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Medical Special Section



A Special Section of The Washington Diplomat

July 2019

JULY 2019



Vacation Vaccinations

Heading to Europe This



North Africa

Factions Push Libya to Brink Of Civil War

With fighting continuing to rage in the outskirts of Tripoli, Libya’s current civil war shows no signs of abating, as a lethal combination of outside interests and internal grievances fuels further destruction. PAGE 4

Summer? Get Your Measles

s Europe deals with its biggest measles outbreaks since the 1990s, U.S. health officials are urging travelers to be up to date on vaccinations. In 2018, European countries 26 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT

Shot •

reported more than 83,500 measles cases, including 74 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) A majority of cases were in Ukraine, but Serbia, France, Italy, Greece, Russia and




Georgia were all hard hit as well. And in just the first two months of this year, WHO said that more than 34,300 measles cases were reported across the European region.

| JULY 2019

Finns consistently rank among the happiest people on the

planet, but even the happiest people have their problems.

Whether it’s differences with the U.S. on the Arctic, main-

taining a middle-of-the-road relationship with Russia or

keeping the European Union on a steady course as they assume the EU presidency

this month, the Finns take Europe

Some of Europe Finds Kindred Spirit in Trump

Dogged by concerns about democratic backsliding, Central and Eastern Europe has found an ideological cheerleader in President Trump, who has undertaken a vigorous re-engagement with allies such as Hungary and Poland. PAGE 12


Vietnam Through Eyes of Artists

While the blunders of the Vietnam War have been extensively documented, a new exhibition sheds a different light on the conflict. PAGE 30

a low-key, practical approach to solving their problems. PAGE 17


Diplomatic Spouses

NAFTA 2.0 Not #1 With Democrats

Showing the True Colors of Botswana

Amid the tariff battle with Mexico over the border and looming elections in the U.S. and Canada, NAFTA’s replacement has been relegated to the sidelines, but the clock is ticking on the deal as Democrats go toe to toe with Trump on its ratification. PAGE 8

Changu Mazana and her husband, Botswanan Ambassador David Newman, are among the rare interracial ambassadorial couples in D.C., although Mazana says that back home, color is not an issue and racial harmony is the norm. PAGE 31

"Essential and entertaining reading." —Betty K. Koed, Historian

RISING STAR, SETTING SUN: Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and the | Issue 07 Transition | July 2019 Volume 26 Presidential www.washdiplomat.com that| Changed America "Essential and entertaining reading." —Betty K. Koed, Historian

RISING STAR, SETTING SUN: Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and the Presidential Transition that Changed America

Rising Star, Setting Sun is a riveting new history that explores the complicated, poignant, and consequential transition Victor of powerShiblie from Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Dwight D. Eisenhower to John F. Kennedy.

Director of Operations

Fuad Shiblie

The exchange of leadership between the thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth presidents of Managing Editor Anna Gawel the United States marked more than a succession of leaders. It symbolized—and Larry Luxner Newsgenerational Editor shift triggered—a in American politics, policy, and culture.

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Drawing extensively from primary sources, including memoirs and memos of the time, Account Manager Rod Carrasco Rising Star, Setting Sun paints a vivid picture of what Time called aLawrence "turning Photographer Ruggeri point in the twentieth century."

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Daron Acemoglu, John Brinkley,

"The presidential transition from Eisenhower to Kennedy starkly contrasted the Deryl Davis, Jonathan Gorvett, parties, temperaments, and generations of the two leaders, yet the transfer of power proceeded amicably in the national interest. John Shaw's Rising Star, Richard N. Haass, Stephanie Setting Sun slips behind the veil of civility to take the measure of both men and assess their personal antagonisms." Kanowitz, Andrew MacDowall,

—Donald A. Ritchie, Historian Emeritus of the United States Senate and Kate Jason Overdorf, authorOczypok, of Electing FDR: The New Deal Campaign of 1932

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web www.washdiplomat.com • editorial news@washdiplomat.com Rising Star, Setting Sun is a riveting new history that explores the complicated, poignant, and consequential transition of power from Dwight D. Eisenhower to John F. Kennedy. The exchange of leadership between the thirty-fourth and thirtyfifth presidents of the United States marked more than a succession of leaders. It symbolized—and triggered—a generational shift in American politics, policy, and culture. Drawing extensively from primary sources, including memoirs and memos of the time, Rising Star, Setting Sun paints a vivid picture of what Time called a "turning point in the twentieth century." Praise: "The presidential transition from Eisenhower to Kennedy starkly contrasted the parties, temperaments, and generations of the two leaders, yet the transfer of power proceeded amicably in the national interest. John Shaw's Rising Star, Setting Sun slips behind the veil of civility to take the measure of both men and assess their personal antagonisms." —Donald A. Ritchie, Historian Emeritus of the United States Senate and author of Electing FDR: The New Deal Campaign of 1932

"Shaw vividly portrays the generational clash between the upstart former lieutenant and the iconic general. Following a campaign marked by raw personal attacks, they overcame their disdain, with a passing of the torch and stirring rhetoric that became a high point in each president's career." —Richard Cohen, Chief Author of The Almanac of American Politics

Where to Buy:

Pegasus Books, hardcover, May 2018, ISBN: 9781681777320

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The Washington Diplomat is published monthly The Washington Diplomat assumes no responsibilby The Washington Diplomat, Inc. The newspaper ity for the safe keeping or return of unsolicited man"Essential and entertaining reading." is distributed free of charge at several locations uscripts, photographs, artwork or other material. —Betty K. Koed, Historian throughout the Washington, D.C. area. We do offer subscriptions for home delivery. Subscription rates The information contained in this publication are $29 for 12 issues and $49 for 24 issues. is in no way to be construed as a recommendation by the Publisher of any kind or nature Dwight Eisenhower, F. Kennedy, and the of any inTo receive The WashingtonD. Diplomat at your em- John whatsoever, nor as a recommendation bassy or business or to receive pastTransition issues, please that dustry Changed standard, nor as an endorsement of any Presidential America call Fuad Shiblie at 301-933-3552. product or service, nor as an opinion or certification regarding the accuracy of any such information. Rising employs Star, Setting is afrom riv-the If your organization many Sun people new history thatqualify explores international eting community, you may for free All rights reserved. No part of this publication may the complicated, poignant, and bulk delivery. To see if you qualify, please contact be reproduced in whole or part without explicit consequential transition of powFuad Shiblie. permission of the publisher. er from Dwight D. Eisenhower to John F. Kennedy.


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The exchange of leadership between the thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth presidents of the United States marked more than a succession of leaders. It symbolized—and triggered— a generational shift in American politics, policy, and culture. Drawing extensively from primary sources, including memoirs and memos of the time, Rising Star, Setting Sun paints a vivid picture of what Time called a "turning point in the twentieth century."


Photo taken at the Embassy of Finland by Lawrence Ruggeri of RuggeriPhoto.com.

"John Shaw's Rising Star, Setting Sun slips behind the veil of civility to take the measure of both men and assess their personal antagonisms." —Donald A. Ritchie, Historian Emeritus of the United States Senate and author of Electing FDR: The New Deal Campaign of 1932

1/2 page vertical print 2 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | JULY 2019




28 21 34


17 NEWS LIBYA’S PROXY WAR Internal grievances and outside powers fuel Libya’s descent into war.



Amid tariff spats and elections, ratification of the new NAFTA is an ever-moving target.


Central and Eastern Europe finds an ideological bedfellow in America’s nationalist president.



The Finns take a low-key approach to world issues as they assume the EU presidency. PIPELINE SHOWDOWN The U.S. ramps up pressure to derail the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Germany and Russia.




Though increasingly popular politically, universal basic income is a bad idea economically.





Between a costly war or unlikely regime change lies a third option for the U.S.: diplomacy with Iran.

The Hirshhorn Museum transforms into a communal dining space, with a dash of protest art.





Heading to Europe this summer? Be sure to get your measles shot.

NATURAL-BORN KILLERS Many advanced colon cancers are apparently ‘born’ ready to metastasize.




A first-of-its-kind exhibit looks at the Vietnam War through the eyes of American artists.



An interracial diplomatic couple touts Botswana’s legacy of tolerance and progressivism.


The Swedish Embassy re-imagines city life in “Urban Challenges.” FROZEN WONDER The Icelandic Embassy showcases the magnificent but diminishing glaciers of the Arctic.





WD | North Africa

Libya’s Proxy War Internal Grievances and Outside Interests Fuel Libya’s Descent into Civil War BY JONATHAN GORVETT Since April, fighting has raged on the outskirts of the Libyan capital of Tripoli between factions loyal to the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA), headed by Khalifa Haftar (pictured opposite page).


ith fighting continuing to rage in the outskirts of Tripoli, Libya’s current civil war shows no signs of abating, as a lethal combination of outside interests and internal grievances fuels further destruction. “The country has become a theater for the wider, geopolitical duels of the Middle East,” says Claudia Gazzini, the International Crisis Group’s Libya expert. With over 650 dead and nearly 100,000 displaced so far in what has become a protracted stalemate, experts fear that Libya, which was already lawless since the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, could become the next Syria.


The current round of fighting broke out on April 4, when the leader of the eastern, Benghazi-based Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar, launched “Operation Flood of Dignity.” The multipronged offensive targeted Tripoli, the capital of the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. Haftar — a former general under Qaddafi who had been living in exile in Northern Virginia for two decades before returning to Libya during the Arab Spring uprising — stunned the world by launching his surprise attack while U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres was in the capital planning a conference to reconcile Libya’s various armed factions. Perhaps expecting a lightning-fast victory to gain leverage ahead of peace talks, Haftar and his troops were instead thwarted by the GNA and other armed groups from the western cities of Misrata and Zintan that joined the U.N.-backed government, which launched its own counteroffensive dubbed “Operation Volcano of Anger.” Since then, fighting has stalled, threatening to plunge the city of over 1 million into all-out war. Meanwhile, international efforts to restart a shattered peace process have been increasingly hampered by shifting positions among global players and strategic rivalries between regional power blocs. Haftar enjoys the support of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, as well as France and Russia, which view the strongman as a bulwark against Islamist militants. Meanwhile, Turkey, Qatar and other



The country has become a theater for the wider, geopolitical duels of the Middle East. CLAUDIA GAZZINI

senior Libya analyst for the International Crisis Group

Western countries back the GNA. The U.S. had also supported the GNA, but President Trump recently muddled the issue when he endorsed Haftar’s military campaign. Both Haftar and the GNA have ignored calls for a ceasefire. Haftar, 75, was an officer in the coup that brought Gaddafi to power in 1969. He later became a U.S. citizen after falling out with Gaddafi in the 1980s, returning to Libya in 2011 to join the rebels trying to depose his former boss. Three years later, Haftar and his self-styled band of militias launched an offensive to oust Islamist extremists from Benghazi, eventually forming a stronghold in the country’s east. Haftar says he launched his current offensive to rid Tripoli of the terrorist groups and militias that had “infested” the U.N.-backed government. But crit-

ics say the warlord is just another authoritarian in the same vein as Gaddafi — bent on amassing power and Libya’s riches.


Relations between the LNA and GNA had never been good. Prior to 2015, the former had been a supporter of the Libyan House of Representatives. The body had been controversially elected in 2014 but was forced to move to the eastern city of Tobruk after the General National Congress (GNC), a self-declared rival parliament led by Islamist-aligned groups that disputed the elections, seized power in Tripoli. In December 2015, after a major

diplomatic initiative by the U.N., with strong U.S. support, many of the country’s warring parties were then formally brought together under the Libyan Political Agreement. This established the power-sharing GNA, yet in practice, the Tobruk and Tripoli governments never gelled. One of the reasons for this rupture was that the new, internationally recognized Libyan government encompassed a wide range of groups and individuals, including some the LNA and its largely eastern constituency did not trust or support. In particular, many in the LNA have accused the GNA and its ruling Presidential Council of failing to take action over the 2017 massacre of LNA personnel at the Brak Al-Shati airbase by militia belonging to a pro-GNA group based out of the western city of Misrata.

With Libya split between these two rival camps and further carved up by a constellation of warring militias, each with their own ethnic, tribal, geographic and ideological motivations, the GNC has been too weak to unify the oil-rich country.


Meanwhile, this chaos and conflict has left a vacuum for the growth of the Islamic State in the country. In March 2015, the group seized the coastal city of Sirte, while it had also long held Derna and controlled parts of Benghazi and Sabratha. Combating this growing threat thus became an increasing concern for outside powers. As a result, U.S. airstrikes supported the pro-GNA Bunyan al-Marsous militia, also from Misrata, to dislodge the Islamic State from Sirte, while French special forces have long worked with the LNA against the Islamic State and other militant groups in the east. Meanwhile, the LNA-supported Tobruk government, which prior to 2015 was Libya’s internationally recognized government, had been able to sign a number of military cooperation deals, particularly with neighboring Egypt, which supported its operations against jihadi groups. The LNA also expelled the Islamic

State from parts of Benghazi, establishing Gen. Haftar as the east’s de facto ruler. Notably, the east contains the majority of Libya’s substantial oil reserves. In addition, the general has won the support of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with Haftar meeting Saudi King Salman in Riyadh just days before launching “Flood of Dignity.” “Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt have hoisted the flag of the fight against political Islam around the Middle East,” said Gazzini of the International Crisis Group. “These three countries have been most active in supporting Haftar, who has also embraced their worldview.” The GNA has not been without its international backers, either. The regional rivals to the Saudi-EmiratiEgyptian bloc, Turkey and Qatar, have been strong supporters, with Turkey widely reported to have sent military equipment to bolster the GNA after Haftar began his push on Tripoli. All outside powers in fact have been accused of sending weaponry to their respective clientele militias in violation of a U.N. embargo on arms supplies to Libya. Europe, too, is heavily invested in what happens in Libya. France has thrown its weight behind Haftar, viewing him as a stabilizing force who can prevent migrants from try-

ing to flee to Europe. At the same time that France has gravitated toward Haftar, Italy has supported the GNA and condemned France for what it sees as Paris’s blocking of European Union efforts to condemn the general’s offensive. “Rightly or wrongly, France interprets the LNA as an important counterterrorism partner and a potential ally in its broader Sahel strategy,” said Alia Brahimi, director of Legatus Global and an experienced Libya analyst. Indeed, a few days after the start of the general’s push on Tripoli, it was these anti-terrorism credentials that were also voiced by an unexpected party: the U.S. president. In a call to Haftar on April 15, when LNA and GNA forces were already fighting in the Tripoli suburb of Ayn Zara, President Trump praised the general for his “significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources,” according to a statement from the White House released five days later. This contradicted earlier U.S. policy, with the president’s call coming a week after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced America’s opposition to the general’s offensive and urged “an immediate halt to these military operations.” SEE L I BYA • PAGE 6


Khalifa Haftar is a former general under Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi who had been living in exile in Northern Virginia for two decades before returning to Libya during the Arab Spring uprising.

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U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, left, meets Khalifa Hifter, commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), during a visit to the country on April 5. The day earlier, Hifter stunned the world by launching a surprise attack on Tripoli while Guterres was there planning a conference to reconcile Libya’s various armed factions. Fighting between the LNA and the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, below, has since killed over 600.




Since that unexpected call, however, U.S. officials have remained cool toward Haftar, with Pompeo reportedly considering a range of options, including a U.S.-enforced ceasefire. Nevertheless, Trump’s position has dominated the debate, as a U.K. resolution at the U.N. Security Council calling for an immediate ceasefire foundered in the face of U.S. and Russian opposition. Moscow had until then tried to maintain good relations with both the LNA and GNA, inviting both Sarraj and Haftar to Moscow as it worked to balance its friendship with GNA allies such as Turkey on the one hand, and LNA backers such as Egypt on the other. Haftar, it appears, now has the edge in this relationship, with Russia objecting to the British resolution reportedly because it blamed the general for the renewed fighting. As for the actual antiterrorism credentials of the LNA and GNA, the picture is far more nuanced than is often presented. While “the GNA has a longstanding and problematic relationship with militias, some of which are Islamist, and still others of which are radical,” said Brahimi, “it was the GNA’s Bunyan al-Marsous force which ejected [the Islamic State] from Sirte. At the same time, there’s also the problematic alliance between the LNA and a number of Madkhali Salafi groups,


An ENI Oil Bouri DP4 in seen in the Bouri Field off the Libyan coast. Libya was once Africa’s third-largest producer of oil until the 2011 revolution. Despite the decline of oil production since Muammar Qaddafi’s ouster, oil remains the backbone of the economy, but recent fighting between rival factions in Tripoli has once again threatened production.

countrywide.” Madkhali Salafists are an ultra-conservative Sunni Muslim group originating in Saudi Arabia. “These are radical guys, by any measure,” said Brahimi. “They might not be an international counter-terrorism concern today, but they will be tomorrow.” As this web of local and international actors jockey for power, the Islamic State has once again reared its head, with the group claiming a May assault that killed nine of Haftar’s soldiers, among other attacks in the country’s south.


The GNA’s failure to deal with radical groups within its own ranks also speaks


to the wider issues of disarming and demobilizing across Libya, while building a secure, equitable state and funneling resources to economic reconstruction and growth, rather than conflict and militia-building. These were the issues that were due to be discussed at the Libyan National Conference, scheduled to begin just 10 days after Haftar launched his offensive. The gathering, due to be held in the relatively neutral northwestern town of Ghadames in mid-April, had also been convened to organize fresh nationwide elections. Yet, with shells landing in and around Tripoli, the head of the U.N. Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Ghassan Salamé, indefinitely

postponed this latest attempt to foster a democratic transition in the war-torn country. If it had gone ahead, the conference would have produced the results of a unique, months-long consultation exercise, conducted by UNSMIL and the Geneva-based Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. This involved thousands of consultations with ordinary Libyans, both online and face to face, between April and July 2018. The result was a wish list of Libyan desires to be debated in Ghadames by 120 to 150 Libyan-only delegates drawn from across the country and all walks of life. The list of top desires included: a united Libya with a government based on competence, not identity;


Tripoli’s Old City, situated in the city center, is one of the classical sites of the Mediterranean and was once an important tourist attraction prior to the 2011 uprising.

a fairer distribution of state resources; a united military, free from political interference; and a professional police force. Naturally, becoming a battleground for competing local, regional and international interests did not feature on any Libyan’s wish list. Yet now, that is the fate the population of this besieged country will likely face, as Salamé warns that the battle for Tripoli could mark the “start of a long and bloody war.” “With both sides bogged down in Tripoli’s suburbs, now would normally be a good starting point for negotiations,” said Gazzini. “Unfortunately, though, both sides still feel they have a strong chance of winning,

while none of the outside states want to accept the defeat of their local ally, as this would mean a defeat for their ambitions across the region.” And without some kind of outside push for peace, Gazzini predicts that neither side is likely to prevail or back down, which means the likely outcome is a deadly stalemate. It also means that it may be some time before the voices of ordinary Libyans are heard again in this long-suffering North African country. WD Jonathan Gorvett (jpgorvett.com) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat and a freelance journalist specializing in Near and Middle Eastern affairs.

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WD | North Amer ica

USMCA Countdown Amid Tariffs and Looming Elections, Ratification of New NAFTA Is Ever-Moving Target BY JASON OVERDORF


he logic of politics can be anything but logical. In 2016, when then-presidential candidate Donald Trump vowed to pull the United States out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and negotiate a better deal, his Democratic critics dismissed the idea as populist madness. Three years later, with a new pact on the table in the form of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), it is the Democrats insisting that a still better deal can be achieved — with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others calling for clearer measures to enforce its environmental regulations and labor provisions. And last month, President Trump himself seemed to bury an axe in his own agreement with the threat of escalating tariffs against Mexico if President Andrés Manuel López Obrador did not immediately stop the flow of migrants across the U.S. border. Then, just as suddenly, the president backed off his threat, saying that because Mexico had agreed to take “strong measures” to curb migration, the U.S. would not be slapping tariffs on its neighbor to the south — for now. Trump’s latest trade gambit threw yet another wrench in the effort to replace NAFTA. Last October, after over a year of negotiations, the U.S., Canada and Mexico agreed to overhaul the 1994 agreement responsible for $1.2 trillion in annual trade among the three nations. But NAFTA’s replacement must still be approved by a bitterly divided Congress. Democrats have been circumspect in questioning Mexico’s sincerity about labor reforms designed to empower workers’ unions. Meanwhile, even though the USMCA is a priority for his administration, there’s always the chance Trump could sabotage his own trade deal given his frequent attacks on Mexico, especially as he begins campaigning for re-election. Those attacks ramped up as a flood of Central American


President Donald Trump, joined by legislators and senior White House officials, announces the completion of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on Oct. 1, 2018, during a press conference in the Rose Garden. The replacement for NAFTA still has to be ratified by the legislatures of Canada and the U.S.

Judging by the merits themselves on trade, the USMCA will be passed. However, politics are getting in the way.

migrants inundated the U.S. border. In response, Trump characteristically tweeted that “Mexico is an ‘abuser’ of the United States, taking but never giving.” But many Mexicans feel they have been the ones abused by a U.S. president who has labeled them rapists and placed the onus on them to stem the current tide of migrants, despite their own limited resources. Nevertheless, the Mexican government — aware of its economic dependence on the U.S. — has adopted a conciliatory waitand-see approach to the president’s bombast. Former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto agreed to concessions in the USMCA that would, among


ALEJANDRO GÓMEZ-STROZZI partner at Foley & Lardner LLP

other things, boost the minimum wage of auto workers, putting Mexican workers at a disadvantage. Similarly, Peña Nieto’s successor, López Obrador, has tread carefully with Trump, emphasizing cooperation over confrontation while reforming Mexican labor laws to address Democratic concerns about the USMCA. But Trump’s latest tariff brinkmanship has shaken confidence that Congress will ratify the USMCA this year, let alone before the summer recess, said Alejandro Gómez-Strozzi, a partner at international law firm Foley & Lardner LLP who focuses on international trade compliance and Mexican administrative law.

“This is still politics in the U.S.,” Gómez-Strozzi said, pointing out that the tariff threats were intended to influence border control measures, not trade. “Judging by the merits themselves on trade, the USMCA will be passed. However, politics are getting in the way.” Exactly what those politics are may be difficult to parse. Was the president resorting to reverse psychology, raising the specter of a second trade war to spur Congress into ratifying the pact? Does he really believe tariffs imposed to stop immigration (and drug trafficking) can remain separate from the broader trade relationship? Is he setting up Congress as an obstructionist foe, the way anti-immigra-

tion, populist leaders across the Atlantic have demonized the European Union? Was the threat of economically crippling tariffs actually a ploy designed to prod the Federal Reserve into lowering interest rates, as the president has long demanded? Or did he simply sense that the world’s attention had momentarily drifted from the ratings-topping Trump Show?


Whatever Trump’s intentions, there is no doubt that the president is facing a growing border crisis. In May, U.S. authorities made nearly 145,000 arrests at the border with Mexico — a 13-year

high. Many of those detained are families with children whom the U.S. has struggled to house. U.S. officials have also expressed frustration with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, commonly known as AMLO, who initially took a compassionate approach to migrants fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. He issued expedited humanitarian visas that let Central Americans work in Mexico and largely allowed migrant caravans to travel northward unfettered. But as tens of thousands of migrants swamped the border and pressure from the U.S. mounted, AMLO began to crack down. He stepped up enforcement of migrant caravans, significantly increased deportations and agreed to Trump’s plan to keep asylum applicants in Mexico while their cases were being processed in the U.S. Despite tensions at the border, it appeared as if the president was ready to move ahead with the USMCA. To help push the agreement through the legislatures of Canada and Mexico, he agreed to drop the controversial tariffs of 25 percent on steel and aluminum imported from Mexico and Canada — which in turn led both countries to lift their retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods. And on May 30, the administration sent a draft agreement of the USMCA to Congress, setting in


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — seen above at a U.S. Department of Labor event on Equal Pay Day in 2015 — holds the power to introduce the USMCA on the House floor for a vote, but she has expressed reservations about the trade deal’s labor, environmental and pharmaceutical provisions, as well as its enforcement mechanisms.

motion a timeline that puts pressure on House Democrats to speed up ratification of the deal. In fact, prior to the tariff threats, proponents of the agreement like former Republican Congressman Erik Paulsen, now honorary co-

chair of the Pass USMCA Coalition, were convinced that the pact would be ratified before the end of the year. “There’s wind in the sails now for passage in all three countries in the near future,” Paulsen said, suggesting that the discus-

sion of “nitty-gritty” details in the House Ways and Means Committee signaled a desire for progress rather than obstruction. Out of the spotlight for months and unaffected by the latest development, the Canadian government

is still pushing to ratify the agreement despite the proximity of the country’s own federal election on Oct. 21. Immediately following Trump’s latest tariff threat, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland appeared flummoxed by what she described as a bilateral issue between the United States and Mexico. But a few days earlier, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau formally introduced a bill to ratify the deal in parliament and the leader of the opposition Conservatives said his party would “reluctantly support” it in the House of Commons, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, despite the border confrontation with Trump, in mid-June, Mexico became the first nation to ratify the USMCA, with little opposition from the Mexican Senate. The fact that the deal overwhelmingly passed in a 114-4 vote signals Mexico’s desire to move past the recent trade spat — and is a reflection of just how economically reliant the country has become on the U.S.


Mexico recently become America’s top trading partner, exporting just over $345 billion in goods to the U.S. last year. The U.S. market, in SEE US M CA • PAGE 10

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Ideally, Congress needs to pass the USMCA before it leaves for summer recess, but Democratic opposition remains strong, suggesting that the deal could get put on ice as the country heads into the 2020 presidential elections.



fact, accounts for 80 percent of Mexico’s exports. Trump’s threat to impose a 5 percent tariff on those products would have amounted to a $17 billion tax on everything from refrigerators to jeans to avocados. Economists warned that the move would upend tightly woven supply chains between the U.S. and Mexico, raising prices for American companies and consumers. Trump’s surprise announcement stunned officials, both abroad and at home. The news dropped the same day that Trump issued an urgent call for Congress to ratify the USMCA — and in the middle of Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Canada to discuss the pact with Trudeau. Members of Congress seemed blindsided. “Trade policy and border security are separate issues,” said Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, warning that tariffs on Mexico would seriously jeopardize passage of the USMCA. Initially, AMLO responded to the president’s tariff Twitter screed with a snooty letter reminding him of the examples set by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt. And Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, Martha Bárcena, told reporters that the tariffs would have the perverse effect of spurring more migration by damaging the Mexican economy, similar to Trump’s decision to cut U.S. aid to Central America. “There is a clear limit to what we can negotiate, and the limit is Mexican dignity,”


The U.S. and Mexican flags fly outside the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, listens as President Trump speaks during the signing ceremony of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on Nov. 30, 2018.

Bárcena said. But as the June 10 deadline Trump set for imposing the first round of tariffs loomed, Mexico signaled in last-minute negotiations that it was willing to agree to almost anything to protect its exports. To wit, it pledged to send up to 14,000 national guard troops to its border with Guatemala to stop migrants and dismantle trafficking networks. The government also agreed to expand a program to keep some migrants in Mexico while their claims are heard in the U.S. Bárcena tweeted that her government agreed to “strengthen measures for the application of its immigration law” and would provide health, education and job opportunities for migrants waiting in Mexico. Officials are also reportedly working to adopt new rules requiring asylum-seekers to apply for refuge in the first country they entered af-


ter leaving their homelands, potentially allowing the U.S. to send Guatemalans back to Mexico and Hondurans and El Salvadorans back to Guatemala. Notably absent, however, was a “safe third country” agreement whereby Mexico is legally required to take in all asylum-seekers going to the U.S., although Mexican officials have hinted they might be open to some type of asylum arrangement if the burden is shared among other nations in the region. The concessions staved off Trump’s tariffs, but the U.S. will review Mexico’s progress in 45 days. If the situation has not improved, the two sides will work on alternative solutions for another 45 days. After that, tariffs could be back on the table.


Meanwhile, the nuts and bolts of the USMCA have

been virtually forgotten in the trade scramble. Ottawa appears to be pressing ahead with the agreement, although the government said it will move forward in tandem with the U.S. And even though Mexico has ratified the USMCA, it would still need to sign off on any future changes that U.S. lawmakers make to the deal. That means all eyes are on Congress, where the USMCA faces its toughest test. If lawmakers don’t pass the deal by the summer recess, it could get pushed into the 2020 election season, leaving its fate even more uncertain. Democrats have expressed various concerns about the agreement, notably over its labor provisions. Despite the passage of landmark labor reforms in Mexico in April, Pelosi says Democrats need to see those reforms being implemented before considering a vote on the USMCA. Proponents of free trade

like Paulsen say the USMCA offers at least modest improvements over NAFTA, and is certainly better than no deal at all. The new pact offers stronger protections for intellectual property and the misappropriation of trade secrets, including by state-owned enterprises. It incorporates its labor commitments into the body of the agreement rather than a side letter, as was the case with NAFTA, making these provisions central to the deal. It mandates that Mexico adopt labor reforms to limit company-controlled “yellow unions” by allowing workers to vote on unionizing and other workplace policies by secret ballot. It establishes stricter local content rules requiring more car and truck parts to be made in North America to boost manufacturing in the region and prevent China and other countries from channeling near-finished products through Mexico to avoid U.S. tariffs. And it requires that 40 percent of automobile content be produced by workers earning at least $16 per hour — theoretically encouraging wage increases in

Mexico and protecting jobs in the U.S. and Canada. However, critics on both the left and the right have argued that those improvements could be meaningless because the USMCA lacks teeth to enforce its labor and environmental rules. In fact, the deal relies on essentially the same country-to-country mechanism for dispute resolution that failed under NAFTA, Luis de la Calle and Arturo Sarukhan argue in a May 22 post for the Brookings Institution. Under NAFTA, companies in all three countries could raise complaints over suspected treaty violations. But the dispute resolution mechanism broke down after Mexico objected to American restrictions on sugar imports in 2000. That’s when the U.S. hit upon a strategy to freeze such complaints indefinitely by blocking the confirmation of members on the adjudicating panel assigned to the case. Since 2001, only four complaints have been lodged, and none of them have gone to a panel for resolution, Simon Lester and Inu Manak of the Cato Institute pointed out.

Fixing this missing dispute resolution piece is essentially what Democrats and organized labor are talking about when they say the pact needs stronger enforcement measures. “Our starting point is that the current enforcement procedure has not learned from past mistakes,” said Cathy Feingold, director of international development at the AFL-CIO. “If we’re going to create a new model that works for workers not just in the United States but in Mexico and Canada as well, we have to get it right this time.” But as the original hamstringing of NAFTA to protect the U.S. sugar industry suggests, not everyone is in favor of stricter enforcement. It remains to be seen if the lack of strong enforcement mechanisms will derail the deal. Trump’s willingness to start trade wars may encourage legislators to press ahead with ratification of the USMCA and defer their concerns about enforcement to the debate over the rules of implementation. Members of Congress have also come under intense pressure by trade and lobby groups that say the uncertainty over the USMCA is hurting American businesses by preventing them from planning for the future. There’s also an outside possibility Trump will put a drop-dead deadline on the new deal by formally announcing America’s withdrawal


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Mexican President-Elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador (known as AMLO) in Mexico City on July 13, 2018. Angered by the influx of Central American migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, President Trump threatened to slap tariffs on Mexican imports in June. He has since backed off that threat, although tariffs remain on the table if Trump determines that AMLO has not done enough to curb migration.

from NAFTA — which would then go into effect in six months. What’s more likely, though, is an extended debate over enforcement

provisions like the ones outlined in a proposal by Democratic Senators Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Ron Wyden of Oregon — which skep-

tics say would likely require reopening negotiations on the original pact to be meaningful. Pelosi says that Democrats “have

been on a path to yes,” and she has assigned Democratic lawmakers to four working groups to coordinate with the White House on the changes her party wants to make to provisions on labor, the environment, pharmaceuticals and enforcement. But Pelosi, who controls the fate of the agreement because only she can bring it to the floor for a vote, has yet to set a date for a ratification vote. She has said that the administration needs to reopen trade negotiations with Canada and Mexico to exact more concessions. Mexico and Canada, however, have made it clear they are not open to renegotiations. That makes ratification before 2020 an increasingly remote possibility, said Gómez-Strozzi, pointing out that if neither the House nor the Senate approves the pact before the summer recess, there may not be enough time left to ratify it before the end of the year. “That of course would take us as well into full electoral mode,” he said. “And during the campaign, candidates can state their message in whatever language they think will help get them elected — that will not necessarily align with the pros and cons of the USMCA.” WD Jason Overdorf (jasonoverdorf.com) is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C.

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CEE Kinship Central and Eastern Europe Find Kindred Spirit in Nationalist U.S. President BY ANDREW MACDOWALL


he first visit of a Hungarian prime minister to the White House in a decade and a half; 1,000 more U.S. troops set to be installed in Poland amid talk of a “Fort Trump” base in the country; and President Trump himself making a muchanalyzed speech on foreign policy in front of the Warsaw Uprising Monument. Under the Trump administration, the United States seems to be undertaking a vigorous re-engagement with Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). A number of factors are driving this, including strategic imperatives to offset the influence of other powers, business opportunities and a combination of the two, as the U.S. looks to increase its defense and energy sales in the region. But there is also a political kinship between the nationalist-populist president of the United States and his CEE counterparts, following the Obama administration’s cooler approach to countries like Hungary, which Trump’s predecessor once bracketed with Egypt for its targeting of civil society. “The Trump administration decided early on that [CEE NATO members] were going to be treated like allies, which means that they have dialogue with us, that we talk with them on a regular basis and that we receive them as allies,” said Jan Surotchak, senior director for transatlantic strategy at the D.C.-based International Republican Institute. “For many years, we were talking more regularly with the government in Tehran than we were talking with the government in Budapest. And that doesn’t strike me as a level of discourse befitting allies.” But as the negative coverage of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s visit to Washington shows, there are doubts over whether the Trump administration’s approach to CEE is constructive for either party. Questions persist about the quality of democracy in CEE countries and the enthusiastic embrace of Russia and China by leaders like Orbán. And critics suggest there is less to America’s CEE “re-engagement” than meets the eye. For example, Trump’s disdain for the European Union — indeed, his open desire for it to be weakened and even broken up — undermines a bloc that has helped bring unprecedented prosperity, security and democracy to CEE.


The Hungarian government and pro-government media billed Orbán’s visit to Washington as a great success,



President Trump gave a major foreign policy speech in front of the Warsaw Uprising Monument during his visit to Poland in July 2017.

For many years, we were talking more regularly with the government in Tehran than we were talking with the government in Budapest. And that doesn’t strike me as a level of discourse befitting allies. JAN SUROTCHAK

senior director for transatlantic strategy at the International Republican Institute

stressing not only shared economic, defense and energy interests, but “how we could cooperate in the fight against migration at international forums in the future,” in Orbán’s own words. The meeting with Trump lasted 40 minutes, around twice the expected time, and the U.S. president said that Orbán was “respected all over Europe,” adding that “probably like me, [he’s] a little bit controversial, but that’s OK.” The supportive words can be seen as a boost for Orbán, who has also drawn parallels between himself and Trump, saying that “a spiritual community is shared with him.” In a May interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa, the Hungarian prime minister said: “I fully agree with his ‘America First’ slogan, which embodies the open dec-

laration and enforcement of national interests.” On immigration, Trump has certainly found a kindred spirit in Orbán, who has erected barbed-wire fences to keep asylum-seekers out in an effort to preserve Hungary’s Christian identity. Indeed, Krzysztof Kamiński, president of the conservative Warsaw Institute think tank, said that citizens of CEE countries tend to share Trump’s opposition to illegal immigration, particularly after the 2015 refugee crisis, which revealed sharp divisions among EU member states. Furthermore, Trump’s emphasis on the nation state and hostility toward international institutions strikes a chord with some CEE leaders who complain of “interference” in their domestic affairs by the

EU and other multilateral bodies. “Attention should be drawn to President Trump’s remarks on opposition to globalism in his speech delivered before the United Nations in September 2018, in which he urged that ‘sovereign and independent nations are the only vehicle where freedom has ever survived,’” Kaminski noted. There are also commonalities between Trump’s attacks on the supposed U.S. “deep state” and similar claims by CEE leaders. Indeed, Romania’s supposedly leftist ruling party has openly compared its controversial offensive against institutions, including a powerful anti-corruption agency and the judiciary, with the U.S. president’s tense relationship with agencies such as the CIA and FBI. Poland’s conservative ruling party has long been driven by a desire to uproot the so-called “uklad” (roughly “system”) of liberal and leftist politicians and officials that it argues has run the country in its own interests since the fall of communism.


Despite Trump’s apparent fondness for strongmen like Orbán, the awkwardness of certain elements of the U.S.-Hungarian relationship are hard to gloss over. For example, while Trump has been criticized for undermining democracy

and attacking the media, American institutions have for the most part proven resilient against Trump’s controversial presidency. Hungary’s institutions, however, have not fared as well under Orbán. The far-right, self-proclaimed illiberal democrat has been accused of stifling political dissent, silencing the media and civil society, seizing control of the judiciary and eroding democratic checks and balances to consolidate power. Among these well-documented concerns are the Hungarian government’s efforts to squeeze the U.S.-backed Central European University out of the country. Then there is the Hungarian government’s relationship with Russia and China. By selling Hungary U.S. missiles and liquefied natural gas, the administration hopes to lure Budapest away from Moscow and Beijing’s orbit, but Orbán has established close ties with both nations. On Russia, Orbán has been skeptical about Western sanctions on Moscow and has pursued lucrative business partnerships with Russia. That includes an $11 billion nuclear power plant deal with Russian state-owned companies and, more recently, a deal to establish an office of Russia’s International Investment Bank in Budapest, granting it significant powers usually associated


Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of Poland’s Law and Justice Party, left, meets with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, right, on April 6, 2018. The two nationalist leaders have bonded over their anti-immigrant, euroskeptic views.

with embassies and diplomatic staff. Hungary’s decision to extradite two Russian suspected arms dealers back to Russia rather than to the U.S. also raised eyebrows. And the fact that Trump’s comments about Orbán focused on the personal

rather than the diplomatic may be significant as well. In the run-up to Orbán’s visit, four Democratic and Republican senators highlighted several of these issues in an open letter to Trump. Media coverage of the meeting

also drew attention to Trump “legitimizing” the Orbán government and his apparent willingness to turn a blind eye to Hungary’s courtship of Russia and China. But both critics and champions of the meeting may be exaggerat-

ing its significance. The Financial Times reported that one official played down the length of the meeting in advance, while congressional aides said they feared it would lack diplomatic substance. As Orbán’s opponents have pointed out, despite the Hungarian premier being the first European leader to openly declare his support for Trump in 2016, the president took more than two years to meet him and hosted other CEE leaders first. In addition, two prominent Hungarian opposition politicians were hosted by the State Department hours before Trump met Orbán, in what some have interpreted as a snub to the prime minister. Of course, to others, it is just more evidence that there is indeed a “deep state” intent on undermining certain leaders. “When they met, Orbán barely spoke and Trump dominated the part of the meeting open to the press, answering questions about Iran and China,” said Wojciech Przybylski, chairman of the Res Publica Foundation, a Warsaw-based think tank, and editor-in-chief of Visegrad Insight. “In a way, it positioned Orbán in the shadow of the conversation. I see it mostly as the U.S.A. taking steps to engage with Hungary after years of being sidelined by the U.S. administration but SEE K INS HIP • PAGE 14




President Trump — seen above with Polish President Andrzej Duda and his wife during a Polish-American reception at the White House last month and at left during his trip to Poland in July 2017 — has befriended the Polish government as a close ideological ally, although he continues to push for warmer U.S. relations with Russia.


as a part of a larger effort in the Central European region. The U.S.A. is determined to pull countries of Central Europe closer and encourage them to drop their real or potential interest with Chinese or Russian interests.” While Russia’s presence in the region is long-established, China’s interests have grown significantly in the past few years, thanks largely to its Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to build a trade and investment corridor across Eurasia. This has led to concerns that dependence on Chinese investment — and the burden of Chinese debt — could act as a “Trojan horse” for Beijing’s interests in the West. Trump has made addressing China’s growing economic ambitions and the national security risks it poses a priority for his administration, but on that front, he and Orbán clearly don’t see eye to eye. “In April, Finance Minister Mihály Varga flew to China to meet with executives from the technology giant Huawei to reaffirm Hungary’s partnership with the company despite an explicit warning from [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo that such cooperation would harm Budapest’s relationship with the United States,” wrote Melissa Hooper and Gregory Feifer in a May 11 Foreign Policy article. “Or-


Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, second from left, participates in a press conference following a meeting of leaders of the Visegrád Group, an alliance of four Central European states (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia), as well as leaders from Germany and France, on March 6, 2013.

bán himself met with Chinese President Xi Jinping that month, reinforcing Hungary’s participation in Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.”


Re-engagement with CEE seemed to take another step forward on June 12, when Polish President Andrzej Duda visited the White House and Trump announced an agreement to send 1,000 U.S. troops to Poland. The deci-


sion follows Polish lobbying for more troops to supplement the 4,500 U.S. servicemen already in the country as part of Warsaw’s quest to build a permanent base that it would call “Fort Trump,” in what many critics deride as a not-so-subtle attempt to flatter the president’s ego. The U.S. already increased its military presence in the region as part of a 2016 agreement with NATO in response to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. Today, the U.S. plays a leading role in NATO battle groups rotating through

the Baltic states, operational since 2017 and boosted this year. These are considered a “tripwire” against any potential Russian incursion into the former Soviet states. The military deployment has been coupled with redoubled efforts to sell U.S. defense equipment to CEE NATO members. Poland agreed to purchase the U.S.made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System for $414 million earlier this year, following a $4.8 billion deal to acquire Patriot missiles last year. It is also eyeing F-35

fighter jets. Meanwhile, Slovakia recently opted to buy F-16s over Swedish-made Gripens last year to replace its Russian fighter jets, a hangover from the Cold War. Bulgaria and the U.S. are also engaged in discussions over F-16 acquisitions, which sources suggest have become a defining element of Washington’s relations with Sofia, one of the more Russophile capitals in CEE. As well as boosting the bottom lines of the U.S. defense industry, these sales should help increase the in-

teroperability of regional militaries with their U.S. counterparts. As Kaminski notes, economic ties between Poland and the U.S. have been strengthened by increasing imports of U.S. liquefied natural gas through the Świnoujście LNG terminal on the Baltic Sea. The U.S. has also been supportive of the Three Seas Initiative, a strategy championed by Poland that seeks to improve energy, transportation and digital infrastructure across CEE. “Ironically, U.S. policy towards CEE under the Trump administration could be seen as a belated response to a public appeal expressed by a group of Central European personalities in a letter to Obama administration from 2009,” said Jiří Schneider, executive director of the Aspen Institute Central Europe and a former political director and first deputy minister of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Despite transactional rhetoric from the U.S. president, allocations of defense funds by the Pentagon in fact strengthen the U.S. engagement by a more robust security presence in the Eastern flank of NATO. My guess about U.S. motivation is rather about turning away from Obama policies than about ideological closeness with CEE leaders. Reengaging makes sense economically. There is a mutual interest especially in energy and defense business.”


Nonetheless, as Przybylski pointed out, the expansion of

NATO and America’s military presence in the region dates back to the Obama administration. The U.S. has also long championed the type of energy diversification facilitated by infrastructure such as the Świnoujście terminal — not so much for its own economic interests, but as a way to weaken the region’s dependence on Russian energy imports, which the Kremlin has a history of using as political leverage. And indeed, there are serious questions over the substance of Trump administration’s engagement in the region. For a start, the president’s scattergun approach to policy and disregard for detail has led to mixed messages. Trump’s apparently hawkish stance on defense sits awkwardly with his often dismissive approach to America’s NATO commitments. Aside from his regular calls for fellow member states to increase their defense spending to 2 percent of GDP, the president’s statements on, for example, new member state Montenegro seem to call into question his willingness to defend the small Balkan ally. And Trump’s enduring faith in Russian President Vladimir Putin has put him at odds with countries such as Poland, which was denied its request to build a “Fort Trump” military installation, likely because Trump doesn’t want to antagonize Moscow. And at the press conference with the Polish president, Trump even said he hopes Poland “is going to have a great relationship with Russia,” much to the chagrin of many Poles. “In a sense there’s a disconnect in the actions of the U.S. government,” said Neil Barnett, founder and CEO of Istok Associates, a London-based intelligence and investigation consultancy. “On one level, the machinery of U.S. government, the Pentagon and the State Depart-


Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in February 2016. Orbán has been skeptical about Western sanctions on Moscow and has pursued lucrative business deals with Russian state-owned companies.

ment carries on as usual,” he said, referring to the consistent support diplomats and defense officials have offered Poland and the Baltics in condemning Russian aggression in the region. On the other hand, Barnett points out that, “Trump is permanently questioning NATO, implicitly and sometimes explicitly casting doubt on Article 5 [which guarantees mutual defense]. Denigrating NATO plays into Russian interests and fits into a picture of strange unilateral actions by the U.S.” As signs of the U.S. government’s conflicted policymaking with regards to CEE, Barnett cites America’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that eliminated the threat of Russian missiles

striking Europe; the limits the administration has placed on Ukraine’s use of much-trumpeted U.S.-supplied Javelin missiles; and the easing of sanctions on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Furthermore, Trump and many of those close to him, including some senior U.S. diplomats in Europe, are openly hostile to the EU. Trump has been a vocal cheerleader for Brexit, which would see the EU lose a large and influential member that has historically promoted the transatlantic alliance. CEE governments in particular are increasingly skeptical of greater centralization of power in Brussels, and in some cases have been at loggerheads with EU institutions.

But public support for EU membership in CEE remains high, largely because of the economic and institutional benefits that it has brought. No government in the region supports the bloc’s breakup, and all at least nominally supported the U.K.’s continued membership. “At the moment, President Trump is directly interfering in British politics with support for [euroskeptic politicians] Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, and his henchman Steve Bannon is trying to organize the populist right in Europe, which ultimately is trying to destroy the EU,” said Barnett, who has worked extensively on Russian influence in the politics of other countries. “If you look at the actions of the White House, it’s about decoupling European states from each other, and the U.S. from Europe. It’s the atomization of Western democracies, and this is a primary objective of Russian foreign policy.” Schneider warns that in this volatile international environment, engagement both among EU member states and between the EU and the U.S. should remain paramount, but Trump has injected perpetual uncertainty into the mix. “CEE states’ strategic interest lies not in their bilateral relations with the U.S., but in maintaining the transatlantic bond and the whole of the EU,” he said, warning that if relations between the EU and U.S. deteriorate, “it would be bad for Poland and Baltic states, for example, no matter how special their bilateral relations with the U.S. are.” WD Andrew MacDowall (@andrewmacdowall) is a correspondent and analyst focusing on Central and Eastern Europe who has contributed to publications including The Guardian, Financial Times and Politico Europe.



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Finnish Pragmatism Finns Take Low-Key Approach to Arctic, Russia, Other Issues as They Assume EU Presidency BY ANNA GAWEL


inns are the happiest people on the planet, according to the World Happiness Report. (They were also the happiest last year.) When asked about the ranking, Finnish Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi smiled, as apparently any proper Finn should. “They must have taken that survey in the summer,” Kauppi laughed, modestly shrugging off Finland’s latest accolade. “Or perhaps they mixed us up with Sweden.” That may well be true, given that many Americans tend to lump the Nordic countries together (all five of which also placed in the top 10), because they consistently rank high for their strong social safety nets, emphasis on work-life balance, transparent governments, universal health care, long life expectancies and unrivaled education systems. But even the happiest people on earth have their problems. Generous social benefits aren’t free and with an aging population, Finland must figure out how to keep paying for its cradle-to-grave welfare system. Meanwhile, anti-immigrant, anti-establishment populist parties have gained a foothold in the country of 5.5 million, challenging Finland’s longstanding – and long-cherished – assumptions about the state’s role in its citizens’ lives. Historically, Finland has had to balance its relations with the West and Russia, a fine line it continues to walk today as it contends with a revanchist Russian president and an isolationist American president. And when it comes to Donald Trump, Finland, like much of Europe, is struggling to manage the yawning chasm in policy differences with the White House on issues such as free trade, human rights, Iran, multilateralism and climate change.


On the latter, those differences were laid bare in May at a meeting of the Arctic Council, a grouping of eight nations that border the polar region. The council, which has been chaired by Finland for the last two years, largely focuses on scientific collaboration and environmental issues, which are especially critical because the Arctic is warming twice as fast as any other part of the planet. That warming accelerates the effects of climate change elsewhere, from brutal heat waves and cold snaps to flooding and droughts.


I don’t think Finns would say that we are the happiest country in the world, but we certainly have all the reasons to be very, very happy. We are a stable country, prosperous, with a very high level of equality. We are very close to nature, and we have a secure and good everyday life. KIRSTI KAUPPI

ambassador of Finland to the United States

Yet Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointedly fought to leave out any reference to climate change or the Paris accord in the final declaration. Instead, he condemned Russia and China (which has observer status in the council) for “aggressive” actions in the Arctic while touting the economic opportunities that retreating ice has opened up, including new shipping routes and the potential to extract untapped reserves of oil, gas, fish, diamonds, gold and rare-earth minerals. The fact that Pompeo talked about the opportunities created by melting ice while adamantly refusing to even mention climate change was more than ironic considering that climate change is precisely the reason why that ice is melting.

Kauppi said that despite the disagreement, the council was ultimately able to produce a declaration, although she admitted it was weaker than what members had hoped for.

ALSO SEE: Centennial Celebration PAGE 19

“The fact that we couldn’t agree on a substantive declaration was obviously a disappointment. [But] it was not totally unexpected in the sense that we of course have known what the U.S. administration’s climate policies are,” she told us during an

interview at the Finnish Embassy, a contemporary, glass-enclosed structure on Observatory Circle whose eco-friendly design evokes the Finns’ love of nature. Kauppi conceded that access to new shipping lanes and natural resources is an inevitable reality of climate change, but she stressed that governments must capitalize on those opportunities in a sustainable manner, both in terms of preserving the Arctic’s fragile ecosystem and respecting the indigenous people who live there. “For us, the environmental and climate aspect is the primary lens through which we look at the Arctic,” she said, adding that “when the Arctic changes, it catalyzes climate change elsewhere.” But Pompeo suggested the U.S. might want to expand the council’s mandate to encompass security issues, alarming the seven other members when he said the region could become the next frontier in “global power and competition.” “Do we want the Arctic Ocean to transform into a new South China Sea, fraught with militarization and competing territorial claims?” Pompeo asked in a speech prior to the council meeting. “We know Russian territorial ambitions can turn violent,” he added, referring to Russian meddling in Ukraine. “Just because SEE F INL AND • PAGE 18 JULY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 17

Helsinki is the capital and most populous city in Finland, which consistently ranks at the top of surveys that rate countries by quality-of-life indicators such as education, social benefits and health care.


the Arctic is a place of wilderness does not mean it should become a place of lawlessness.” Pompeo’s warnings of a military buildup in the Arctic were again somewhat ironic given that the U.S. has deployed its own assets to the region, launching new military exercises and expanding Coast Guard and icebreaker operations. Indeed, a June report released by the Defense Department says the U.S. “must be able to deter, and if necessary, defeat great power aggression,” erode China and Russia’s competitive edge, and develop “a more lethal, resilient, agile, and ready” strategy to ensure “our military sustains its competitive advantages.” Still, the U.S. has yet to commit significant money or resources to the region. And despite the saber-rattling, Kauppi said that, “We believe it is still possible to keep the Arctic very much a region of low tension,” emphasizing that dialogue, transparency and confidence-building measures are key to keeping those tensions in check. In the meantime, “the concrete work of the Arctic Council will continue as is,” she said. That includes practical areas of cooperation such as “search and rescue and oil spills and so on that are absolutely within the purview of the Arctic Council.” But the mandate “states explicitly that the Arctic Council doesn’t include military issues,” added Kauppi, whose previous postings include Austria, Germany, Thailand and Brussels, where she was head of the EU’s common foreign and security policy coordination with Helsinki. But the ambassador acknowledged the reality that various actors are fortifying


their military presence in the hotly contested region. That includes not only the Americans, but also the Russians, whose assets such as submarines and reopened bases far outweigh America’s presence. While Kauppi called Russia’s Arctic expansion concerning, “I would say that to some extent the Russian buildup is understandable because there are going to be more and more actors in the region…. They have a long Arctic coastline that they want to protect,” she told us, noting that Russia’s biggest nuclear weapons arsenal is located in the Arctic.


The ambassador’s conciliatory words about Russia, which stand in stark contrast to Pompeo’s rhetoric, in part reflects Finland’s complex and closely intertwined history with its much larger neighbor. After Finland declared its independence in 1917 (with help from Soviet Bolsheviks) following the abdication of Russia’s last czar, the fledging state descended into a brief civil war. During World War II, Finland managed to retain its independence while resisting repeated invasions by the Soviet Union, although it did lose some territory to the Soviets. Finland then joined the United Nations in 1955 and established an official policy of neutrality, although the Soviet Union still wielded influence in the country. In 1995, Finland joined the European Union and became the first Nordic country to adopt the euro in 1999. Today, Finland walks a precarious tightrope between the EU, NATO and U.S. on one hand, and Russia on the other. Kauppi said Finland is a strong supporter of NATO but has no desire to join the security bloc, a move that would antagonize Moscow.



Finns are known for their love of nature, ranging from the Arctic Lapland region, above, where the Northern Lights can be seen, to the country’s vast forests.

sia. However, we formulate our Russia policies together with the other EU countries. But since we are neighbors, we have quite a lot of dialogue with Russia and we have to take care of many concrete, practical issues, like that the border functions well.”


“There is no strong feeling that we are somehow in a bad place as far as our security is concerned. I think it is a very natural reaction for people to think that if you are OK, why change the situation,” Kauppi said. “So that’s why the public opinion is not keen on NATO membership. But the public opinion is very much supportive of a robust national defense, which we have, and very strong partnerships with NATO, with the EU, with the U.S. and with the Nordic countries.” Kauppi said that Finland’s “posture vis-à-vis Russia is the same as the rest of Europe and [the U.S.], and that is you have to be strong

yourself, resilient, know what you want, defend your interests and in some senses show strength.” She noted for example that even though Western sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Crimea have hurt Finland economically, the country continues to support those sanctions because the “annexation of a friendly country by Russia was such a breach of international law that there had to be very clear consequences.” At the same time, “Finns also want to have a wellfunctioning relationship with Russia, who is our immediate neighbor. We have the longest border of any EU or NATO country with Rus-

Finland’s emphasis on practical cooperation is an overriding theme as it takes over the rotating six-month presidency of the European Union this month for the third time. The EU presidency is no longer as powerful as it once was, and because coalitions in the newly elected EU Parliament are still in flux, Finland’s presidency won’t be introducing any splashy new initiatives. But Kauppi said the country’s presidency will emphasize three general areas: growth, security and climate. Under growth, she said Finland will continue the EU’s work on a “rules-based multilateral trading system,” which includes new free trade agreements (the bloc just inked one with Singa-

pore). “The other big area under growth is the single market, which is I would say the beating heart of the European Union. And it’s a work in progress,” Kauppi said, noting that the bloc still needs to establish “a real European single market on the digital side.” The EU has already made progress on that front with its pioneering General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to regulate data privacy, but Kauppi said the bloc needs to go further in creating common rules to regulate digital trade between American and EU companies. Under security, the goal is to enhance defense cooperation among EU member states without overlapping the work of NATO, but rather complementing it. Then there’s climate, Finland’s area of expertise. Kauppi admitted that President Trump’s withdrawal from the landmark Paris climate accord threw a wrench in the global effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions. “We of course regretted the decision of the U.S. to withdraw because we do think that agreements like the Paris agreement, even if it is not very strong in the sense that it [lacks] binding obligations, are very important in building up the momentum for action against climate change,” she told us. “And with the U.S. withdrawing, it of course weakens that international push and pull toward more ambitious action.” On the flip side, “there might be a silver lining in the sense that the withdrawal has also resulted in more determined action by some other actors,” she said, citing large cities and small states that have teamed up to tackle the issue. “I know that people feel very frustrated because it’s difficult to see how you can make an impact, but there is the personal level, there is

the community level, the national level, for us there is the EU level and then the global level. When these add up, the impact is there.” Kauppi pointed out for example that international cooperation with U.S. cities and states has continued, especially when it comes to sharing new eco-friendly technologies. On that note, she cited the example of black carbon in the Arctic caused by soot, which lands on the ice and accelerates melting because instead of reflecting sunlight, the ice absorbs heat. Soot comes from coal-fired power plants, gas-flaring and other sources that “would be relatively easy to stop,” Kauppi explained, because it involves replacing old-fashioned technologies, which would ultimately result in cost savings. “The beauty … is that it would have an almost immediate impact and it would also improve the health conditions of the people living in the Arctic.” The ambassador said such actions are important to show that bolstering economic growth and fighting climate change are not antithetical, but rather mutually reinforcing. “I think what we have shown, in the Nordic countries especially, is that you can combine a very strong focus and real improvement in the environmental and climate conditions of your society — really reducing emissions, reducing pollution, reducing harmful activities — and at the same time have growth and a very vibrant economy. So it is not only environmentally beneficial but also economically beneficial to invest in the green economy,” she said. “It brings a lot of other benefits — basically a better quality of life in many senses.”


Finland at a Glance Independence Day Dec. 6, 1917 (from Russia) Location Northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, between Sweden and Russia

Centennial Celebration

Flag of Finland


Capital Helsinki


Population 5.5 million (July 2018 estimate) Ethnic groups Finn, Swede, Russian, Estonian, Romani, Sami

Religious groups Lutheran 70.9 percent,

Greek Orthodox 1.1 percent, other 1.7 percent, unspecified 26.3 percent (2017 estimate)

GDP (purchasing power parity) $124.9 billion (2017 estimate)

GDP per-capita (PPP) $44,500 (2017 estimate)


GDP growth 2.8 percent (2017 estimate) Unemployment 8.5 percent (2017 estimate) Population below poverty line Not Available Industries metals and metal products, elec-

tronics, machinery and scientific instruments, shipbuilding, pulp and paper, foodstuffs, chemicals, textiles, clothing SOURCE: CIA WORLD FACTBOOK


And when it comes to quality of life, the Finns know what they’re talking about, consistently ranking at the top of many well-being indexes, along with their Nordic counterparts. “I don’t think Finns would say that we are the happiest country in the world, but we certainly have all the reasons to be very, very happy,” Kauppi said. “We are a stable country, prosperous, with a very high level of equality. We are very close to nature, and we have a secure and good everyday life. I think equality is a big part of it, and I think also the environmental piece of it.” But not everyone in Finland is satisfied. As elsewhere on the continent, the rise of populism has inspired many Finns to question the country’s long tradition of tolerance and progressivism. Those doubts exploded during the 2015 refugee crisis that saw over 1 million asylumseekers swamp Europe. “We normally get about 3,000 to 5,000 asylum applications a year, and in 2015, in about four months, we got about 33,000. So if you take that proportionately to the U.S., it would have meant that the U.S. would have gotten in four months I think 1.6 million asylum applications,” said Kauppi, who, before coming to Washington, served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as director general for Africa and the Middle East from 2009 to 2012 and political director from 2012 to 2015. “At that time, it was a huge challenge simply to provide beds and infrastructure and then to start to vet the applications, and that is still going on” — as are integration efforts, she said. “It’s a huge task.” But tensions have cooled since then. “People were worried at the time because there was no end in sight,” Kauppi said. “But we are back to the old numbers now as far as asylum-seekers are concerned.” The ambassador said that while the EU failed in many respects — for example in convincing member states to share the refugee burden — the crisis showed that people wanted “more robust EU action,” not less, and that since the refugee crisis and Brexit,


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the Arctic Council ministerial meeting on May 7 in Finland. Pompeo refused to mention climate change in his remarks and warned that the Arctic was becoming a new zone of geopolitical competition.

“support for the European Union has actually gone up.”


But euro-skeptic parties continue to gain traction, even in pro-EU countries like Finland. In elections this past April, the Finns, a right-wing populist party, just narrowly lost to the center-left Social Democrats, coming in a close second. Like many other populist parties, the Finns campaigned on an anti-immigrant platform, but notably, it also denounced Finland’s ambitious climate policies, arguing that they were costly, unnecessary and hurting the working class. Kauppi said that while the election revealed sharp differences among the electorate, she cautioned that it did signify a major shift in priorities. “We have to remember that the [Finns] Party gained less than 18 percent of the vote, so I wouldn’t say that on the climate issues there is any big change in the public opinion,” she told us. “I think one of the main points of the party … was that whatever action Finland takes is not going to solve the climate issue at large and therefore we shouldn’t take action that hurts the Finnish economy,” Kauppi said. “However, our experience is that actually our very progressive environmental policy has benefited the Finnish economy. In other

words, we have been at the forefront of green technologies and we have gained new markets and new opportunities through investing in climate-friendly technologies and actions.” And while the upstart populist party gained a significant foothold, Finland’s center held together, with the winning Social Democrats cobbling together a coalition with four other smaller parties. That means a Social Democrat is set to become Finland’s first leftist prime minister in 20 years. The previous center-right government fell in part because it proposed austerity measures such as benefit cuts and pension freezes to curb the national debt and spur investment. Under the new government, the pendulum will swing the other way, with the Social Democrats reportedly planning to hike taxes to increase social spending in a bid to strengthen Finland’s expansive welfare system. But Kauppi said the country is still committed to “sticking to EU rules” by keeping its debt under control. She admitted, however, that preserving generous social benefits for an aging population while maintaining low levels of debt and a competitive economy is “a very tricky equation” — one that is perplexing many developed nations. She suggested that one possible solution to preserve Finland’s social safety net would SEE F I N L A N D • PAGE 20

It’s been centennial overload for Finland recently. In 2017, the country celebrated its 100th anniversary of independence. And this year, it’s commemorating 100 years of relations with the United States. To mark the occasion, the Finnish Embassy teamed up with the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs to host an exhibition at the U.S. Diplomacy Center chronicling major milestones in the 100-year relationship. “One hundred years ago today on May 7, 1919, the United States recognized Finland in a letter from Secretary of State Robert Lansing to Foreign Minister Rudolf Holsti,” said Michael Murphy, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. Murphy spoke to a small audience, including Finnish Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi and former U.S. Ambassador to Finland James Goodby, gathered at the U.S. Diplomacy Center, a sleek, sunlightbathed museum next to the State Department that is dedicated to the history and challenges of American diplomacy. “Our two nations shared many great moments over the past 100 years,” Murphy, a 27-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service, said, adding that Finland and the U.S. have contributed to “growing peace, prosperity and security for our peoples” and “expanded personal freedoms and promoted democratic values across the globe.” Murphy noted that over 750 Finnish students study at U.S. universities, while more than 450 American students attend Finnish universities. In addition, 200,000 Finns visit the U.S. each year, while about 230,000 Americans travel to Finland. And roughly 700,000 Americans trace their ancestry to this Nordic nation of just over 5 million. On the economic front, Finnish foreign direct investment to the U.S. totals $13.3 billion and FinnishSEE CENT ENNIAL • PAGE 20



be to “find a system that makes it more incentivizing. That is one of the big efforts, and actually our experiment with basic universal income was related to that objective.”


That two-year experiment gave about 2,000 unemployed Finns a guaranteed monthly income of about $600, which they kept even if they found work. The goal was to give the unemployed time to learn new skills or apply for jobs they might not normally consider without fear of losing their benefits. The results of the experiment, released earlier this year, showed that while recipients reported feeling happier and less stressed, employment levels did not rise, disappointing some proponents of the plan. Kauppi said her government is still analyzing the results, but she pointed out that the experiment did illustrate the importance of being mobile and flexible in today’s fastpaced work environment — one in which the gig economy and automation are upending many industries. “Everybody will have to change professions and jobs many more times than we are used to, and sometimes those new jobs don’t provide you with a living wage,” Kauppi said, “so somehow the society has to make sure


The main building of the Finnish Parliament is seen above. Following elections in April, the winning center-left Social Democrats cobbled together a ruling coalition with four smaller parties, marking the first time in 20 years that Finland will have a leftist prime minister.

that people have the chance to go forward with new opportunities without losing basic security.” Finland, which is the first European country to test out the increasingly popular idea of a guaranteed basic income, takes a novel approach to ensure the well-being of its citizens. And one of the more unusual ways that the country establishes trust among its citizens is by revealing what everyone pays in taxes dur-

ing an idiosyncratic annual ritual known as National Jealousy Day. One day each year, everyone in Finland can scour a massive data dump to see what every single one of their countrymen paid in income tax — regardless whether that person is a janitor, CEO or celebrity. The idea is not to foster jealousy, but rather temper it by demonstrating that everyone, including the wealthy, are paying their fair share

— “so there’s total transparency,” Kauppi said. “Now, the jealousy aspect of it, I think it’s a little bit of a joke. Traditionally there was this dimension in Finnish society that wealth, especially inherited wealth, because of our strong emphasis on equality, was looked at as not necessarily a positive thing,” she said, noting that while times have changed, the public disclosure of everyone’s income taxes reinforces the importance Finns place on equality. “And of course people are curious,” the ambassador smiled wryly. The concept of exposing what everyone paid in income taxes certainly wouldn’t go down so well here in the U.S. — and especially not with this current administration, which has fought tooth and nail to keep President Trump’s tax records from the public eye. The fact that in the past, U.S. presidents routinely disclosed their tax forms is just one of the many ways this presidency has shattered all political norms and conventions. Kauppi — who’s been ambassador to the U.S. since 2015 and served here during a prior stint in the late 1990s — admits that we’re living through some interesting times in Washington. And while she describes this posting as the privilege of a lifetime, she says that she could “be happy with a little bit less interesting times.” But as she thinks about wherever her next posting might be, “I really realize that we have very turbulent times everywhere. It’s very exceptional and a little bit too interesting times everywhere.” WD Anna Gawel (@diplomatnews) is the managing editor of The Washington Diplomat.

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Michael Murphy, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs; Ambassador of Finland Kirsti Kauppi; and former U.S. Ambassador to Finland James Goodby attend a reception at the U.S. Diplomacy Center celebrating 100 years of U.S.Finnish relations.

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owned companies employ nearly 30,000 people in the United States. On the security front, Murphy praised Finland’s support of NATO and its hosting of the European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats. Of course, Finland’s connections to the U.S. go far beyond politics. The Finns have left an indelible mark on something many Americans hold near and dear to their hearts: their sports teams. Nearly a dozen Finnish hockey players have won Stanley Cup titles, and Finland has produced more NHL goaltenders than any other European nation.

On the flip side, Finnish sports have been influenced by Americans as well. Pesäpallo, for example, is a fast-moving bat-and-ball sport that is modeled after American baseball and is considered Finland’s national pastime. “Our sports teams are better thanks to Finns and not just in hockey,” Murphy said. “Finnish basketball star Lauri Markkanen is doing a great job with the Chicago Bulls and teaching his teammates Finnish while he is at it. “And, of course, Finland gave us the word ‘sauna,’” Murphy added. “I have it on good authority that an induction into the ‘Diplomatic Sauna Society’ at the Finnish Embassy is one of the hottest tickets in Washington, D.C. — and I stand ready to receive my invitation at any time.”

— Anna Gawel

Europe | WD

Battle in the Pipeline U.S. Ratchets Up Pressure to Derail Nord Stream 2 Pipeline Between Germany and Russia BY JOHN BRINKLEY


he United States and Russia are locked in an economic and geopolitical power struggle over which of them will be Western Europe’s principal supplier of natural gas. Russia is winning. Gazprom, a government-backed energy conglomerate, expects to finish building a second natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany by the end of 2019 (although the project could be delayed until 2020). U.S. senators and House members from both parties have introduced legislation they hope will thwart completion of the pipeline, called Nord Stream 2. Supporters, including President Trump, say the pipeline would make Germany — and by extension Europe — overly dependent on Russia for natural gas and that Russia might use Nord Stream 2 as a political weapon by opening and closing the tap as it sees fit, as it has done before. The €9.5 billion project would also bypass Ukraine, robbing the country of lucrative transit fees. But that’s one of the appeals for Russia, which would have a more reliable route to increase Europe’s supply of cheap Russian gas, helping the continent meet rising demand. Germany, Russia’s biggest buyer of natural gas, also likes the project because it would double the amount of gas piped straight to the country, which is trying to wean itself off coal and nuclear energy. But Eastern European nations worry Nord Stream 2 will increase their reliance on Russia at a time of increasing tensions between the West and Moscow. U.S. officials agree, arguing that the project is not in keeping with the European Union’s policy of energy security and supply diversification. They want the EU to buy more natural gas from the United States, which is the world’s largest producer of it. Russia is the second-largest producer, but the largest exporter, owing to its extensive network of pipelines. Another motivation for the United States is that China, the world’s largest gas importer, imposed a 25 percent tariff on U.S. liquefied natural gas imports on June 1 in response to Trump’s tariffs. Those imports have all but stopped as a result. Leading the charge in the Senate are Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, whose home state of Texas is the leading producer of U.S. natural gas, and Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, whose home state of New Hampshire pro-

Officials from France, Germany, the Netherlands, the European Union and Russia turn a wheel to symbolically start the flow of gas through the first line of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline on Nov. 8, 2011.

Questions of European energy policy must be decided in Europe, not in the U.S….. To impose unilateral sanctions against Nord Stream 2 is certainly not the way to go. HEIKO MAAS

foreign affairs minister of Germany

duces none. They have introduced a bill that would impose economic sanctions against the owners of vessels that participate in the laying of the pipeline under the Baltic Sea. Those owners would be banned from entering the United States and any assets they have in the U.S. would be frozen. One of the cosponsors of their bill is Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, also a large gas-producing state. The sanctions would primarily target Switzerland’s Allseas Group and Italy’s Saipem, two of only a handful of companies with the technical expertise to operate pipe-laying vessels. On May 22, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously approved a bill by U.S. Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.) that calls on the secretary of state and the director of national in-

telligence to work to stop construction of Nord Stream 2 and to apprise Congress of their efforts within 90 days of the bill’s enactment. It calls for diplomacy, not sanctions. Former President Barack Obama also opposed construction of Nord Stream 2, but he did not impose sanctions. Jens Mueller, a spokesman for the Nord Stream 2 project, said in an email that, “We are aware of the ongoing debates, but do not speculate about potential U.S. sanctions.” He suggested, though, that the companies working on the project would not be deterred by U.S. objections. “Western European energy companies from Austria, Germany, France, the U.K. and the Netherlands have committed to invest almost €1 billion


each in the project, and more than 670 companies from 25 countries work on it,” Mueller said. “This has led to thousands of jobs and economic growth across Europe. All of these companies are fully committed to seeing the project completed. It is progressing according to the schedule.” Czech President Miloš Zeman said in an interview with the Czech News Agency in Prague that he saw “no reason whatsoever” why the “big brother on the other side of the ocean” should intervene in the Nord Stream 2 project. He said the price difference between getting natural gas from Russia through a pipe and shipping it from the United States was “too big to ignore.” To sell U.S. natural gas to the EU, American energy companies have to transport it via pipeline to a liquefaction facility at or near a major shipping port, then load the LNG onto a tanker and ship it across the Atlantic to an LNG terminal in Europe, where it would be returned to gaseous form. Charlie Riedl, executive director of the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas in Washington, declined to comment on the anti-Nord Stream 2 bills in Congress, but he said there was SEE NOR D S T R EAM • PAGE 24 JULY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 21

WD | Global Vantag e Point

Money for Everyone? Op-Ed: Why Universal Basic Income Is a Bad Idea Economically and Politically BY DARON ACEMOGLU


ne should always be wary of simple solutions to complex problems, and universal basic income (UBI) is no exception. The fact that this answer to automation and globalization has been met with such enthusiasm indicates a breakdown not in the economic system, but in democratic politics and civic life. Owing to the inadequacy of the social safety net in the United States and other developed countries, proposals for a UBI are gaining in popularity. The gap between the rich and everyone else has expanded significantly in recent years, and many fear that automation and globalization will widen it further. To be sure, if the only choice is between mass impoverishment and a UBI, a UBI is preferable. Such a program would allow people to spend their money on whatever they value most. It would create a broad sense of ownership and a new constituency to shake up the system of big-money politics. Studies of conditional cashtransfer programs in developing economies have found that such policies can empower women and other marginalized groups. But UBI is a flawed idea, not least because it would be prohibitively expensive unless accompanied by deep cuts to the rest of the safety net. In the U.S. (population: 327 million), a UBI of just $1,000 per month would cost around $4 trillion per year, which is close to the entire federal budget in 2018. Without major cost savings, U.S. federal tax revenue would have to be doubled, which would impose massive distortionary costs on the economy. And, no, a permanent UBI could not be financed with government debt or newly printed currency. Sacrificing all other social programs for the sake of a UBI is a terrible idea. Such programs exist to address specific problems, such as the vulnerability of the elderly, children and disabled people. Imagine living in a society where children still go hungry, and where those with severe health conditions are deprived of adequate care, because all the tax revenue has gone to sending monthly checks to every citizen, millionaires and billionaires included. Although UBI makes for a good slogan, it is a poorly designed policy. Basic economic theory implies that taxes on income are distortionary inasmuch as they discourage work and investment. Moreover, governments should avoid transfers to the same people from whom they collect rev-



Universal basic income proposals have all the hallmarks of the “bread and circuses” used by the Roman and Byzantine Empires — handouts to defuse discontent and mollify the masses, rather than providing them with economic opportunities and political agency. enue, but that is precisely what a UBI would do. In the U.S., for example, around three-quarters of households pay at least some federal income or payroll taxes, and an even greater share pays state taxes. Besides, a more sensible policy is already on offer: a negative income tax, or what is sometimes called “guaranteed basic income.” Rather than giving everyone $1,000 per month, a guaranteed income program would offer transfers only to individuals whose monthly income is below $1,000, thereby coming in at a mere fraction of a UBI’s cost. UBI advocates would argue that non-universal transfer programs are less attractive because voters will not embrace them as enthusiastically. But this criticism is unfounded. Guaranteed basic income is just as universal as national health insurance, which does not dispense monthly payments to everyone, but rather benefits any-

one who has incurred medical costs. The same is true of programs that unconditionally guarantee support for basic needs, such as food for the hungry and unemployment insurance for the jobless. Such policies are widely popular in the countries that have them. Finally, much of the enthusiasm for UBI is based on a misreading of employment trends in advanced economies. Contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence that work as we know it will disappear any time soon. Automation and globalization are indeed restructuring work, eliminating certain types of jobs and increasing inequality. But rather than build a system where a large fraction of the population receives handouts, we should be adopting measures to encourage the creation of “middle class” jobs with good pay, while strengthening our ailing social safety net. UBI does none of this.

In the U.S., the top policy goals should be universal health care, more generous unemployment benefits, better-designed retraining programs and an expanded earned income tax credit (EITC). The EITC already functions like a guaranteed basic income for low-wage workers, costs far less than a UBI and directly encourages work. On the business side, reducing the indirect costs and payroll taxes that employers pay for hiring workers would spur job creation, also at a pittance of the cost of a UBI. With higher minimum wages to prevent employers from freeriding on workers’ tax credits, an expanded EITC and reduced payroll taxes would go a long way toward creating worthwhile jobs at all levels of the income distribution. Equally important, these solutions leverage democratic politics. The same cannot be said for a UBI, which is parachuted from above as a way of placating the discontented masses. It neither empowers nor even consults the people it aims to help. (Do workers who have lost their middle class jobs want government transfers or an opportunity to get another job?) As such, UBI proposals have all the hallmarks of the “bread and circuses” used by the Roman and Byzantine Empires — handouts to defuse discontent and mollify the masses, rather than providing them with SEE INCOM E • PAGE 46

Global Vantag e Point | WD

Taking on Tehran Op-ed: Between Costly War or Unlikely Regime Change Lies a Third Option: JCPOA 2.0 BY RICHARD N. HAASS


resident Donald Trump’s administration has singled out Iran — even more than Russia, China or North Korea — with sustained pressure over the past two and a half years. The United States has withdrawn from the 2015 nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA); designated an arm of Iran’s military (the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) as a foreign terrorist organization; imposed economic sanctions against nearly 1,000 individuals and entities; and taken steps to make it extremely difficult for Iran to sell its oil. U.S. policy is working, in the sense that most countries (including those that disagree with Trump’s policy) have judged it better to maintain trade and investment ties with the U.S. than with Iran. Iran’s oil exports are down sharply, and its economic isolation is real and growing. The economy contracted some 4 percent in 2018 and is projected to shrink as much as another 6 percent this year. The currency is plummeting. There are reports of price spikes, shortages of food and medicine, and reduced financial transfers to Hezbollah and various militias central to Iran’s attempts to exert influence around the region. But if the pressure is clear, its purpose is not. Many in the Trump administration appear to favor regime change. But this is unlikely to happen. Forty years after the revolution that ousted the U.S.-backed Shah, Iran’s unique political-religious system and government appears strong enough to withstand U.S. maximum pressure campaign and to ride out the country’s current economic difficulties. A more likely outcome is that U.S. economic warfare will lead to actual warfare. Iran has made it clear that it will not just absorb pain; it will mete it out as well. Iran was almost certainly involved in recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and drone strikes on a Saudi airport launched by Yemen’s Houthis. Iran’s government also has announced its intention to break out gradually from the nuclear constraints imposed by the JCPOA. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran is slowly increasing its production of nuclear fuel. The country also appears determined to bring the level of its uranium enrichment closer to weapons grade. All this raises the risk of a costly conflict between Iran and one or more of its neighbors or the U.S. Such

Above, a U.S. Navy convoy traverses the Strait of Hormuz, a major international chokepoint for oil shipments and the site of recent tensions with Iran. At left, President Trump announces America’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran on May 8, 2018.


a conflict would almost certainly escalate and spread, leaving the U.S., Israel and Iran worse off. Somewhere between a costly war and an unlikely regime change lies a third possibility, one that would require Trump to explore diplomacy. He changed course with North Korea; he could do the same with Iran. The Trump administration’s criticism of the JCPOA was more right than wrong. While the agreement did reduce Iran’s nuclear capabilities and increase the time it would need to develop nuclear weapons, the constraints it accepted were relatively short-lived, due to expire over the next decade. At that point, Iran could remain within the accord yet put into place all it would need to build a nuclear inventory with little or no warning. This did not justify U.S.

withdrawal from the JCPOA, especially given that Iran was in compliance with it, but it does make a strong case for renegotiation. That opportunity still exists. Despite the failure of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent attempt to mediate between the U.S. and Iran, diplomatic prospects have arguably improved, in part because the sanctions are biting. The Trump administration has expressed a willingness to talk with Iran’s government without preconditions. Iran has so far rejected talks, but that might change if the U.S. indicates that a degree of sanctions relief would be on the table. The time has come for such a diplomatic overture. Think of it as JCPOA 2.0. The accord’s provisions restraining Iran’s nuclear activities — above all its centrifuges and nuclear fuel —


would be extended well into the future. A revised agreement would also restrain Iran’s ballistic missile program. In return, Iran would receive relief from many of the sanctions that have been introduced. The U.S. could also formalize Trump’s statement that he seeks policy change, not regime change. There is a good chance the European participants in the original negotiations — Britain, France, Germany and the European Union — would sign on to such an approach. Submitting a revised accord to Congress for its formal approval would signal that the U.S. would not walk away a second time. Some sanctions would and should stay in place, however, given Iranian activities in the region. In principle, one could imagine a negotiation that would offer to remove all sanctions in exchange for a cessation of Iran’s efforts in Syria and Yemen, an end to its support of terrorism and the introduction of liberal political reforms at home. But this would have no chance of succeeding. All-or-nothing diplomacy will produce nothing. As was the case with arms control beSEE T EHR AN • PAGE 47 JULY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 23

Nord Stream CONTINUED • PAGE 21

enough demand for natural gas in Europe to sustain pipelines and LNG imports. U.S. LNG already “is going to Europe in great volumes,” he added. During the first quarter of 2019, France, Spain, Italy and the U.K. were among the world’s largest importers of U.S. LNG, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Owing to increasing demand from those and other EU countries, in part due to rapidly diminishing natural gas production in Western Europe, “Europe is the number one destination” for U.S. LNG exports, Riedl said. “The number is growing, and it really depends on seasonality now.” During the winter months, when demand is high, “LNG is absolutely competitive with pipeline gas” in Europe, he said. Germany imports no LNG. It gets more than 50 percent of its natural gas from Russia via the existing Nord Stream pipeline. When Nord Stream 2 comes online,

it will get more than 80 percent from Russia. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has acknowledged the political risk of being more dependent on Russia for natural gas, but she said Nord Stream 2 was economically necessary, nonetheless. “If we stop using nuclear and coal energy, we have to switch to using gas as a source of energy. This is why I have always said that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline should be built, apart from transit through Ukraine,” she said on June 4. Because Nord Stream 2 will bypass Ukraine, it will allow Gazprom to cut off its gas supply to its archenemy without affecting Germany or Western Europe. It has done so several times already, most recently in March 2018, when frigid winter weather makes gas for heat a necessity. The government closed all schools in the country. In each case, Gazprom said it was turning off the gas because Ukraine hadn’t paid enough for it. Gazprom is the sole stockholder in Nord Stream 2. “Gazprom’s pipelines to Europe were recently decried as of doubtful commercial value by Russian experts,” said Constanze Stelzenmüller of the Brookings Institution


At left, in the early hours of April 18, 2012, workers celebrate welding pipe number 99,953, the last pipe of Line 2 that was then lowered onto Although every effort is made to assure your ad is free of mistakes in spelling the seabed off content it is ultimately up to the customer to make the the final proof. coast of Gotland, Sweden.

The first two faxed changes will be made at no cost to the advertiser, subsequent changes will be billed at a rate of $75 per faxed alteration. Signed ads are considered approved. in a December 2018 report. political reservations. More Please check of thethis ad carefully. Mark any changes to your ad. “But geopolitically, they are than 1,000 kilometers pipeline hugely useful tools of control 1,230-kilometer If the ad is already correctbeen signlaid and fax to: (301) 949-0065 needs changes have down and coercion.” On the flip side, Western in the Baltic Sea. With natural gas production declining, (301) 933-3552 Europe would no longerThe be Washington Diplomat held hostage to disputes be- Western Europe needs cheap tween Ukraine and Russia. gas — and another pipeline Approved in the__________________________________________________________ mix would reduce the Moreover, Russian President Changes cost___________________________________________________________ of natural gas. Moreover, Vladimir Putin is determined because it is 2,000 kilometo complete the project, even ___________________________________________________________________ if it means Gazprom has to ters shorter than the existing Ukrainian route, Nord foot more of the bill. In the end, practical con- Stream 2 is the quickest way siderations are likely to trump to deliver Russian natural gas, further keeping prices down for consumers. Finally, with Trump attacking Germany throughout his presidency, there’s also an element of national pride and sovereignty, especially after Trump reportedly told Merkel that she’s “got to stop buying gas from Putin.” “Questions of European* energy policy must be decided in Europe, not in the U.S.,” German Foreign Affairs Minister Heiko Maas said earlier this year. “To impose unilateral sanctions against Nord Stream 2 is certainly not the PHOTOS: NORD STREAM AG way to go.” WD An inline inspection tool is removed from the pipeline in Lubmin,

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Germany, on Sept. 26, 2013. When completed, the 1,230-kilometer Nord Stream 2 pipeline will ship Russian natural gas directly to Germany via the Baltic Sea.

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Medical A Special Section of The Washington Diplomat

July 2019

Vacation Vaccinations Heading to Europe This Summer? Get Your Measles Shot •


s Europe deals with its biggest measles outbreaks since the 1990s, U.S. health officials are urging travelers to be up to date on vaccinations. In 2018, European countries 26 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | JULY 2019

reported more than 83,500 measles cases, including 74 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) A majority of cases were in Ukraine, but Serbia, France, Italy, Greece, Russia and


Georgia were all hard hit as well. And in just the first two months of this year, WHO said that more than 34,300 measles cases were reported across the European region.



“This is clearly not waning,” said Dr. Kristina Angelo of the travelers’ health branch at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Given that, the CDC is urging travelers to make sure they and their kids are up to date on measles vaccination before heading to Europe. The agency has long encouraged international travelers to have all necessary immunizations before taking off. But, Angelo noted, people often think of Europe as a “low-risk destination” when it comes to infectious diseases — and they may not think to plan a pre-travel health care visit. So the CDC is “reinforcing” its recommendations to Europe-bound travelers, she said. Usually, children receive the measlesmumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine between the ages of 12 months and 15 months, then get a second dose between ages 4 and 6 years old.

Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “But measles is common in several popular tourist destinations, like Italy and France,” he said. “Travelers need to make sure they are up to date on their measles vaccine before getting off the plane.” Why are outbreaks hitting those countries? Low vaccination rates, the CDC says. In some European populations or communities, vaccination rates are below 70 percent. That’s owing to a mix of factors — from parents’ worries about vaccine safety, to religious or cultural beliefs, to regional instability in certain countries, according to the report. In the United States, Angelo said, most measles cases are related to international travel. Unvaccinated travelers can not only get sick, but also may also bring the infection back with them, potentially spreading it to others who have not been vaccinated.

Most people don’t consider a trip to Western Europe as one in which they might be exposed to a potentially fatal infectious disease. But measles is common in several popular tourist destinations, like Italy and France. DR. PAUL OFFIT

director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

But if they are traveling, the advice is different, the CDC explained. In that case, babies 6 to 11 months old should get a single MMR dose. Meanwhile, youngsters ages 12 months and up should get two doses, separated by 28 days — if they have not yet received the standard MMR shots. As for adults, make sure you have evidence of immunity against measles before traveling, the CDC recommends. That can include written documentation of adequate vaccination, a blood test showing immunity or your age: People born before 1957 are presumed to be immune because they were probably naturally exposed to measles during outbreaks. You don’t necessarily need to dig through your attic looking for medical records. States often maintain vaccination records, Angelo noted, and you or your health care provider may be able to access the information that way. If there’s no evidence of presumed immunity, the CDC recommends getting the MMR. The agency lays out its advice in the July issue of Pediatrics. Dr. Paul Offit, a vaccine expert not involved in the report, agreed that its message is timely. “Most people don’t consider a trip to Western Europe as one in which they might be exposed to a potentially fatal infectious disease,” said Offit, who directs the Vaccine

Measles was considered eliminated in the United States in 2000. But so far this year, the CDC has received reports of 1,044 measles cases nationwide — the most since 1992. Those cases have been confirmed in 28 states. According to Angelo, it all underscores the importance of keeping all kids up to date on the MMR — not only those who will be traveling. Measles is a highly contagious virus, spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The symptoms include a high fever, cough and runny nose; the telltale rash appears three to five days after the first symptoms, according to the CDC. While most people recover, some develop serious complications like pneumonia and brain swelling. Up to 5 percent of children with measles suffer pneumonia, the CDC says, and one to three out of every 1,000 children with measles dies. WD

WE BELIEVE WE BELIEVE in giving life after life. WE BELIEVE in giving life after life. WE BELIEVE in giving life after life. in giving life after that theBELIEVE greatest giftlife. is WE WE BELIEVE that the greatest gift is THE GIFT OF LIFE. WE that theBELIEVE greatest gift is THE GIFT OF gift LIFE. that the greatest is WE ARE REGISTERED ORGAN DONORS.

that the greatest gift is Young. Old. 138 million strong. WE ARE REGISTERED ORGAN DONORS. JYoung. OIN REGISTER. BELIEVE. WE AREUS. REGISTERED ORGAN DONORS. Old. 138 million strong. WE AREUS. REGISTERED ORGAN DONORS. Young. Old. 138 ORGAN million strong. WE ARE REGISTERED DONORS. JOIN REGISTER. BELIEVE. Sign up today at organdonor.gov Young. Old. 138 million million strong. JYoung. OIN US. REGISTER. BELIEVE. Old. 138 strong.


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Amy Norton is a HealthDay reporter. Copyright © 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

For More Information The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an overview on measles at www.cdc.gov/measles/index.html. JULY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 27

WD | Medical


Early Threat Many Advanced Metastatic Colon Cancers Were ‘Born’ Ready to Spread BY AMY NORTON



n most patients with metastatic colon cancer, the disease may have begun spreading throughout the body very early on — when the original tumor was no bigger than a poppy seed, a new study suggests. Metastatic refers to the most advanced stage of cancer, when the original tumor has spread to distant sites in the body. Traditionally, that’s been seen as a “late” event — the result of a cancer accumulating many mutations that allow it to invade various tissues in the body, said Christina Curtis, lead researcher on the new study. Her team’s findings turn that viewpoint on its head. Through genetic analysis of tumor samples, researchers traced the origins of metastases in 21 patients with advanced colon cancer. They found that for 80 percent, those metastases likely occurred very early — before the cancer was even diagnosed. Essentially, that means some cancers are “born to be bad,” said Curtis, an assistant professor of medicine and genetics at Stanford University in California. While that might sound demoralizing, she said the results can actually be viewed in a positive light. One day, Curtis explained, doctors might be able to use tumors’ genetic characteristics to figure out which patients with early-stage colon cancer need more aggressive treatment. That could mean, for example, treating patients with chemotherapy after surgeons have removed the colon tumor in an effort to wipe out tumor cells that have traveled to other sites in the body. Plus, Curtis said, discovering which genetic “drivers” cause cancer to spread early could allow researchers to develop new drugs that target those mechanisms. According to Dr. Martin Weiser, a colon cancer specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, “These findings are very important. This is top-notch work.” Many researchers and doctors have suspected metastases often get their start early on, he noted,


but this is actual proof from patient tumor samples. “This is showing there are molecular changes that happen early,” Weiser said. That early occurrence, he added, should make it easier to pinpoint the particular genetic culprits. “Maybe we can figure out which patients need additional treatment early on, and which ones don’t,” Weiser said. For the study, published June 17 in Nature Genetics, Curtis and her colleagues started with tumor samples from 21 patients with colon cancer that had spread to the liver or the brain.

For More Information The American Cancer Society has more information on treating colon cancer online at www.cancer.org/ cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/treating.html.

For each patient, the researchers compared the pattern of genetic mutations in the original colon tumor with that in the metastases. The investigators found that in 17 patients, the metastases seemed to originate from just one cell — or a small group of genetically similar cells — that had broken away from the original colon tumor early in its development. Next, researchers combed through data on more than 900 patients with metastatic colon cancer, and 1,800 whose cancer had not spread. All had had their original tumor analyzed to detect changes in genes known to be linked to cancer. The researchers found that certain combinations of gene mutations were strongly related to the odds

A microscope shows colon cancer cells. A new study suggests that in most patients with metastatic colon cancer, the disease may have begun spreading throughout the body very early on.

of metastases. “It wasn’t any single mutation, but specific combinations of mutations, that seemed to tip the balance,” Curtis said. For example, mutations in a gene called PTPRT, in combination with certain other mutations, were found almost exclusively in patients with metastatic cancer. Past research has shown that when PTPRT’s function is lost, a “cell survival” protein called STAT3 becomes more active. Curtis said it’s possible that a drug that would inhibit STAT3 could prevent metastases. More research is needed to better understand what genetic drivers cause early metastases — and why some cancer patients never develop metastases, Curtis said. The study authors are also looking at whether this same phenomenon is true of other types of cancer. Curtis stressed that the findings do not diminish the importance of colon cancer screening to catch the disease early. Treating the disease in its early stages is always critical. Weiser made another point: Patients newly diagnosed with colon cancer often feel they have to rush into treatment, thinking the risk of it spreading rises with each day. But if that risk has more to do with tumor genetics than with time, patients may feel less pressure to make an immediate decision. “You can take the time to consider the options and make sure you get the right treatment,” Weiser said. WD Amy Norton is a HealthDay reporter. Copyright © 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Culture arts & entertainment art

diplomatic spouses




The Washington Diplomat | July 2019






Power of Touch


Changu Mazana, wife of the Bo-

tswanan ambassador and a mother

of four, is studying massage therapy as part of her

“passion is to use

my energy to help other people.” PAGE 31


Palate for Protest Artist Rirkrit Tiravanija

grew up in a diplomatic family — and with that morsel of insight, his

thrilling exhibition combining food and protest

at the Hirshhorn takes on an even deeper layer of meaning. PAGE 33


Urban Ingenuity When it comes to designing the city of the future, it’s little surprise to find

the Swedes in the lead. The nation that revolutionized

modern home furnishing has

set its sights on the urban landscapes of 2019 and beyond. PAGE 34

Edward Keinholz’s “The Non-War Memorial”





In the annals of U.S. warfare, Vietnam was a failure on so many levels that it’s difficult to keep track of the blunders that have become the subject of countless articles, books and documentaries. While street protests and anti-war marches have been thoroughly documented, the role of artists in opposing the war are less well-known, but a captivating exhibition examines their work in “Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965–1975.” PAGE 30


WD | Culture | History

Vietnam Re-Examined First-of-Its-Kind Exhibit Looks at Vietnam War Through Lens of American Artists •


Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965–1975 THROUGH AUG. 18


(202) 633-7970



n the annals of U.S. warfare, Vietnam was a failure on so many levels that it’s difficult to keep track of the blunders that have become the subject of countless articles, books and documentaries. Political and military leaders repeatedly lied to the American public about the war and sought to suppress unsparing accounts such as the Pentagon Papers. While street protests and anti-war marches have been thoroughly documented, the role of artists in opposing the war are less well-known. A captivating exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum examines their work in “Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965–1975.” Unprecedented in historical scale and depth, the exhibition features both famous and rarely discussed works and showcases previously marginalized artistic voices such as women, African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans. The exhibition includes almost 100 works by 58 artists who examined the devastating effects of the war through a diverse range of mediums and styles. Organized by the museum’s curator of 20th-century art, Melissa Ho, the exhibition features work spanning a tumultuous decade from President Lyndon B. Johnson’s regrettable decision to deploy U.S. ground troops to South Vietnam in 1965 to the fall of Saigon 10 years later when U.S. forces abandoned many South Vietnamese allies. The work runs the gamut from subtle, such as Dan Flavin’s conceptual crisscrossing red neon tubes, to the sensational. The PHOTO: BY ALFRED LUTJEANS / LICENSED BY THE CHRIS BURDEN ESTATE most extreme example is Chris AND ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NY Burden’s 1971 performance Chris Burden had a marksman shoot him in the piece titled “Shoot,” where a arm for his 1971 performance piece “Shoot.” marksman shoots him in the left arm with a rifle. The performance rings hollow like a publicity stunt rather than a serious examination of the deadly consequences of war. American soldiers dying in the jungles of Vietnam wouldn’t be impressed by a privileged white artist safe at home deciding when and where he will be shot in scripted, sanitized violence. Yoko Ono’s pioneering performance titled “Cut Piece” is more poignant and powerful but may only be tangentially related to the Vietnam War. The performance in 1964, two years before she met John Lennon and became famous for war protests, shows her silently sitting on the floor at Carnegie Hall while white men and women step forward and cut off parts of her clothes that they then keep. Some seem tentative, making small snips, while a smirking man cuts a swath through the top of her dress and bra straps, causing Ono to flinch and cover herself. The implied violence against women digs deeper and questions our unspoken complicity in that degradation. Vietnam was the first war that was beamed into living rooms across America through extensive TV coverage and newspaper articles and photographs. A war



A survey of artistic reactions to the Vietnam War at the Smithsonian American Art Museum includes pieces such as Dan Flavin’s “monument 4 for those who have been killed in ambush (to P.K. who reminded me about death),” above; Martha Rosler’s “Red Strip Kitchen,” at left; and David Hammons’s “America the Beautiful,” below.



that had seemed distant suddenly came home in vivid color news reels of dying soldiers and napalmed jungles. Martha Rosler’s photomontage “Red PHOTO: COURTESY OF YOKO ONO LENNON / © YOKO ONO 1965/2019 Stripe Kitchen” from her “House BeauA film shows Yoko Ono’s “Cut Piece” tiful: Bringing the War Home” series being performed at Carnegie Hall in fl ips that dynamic on its head, showing New York in 1965. American soldiers inspecting a modern American kitchen. The work conveys a fundamental disconnect. Americans would be outraged if soldiers invaded their homes, but they were funding those same soldiers who were burning Vietnamese villages and committing atrocities such as the massacre at My Lai. SEE VIET NAM • PAGE 32

Diplomatic Spouses | Culture | WD

Healing Energy Future Massage Therapist Touts Botswana’s History of Tolerance, Progressivism •



hangu Mazana, wife of Bofocusing on roads. I am not an engitswanan Ambassador David neer but I was motivated to work with Newman and a student of great minds in the field of civil works. massage therapy, says her These men mentored and supported “passion is to use my energy to help me and worked with me to ensure we other people.” produced great works. I always wore a “My grandmother was a healer who pink construction helmet!” touched people every day through Because they are an interracial coutouch and massage,” she told us. “Just ple, Mazana and her husband are often the happiness she brought to those she asked how they met. David Newman, helped was so amazing. Growing up, I a law professor who came to Malawi spent all my time with her. She and my from Britain on a program to strengthaunt had so much influence on me…. en legal training in Commonwealth These two women were the strength universities, decided to stay, falling and pillars of my entire life. Their comunder the spell of Africa and its people passion, love and humility are what I (he renounced his British citizenship aspire to have. They brought positive to become a citizen of Botswana). change to those they met and to comNewman became a senior lecturer munities they lived in.” of law at the University of Botswana in Mazana is currently studying masthe early 1980s before working as an sage therapy at the American Massage attorney for 20 years, 14 of which he & Bodywork Institute (AMBI) in Virspent as managing partner of the legal ginia. “The lecturers are experienced firm of Collins Newman & Co. and passionate about the field of masHe went on to serve as a judge of the sage. I couldn’t have picked a better inHigh Court of Botswana for 10 years stitution than AMBI,” she said. before coming to Washington in 2015 Mazana is also completing an online for his first ambassadorial posting. “I met David in Johannesburg professional certificate in sustainable through a friend,” Mazana said. “He eco-tourism through the International gave me a ride to Gaborone and we Ecotourism Society and the George talked all the way. We started off as Washington University. She plans to friends and …now we’ve have been combine massage and eco-tourism in together for 18 years. David is just spas at home and throughout Africa, the most special man in the world. I and to teach massage to students in couldn’t imagine being married to anyBotswana. one else,” she told us. “I am passionate about massage “He is the kindest and most compasmore on a holistic approach. My insionate person you will meet. His work terest is not just to be a therapist and ethics and principles are something I masseuse but to help others … to train wish most leaders would learn from other young Batswanans,” she said. “I him. We are great friends and supbelieve most people can massage but port each other in whatever we do. We not everyone is a good masseuse and both like similar things and we love to knows the art of using massage to heal. travel. I enjoy watching him [being] so It’s a lot of energy you transfer when Changu Mazana and her husband, Botswanan Ambassador David Newman, met in Johannesburg happy doing what he loves, sharing his you give massages and, as the masseuse, through a friend and have now been together for 18 years. love for Botswana and its people with you get energy back.” the world. He is a true representation This is not her first project. She Two people who love each other don’t see of who we are as Botswana. helped to complete and launch Metro “Two people who love each other Men Grooming Emporium in Botswana’s capital, Gaborone, this past Febru- color…. We have racial harmony in Botswana. don’t see color,” she added. “When we first got our independence in 1966, our ary with her business partner, Mody It’s not something that bothers us because first president was black and his wife David, whose family has been in the was a white woman. We have racial hair industry for more than 15 years. it’s part of us from the beginning. harmony in Botswana. It’s not someTogether, they came up with a men’s thing that bothers us because it’s part grooming salon concept where men CHANGU MAZANA of us from the beginning. Our first can get their hair and nails done and wife of Ambassador of Botswana David Newman lady was white. We welcome black and have a massage. “It is not your usual white. This is normal at home.” barbershop but one that provides every In fact, “A United Kingdom,” an appropriately named biographical film about the man that walks through our doors with an experience.” Interestingly, it is a 100 percent women-owned business and they plan to expand it political origins of Botswana’s racial backstory, garnered widespread critical acclaim when it came out in 2016. It tells the surprising true love story of Botswana’s last king to other African countries, creating new products and services. Mazana dreams up her ideas while walking around their woodsy Potomac neigh- and first democratically elected president, Seretse Khama, and Ruth Williams, the borhood with her best friend and neighbor Isabel dos Santos, wife of the ambassador British-born clerk with whom he fell in love. They met at a dance when he, then a of Mozambique. Both diplomatic wives have elaborate business plans for the near prince, was studying law in London. Their attraction and subsequent marriage led to future. While Mazana is interested in establishing a chain of eco-friendly massage controversy and power struggles, but this beloved couple eventually won over their salons, dos Santos is a dress designer who has big dreams of creating a major design newly independent country (the black and white stripes in Botswana’s flag represent house (also see “Mozambican Wife, a Former Diplomat, Enters World of High Fash- racial harmony). “It’s not just a love story; it’s history,” Mazana told Steve Hendrix of The Washingion” in the May 2019 issue). “Isabel and I have crazy plans, goals and dreams,” Mazana said. “We are crazy ton Post in February 2017 after the movie opened in D.C. “It’s just amazing to feel that Botswana is at the center of what democracy means, what interracial relationenough to believe in ourselves!” Mazana, who is now 42, didn’t start her professional life in the beauty and massage business. “Before we came to the U.S.A., I ran a construction company mainly SEE S POUS ES • PAGE 32



ships mean, what love means.” A majority-black country of just over 2 million people, Botswana has long enjoyed a reputation for racial equality, democracy, progressive social policies, good governance and a strong economy, all of which has made it one of most stable nations in Africa since the former British protectorate gained its independence in 1966. Botswana is slightly larger than France and slightly smaller than Texas. This sparsely populated, landlocked country in Southern Africa is known for some of the most stunning wilderness and wildlife on the African continent. In fact, 70 percent of the land is occupied by the Kalahari Desert and 38 percent is comprised of national parks, reserves and wildlife management areas. Although mining drives the economy (Botswana is home to the world’s largest diamond mine), tourism has become an increasingly important source of revenue as visitors flock to its nature preserves While Botswana has been widely praised for its conservations efforts, it recently attracted controversy because it ended a five-year ban on elephant hunting. The government faced intense international pressure to keep the ban to protect the 27,000 elephants in the country. There are only 450,000 elephants left in Africa — one-third of which have found refuge in Botswana — and poachers kill around 30,000 each year. Critics also say the decision was motivated by Botswanan President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s efforts to woo rural voters ahead of elections later this year. But the government defended the decision, arguing that Botswana’s tough ban on hunting had led to unsustainable levels of elephant population growth and was hurting local communities. In addition, the government said the ban had actually decreased revenues that go toward conservation efforts because limited trophy hunting can bring in significant income. “By sacrificing 700 elephants per year we’re likely going to save more,” Erik Verreynne, a wildlife veterinarian and consultant based in Gaborone, told Kimon de Greef and Me-

When Changu Mazana and her husband, Botswanan Ambassador David Newman, moved to D.C. in 2015, their four children ranged in age from 9 to 17 and all attended Bullis School in Potomac, Md.

gan Specia of The New York Times in May. Despite the contentious elephant ban, Botswana has broken the mold with its progressive policies in other areas. In June, the country’s High Court rejected a 54-year-old colonial law that could imprison people in same-sex relationships. The landmark ruling stood in stark contrast to other African nations such as Kenya that still criminalize homosexuality. Mazana says that because of its unique history and smart governance, she has high hopes for the future of her country. “I have no doubt in my mind that Botswana will soon be the pride of Africa in every industry. To have such a dynamic leader [President Mokgweetsi Masisi] with a clear vision for his country and a first lady so supportive and in the forefront of women’s development, the future ahead looks great for Botswana,” she said. “These dynamic visionaries are looking for growth and change. They are open-minded and welcoming…. We are excited. Change is good.” That applies to attitudes about interracial relationships, which have evolved significantly in recent decades, particularly in the United States. Despite the progress, racial tensions continue to percolate throughout the U.S., as evidenced by

Botswana is home to one-third of Africa’s elephant population.



the Black Lives Matter movement. “Being a biracial couple in Washington is easier than some other American cities. When we travel, it’s not a problem in New York or Miami. I haven’t been to other places, like the Midwest, where it might be uncomfortable. There is no problem in U.K. or Europe. It is not an issue,”

Mazana observed. “When I am the only black person in the room, I just get on with it in a positive way. I am a confident person and I think that helps,” she added. On the flip side, at monthly African Ambassadors’ Group meetings, Newman is the only white envoy

from a sub-Sahara country. When they first arrived in 2015, their four children ranged in age from 9 to 17. The couple sent them to nearby Bullis School in Potomac, Md., which serves students from kindergarten to the 12th grade., so that they could all go to the same school regardless of age. Now their eldest, Pearl, is 20 and will be starting her junior year this fall at the George Washington University, where she will be studying international business. She lives just off campus and often brings her college friends home during the holidays. She has another advantage for choosing GWU. Since the Botswana Embassy is not far from campus, she often has lunch with her father. Their younger daughter, Baraedi, is 17 and a senior. She plays basketball and soccer at Bullis and also runs and works out in their home gym. Their two sons, Khumo, 14, and Jack, 12, love cycling and soccer. As the wife of a first-time ambassador, Mazana said the experience has been an eye-opening, pleasant learning experience. “Being in the U.S.A. has been great, to come to a strange country and meet wonderful people who made us feel welcomed and helped us navigate the field of diplomacy,” she said. WD Gail Scott is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.


Leon Golub’s “Vietnam II” is among the nearly 100 works in “Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965-1975.”


Leon Golub’s massive painting “Vietnam II” exposes that war machine in heartrending detail, showing U.S. soldiers armed with machine guns advancing on frightened Vietnamese civilians shielding their children in front of the charred timbers of their torched homes. Pieces of the unstretched raw canvas are cut out, creating an impression of horrors that remain hidden from view. American soldiers, many of whom were drafted and didn’t want to fight, were mocked or ignored when they came home, exacerbating PTSD symptoms that would lead to alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide among their brethren. Artwork by some Vietnam veterans in the exhibition reveals those struggles firsthand. Jesse Treviño was drafted and wounded in battle in Vietnam, resulting in the amputation of his right arm, which he had used to paint. In “Mi Vida (My Life),” he painted scenes of his post-war life on his bedroom wall, which was later cut out of the drywall and mounted on aluminum. His prosthetic arm and Purple Heart medal obscure part of his face while a ghostly image of a soldier with both arms still intact emerges to one side. A former Marine in Vietnam, Kim Jones created

a persona called the “Mudman” after the war and marched 18 miles across Los Angeles in 1976 carrying a structure of bound sticks and rope on his back, while his mud-coated body represented the choking red dust that swirled around the Marine supply base in Dong Ha. A ferocious battle there in 1968 left 68 American soldiers and 856 North Vietnamese fighters dead. Photos of Jones’s march and an installation of the stick structure with his dusty boots reveal his vulnerable trek that forced viewers to confront the aftermath of a war they were trying to forget. A companion exhibition by Vietnamese artist Tiffany Chung titled “Vietnam, Past Is Prologue” explores how Vietnamese artists responded to the war. She grew up in Vietnam during the war and fled to the United States with her family after her father had fought for the South Vietnamese military. The exhibition includes maps, archival research and video interviews with former Vietnamese refugees now living in the United States. “As Vietnamese Americans living in the U.S., our narrative of the war is almost invisible,” she said in a recent interview. “I’m interested in hidden histories or histories that were erased into official records. So the histories are real. They’re just not there for you to see.” WD Brendan L. Smith is a contributing writer (www.brendanlsmith.com) for The Washington Diplomat and a mixed-media artist (www.brendanlsmithart.com) in Washington, D.C.

Art | Culture | WD

Food for Thought Hirshhorn Museum Transforms into a Communal Dining Table, With a Dash of Protest Art •


Rirkrit Tiravanija: (who’s afraid of red, yellow, and green) THROUGH JULY 24


(202) 633-1000



rtist Rirkrit Tiravanija grew up in a diplomatic family — and with that morsel of insight, his thrilling exhibition combining food and protest at the Hirshhorn takes on an even deeper layer of meaning. Tiravanija is the son of a Thai diplomat who was born in Argentina but raised in Thailand, Ethiopia and Canada. Today, he lives between New York, Berlin and Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. His nomadic, cross-cultural background defies easy classification — as does his art. For over 30 years, Tiravanija has used communal food-based experiences and protest imagery to break down the barriers between object and spectator while encouraging interaction and exchange in real time. “Rirkrit Tiravanija: (who’s afraid of red, yellow, and green)” bustles with energy. On Thursdays through Sundays at lunchtime, the Hirshhorn transforms into a canteen, with free food from Washington’s PHOTO: SHANNON FINNEY Beau Thai restaurant on offer in the gallery. Visitors can grab bowls of red, yellow or green curry — I can vouch for the red, the spiciest on offer — and sit down amid stark black-and-white drawings of protests in Thailand and the United States. Two or three artists are in the gallery every day of the exhibition, propped up on scaffolding or crouched in corners adding charcoal pictures of violence and defiance directly on to the walls. “They’re in a weird way kind of collaging the history together, and the images,” curator Mark Beasley told The Washington Diplomat. “And the idea is that if this ran for a year, the walls would be entirely covered in charcoal. It’s the addition and erasure of images over time, so it builds up to a critical mass of images. As an acquisition, it’s not painting or sculpture. It’s very much a lived work.” The colors in the title do reflect the curry, but they ultimately refer to the colors worn by the competing factions in recent Thai government protests. That history of protest is infused here with our own notable protest culture on the National Mall, with images of suffragettes, Civil Rights-era demonstrators and protesters from recent gatherings layered upon the wall. It’s a striking, unsettling display. With a bowl of curry in hand and wooden stools scattered around the exhibition space, visitors are encouraged to sit down and eat. The food is a great, delicious draw — I overheard one person comment that they were relieved they wouldn’t have to track down lunch in the food desert that is the National Mall — but it’s also a smart tool. It demands that museumgoers stay in the space, eating, chatting and looking at the art. It even prods communal behavior that might not fly in a normal restaurant outside the confines of a museum, as visitors, myself included, started conversations with strangers in the gallery. “It’s very social. It’s kind of like performance — it’s socializing the artwork. We all get eating and chatting, and I think that’s how Rirkrit sees it. It’s this kind of glue that keeps stuff together. And it means that people stay with it maybe a bit longer than they normally would,” Beasley said.


Rirkrit Tiravanija’s “(who’s afraid of red, yellow, and green)” is displayed in 2010 at 100 Tonson Gallery in Bangkok. The artist, seen at left, recently brought his installation, which offers communal dining against a backdrop of protest imagery, to the Hirshhorn in D.C.

“You never know how a work like this is going to play out until you’re in it,” he added, noting that in the exhibit’s first week, he said he was struck by how you could be casually eating and talking one moment, and then look up and become transfixed by the art surrounding you. “There are pretty strong images here. And it’s kind of interesting how the work operates on you. You get caught up by it. You start to relax and to chat and then you go, ‘Wow.’” When the food isn’t in the space, the exhibition takes on a more “contemplative” vibe, the curator said. But it’s with the clinking of utensils and the sensory explosion of delicious smells emanating from the curries being served that the exhibition emerges into its most fulfilling form. “When the food’s not here, it’s a very different atmosphere. Personally, this is the environment where the work comes alive for me. You feel it. It’s a different energy,” Beasley said. He told us that when he first talked to Tiravanija and learned that he was the son of a diplomat, the artist’s personality and the communal environment he creates instantly clicked for the curator. “So, I realized all this kind of hosting, all the courtesy, it’s really the tidemarks of his background. He’s an incredibly generous host,” Beasley said. “When I met him, I was like, this is it — you put people at their ease and you set up a space. And sometimes he trips them up. He was saying that all of his friends are all diplomats. And he kind of vowed early on that he wasn’t going to do that, but he was going to think through that in another way.” And his way — interactive dining mixed with protest art — has been unconventional but effective. Beasley described it as “relational aesthetics.” “It’s a very unwieldy term, but with Rirkrit it makes total sense. It’s like us, together, makes something. That’s diplomacy.” WD Mackenzie Weinger (@mweinger) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat. JULY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 33

WD | Culture | Exhibits

Rebuilding for the Future Swedish Embassy Re-Imagines City Life in ‘Urban Challenges’ •



(202) 467-2600



hen it comes to designing the city of the future, it’s little surprise to find the Swedes in the lead. The nation that revolutionized modern home furnishing with the sleek lines, blonde appeal and eminent practicality of IKEA has set its sights on the urban landscapes of 2019 and beyond. “Urban Challenges,” a yearlong, interactive exhibit at the House of Sweden, which incorporates the Embassy of Sweden on the Georgetown Waterfront, proffers suggestions for “smart” living amid the challenges of urban population growth, climate change and rapid social transformation. The exhibit offers a window onto some of Sweden’s answers to these issues through mixed media, computer graphics and a miniature replica of Sweden’s largest housing complex built entirely of wood. While the use of wood is not surprising, the fact that wood is the world’s only completely renewable construction material is unexpected. The forest-loving Swedes would have us all start using our trees and our urban spaces more wisely, and this exhibit intends to show us how. Curated by the Swedish Institute in partnership with Swedish business and nongovernmental organizations, “Urban Challenges” reflects the Swedish Embassy’s 2019 public diplomacy theme exploring creative and inclusive “smart” societies. According to the U.N., 2.5 billion people are expected to live in cities by 2050. “Urban Challenges” presents ideas to adapt to this tremendous growth while preserving the environment. As exhibition materials note, the Swedes are justly proud of the ways they have employed (and are employing) technology to answer contemporary urban concerns, including resource consumption. The house at Sundbyberg depicted in miniature is effectively the world’s most eco-friendly high-rise; it employs no artificially created materials such as steel or concrete. As its developer, Arvet, notes, the global construction industry accounts for 40 percent of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions. Buildings made entirely of trees, such as those like Sundbyberg, do just the opposite and take half the time to construct. They also encourage reforestation and provide a range of eco-friendly jobs. Cities of the future, Arvet argues, will start out as trees, or so we should hope. But “Urban Challenges” doesn’t just focus on the Nordic romance with wood. Anyone who has owned an Ericsson phone, driven a Volvo, Skyped with a friend, danced to music on Spotify or played Minecraft knows something about Swedish technological innovation. “Urban Challenges” suggests a holistic, more democratic approach to urban planning that puts cutting-edge design technology in the hands of ordinary citizens. At one of the several interactive stations in the exhibit, visitors can use software developed through Minecraft — the brainchild of Swedish gaming pioneer Markus Persson — to explore the redevelopment of neglected urban spaces. They can place virtual reality “buildings” into landscapes much as they would in the game itself. 34 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | JULY 2019


“Urban Challenges,” a yearlong, interactive exhibit at the House of Sweden, examines the concept of “smart” living amid the challenges of urban population growth, climate change and rapid social transformation.

Similarly, Swedish communications giant Ericsson is working with UNHabitat to simulate “mixed reality” design scenarios by which users can place virtual buildings into existing cityscapes. The idea behind both initiatives is to democratize future urban planning, giving ordinary citizens a voice in reshaping the places where they live. Of course, green building and democratic design will mean little if transportation — one of the greatest sources of global carbon emissions — does not become more ecofriendly. “Urban Challenges” offers a response to that, too, in the form of electrified roadways, extending the traditional idea of the electric streetcar to the modern transportation highway. Visitors can study an interactive highway map illustrating Sweden’s implementation of the “Elways,” described as the world’s first stretch of electric public road for heavy commercial trucks. Begun in 2016, the “Elways” experiment is now being studied by the Swedish transportation authority with an eye to electrifying more of the nation’s transportation infrastructure. One cannot explore the small “Urban Challenges” exhibit without being struck by its own surrounding environment, the gleaming glass-and-wood House of Sweden standing above the confluence of Rock Creek Park and the Potomac River. In many ways, the building reflects the ideas and values that the exhibit wishes to promote, with its linear design, blonde wood, intricate waterfalls and wide windows looking out onto some of Washington’s most beautiful natural vistas. Transparency, openness and respect for the environment seem to be its calling cards, as the “Urban Challenges” exhibit suggests. What better design could there be for the future? WD Deryl Davis is a freelance writer and adjunct professor of drama, literature and film at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

Photography | Culture | WD

Cold, Hard Reality Icelandic Embassy Showcases Magnificent but Diminishing Arctic Glaciers •


Glacier THROUGH AUG. 11


(202) 467-2600



s Iceland takes over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council, the country’s embassy in D.C. is showcasing this stunning but endangered frozen landscape, which is becoming a hotly contested battlefield in the fight against climate change. The exhibition “Glacier” features images by Ragnar Axelsson, also known as RAX, one of Iceland’s most well-known photojournalists. He has been capturing nature and life in the Arctic for nearly three decades, traveling to the remote, enigmatic region throughout his life. Axelsson, a staff photographer at Iceland’s secondlargest newspaper since 1976, has had his documentary photographs and picture essays published in Life, National Geographic, Time and other prominent magazines. While Axelsson has documented a wide range of subject matter, from AIDS patients in Mozambique and South Africa to uprisings in Latvia and Lithuania, the Arctic is home to his lifelong passion. In 2010, Axelsson’s book “Last Days of the Arctic” won critical acclaim for its depiction of the indigenous cultures and communities that call this isolated, vanishing polar tundra their home. His exhibit at the House of Sweden — which is where the small Icelandic Embassy resides — is inspired by his new book “Glacier,” an ode to the awe-inspiring glacial forms that give shape and life to the Arctic. “The title ‘Glacier’ makes people think they’re going to look at photos of typical Icelandic glaciers,” said Una Særún Jóhannsdóttir, the culture and public diplomacy counselor at the Icelandic Embassy. “They’re actually taken from above and are spectacular photographs — surprisingly artistic. I think people will be pleasantly surprised.” Indeed, at first glance, some of the images are nearly unrecognizable. The blackand-white photos present abstract, mesmerizing patterns, lines and textures that could be interpreted as microscopic views of fibers or human cells. Instead, they are breathtaking aerial vistas of the magnificent glaciers that have carved out the Arctic’s rugged landscape over the centuries. But these monumental chunks of dense ice pack are not frozen in time. They are constantly on the move — and melting at an alarming rate thanks to climate change, one of the main issues facing the Arctic Council. The exhibit marks Iceland’s upcoming chairmanship of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum founded in 1996 that promotes cooperation among the eight countries that border the Arctic region and the indigenous people who live


The Embassy of Iceland is showcasing photographs by Ragnar Axelsson, one of the country’s most prominent photojournalists, seen at bottom, based on his new book “Glacier.”

there. The chairmanship rotates every two years. The first chair was Canada, followed by the U.S. The last country to chair the council was Finland. The Arctic Council has no formal budget. Rather, projects and initiatives are sponsored by Arctic states and generally focus on scientific collaboration and environmental issues. Recently, however, the Trump administration has sought to inject a security dimension to the council by warning about the geostrategic competition posed by Russia and China as melting ice creates new economic opportunities in the region (also see cover profile). “During our chairmanship, we are focusing on climate and the marine environment, making a stronger Arctic Council, sustainability and the people of the Arctic,” Jóhannsdóttir explained. “The exhibit reflects one of our priorities on climate and the environment.” Jóhannsdóttir said the glaciers are rapidly retreating because of climate change, warming at twice the rate as the rest of the planet. This in turn exacerbates climate change around the world, fueling punishing heat waves, floods and other unstable weather patterns. Within a few decades, some of the glaciers, if not all, will completely disappear. “It’s probably too late to do anything about the melting of the glaciers themselves, so it is important for us to document and show their spectacular nature,” she said. A few of Jóhannsdóttir’s favorite images in the exhibit include a photo taken inside an ice cave that gives the appearance of a human face hidden in the ice. Another is a compilation of photographs showing the water flowing from melting ice. “It’s really extraordinary to see them all together,” Jóhannsdóttir said. It’s an extraordinary natural wonder to behold — while we still can. WD Kate Oczypok (@OczyKate) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat. Anna Gawel (@diplomatnews) is managing editor of The Washington Diplomat. JULY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 35

WD | Culture | Film

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

ARABIC The Reports on Sarah and Saleem

Directed by Muaya Alayan (Palestine/Germany/ Netherlands, 2019, 127 min.) Sarah, an Israeli café owner living in West Jerusalem, and Saleem, her Palestinian bread vendor and deliveryman who lives in East Jerusalem, have a clandestine affair. But their tryst takes a dangerous political dimension when they are spotted in the wrong place at the wrong time, leaving them to deal with more than their broken marriages (Arabic, Hebrew and English). LANDMARK’S THEATRES OPENS FRI., JULY 12


Directed by Alan Mak (Hong Kong, 2019, 114 min.) Sean Lau stars as King, chief investigator for Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption. When two important witnesses fail to appear in a court case he is leading, his search leads him deeper and deeper into a web of cryptocurrency, high-stakes tobacco smuggling, and a vast network of corruption that even reaches back to his own childhood. FREER GALLERY OF ART FRI., JULY 26, 7 P.M.

Men on the Dragon

Directed by Sunny Chan (Hong Kong, 2018, 92 min.) In this feel-good indie hit, four corporate employees join the company’s dragon boat racing team to avoid falling victim to a round of layoffs, only to find that becoming middle-age athletes improves their troubled personal lives as well. FREER GALLERY OF ART SUN., JULY 28, 2 P.M.

Still Human

Directed by Oliver Siu Kuen Chan Hong Kong, 2019, 111 min.) This moving dramedy about a grumpy wheelchair-bound pensioner and the live-in maid hired to take care of him touches on a number of important issues, from the precarious financial situation of many of Hong Kong’s elderly residents, to the prejudice faced by the city’s scores of Filipino guest workers. FREER GALLERY OF ART FRI., JULY 19, 7 P.M.


Directed by Kenneth Branagh (U.K., 2019, 101 min.) The year is 1613 and William

The Washington Diplomat

Shakespeare is acknowledged as the greatest writer of the age. But disaster strikes when his renowned Globe Theatre burns to the ground. Devastated, Shakespeare returns to Stratford where he must face a troubled past and a neglected family.


Spider-Man: Far From Home Directed by Jon Watts (U.S., 2019, 129 min.)

Our friendly neighborhood Super Hero decides to join his best friends on a European vacation. However, Peter’s plan to leave super heroics behind for a few weeks are quickly scrapped when he begrudgingly agrees to help Nick Fury uncover the mystery of several elemental creature attacks, creating havoc across the continent.

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché Directed by Pamela B. Green (U.S., 2018, 103 min.)


The Biggest Little Farm

Directed by John Chester (U.S., 2018, 91 min.) This documentary chronicles the eight-year quest of John and Molly Chester as they trade city living for 200 acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature. Through dogged perseverance and embracing the opportunity provided by nature’s conflicts, the Chester’s unlock and uncover a biodiverse design for living that exists far beyond their farm, its seasons, and our wildest imagination. LANDMARK’S E STREET CINEMA


Directed by Olivia Wilde (U.S., 2019, 102 min.)

On the eve of their high school graduation, two academic superstars and best friends realize they should have worked less and played more. Determined not to fall short of their peers, the girls try to cram four years of fun into one night. ANGELIKA MOSAIC



Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman works in his archive in the documentary “The Quiet One.” keep her in the dark, scheduling a wedding to gather before she dies.


The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Directed by Joe Talbot (U.S., 2019, 121 min.) Jimmie dreams of reclaiming the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. Joined on his quest by his best friend, Jimmie searches for belonging in a rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind. ANGELIKA MOSAIC


Late Night

Directed by Nisha Ganatra (U.S., 2019, 102 min.) Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson) is a pioneer on the late-night talk-show circuit. When she’s accused of being a “woman who hates women,” she puts affirmative action in action and presto, Molly (Mindy Kaling) is hired as the one woman in Katherine’s all-male writers’ room.

The Dead Don’t Die



The Farewell

Directed by Lulu Wang (U.S., 2019, 98 min.) A Chinese family discovers their grandmother has only a short while left to live and decide to






Directed by Ari Aster (U.S., 2019, 140) A couple travels to Sweden to visit a rural hometown’s fabled mid-summer festival. But what begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult. ANGELIKA MOSAIC



Directed by Ron Howard (U.K./U.S., 2019, 114 min.) This riveting documentary that lifts the curtain on the icon who brought opera to the people. WEST END CINEMA

The Quiet One

Directed by Oliver Murray

(U.K., 2019, 98 min.)

Throughout his three-decade career as a founding member of and bassist for The Rolling Stones, Bill Wyman was known to the world as the “quiet one” in the band. Now at long last, the famously private music legend speaks out about his extraordinary life and experiences as part of “the greatest rock and roll band in the world.” LANDMARK’S E STREET CINEMA OPENS FRI., JULY 5


Directed by Dexter Fletcher (U.K/U.S., 2019, 121 min.)

This musical fantasy follows the journey of transformation from shy piano prodigy Reginald Dwight into international superstar Elton John. ANGELIKA MOSAIC


The Souvenir

Directed by Joanna Hogg (U.K./U.S., 2019, 119 min.) A shy but ambitious film student

Directed by Aviva Kempner (U.S., 2019, 101 min.)

A major league catcher for 15 years during baseball’s Golden Age in the 1920s and 1930s, Morris “Moe” Berg was known as the “brainiest guy in baseball,” speaking numerous languages and earning a law degree while playing professional ball. But very few people know that Berg also worked for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), spying in Europe and playing a vital role in America’s efforts to undermine the German atomic bomb program during World War II. THE AVALON THEATRE WEST END CINEMA

Tony Morrison: The Pieces I Am

Directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders (U.S., 2019, 119 min.) This artful and intimate meditation on the legendary storyteller examines her life, her works and the powerful themes she has confronted throughout her literary career. LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA





refused to give up.

The Spy Behind Home Plate



Directed by Jim Jarmusch (Sweden/U.S., 2019, 104 min.) The peaceful town of Centerville finds itself battling a zombie horde as the dead start rising from their graves.

July 2019

begins to find her voice as an artist while navigating a turbulent courtship with a charismatic but untrustworthy man.


Alice Guy-Blaché was a true pioneer who got into the movie business at the very beginning — in 1894, at the age of 21. Two years later, she was made head of production at Gaumont and started directing films. But by 1919, Guy-Blaché’s career came to an abrupt end, and she and the 1,000 films that bore her name were largely forgotten. Pamela B. Green’s energetic film is both a tribute and a detective story, tracing the circumstances by which this extraordinary artist faded from memory and the path toward her reclamation (English and French).


Directed by Alex Holmes (U.K., 2019, 97 min.) This is the story of how Tracy Edwards, a 24-year-old cook in charter boats, became the skipper of the first ever all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World in 1989. Tracy’s inspirational dream was opposed on all sides: her male competitors thought an all-women crew would never make it, the chauvinistic yachting press took bets on her failure and potential sponsors rejected her, fearing they would die at sea and generate bad publicity. But Tracy


Adeeb Safadi and Sivane Kretchner star as a Palestinian bread vendor and Israeli café owner who embark on a clandestine relationship that takes a sinister new twist as Israeli and Palestinian authorities misread the writing on the wall in “The Reports on Sarah and Saleem.”

Film | Culture | WD

Wild Rose

man occupation. They witness not only sacrifice and heroism, but also cruelty, betrayal and murder — as history teaches them a bloody and brutal lesson in growing up (Polish and German).

Directed by Tom Harper (U.K., 2019, 100 min.) Rose-Lynn Harlan is bursting with raw talent, charisma and cheek. Fresh out of prison and reunited with her son and daughter, all she wants is to get out of Glasgow and make it as a country singer in Nashville.






Directed by Emir Kusturica (Yugoslavia/France/Germany/ Bulgaria/Czech Republic/ Hungary/U.K./U.S., 1995, 170 min.)



Directed by Danny Boyle (U.K., 2019, 116 min.)

Jack, a struggling singer-songwriter in a tiny English seaside town, finds his dreams of fame rapidly fading, despite the fierce devotion of his childhood best friend, Ellie (Lily James). Then, after a freak bus accident during a mysterious global blackout, Jack wakes up to discover that The Beatles have never existed. Performing songs by the greatest band in history to a world that has never heard them, Jack’s fame explodes, but he risks losing Ellie in the process. THE AVALON THEATRE ANGELIKA MOSAIC


FARSI Brick and Mirror

Directed by Ebrahim Golestan (Iran, 1964, 126 min.) Iranian cinema’s first true modern masterpiece, “Brick and Mirror” explores fear and responsibility in the aftermath of the 1953 coup d’état. With its title alluding to a poem by Attar, Ebrahim Golestan’s first feature mixes dream and reality, responding to the changing climate of Iranian society, the failure of intellectuals and corruption in all walks of life. AFI SILVER THEATRE

SAT., JULY 6, 12 P.M., MON., JULY 8, 7 P.M.


In 19th-century rural Vietnam, 14-year-old May faces forbidden love and its devastating consequences when she marries a wealthy landowner in “The Third Wife.” ing world, “Non-Fiction” traces the romantic and emotional fallout that results when a controversial writer begins blurring the line between fact and fiction, using his real-life love affairs — including a passionate fling with an actress (Juliette Binoche) who happens to be married to his editor — as fodder for his explosive new novel.


Le Sauvage aka Lovers Like Us

Directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau (France, 1975, 91 min.)

When Nelly (Catherine Deneuve) gets cold feet about marrying Vittorio (Luigi Vannucchi), and then can’t collect on a debt owed to her by former employer, she steals a valuable painting and hides out on the secluded island of semi-hermit Frenchman Martin (Yves Montand) in Caracas, Venezuela. Further hijinks ensue in this fast-paced comic romp. AFI SILVER THEATRE

SUN., JULY 14, 7 P.M., TUE., JULY 16, 7:10 P.M.




Three Peaks

Directed by Jean-Luc Godard (France/Italy, 1963, 103 min.) One of Jean-Luc Godard’s greatest and most glorious films features French screenwriter Michel Piccoli who signs on to write an adaptation of Homer’s “Odyssey” for crass American producer Jack Palance, to be directed by legendary German director Fritz Lang (playing himself). But with every concession and deferral Piccoli makes to the overbearing American, his wife Brigitte Bardot loses a little more respect for him. AFI SILVER THEATRE

SAT., JULY 6, 2:30 P.M., SUN., JULY 7, 2:30 P.M.


Directed by Olivier Assayas (France, 2019, 108 min.)

Set amidst the bohemian intelligentsia of the Parisian publish-

(Vietnam, 2019, 96 min.)

In late 19th century rural Vietnam, 14-year-old May is given away in an arranged marriage and becomes the third wife to her older husband, wealthy landowner Hung. A lowly newcomer in the insular household, she soon learns she will only gain status if she can produce a male child. Finding herself pregnant, she awaits the birth, but her path towards security is fraught with danger when May starts to feel a forbidden attraction for the second wife.

Directed by Jan. Zabeil (Italy/Germany, 2019, 94 min.)

On a seemingly idyllic summer vacation in the spectacular Italian Dolomites, a man courts the acceptance of his girlfriend’s young son, trying to bond as a new family. But fatherhood, suspicion and resentment are a combustible formula in this tightly wound family drama turned harrowing survival thriller (German, French and English). LANDMARK’S THEATRES OPENS FRI., JULY 26

HEBREW Redemption

Directed by Yossi Madmoni and Boaz Yehonatan Yaacov (Israel, 2018, 104 min.) A former frontman for a rock band is now a religious a father

to a 6-year-old. When his daughter is diagnosed with cancer, he must find a creative solution to fund the expensive treatments, so he reunites his band for one last tour.


ITALIAN Rocco and His Brothers

Directed by Luchino Visconti (Italy, 1960, 177 min.) Looking for opportunity, five brothers move north with their mother to Milan. There, Simone and Rocco find fame in the boxing ring, and love in the same woman — Nadia. Jealousy mounts, blood is shed and a striving family faces self-destruction in this incisive, sensuous, emotionally bruising masterwork.

POLISH Warsaw 44

Directed by Jan Komasa (Poland, 2014, 130 min.) We meet the film’s main characters — Stefan, Biedronka and Kama — shortly before fighting breaks out in the summer of 1944 during the Warsaw Uprising. Young Poles see their involvement in the underground movement as both patriotic duty and adventure under the brutal Nazi Ger-


In this sprawling, tragicomic, satirical epic that chronicles a parallel “underground” history of Yugoslavia, from World War II to the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, ne’er-do-well friends Blacky and Marko are separated by war and the ensuing communist era in the most outrageous of ways: Marko becomes a high-ranking official under Tito, while Blacky and a group of partisans hide below ground in a secret cellar, where they spend the next 20 years (in Russia, English, Serbian, German and French). AFI SILVER THEATRE

MON., JULY 15, 7:30 P.M., WED., JULY 17, 7:30 P.M.


WOLOF Hyenas

Directed by Djibril Diop Mambéty (Senegal/France/Switzerland/ U.K., 1992, 110 min.) A now-rich woman returns to her poor desert hometown to propose a deal to the populace: her fortune, in exchange for the death of the man who years earlier abandoned her and left her with his child. Per its title, “Hyenas” is a film of sinister, mocking laughter and a biting satire of a contemporary Senegal whose post-colonial dreams are faced with erosion by Western materialism (Wolof, French and Japanese). AFI SILVER THEATRE

Directed by Ash Mayfair

MON., JULY 1, 7:10 P.M., TUE., JULY 2, 9 P.M.


FRI., JULY 5, 1 P.M., TUE., JULY 9, 7:15 P.M.

JAPANESE Early Summer

Directed by Yasujiro Ozu (Japan, 1951, 125 min.) The Mamiya family is seeking a husband for their daughter, Noriko, but she has ideas of her own. Noriko impulsively chooses her childhood friend, at once fulfilling her family’s desires and tearing them apart.

There isn’t an app for this.


MANDARIN The Thousand Faces of Dunjia

Directed by Yuen Woo-ping (China, 2017, 113 min.) This big-screen extravaganza — loaded with all the over-the-top CGI effects, goofy humor and spectacular fight scenes — stars pop singer Aarif Rahman and is set in a mythical version of ancient China, where a clan of supernatural heroes battles shape-shifting aliens to retrieve a magical orb that will restore peace to the kingdom. FREER GALLERY OF ART SUN., JULY 21, 2 P.M.

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WD | Culture | Events

Events Listings *Please check the venue for times. Venue locations are subject to change.


Ruth Maier: The AustrianNorwegian Anne Frank

Through photographs and diary extracts, this exhibition tells the story of the Ruth Maier, born in Vienna in 1920. Ruth began keeping a diary when she turned 13, recording her everyday life and the increasing persecution of Jews in Austria following the Anschluss in 1938. After witnessing the violent anti-Semitism of the Kristallnacht Pogrom, Ruth found refuge in Norway while the rest of her family escaped to Great Britain. She completed her education and continued to write in her newly acquired language, Norwegian. However, her newfound safety did not last: In 1942, Ruth was arrested and deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where she was murdered on arrival. Her friend, the Norwegian poet Gunvor Hofmo preserved her writings. Since 2014, the diaries of Ruth Maier have been part of the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, secured at the Norwegian Centre for Holocaust and Minority Studies. EMBASSY OF AUSTRIA ATRIUM


Tintoretto: Artist of Renaissance Venice

In celebration of the 500th anniversary of the birth of Jacopo Tintoretto (1518/1519–1594), the National Gallery of Art and the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia presents this major exhibition on the Venetian master. As the first retrospective of the artist in North America, the exhibition will include many significant international loans traveling to the U.S. for the first time. The exhibition will feature nearly 50 paintings and more than a dozen works on paper spanning the artist’s entire career and ranging from regal portraits of Venetian aristocracy to religious and mythological narrative scenes. The exhibit is accompanied by “Drawing in Tintoretto’s Venice” focusing on his work as a draftsman (through June 9) and “Venetian Prints in the Time of Tintoretto” featuring some 40 prints from the second half of the 16th century (through June 9). NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART


Del Sur, retratos de Punta Arenas y Valparaíso

Chilean photographer Vicente González Mimica presents blackand-white portraits of two cities in the south of Chile. Like in the Charles Dickens novel “A Tale of Two Cities,” one city (London) is described as law-abiding and orderly, analogous to how the artist presents Punta Arenas, and is contrasted with a largely politically agitated city (Paris), which is how González sees Valparaíso.

Art Museum of the Americas

the Mexican Cultural Institute.





The American PreRaphaelites: Radical Realists In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of John Ruskin (1819-1900), the most influential art critic of the Victorian era, the National Gallery will present more than 90 paintings, watercolors, and drawings created by American artists who were profoundly influenced by Ruskin’s call for a revolutionary change in the practice of art. NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART


Rirkrit Tiravanija (who’s afraid of red, yellow, and green)

Using food as his main medium, Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija creates art from real-time experiences and exchanges, upending the traditional relationship between object and spectator. The Hirshhorn will present its first-ever exhibition of works by the conceptual artist, which that will transform the museum’s galleries into a communal dining space in which visitors will be served curry and invited to share the meal together. HIRSHHORN MUSEUM AND SCULPTURE GARDEN


Sacal: Un Mexicano Universal

This exhibit featuring the works of Mexican-born artist José Sacal comprises two series: “The Paraphrase” series, inspired by some of the most distinguished artists throughout time like Michelangelo, Frida Kahlo and Picasso, as well as the “Characters of Impact” series, in which Sacal recreates unmistakable historical figures such as Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, the Aztec ruler Cuauhtémoc and others. In his works, Sacal finds the essence of each character or work. It can be a detail or an object, such as Louis Armstrong’s trumpet or Marcel Marceau’s mask, but the rest is something deeper, like the anguish of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” By recreating them, Sacal gives them a new meaning and establishes an artistic dialogue at a higher level. MEXICAN CULTURAL INSTITUTE


Topographies by Bosco Sodi

Bosco Sodi’s multivalent practice employs quotidian materials such as sawdust, pigment and clay in pursuit of authenticity, drawing on the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi. Spanning the institute’s first floor galleries, this exhibit brings together Sodi’s first series of paintings realized in black and white with four of the artist’s timber columns and an installation comprised of ceramic glazed volcanic rocks. Organized in conjunction with The Phillips Collection, “Topographies” marks Sodi’s first exhibition at


Helen Zughaib: Migrations

Inspired by Jacob Lawrence’s 1941 seminal “Migration Series,” Lebanese-born artist Helen Zughaib’s “Syrian Migration Series” allows for an exploration of the contemporary consequences of the post-World War II peace through the lens of the current Syrian conflict and the mass migration it has triggered, focusing In particular on the experiences of refugee women and children. This exhibition is presented to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. WOODROW WILSON HOUSE


Ursula von Rydingsvard: The Contour of Feeling

This major exhibition celebrating one of the most influential sculptors working today marks the most ambitious Ursula von Rydingsvard exhibition to date in the United States and her first solo exhibition in Washington, D.C. Featuring 30 sculptures, a wall installation and 10 works on paper, the exhibition focuses on the artist’s signature works — monumental, organic-shaped sculptures made from carved cedar wood — as well as other pieces that are on view in this project for the first time. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF WOMEN IN THE ARTS


Being Here as ME- New Media Art Exhibition of Women Artists from Taiwan

This exhibit features new media art, with augmented reality, animation and digital images, to explore how Taiwanese women artists surpass discussions of gender equality and express broader concerns. The emerging popularity of new media technology provides these artists new tools of creation and new topics of concern, helping them reveal their anxieties and opinions about the ecology of society, science, technology and the environment. AMERICAN UNIVERSITY MUSEUM


Burying Teeth: Maia Cruz Palileo

There is a mystery in the act of burying and even more so in uncovering throughout the works of contemporary artist Maia Cruz Palileo. Created from 2016 to 2019, they depict historical narratives from the colonial past of the Philippines, Maia’s country of origin, as well as stories and moments about her own life as a Filipina American growing up in the United States. Her paintings and drawings replicate figures from old family photographs, as well as photos from American textbooks depicting anthropological documentation of Filipinos during the American colonization. While her work evokes nostalgia and

The Washington Diplomat romanticism, it is imbued with a critical undertone of America’s colonization of the Philippines.

ings under construction (or destruction).





Forward Press: 21st-Century Printmaking

Ten innovative print artists from across the United States employ the finest examples of handprinted and digital techniques, creating works that reinterpret centuries-old printmaking techniques in the digital age, exploring themes of culture, identity, religion, environment, memory, and art history. AMERICAN UNIVERSITY MUSEUM



The Icelandic chairmanship in the Arctic Council will emphasize the Arctic marine environment; climate and green energy solutions; people in the Arctic and welfare issues; as well as a stronger Arctic Council. In conjunction with the chairmanship, the Embassy of Iceland will host a photo exhibition at the House of Sweden by Ragnar Axelsson (RAX), one of Iceland’s most prominent photographers. His new book and exhibition “Glacier” focuses on the awesome beauty of the northern glaciers and their magnificence. HOUSE OF SWEDEN


Passages: Keith Morrison, 1998-2019

A magician of color and space and a teller of tales, fanciful and real, Jamaican-born Keith Morrison focuses on the tangible and spiritual components of culture. His acrylic and oil paintings on canvas and transparent watercolors on paper encompass Afro-Caribbean and Meso-American art and architecture, along with the somber history of the Middle Passage. AMERICAN UNIVERSITY MUSEUM


The Life of Animals in Japanese Art

Artworks representing animals — real or imaginary, religious or secular — span the full breadth and splendor of Japanese artistic production. This first exhibition devoted to the subject features over 300 works that cover 17 centuries and a wide variety of media — sculpture, painting, lacquerwork, ceramics, metalwork, textile and the woodblock print. NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART


Escape Velocity

Abstract paintings on canvas by Singapore-born artist CheeKeong Kung are influenced by the artist’s formal education in art and architecture as well as his upbringing in multiethnic Singapore. Kung embraces influences from traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy, the pace and intensity of the digital age, as well as images of build-

Queer as German Folk

This innovative punk, activism and DIY-inspired project synthesizes local and German narratives on the constant crusade for queer equality and achieving queer civil rights throughout the last half century. GOETHE-INSTITUT WASHINGTON


Infinite Space: A Retrospective by Refik Anadol

In taking the data that flows around us as his primary material and the neural network of a computerized mind as his collaborator, Refik Anadol creates radical visualizations of our digitized memories, expanding the possibilities of architecture, narrative and the body in motion. The exhibition will take over ARTECHOUSE galleries featuring Anadol’s infamous immersive installation titled “Infinity Room” seen by more than 1 million people around the world, including a half million during a tour in China alone last year, three infinity boxes and a selection of multimedia works spanning his variegated career. ARTECHOUSE


The Evidence Room

This installation gives visual testament to the atrocities of the Holocaust, drawing on architectural forensic evidence to focus attention on the architecture that made the Auschwitz concentration camp a systematic factory for mass murder. HIRSHHORN MUSEUM AND SCULPTURE GARDEN


Roots of Peace: Carlos Páez Vilaró Works and Writings

This retrospective looks at the work of Carlos Páez Vilaró, a Uruguayan painter, potter, sculptor, muralist, writer, composer and builder. Specifically, it showcases paintings, books and other archival materials examining the history of the “Roots of Peace” mural, painted in 1960. Spanning over 530 feet in a tunnel linking the OAS main building in D.C. and the Art Museum of the Americas building, “Roots of Peace” is one of the longest murals in the world. Its goal is to serve as a graphic statement of continental peace and harmony throughout the Western Hemisphere, highlighting the spiritual unity that bonds peoples of the Americas while respecting their unique differences. OAS ART MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAS


Oliver Lee Jackson: Recent Paintings

American painter, printmaker, and sculptor Oliver Lee Jackson


July 2019

(b. 1935) has created a complex body of work which masterfully weaves together visual influences ranging from the Renaissance to modernism with principles of rhythm and improvisation drawn from his study of African cultures and American jazz. NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART


The Warmth of Other Suns

Through installations, videos, paintings and documentary images, 75 historical and contemporary artists — from the United States as well as Algeria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, Iraq, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Syria, Turkey, the U.K., Vietnam and more — pose urgent questions around the experiences and perceptions of migration and the current global refugee crisis. THE PHILLIPS COLLECTION


Good as Gold: Fashioning Senegalese Women

In the cities of the West African nation of Senegal, stylish women have often used jewelry as part of an overall strategy of exhibiting their elegance and prestige. Rooted in the Wolof concept of sañse (dressing up, looking and feeling good), “Good as Gold” examines the production, display, and circulation of gold in Senegal as it celebrates a significant gift of gold jewelry to the National Museum of African Art’s collection. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN ART


Rafael Soriano: Cabezas (Heads)

This exhibition features more than 20 significant artworks by Cuban-born painter Rafael Soriano (1920-2015), one of the major Latin American artists of his generation. Soriano stands apart from his peers who largely focused on formalism and gestural abstraction because he developed his own visual vocabulary informed by abstraction yet steeped in metaphysical meaning. Drawing on loans from the Rafael Soriano Foundation, this exhibit chronicles the development of Soriano’s unique biomorphic style, which culminated in a specific body of work depicting the human head. This is the first exhibit devoted to Soriano’s important series of paintings of heads, which are some of the artist’s most figurative and introspective works. ART MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAS


Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths

More than 225 works of art — including blades and currencies in myriad shapes and sizes, wood sculptures studded with iron, musical instruments and elaborate body adornments — reveal the histories of invention and technical sophistication that led African blacksmiths to transform one of Earth’s most

Events | Culture | WD

fundamental natural resources into objects of life-changing utility, empowerment, prestige, artistry and spiritual potency. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN ART


Revolutionary Reflections: French Memories of the War for America

This exhibition explores how the French king’s officers understood the American Revolution and their role in the achievement of American independence, and how they remembered the war in the years that followed—years of revolutionary upheaval in France that included the execution of the king and many of their brothers-in-arms. AMERICAN REVOLUTION INSTITUTE OF THE SOCIETY OF THE CINCINNATI


Portraits of the World: Korea

Pioneering feminist artist Yun Suknam (born 1939) uses portraiture to gain insights into the lives of women, past and present. A wood assemblage portrait of her mother is the centerpiece of this exhibition, which includes portraits of American artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Louise Nevelson, Marisol, Kiki Smith and Nancy Spero. NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY


Urban Challenges

According to the U.N., 2.5 billion people are expected to live in cities by 2050. This will force cities to find new ways to handle the increased demands on natural resources, housing and infrastructure. This exhibition presents some of the social, economic and technological solutions proposed by Sweden to absorb the impact of our rapidly growing urban environment while leaving the environmental legacy next generations deserve. Come and find out more about Guerilla Crafts, Democratic Architecture and the mixed reality Block Builder application in large-scale environments. Part of the Swedish Embassy’s 2019 thematic programming “Smart Societies – Creative & Inclusive”; for information, visit www.swedenabroad.se/en/embassies/usawashington/current/calendar/. HOUSE OF SWEDEN

THROUGH JAN. 5, 2020

Ginny Ruffner: Reforestation of the Imagination

Imagine an apocalyptic landscape. It appears barren, devastated and hopeless. It is not. At the Renwick Gallery, internationally renowned artist Ginny Ruffner creates a seemingly bleak environment that suddenly evolves into a thriving floral oasis by combining traditional sculpture with augmented reality (AR) technology. RENWICK GALLERY

THROUGH JAN. 5, 2020

A Monument to Shakespeare

The Folger Shakespeare Library is throwing back the curtains on its origins and exciting future in

an exhibition where visitors are invited to play, lounge, be curious and see more of the Folger Shakespeare Library than ever before. Among the treats: rummage through Henry Folger’s desk and read the correspondences that brought the Folger to the nation’s capital; explore large scale reproductions of Cret’s detailed architectural drawings, newly digitized for this exhibition; and visit the first complete edition of Shakespeare’s plays published in 1623.

nual Serenade! Washington, D.C. Choral Festival — featuring the theme of “The Human Journey: Migration, Music & Identity” — concludes on the Concert Hall stage with a truly grand finale: individual performances by ensembles from Iran, Mongolia, Ecuador, Mexico, Canada, France and Germany, as well the Serenade! mass choir, led by the 2019 recipient of the Robert Shaw Lifetime Achievement Award, Doreen Rao. Please call to reserve tickets.



I Am… Contemporary Women Artists of Africa

Taking its name from a 1970’s feminist anthem, “I Am… Contemporary Women Artists of Africa” draws upon a selection of artworks by women artists from the National Museum of African Art’s permanent collection to reveal a more contemporary feminism that recognizes the contributions of women to the most pressing issues of their times. With experimental and sophisticated use of diverse media, the 27 featured artists offer insightful and visually stunning approaches to matters of community, faith, the environment, politics, colonial encounters, racism, identity and more. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN ART

DANCE TUE., JULY 2, 10:30 A.M.

Nomad Dancers and Raqs Habibi: Dancing from Cairo to Samarkand

A magic carpet ride across the Middle East from Cairo to Samarkand, this cultural adventure features colorful authentic costumes, veiled Persian princesses, and dances from the oasis and the caravansary Tickets are $10. WOLF TRAP

JULY 11 TO 13

American Ballet Theatre: Swan Lake

This romantic fable of ill-fated passion, dreamlike transformation and ultimate forgiveness set to Tchaikovsky’s glorious score inspires awe and wonder. Tickets start at $25. WOLF TRAP


The Timeless Allure of Venice

Food historian Francine Segan leads a virtual tour that examines the unique enchantment this city holds for visitors, focusing on its vibrant heritage of art, architecture and cuisine. Tickets are $55; for information, visit smithsonianassociates.org. S. DILLON RIPLEY CENTER

WED., JULY 17, 6:45 P.M.

Shakespeare’s Women: Claiming Center Stage

Tudor and Renaissance scholar Carol Ann Lloyd Stanger explores the scope of the female characters in Shakespeare’s plays, examining the ways in which their author reinforced and


The Kaypi Peru Festival at the National Museum of the American Indian highlights Peru’s rich and diverse cultural heritage and traditional arts. challenged Elizabethan society’s norms and those in which his female characters continue to shape our perceptions today. Tickets are $45; for information, visit smithsonianassociates.org.


THU., JULY 18, 2 P.M.

Native American Brass Bands and Beyond

Native American jazz, classical and popular musicians have experienced artistic and commercial success since well before the turn of the 20th century. Many were first exposed to this music at boarding schools, where the regimented discipline of marching bands was a key component of the program of forced assimilation. Erin Fehr and John Troutman will discuss the social, historical and artistic experiences of Native American musicians. Additionally, there will be a screening of “Sousa on the Rez: Marching to the Beat of a Different Drum,” which celebrates the continuing popularity of marching bands in Native American communities. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN

THU., JULY 25, 6:45 P.M.

Secrets of the Mediterranean Kitchen

Join cookbook author, culinary tour leader, and Mediterranean lifestyle expert Amy Riolo for a journey that winds through the markets, kitchens, and tables of France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Morocco, Turkey, Lebanon, and Egypt. She examines how the foodways of this diverse range of countries reflect the shared heritage of the Mediterranean region in highly distinctive and delicious ways. Tickets are $90, including book signing and reception; for information, visit smithsonianassociates.org. S. DILLON RIPLEY CENTER

FESTIVALS JULY 27 - 28, 10 A.M. - 5:30 P.M.

Kaypi Peru Festival

“Kaypi Peru” — which means “This Is Peru” in the Quechua language — highlights Peru’s rich and diverse cultural heritage and traditional arts. The festival will include an art market, music and dance performances, hands-on activities for children, documentary screenings and Peruvian cuisine. The festival is presented in collaboration with the Embassy of Peru. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN


Fair Water: A Right of All

Inspired by the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Embassy of Spain — in collaboration with the Mexican Cultural Institute, the Water and Sanitation Cooperation Fund from the Spanish Cooperation, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade and other institutions — presents a series of events dedicated to the right to safe drinking water and sanitation in the fields of diplomacy, human rights, sustainable development, and arts and culture. The events will include panels regarding efforts by key partners striving to make the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation a reality for all, bringing together their different experiences in a variety of fields. The program will also focus on the relationship between art, the right to water and sustainability issues featuring public installation art, film screenings, video art projections and art workshops. As part of the program, on the joint front lawn of the Spanish and Mexican cultural institutes on 16th Street, NW, Spain-based art collective Luzinterruptus will display “La Cascada,” a 13-foot high and 30-foot long art installation made with almost a thousand recycled plastic buckets. For information, visit www. spainculture.us/city/washingtondc/fair-water-a-right-of-all/. FORMER RESIDENCE OF THE AMBASSADORS OF SPAIN

MUSIC FRI., JULY 5, 6:45 P.M.

Túumben Paax Choir – The Human Journey: Music Migration and Identity

Túumben Paax (meaning “new music” in Mayan) is a female vocal sextet and pioneering ensemble from Mexico established in 2006 by Lucía Olmos and formed by young singers from the top conservatories in Mexico. The choir performs a repertorie that includes pre-Hispanic music, modern arrangements of traditional folk song and contemporary pieces that reflect Mexico’s past and present. To RSVP, visit www. instituteofmexicodc.org. MEXICAN CULTURAL INSTITUTE

MON., JULY 8, 6 P.M.

Classical Movements 2019 Serenade! Grand Finale Concert

Classical Movements’ ninth an-




A sunny room on an upper floor is prime real estate in the Bristol Place Senior Living Facility, so when the cantankerous Abby is forced to share her quarters with new-arrival Marilyn, she has no choice but to get rid of the infuriatingly chipper woman by any means necessary. A seemingly harmless bet between the old women quickly escalates into a dangerous game of one-upmanship. Please call for ticket information. THE KEEGAN THEATRE

Through July 7 Byhalia, Mississippi

Jim and Laurel are broke, young and deeply in love. They are also about to become new parents. When Laurel gives birth to their overdue child, the biracial baby is a surprise to everyone, especially her husband Jim, igniting a firestorm in their small southern town. Tickets are $49 to $89. KENNEDY CENTER TERRACE THEATER

JULY 9 TO 27


This production by Scena Theatre, part of the Capital Fringe Festival, deals with the life, mystery and disappearance of the famed American aviatrix, Amelia Earhart, on her famous aroundthe-world flight in 1937. It poses critical questions as to what really happened to Amelia on that last flight when she attempted to be the first woman to fly around the world. Among them: Was her disappearance due to pilot error? Or was she a spy for the U.S. government? Please call for ticket information. ST. AUGUSTINE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH

JULY 10 TO 21


The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Free For All, one of the capital’s cherished annual traditions, returns with free performances of the company’s acclaimed production of “Hamlet.” Set in a surveillance state Denmark, the characters tap cellphones and spy on each other with cameras, in their most intimate and vulnerable moments of grief, agony and despair.


THU., JULY 11, 12 P.M. TO 11 P.M.

Reading of the Mueller Report, Volume II

Arena Stage, in association with

activist and actress Jjana Valentiner, will hold a public, nonpartisan 11-hour marathon reading of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, with up to 200 participants reading through the second volume. Scheduled volunteer readers for July 11 include a range of activists, artists and community leaders: Charles Allen, Charlotte Clymer, Maria Manuela Goyanes, David Grosso, Michael Kahn, Peter and Judy Kovler, Jim Moran, David Muse, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Ryan Rilette, Chase Rynd, Mark Walsh and more. ARENA STAGE

JULY 11 TO AUG. 11


This intimate, hilarious onewoman show — produced by Emmy Award-winning actress Holland Taylor and starring Jayne Atkinson — is based on the colorful and complex life of former Texas Gov. Ann Richards. Tickets are $41 to $95. ARENA STAGE



After learning he’s a wanted man by the British army, Blackbeard and his merry crew of maritime marauders embark on a fantastical journey across the globe to raise an undead pirate army from the depths of the sea. Please call for ticket information. SIGNATURE THEATRE


The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

Arturo Ui is a tale of the meteoric rise of a small-time Brooklyn hoodlum who takes over the Cauliflower racket in 1930s Chicago. Ui ruthlessly disposes of his competitors to enrich himself and gain power. Both entertaining and provocative, this play — produced by Scena Theatre — is a powerful parable of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Germany. It also elicits comparisons to members of our own government who aim to seize more power and control over us. Tickets are $15 to $45. ATLAS PERFORMING ARTS CENTER



While the world waits for the launch of Apollo 11 in 1969, three children of key NASA employees watch from different perspectives. By dreaming a collective dream of landing on the moon together, the kids learn to understand the historic mission — not fear it. Tickets are $20. KENNEDY CENTER TERRACE GALLERY


Disney’s Aladdin

From the producer of “The Lion King” comes the timeless story of “Aladdin” in a thrilling new production filled with unforgettable beauty, magic, comedy and breathtaking spectacle. Tickets are $39 to $179. KENNEDY CENTER OPERA HOUSE


WD | Culture | Spotlight

Diplomatic Spotlight

July 2019

15th Annual Embassy Golf Tournament

Ambassador of Jamaica Audrey Marks and The Washington Diplomat publisher Victor Shiblie welcome guests.

The Washington Diplomat’s 15th annual Embassy Golf Tournament had a Caribbean flair thanks to Jamaican Ambassador Audrey Marks, the diplomatic co-host. Over 125 diplomats, U.S. officials and members of the business community came out to enjoy a sunny day of golf on May 17 at Bretton Woods Golf Course in Maryland, originally founded in 1968 as an escape for IMF staff and their families. In addition to lunch, a casual day of golf and dinner, the popular annual event featured an array of prizes, including trips to Jamaica, local hotel stays, gift baskets and, of course, plenty of Jamaican rum. Sponsors included the Jamaica Tourist Board; D.C. United; The Fairfax Embassy Row; Kimpton Hotels; The Watergate Hotel; Clements Worldwide; Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. - Christie’s International Real Estate; Hughes Network Systems; Investology; Delsey Paris; the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office – Kavalan Distillery Reserve Peaty Cask Whisky; Montego Bay Resorts; the Ritz-Carlton Tysons; and Wallenford Blue Mountain Coffee.

Victoria Harper of the Jamaica Tourist Board and Ambassador of the Bahamas Sidney Collie.

Photos by Jessica Latos

Ambassador of Colombia Francisco Santos Calderón, Camilo Ayala of the Embassy of Colombia and Victor Shiblie of The Washington Diplomat.

Lyra Puisyte-Bostroem and Thomas Bostroem of the Embassy of Lithuania get ready to golf.

Kenneth Clark of the Cambria Hotel and Suites; Brian Brown of the African Union Mission; Ursula McNamara of the InterContinental Washington, D.C. - The Wharf; and Lawrence Muraya, CEO of The FrontPoint Group. Frank Tepper, Kanak Kandakumar, Jasmine Newman, Vittoria Somaschini, Matt Tuman and Zachary Lentz of Clements Worldwide.

An Aston Martin DB11 sits on the grounds of Bretton Woods.

Golfers share a toast on the greens.

Isam Taib of the Embassy of Morocco and Guy d’Amecourt, of Summit Commercial Real Estate.

Brian Brown of the African Union Mission talks with Ambassador of Côte d’Ivoire Mamadou Haïdara.

Henry Weiss of the State Department, Luke Knittig of the McCain Institute, Lyra Puisyte-Bostroem of the Embassy of Lithuania and Thomas Bostroem.

Rami Eraifeg, Roni Murshed of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, Adam Kinsey and Mark Ajamian of Bank of America Merrill Lynch.


Graham Streatfield, Peter Kempster, John Pack and Andrew Kelly of the New Zealand Embassy.

Caroline Croft of the State Department, Ameen Estaiteyeh of Investology Inc., Ambassador of Jamaica Audrey Marks and Mary-Kate Fisher of the State Department.

Jim Napier of Bretton Woods, Ambassador of Jamaica Audrey Marks and The Washington Diplomat publisher Victor Shiblie.

Charlie Holt, Reyna Narbay and Juan Rivera of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants.

Goodie-bag gifts from sponsors Clements Worldwide, Hughes Network Systems, Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. - Christie’s International Real Estate and D.C. United.

LaJeune Marbury of The Fairfax at Embassy Row, Bryant Hatcher of Accenture and Melissa Dix of The Fairfax at Embassy Row.

Ambassador of Jamaica Audrey Marks, Ameen Estaiteyeh of Investology Inc., Deputy Chief of Protocol at the State Department Mary-Kate Fisher and Caroline Croft of the State Department.

Spotlight | Culture | WD Ian Piper of the British International School Washington; Marsha Reid Walker of the Embassy of Jamaica; David Lynch of Capitol Coating Concepts; Dilworth Daley of the Jamaica Tourist Board; Regillio Hinds of the Embassy of the Netherlands; Nicolette Williams of the Embassy of Jamaica; and Angelique Rutledge of the Embassy of the Netherlands.

Below, MaĂŻlys Pensivy and Isabel Sarmiento Muehlich of The Watergate Hotel.

Beer at Bretton Woods beer is served at The Watergate Hotel-sponsored hole.

Thomas Coleman of the Department of Homeland Security wins an all-inclusive trip to the Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa.

At right, Larry Cronise, Vince Onuigbo and Daniel Losada of Hughes Network Systems and Misty Remington of ExploreGate.

Shirin Kooros, Daniel Bertorelli, Sansarah Beermann, Olga Gulins and Houda Moustahsine of The Watergate Hotel.

Ursula McNamara of the InterContinental Washington, D.C. The Wharf, Erinda Aliaj of Booking.com and Rod Carrasco of The Washington Diplomat. Frank Tepper, Vittoria Somaschini, Matt Tuman, Zachary Lentz and Kanak Kandakumar of Clements Worldwide join Fuad Shiblie of The Washington Diplomat.

Kanak Kandakumar, Zachary Lentz, Frank Tepper and Matt Tuman of Clements Worldwide

An Aston Martin DB11.

Victor Shiblie of The Washington Diplomat joins the first-place winners of the tournament: Chris King, Shawn Winhoven, Kurt Panchura and Rich Armstrong.

Victor Shiblie of The Washington Diplomat left, and Ambassador of Jamaica Audrey Marks, right, join William Campbell of the Methodist Church, who won a trip to the Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa.

Victor Shiblie of The Washington Diplomat, Caroline Croft of the State Department and Victoria Harper of the Jamaica Tourist Board.

Delsey Luggage was among the many prizes at the 15th annual Embassy Golf Tournament.

Victor Shiblie of The Washington Diplomat and Bryant Hatcher of Accenture.

Graham Streatfield, Peter Kempster and Andrew Kelly of the Embassy of New Zealand enjoy dinner.

Various award and raffle prizes were on offer. Cornel Graver of the Embassy of Jamaica; Victoria Harper of the Jamaica Tourist Board; Andrea Dubidad-Dixon of the Embassy of Jamaica; Marsha Reid Walker of the Embassy of Jamaica; Ambassador of Jamaica Audrey Marks; Camray Yee Nicolette Williams; and Susil Abeysinghe of the Embassy of Jamaica.

Members of The Washington Diplomat team: Victor Shiblie, Rod Carrasco, Anna Gawel and Fuad Shiblie.


WD | Culture | Spotlight

Diplomatic Spotlight

July 2019

Estonian Ambassador Insider Series

The Washington Diplomat publisher Victor Shiblie, managing editor Anna Gawel, Ambassador of Estonia Jonatan Vseviov, U.S. Protocol Chief Sean Lawler, Ambassador of Jamaica Audrey Marks and Ambassador of Nicaragua Francisco Obadiah Campbell Hooker.

On May 2, Estonian Ambassador Jonatan Vseviov headlined The Washington Diplomat’s Ambassador Insider Series (AIS) at the Kimpton Carlyle Hotel in Dupont Circle. “We are a digital state,” the ambassador said of his country, which is often referred to as “e-Estonia” because technology is wired into almost all aspects of life. Today, government services are offered online 24/7. This connectivity allows the Baltic country’s 1.3 million people to file taxes, vote, apply for a loan and even fill a prescription from the convenience of a computer. In fact, the ambassador estimates that the country saves about 2 percent of its annual GDP just by signing everything online. “No Estonian knows what a checkbook is,” he quipped. Vseviov acknowledged that the government is constantly working to ensure people’s privacy online, “but we are absolutely convinced that by doing things digitally, we can take care of the same privacy problems better than by doing it on paper.” Cyber threats are also a major concern. In 2007, Estonia came under a series of cyber attacks — linked to Russian servers — that crippled everything from banks to the media. The ambassador described the attacks as a “wake-up” call for the world and said that to prevent such attacks, countries need to adopt a “whole-of-government and whole-of-society” response, including private-public sector data sharing. In addition to threats in the virtual landscape, Estonia faces physical threats on the ground, notably from its large neighbor, Russia. Vseviov said he’s seen NATO increasingly take Russian aggression more seriously as the security bloc boosts defense spending and steps up its presence along its eastern flank. Vseviov also said that despite President Trump’s bashing of NATO, there’s been strong U.S. institutional support for the bloc. “I would be lying if I said the rhetorical situation between the two shores of the Atlantic is great. It’s not. It’s actually awful to be honest,” he said. “But that has not had an effect on the substance yet. Words matter but so do the actual deeds, which have been fine, although a lot Guests listen to the discussion. more remains to be done.” Reporter Megan Mineiro, Judy Mabone of the Miss DC Pageant, Danya Ise, program executive at NASA, and Machiko Sato of Georgetown University.


Aristides Adriano of the Embassy of Mozambique and Megan Devlin of the Meridian International Center. Anna Gawel, managing editor of The Washington Diplomat, interviews Estonian Ambassador Jonatan Vseviov. At left, Paul Snider of Clements Worldwide and Matt Tuman of Clements Worldwide join Isaac Shomer of Young Professionals in International Affairs.

Ashley Curtis asks a question.

At left, Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Heuer and life coach Leila Beale.

Anna Gawel, managing editor of The Washington Diplomat.

At left, Sandra Gonzalez and Samuel Piña Vega

Charles Sills of the Eurasia Center, William Outlaw of the Veterans Health Organization and Kenneth Arnold of T. Deen Reed.

Publisher of The Washington Diplomat Victor Shiblie, Ambassador of Estonia Jonatan Vseviov and Alan Behar of Ike Behar Apparel and Design.

Isabel Cabezas of the University of Notre Dame, Leo Ayala of the U.S. Department of Commerce and Luis Chang of the Peru Trade, Tourism and Investment Office in D.C. Karin Shuey of the Estonian American National Council, Daniel Fisher of Technica Corp. and Harriet Kelman of the American Jewish Committee.

Ambassador of Jamaica Audrey Marks listens to the discussion.

Anna Gawel, managing editor of The Washington Diplomat, interviews Estonian Ambassador Jonatan Vseviov.

Alex Schroeder and Brandon McElroy

Ambassador of Estonia Jonatan Vseviov.

Spotlight | Culture | WD

Bluegrass Diplomacy

D.C. United Game Viewing The Washington Diplomat hosted a group of diplomats and U.S. officials in the D.C. United owners’ box at Audi Field on May 12 to watch a match between D.C. United and Sporting Kansas City (D.C. won 1-0). Pictured from left are: Andy Bush of D.C. United; Lara Romano, deputy chief of mission of the Embassy of Croatia; Ricardo Lachterman, first secretary of the Embassy of Argentina; Christian Hotton, counselor at the Embassy of Argentina; The Washington Diplomat publisher Victor Shiblie; British Ambassador Sir Kim Darroch; his wife Vanessa Darroch; Mick Mulvaney, acting chief of staff for President Trump; Mikael Garnier Lavalley of the Embassy of France; and U.S. Protocol Chief Sean Lawler.


The German Embassy Economic Department with Minister Karl Matthias Klause invited guests for a Mayfest celebration, a traditional German occasion to celebrate the coming of summer, featuring the all-female bluegrass band Fly Birds.

Studio Theatre’s 40th Anniversary Celebration

The Washington Diplomat Japanese Tea Ceremony Guests were treated to a traditional tea ceremony performed by professor Sobin Koizumi at The Fairfax at Embassy Row hotel on April 11 as part of an event hosted by The Washington Diplomat and Sakura-cha Meet, a Japanese nonprofit in Kyoto that promotes peace and harmony by sharing tea. Koizumi entered the Urasenke tea school in 1975 and became a professor of tea ceremony in 1997. Since 2000, she has been spreading the culture ancient tea ceremony throughout the world.

Sobin Koizumi teaches the traditional art of the Japanese tea ceremony.

Studio Theatre welcomed more than 250 guests to celebrate its 40th Anniversary Celebration on April 13 at Dock5 in Union Market. The evening marked Studio’s “In Your Face” season, honored the work of JBG SMITH in the D.C. community, and featured entertainment from familiar faces and voices of 40 years of Studio Theatre. PHOTOS: PIXELME STUDIOS

Victor Shiblie, left, and Fuad Shiblie, right, talk with members of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO).

Anna Rodgers, group sales manager at The Fairfax at Embassy Row.

Evan Regan-Levine, executive vice president at JBG Smith; Larry Naake, executive director and CEO of the National Association of Counties; and Bryan Moll, executive vice president at JBG Smith.

Yuehong Wang of the Embassy of China, professor Sobin Koizumi and Feiming Wu of the Embassy of China.

Akiko Kawai of the Sakura-cha Meet nonprofit.

Priyanthi Kanakaratna of the Embassy of Bangladesh.

Liam Forde and Shannon Dorsey.

Akiko Kawai of the Sakura-cha Meet nonprofit, tea ceremony master Sobin Koizumi, Rod Carrasco of The Washington Diplomat and David Hendrix, general manager of The Fairfax at Embassy Row, welcome guests.

Actresses Kim Schraf, Tonya Beckman and Susan Rome.

Andrew De Souza, Catherine Yochum, Katie Kleiger, Daniel Pattenden and Jocelyn Lederman.

Studio Theatre Artistic Director David Muse welcomes guests.

Ginny McArthur of Mobius Leadership and Renee Matalon of Matalon & Nathani LLP.


WD | Culture | Spotlight

Diplomatic Spotlight Azerbaijan Centennial

July 2019

Guests join Ambassador of Azerbaijan Elin Suleymanov to cut the celebratory cake on stage.

On June 13, hundreds of guests turned out to celebrate Azerbaijan’s Republic Day and the centennial of its diplomatic service in a reception held at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium. Guests listened to remarks by top-ranking officials from Azerbaijan and the U.S., including members of Congress, the Pentagon and State Department, and then danced to the music of the Azerbaijani SHUR instrumental trio led by Vusal Isqandarzade. PHOTOS: EMBASSY OF AZERBAIJAN

Ambassador of Oman Hunaina Al-Mughairy shakes hands with Ambassador of Bahrain Shaikh Abdullah bin Rashid Al Khalifa.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau at the State Department George P. Kent.

Ambassador of Russia Anatoly I. Antonov greets Hikmet Hajiyev, head of the Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan.

Ambassador of Azerbaijan Elin Suleymanov greets Ambassador of Israel Ron Dermer.

Ambassador of Tajikistan Farhod Salim, Ambassador of Azerbaijan Elin Suleymanov and Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan Bolot Otunbaev.

Col. Bradley White, deputy commander of Oklahoma Guard Joint Task Force.

Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor Hikmet Hajiyev and Ambassador of Azerbaijan Elin Suleymanov, center, join guests.


Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.). Ambassador of Azerbaijan Elin Suleymanov, right, poses with Secretary of the District of Columbia Kimberly Bassett, who presented the mayor’s proclamation declaring May 28, 2019, as Azerbaijan National Day in Washington, D.C.

Ambassador of Turkey Serdar Kilic and Minister of Justice of Turkey Abdulhamit Gül talk to Hikmet Hajiyev, foreign policy advisor to the president of Azerbaijan.

Spotlight | Culture | WD

National Museum of Women In the Arts Spring Gala

Ivonn Szeverenyi, wife of the Hungarian ambassador; gala co-chair Kristen Lund; and Winton Holladay, president of the NMWA Board of Trustees.

Italian Ambassador Armando Varricchio and his wife Micaela Barbagallo served as the honorary diplomatic chairs of the 2019 spring gala for the National Women in the Arts (NMWA), the museum’s largest fundraising event. Artist Ursula von Rydingsvard, whose work was on display for guests at the museum, received the NMWA’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in the Arts.

Professor Maristella Tapia, Ambassador of Italy Armando Varricchio of Italy and his wife Micaela Barbagallo.


Avi Benaim of A.B.E. Networks and Winton Holladay.

Artist Barbara Liotta, Tony Podesta and Kate Chieco of H&P Communications

Guests admire the sculptures of Ursula von Rydingsvard.

Ira and Katie Ludwick of the Ira Luckwick Salon.

Kamili Wilson, Kim Knight and Hillary John.

Stacey Lubar and commercial real estate broker Greg Lubar.

Kristina Knowles and Jim Clark

Sunny Alsup and Robert Liotta

James Paragamian of the Paragamian Group and Robin Burton of City National Bank.

WPA Shopping Party About 35 members of the board of Washington Performing Arts (WPA), diplomats and friends attended a personal shopping party at the Georgetown Alice & Olivia store benefitting WPA on June 6. PHOTOS: TONY POWELL

Ambassador of Oman Hunaina Al-Mughairy and her daughter Farah Al-Hinai browse clothes.

Ella Peters, Shaikha Aisha AlKhalifa and and Kristen Lund.

WPA President and CEO Jenny Bilfield and Shaikha Aisha AlKhalifa, wife of the Bahraini ambassador and co-host of the event.

WPA Board members Ami Scott and Trista Colbert.


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tween the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, it is sometimes sufficiently ambitious to seek to limit competition, rather than eliminate it. This is not to suggest Iran would enjoy a free hand in the region. Israel will presumably continue to pursue targeted military action to ensure that Iran cannot establish a military presence and infrastructure in Syria near Israel’s border, as it has done in Lebanon. And the U.S. should maintain an augmented military presence in or near the Persian Gulf, keep troops

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in Syria and maintain a meaningful diplomatic and military presence in Iraq. Promoting JCPOA 2.0 would not lead to normalization of diplomatic ties with Iran, but it would dramatically reduce the chance of war or Iran’s emergence as a nuclear-armed power, a development that would likely prompt Saudi Arabia and several other countries to follow suit. The Middle East is dangerous enough already without adding yet another, far deadlier dimension to the mix. WD Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, previously served as director of policy planning for the State Department and was President George W. Bush’s special envoy to Northern Ireland and coordinator for the future of Afghanistan. He is the author of “A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order.” © Project Syndicate

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei on Jan. 23, 2016. While the Trump administration has tightened sanctions on Iranian oil exports, China remains a major buyer of Iranian oil.




Profile for The Washington Diplomat

The Washington Diplomat - July 2019  

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

The Washington Diplomat - July 2019  

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