great circus and i was able to be a great ringmaster,” owner Franco nuschese told the crowd, which danced and drank until 2 in the morning. Photo: morris simon the simon Firm For the emBassy series

Drummer Engin Kaan Gunaydin; Kane Mathis, who plays the Mandinka harp and Turkish oud; singer and guitarist Farah Siraj; Ambassador of Jordan Dina Kawar; Embassy Series Director and founder Jerome Barry; electric bass Moto Fukushima; and guitarist Andreas Arnold.

Doris George, Samia Farouki, Annie Totah and Ambassador of Jordan Dina Kawar.

Bret Baier of Fox News, Cafe Milano owner Franco Nuschese, Louise Linton and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Photo: morris simon the simon Firm For the emBassy series

Ahmed Selim and Nadine Selim.

Journalist Blanquita Cullum, Embassy Series Director and founder Jerome Barry and attorney Cary Pollak.

Anne L. Howard-Tristani of Howard-Tristani International Consulting, second from right, poses with the 2017-18 Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows at the American University Washington College of Law: Lena Petrovic, Eymunah Maria Matui and Solomy Awiidi.

Lala Abdurahimova and Ambassador of Azerbaijan Elin Suleymanov.

Consultant Juleanna Glover and Gwen Holliday, vice president at DCI Group.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Cafe Milano owner Franco Nuschese and D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans.

Luciana Gonzalez-Revilla and Ambassador of Panama Emanuel Gonzalez-Revilla.

Photo: morris simon the simon Firm For the emBassy series

Jordanian singer and guitarist Farah Siraj performs.

Daniella Taveau of King & Spalding and her son.

Guitarist Andreas Arnold.

Chief Political Correspondent for WJLA-TV Scott Thurman and Count Renaud de Viel Castel.

John Parisi, Anne Broker, Joanne Grossman and John Seecel.

Sue Manhart, Alice Elmore, Suzanne Wright and Elizabeth Johnson. Photo: morris simon the simon Firm For the emBassy series

Mele Melton of and singer and guitarist Farah Siraj.

Kristi Clemens Rogers and former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.).

Didi Cutler and former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Walter Cutler. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and a guest. Photos: tony Powell

The Washington Diplomat managing editor Anna Gawel, Shahin Mafi of Home Health Connection, embassy liaison Jan Du Plain and diplomatic correspondent Gail Scott.


Walid Qaqish and Rami Rihani of the JordanianAmerican Association of D.C.

Oliver Borchert and Vian Shamounki Borchert.

German Unity Day Hundreds of guests came out to celebrate Germanyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Unity Day reception at the expansive residence on Foxhall Road. As always, the event featured traditional German cuisine throughout the tiered gardens, as well as a replica of the Berlin Wall and an Oktoberfest biergarten. Each year on Oct. 3, Germany marks the day in 1990 when East and West Germany became one Federal Republic of Germany.

Photo: / Chad Fleschner

Photo: / Nicole Glass

Photo: / Nicole Glass

Photo: / Nicole Glass

Photo: Daniel Swartz

Photo: / Nicole Glass

Hilary Geary, wife of Wilbur Ross; Ambassador of Germany Peter Wittig; Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross; CEO of Siemens Joe Kaeser; and journalist Huberta von Voss-Wittig.

Photo: / Nicole Glass

Photo: / Chad Fleschner

Photo: / Nicole Glass

ENTERTAIN WITH ALL THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS Creative Cuisine, Professional Service with a Dash of Flair






WD | Culture | Spotlight

Diplomatic Spotlight

January 2018

UAE National Day

U.N. Day at Oneness-Family School

Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates Yousef Al Otaiba welcomed fellow Arab ambassadors, U.S. officials, business executives and other Washingtonians to the UAE’s 46th National Day, held at the embassy on Dec. 4. The ambassador highlighted the deep economic ties between the UAE and the U.S. “For eight years in a row, the UAE has been the top market in the Middle East and North Africa for U.S. exports, delivering a $19 billion annual trade surplus for the U.S. These exports support hundreds of thousands of American jobs and help the UAE diversify its own economy,” he said, adding that UAE airlines have also purchased over 800 Boeing planes.

Oneness-Family School in Chevy Chase, Md., celebrated United Nations Day on Oct. 27 and welcomed nearly 90 embassies to its annual Procession of Nations. The theme of unity and harmony among all nations is embraced by the school that has students from over 60 nationalities.

Embassy representatives raise their flags.

Ambassador of Jordan Dina Kawar, UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Ambassador of Kuwait Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Ambassador of the Arab League Salah Sarhan and Ambassador of Bahrain Shaikh Abdullah bin Rashid Al Khalifa. UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba welcomes guests.

Photos: Oneness-Family School

Ambassador of Costa Rica Roman Macaya. Founder and Head of School Andrew Kutt welcomes Chargé d’affaires of the Embassy of Burundi Benjamin Manirakiza; Deputy Director of the U.N. Information Center Andi Gitow; wife of the ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago Joanne PhillipsSpencer; Ambassador of Mauritania Mohamedoun Daddah; and Ambassador of Cabo Verde Carlos Wahnon Veiga.

Photos: UAE Embassy

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross greets UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba.

Senior Vice President of Government Operations for Boeing Tim Keating.

UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba poses with interns from the United Arab Emirates who are working at Boeing’s South Carolina 787 manufacturing facility.

Deputy Director of the U.N. Information Center Andi Gitow; Ambassador of Cabo Verde Carlos Wahnon Veiga; Ambassador of Mauritania Mohamedoun Daddah; and Chargé d’affaires of the Embassy of Burundi Benjamin Manirakiza visit a classroom and view the projects of the students who have been studying Africa this semester.

First Secretary of the Swiss Embassy Philipp Hasler and Minister-Counselor of the Italian Embassy Catherine Flumiani.

naisA Global NextGen Gala The nonprofit naisA Global, which promotes leadership development among young Asian professionals, presented its 2017 NextGen Awards Gala on Nov. 10 at the University Club of Washington, D.C., with over 150 guests in attendance. The gala honored three prominent Asian Americans: Sachiko Kuno, founder and chair of Halcyon; Wallace Loh, president of the University of Maryland; and Frank Islam, an IT entrepreneur, philanthropist and civic leader. Arriving in the country as immigrants from Japan, China and India, respectively, these honorees are now powerful sources of inspiration for new generations of leaders. “Their encouragement and partnerships have been instrumental in moving the needle for Asian leadership representation in our nation,” said Jamie Younghee Sheen, founder and CEO of naisA Global, which has grown to 2,400 protégés and mentors in 53 countries over the last three years.

Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Cambodia Kem Sovanna.

First Secretary of the Embassy of Mauritius Jaysen Ramasamy.

Palestinian Reception

Nobuko Sasae, Ambassador of Japan Kenichiro Sasae, cofounder of Total Wine & More David Trone and June Trone.

Honorees Sachiko Kuno, founder and chair of Halcyon; Wallace Loh, president of the University of Maryland; and IT entrepreneur Frank Islam.

Photos: naisA Global

Ambassador of Nepal Arjun Kumar Karki and Ambassador of Japan Kenichiro Sasae.

The American Federation of Ramallah is the largest Palestinian organization outside of Palestine. The Federations DC Chapter recently hosted a reception for prominent Palestinian official Saeb Erekat at its Vienna Club house.

Photos: American Federation of Ramallah

PLO Ambassador Husam Zomlot; Ambassador of Jordan Dina Kawar; senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat; President of the American Federation of Ramallah Hanna Hanania; Head of Middle East Division for the Egyptian Embassy Barakat Elleithy; and Ambassador of the Arab League Salah Sarhan.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Jamie Younghee Sheen, founder and CEO of naisA Global.

Mei Xu, co-founder and CEO of Chesapeake Bay Candle; David Kim, vice president of government affairs for Hyundai Motor Co.; and Sid Venkatesan, chief IP counsel for GE Digital, were honored with the Leadership Excellence Awards.


Ken Hyle, acting assistant director/general counsel of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Director of External Affairs for the Halcyon Incubator Dale Mott, Halcyon founder Sachiko Kuno and Jamie Younghee Sheen, founder and CEO of naisA Global.

Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Nihad Awad, attorney Albert Mokhiber and Hady Amr, nonresident senior rellow at the Brookings Institution.

Rima Misleh; Husam Misleh; Suzzan Eways; senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat; Ibrahim Sakaji of American University; Bassam Eways; and Ali Erekat.

Afghanistan Continued • page 18

in December 2016, “No society has ever successfully transitioned from being a conflict-ridden society to a developing society unless women were a part of the mainstream.” Afghanistan is at least paying lip service to this rhetoric. It signed onto U.N. Resolution 1325 that reaffirms the important role of women in preventing and resolving conflicts, including their participation in peace negotiations. In 2015, the country came out with its National Action Plan (NAP) for implementing the resolution. The plan acknowledges that the constitution upholds gender equality. It also contains a section on “Women’s Participation in the Peace Process,” which mentions inclusion of women in the High Peace Council (HPC) that was established to facilitate reconciliation efforts with the Taliban. Initially, nine of the 70 members were women. The NAP also counts 71 women as active in provincial peace committees and secretariats in 33 provinces. The plan acknowledges the increasing role of women in the security sector (police and military) and civil service, but it is “not enough in order to respond to emerging needs of women.” The government states it is “determined to increase women’s participation in the security sector by eliminating significant obstacles such as improper traditions, bias, and insecurity.” Female security officers, for example, are often able to access areas closed off to men where they can gather potentially valuable intelligence. The government said it also seeks to establish “policy and legal frameworks that protect women who participate in conflict resolution, and strengthen their role at the negotiating table and in the security sector.” So far, however, the NAP has failed to produce any type of implementation plan. A workshop was held in 2016 in Kabul to discuss implementation, with no resulting strategy.

Cultural Obstacles There have been some sporadic efforts to include women in the peace process. In 2015, for instance, women participated in preliminary talks with the Taliban in Norway. In the eastern province of Kunar, a jirga, or assembly, of elderly women held talks at the houses and hideouts of insurgent fighters to persuade them to renounce violence. Female members of the provincial peace committees have at times helped persuade insurgents to lay down their arms, release hostages or join peace talks. But by and large, women have been either completely absent from formal negotiations or relegated to modest, token roles. “The problem is that the strategies and policies are terrific but the actual implementation — there’s lack of political will, cultural barriers, structural barriers,” Mariam Safi, founding director of the Organization for Policy Research and Development Studies (DROPS) in Afghanistan, told The Diplomat.

“There has been progress in the state of women and girls in Afghanistan, but progress has been uneven,” said David Hartman, director general of Asia development for Global Affairs Canada, at a panel held after “The Breadwinner” screening at the Canadian Embassy that included Afghanistan’s first lady, Rula Ghani. The fact that the president of Afghanistan allows his wife to play such a public role is itself a sign of progress. The soft-spoken Mrs. Ghani is not a mere token. She is involved in policymaking and entertains citizens, particularly women, in her office to discuss their concerns. While she steers clear of engaging in politics, she does travel and speak internationally. She is Afghanistan’s first first lady to have a public role since the 1920s. Mrs. Ghani has lamented that the West often portrays Afghan women as victims. “The Western media has depicted the Afghan woman as a helpless, weak individual,” she said at a conference in Berlin in 2015. “I have said it before and I shall repeat it: The Afghan woman is strong, the Afghan woman is resourceful, the Afghan woman is resilient.” Yet Mrs. Ghani, who is Lebanese and Christian, is not the norm for women in Afghan society. The Taliban may no longer be in power, but most Afghan women still face severe cultural constraints, particularly in rural areas where tribal customs prevail. Since 2001, however, with the increasing involvement of Western powers in Afghanistan, there have been awareness-raising efforts to sow the seeds of empowerment among women and girls, and institutional changes have opened doors for women to participate in public life. Women are starting to gain economic power as a growing number of them enter the workforce, more so in cities than in rural areas. But with this shift has come a new form of marginalization: Women becoming token figures in civil society. The peace process is a prime example; although there are women in the High Peace Council, they are not effectively involved in negotiations with the Taliban. Women “face blockages of having their voices heard by men in the High Peace Council,” said Safi. “When they are holding team meetings, the doors close and we are kept

Photo: Amber Clay / Pixabay

Photo: Pixabay

Just 17 years ago in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, women were kept in the dark literally and figuratively — they could not work, could not leave their homes without a burqa and male accompaniment and were denied education. While things have improved, Afghanistan is still often labeled the world’s worst country in which to be a woman.

out of it. When there are field trips to the provinces, we are not informed, not asked to participate. You’ve taken women into the High Peace Council, but you haven’t given these women an enabling environment to execute their roles and responsibilities.” A regional conference was held this year in Afghanistan that resulted in a joint statement resolving to have a group of 15 women meet directly with the Taliban to call for engagement in the peace process. Whether this actually comes to fruition remains highly uncertain, given the Taliban’s fervent belief that women belong behind closed doors, not at the bargaining table. “We have not seen a female member of the High Peace Council in bilateral group talks or direct talks the Afghan government had with Taliban. Their roles are still symbolic,” Safi said. Despite setbacks, the country has made headway on raising awareness of the importance of women’s rights, although advocates fear any gains are fragile — and tradable. “Yes, the rights are in the constitution and not heeded in practice, but one of the great fears of the women is that those rights will be taken away, either in a peace agreement or parliamentary move,” Melanne Verveer, executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and the first U.S. ambassador for global women’s issues, told The Diplomat. “There is a real

understanding of how far they’ve come during those terrible times [of Taliban rule] and what they’ve lived through. There is now a whole generation that sees their lives differently. I think women are taken seriously. In every home, perhaps not, [but] the women in Afghanistan have their share of influence.”

The Path Forward First lady Ghani spoke at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) in October about women as peacemakers, and she encouraged entrepreneurialism among Afghans as a way out of poverty. She was also clear-eyed about the role that women can play in the peace process, saying she had “no illusions” that women are currently a serious part of the negotiations. But she also pointed out that the Taliban is not the only source of instability in the country. She says that violence, not only against women but in general, has become a fixture of Afghan life after 30 years of war. Changing mindsets involves reducing violence as a whole and recognizing that instability comes not only from actors such as the Taliban and Islamic State, but also from ordinary Afghans. “Violent interactions between Afghans is unfortunately still very common and though the rule of law is slowly gaining ground, we still have a long way to go before people’s men-

tality shifts from a mode of violence and open confrontation to that of peaceful interaction,” she said at the USIP event. On that note, Ghani has been an advocate for Afghan police “Family Response Units” as a tool to help resolve family situations before they turn violent.’ The first lady is resolute that peace cannot be imposed from the outside and must be built from the ground up — starting at home. She argues that women have a role in peacemaking by playing greater decision-making roles in their own families. The family is a microcosm of society, and if women learn how to mediate and resolve conflict within their families, they are contributing to larger peace efforts. Having more women enter the workforce also increases the value that women have in their families and in society. Currently, only about 20 percent of the Afghan labor force consists of women. Education is also key. “We need to transfer real knowledge to women in Afghanistan,” said Ghani, who earned a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and met her future husband at the American University in Beirut. Under the Taliban regime in 2001, the country had less than 900,000 students, all of them boys. Today, according to government statistics, that number has increased 10-fold, with girls comprising nearly 40 percent of those students. But enormous challenges remain. Human Rights Watch notes that only about half of Afghanistan’s girls ever go to school, and by age 12 to 15, twothirds are out of school. On average, females stay in school for eight years and males for 13 years, according to the CIA. Of Afghanistan’s total population, 38.2 percent is literate, and the gender breakdown is 52 percent for males and 24.2 percent for females. When Ghani spoke at USIP, she said Afghanistan’s government is pushing for women to increase their professional qualifications, for instance in peacemaking, by providing them with the opportunity to take classes in mediation and law. The idea is that as women become more qualified professionally, their numbers will reach a critical mass. “There has been a shift in how women see their own roles in the household and outside the household,” said Safi. “This is across Afghanistan because there are so much awareness-raising and capacitybuilding and training programs on what gender equality means. More and more women are aware of the possibilities and opportunities for them.” “The message that women need to be a part of [the peace process] is taking hold,” said Verveer. “If they are ignored and sold short, as they greatly fear, then the peace will not be sustainable. To have a peace, you need reconciliation, and you need society involved. Women lead on the ground.” As Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.), a panelist at the USIP event, succinctly put it: “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” WD Aileen Torres-Bennett is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.


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long-term policy will be [on Russia sanctions]. He’s been ambiguous,” Lodal said. Whereas past U.S. presidents have given a full-throated defense of NATO, Trump famously called the alliance “obsolete” and repeatedly disparaged its members for not meeting their defense spending commitments. He has also shown personal disdain for Merkel. In what was widely reported as a snub, Trump appeared to refuse Merkel’s handshake during a photo op before their Oval Office meeting in July. And in a dig at the Trump administration, Merkel told European leaders that “the era in which we could fully rely on others is over to some extent.” “We are in a period of great uncertainty, so one of the things needed is strong American leadership,” said Lodal, who also served as president of the Atlantic Council from 2005 to 2006. For his part, Defense Secretary James Mattis traveled to Helsinki in November to meet with the leaders

of 12 northern European countries about Russian provocations in the region. Despite the Trump administration’s mixed signals on U.S. commitments to Europe, a group of German foreign policy experts published an Oct. 11 article in the weekly Die Zeit newspaper and The New York Times declaring that “the United States remains indispensable.” Titled “In Spite of It All, America,” the article lays out broad policy recommendations for German foreign policy in the era of Trump. Calling Trump “the first U.S. president since World War II to fundamentally question the ideas and institutions of the liberal international order,” the German authors argued that “an increased responsibility falls to the European Union and its member state Germany to safeguard and strengthen the international order.” At the same time, they argued that “[t]urning away from the United States would bring insecurity to Germany and ultimately to Europe.” “Today, no other actor in the world can offer the same advantages to Germany that it gains from its alliance with the United States. No other power takes on such far-reaching security guarantees and offers such comprehensive political resources,” they wrote.


uniteD western Front But the article concedes that on some issues, such as refugees and climate change, the U.S. will not be a reliable partner in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, Berlin hopes to have in Macron a strong French partner who is serious about defense and economic reform. Macron plans to raise France’s defense spending to 2 percent of GDP, as required by NATO, by 2025. He also favors a “multi-speed EU,” in which a smaller “core” — including France and Germany — would knit itself closer together with shared budgetary measures and military burdens. But this “core” might alienate smaller countries who would see their influence wane under Macron’s centralized EU. And, as many experts have pointed out, Macron first needs to convince Germany that France can credibly keep financial commitments and reassure businesses that it is modernizing its economy. After all, it was Germany that imposed austerity during the euro crisis, demanding that struggling eurozone states meet strict fiscal rules and enact structural reforms. In contrast, Macron has supported aiding

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debt-ridden EU members such as Greece and criticized Berlin’s emphasis on austerity. At the same time, the French president has pledged to reduce deficits, make the private sector more competitive and cut the country’s stubborn unemployment rate. “He [Macron] will surprise them, because the Germans don’t believe it will happen,” one of Macron’s advisers told The Economist in a Sept. 30 report. “They have been disappointed by France too many times before.” Macron has taken steps to open the French economy and relax state controls over business. In September, he approved the merger of Germanybased Siemens with the French railcar company Alstom. The merger aligns with German leaders’ longtime goal of capitalizing on Europe’s single market by creating companies large enough to compete with U.S. and Asian behemoths. Also in September, Macron signed into law a sweeping labor reform package aimed at revitalizing the economy. “Mr. Macron’s changes make it easier to hire and fire workers and allow some workplace issues to be negotiated directly at the company level, rather than through industrywide agreements, in hopes of stimulating both growth and job creation,”

Alissa J. Rubin reported for The New York Times on Aug. 31. “The government focused especially on smaller businesses with fewer than 50 employees — the majority of French businesses — which have complained bitterly about excessive red tape and regulations,” Rubin wrote. Macron also wants the EU to play a central role in simulating growth and jobs in the eurozone, according to Lichfield, to fend off populist movements and prove that European integration benefits everyone. “The Germans know Macron needs to be seen to succeed,” said Lichfield. But they don’t necessarily know if he will. As Besch and Haddad noted in their Atlantic article, Merkel, who has been chancellor for 12 years, “has listened to three successive French presidents lecture about the future of the EU.” “In the end, none delivered,” they wrote. Macron promises this time will be different. WD Ryan R. Migeed (@RyanMigeed) is a freelance writer based in Boston. Anna Gawel (@diplomatnews) is managing editor of The Washington Diplomat.

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to the likes of North Korea, but it certainly should be to most countries seeking improved diplomatic and economic relations.” As veterans of corporate marketing campaigns appreciate, the process of enhancing public approval begins with researching public opinion – not only to measure levels of awareness, but also to gauge assessments about a country’s action or inaction. In turn, this can help guide key stakeholders, including business leaders and legislative decision-makers, as they work to build a broader diplomatic campaign. Research conducted by Wallin’s company illustrates the need for countries to engage in nation branding. A survey of American voters fielded in late October 2017 revealed that 54 percent believe that China is more of an economic threat

than a partner to the United States, a number that skyrockets to 75 percent when voters are asked about Russia, and that was before the Paul Manafort, et al., indictments were announced. Yet Wallin’s research also indicates that 84 percent of those surveyed believe it is appropriate for a foreign country to communicate to the American people the benefits of a good relationship between that country and the United States, reinforcing the utility of strategic branding efforts. Just like with effective corporate branding, Wallin stresses the importance of an ongoing investment in nation branding, rather than reacting to a crisis. “The mistake many countries make is waiting until a crisis or international incident to start investing in a national brand,” Wallin warns. “If you’re responding to a crisis, you’re already too late to build an effective brand.” Marc A. Ross, the founder of Caracal Global, points to China as a nation that ought to be concerned about its increasingly unfavorable standing with the American public. “In the United States, negative views of China have in-

creased by 26 percentage points between 2006 and 2016,” he writes at “If negative views of a company increased by 26 percentage points over a decade, the chief executive officer of said company would have a major problem.” “It is time,” Ross maintains, “for those that care about a productive and engaged U.S.-China commercial relationship to take these polls seriously and engage Americans in Main Street coffee shops and at picnic tables for backyard summer BBQs.” China isn’t alone. Beyond the inevitable fulminations against North Korea’s “little rocket man,” no one can predict Trump’s next international target on Twitter – which is even more reason for foreign leaders to redouble their commitment to nation branding. WD Richard Levick (@richardlevick) is chairman and CEO of LEVICK, a global communications and public affairs agency specializing in risk, crisis and reputation management. He is a frequent television, radio, online and print commentator. THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | JANUARY 2018 | 47


THE PRINCE: THE ASCENSION OF A KING AND KINGDOM, PRINCE MOHAMMAD BIN SALMAN A riveting biography of he Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which traces his early life and explores subjects like his astonishing political rise, his contribution to economic and cultural reform, and his dedication to the eradication of terrorism. Examining the Crown Prince’s career as a lawyer and the leadership skills that led him to become minister of state, The Prince: The Ascension of a King and Kingdom, Prince Mohammad Bin Salman explores the many initiatives and charity works undertaken by the prince, including the creation of his foundation, MiSK. It details the royal charisma of the prince, his appointment as the youngest minister of defense in the world, and how he plans to use the position to usher in Vision 2030. ABOUT AUTHOR: Saeed A. Alqahtani “Kanee” is a physician, author, and inventor. He has published a book in Arabic entitled New Liberal, Life Experience. Beside neurosciences he is interested in political sciences, philosophy, intellectual aspects, and the psychology of human evolutions. In 2015, he received the Mark Platt, MD award for the graduating doctors in neurology from George Washington University, School of Medicine, Washington D.C. After completing his neurology training, he joined the neurovascular diseases and vascular neurology fellowship program at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). He lives in Washington D.C. where he is further specializing in endovascular neurosurgery at Georgetown University, Washington D.C. Free E-book copy contact the author:


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