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Luxury Living Special Section Inside Luxury Living

A Special Section of The Washington Diplomat


For many Iraqis, especially those who fought alongside U.S. troops, seeing their country on Donald Trump’s now-infamous blacklist of refugees barred from the U.S. felt like a “betrayal,” as Iraq’s former ambassador, Lukman Faily — himself banned from visiting the U.S. — described it. / PAGE 9

United States

U.S. Diplomats Use Dissent Channel to Voice Opposition More than 1,000 people at the State Department signed a dissent memo in late January objecting to President Trump’s executive order banning refugees from seven predominantly Muslim nations, taking advantage of a unique but controversial avenue for expressing diplomatic opposition to official U.S. policy. / PAGE 12

March 2017

MARCH 2017


Shopping with Purpose

Middle East

Trump’s Travel Ban Feels Like Stab in The Back for Iraqis


Ten Thousand Villages Brings


Artisan Goods to U.S. Store


scarf from Laos, a basket from India, a pitcher from Indonesia — unique, handmade objects from around the world can be found at shops in area that are dedicated the D.C. to preserving the local as well as promoting traditions behind the the economic empowerment crafts of their creators.

With about 50 stores scattered around the country — locally, one is in Alexandria, Va., while others can be in Baltimore and Hagerstown, found lages allows visitors to browse Md. — Ten Thousand Vilaround the world. The makers,and buy goods from artisans all from developing countries, build long-term relationships with Ten Thousand Villages to sell their goods — and it’s all fair trade. “People understand that what they’re giving is not just

a beautiful gift. What it represents is real empowerment, economically and socially, for people around the world, particular women,” Becca in Stamp, the marketing communications manager at Ten Thousand Villages, told The Washington Diplomat. As the nation’s largest fair trade retailer, Ten Thousand Vil28


| 27


DEFYING A DICTATOR It’s not every day that an ambassador risks everything by urging the longtime dictator back home to relinquish power. But that’s exactly what happened when Gambian President Yahya Jammeh refused to concede defeat following the surprising election victory of real estate developer Adama Barrow — and Gambian Ambassador Sheikh Omar Faye took a principled stand by imploring the brutal autocrat to see the writing on the wall. / PAGE 17

Culture United States

Diplomatic Spouses

Parisian Poster Child For the Belle Époque

Trump’s ConflictRidden World

Slovenia’s Famous Role Model: Melania Trump

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec captures the lurid and decadent world of late 19th-century Paris in a new show at the Phillips Collection. / PAGE 32

President Trump’s penchant for chaos has turned the world order upside down, generating the possibility of fresh conflicts from China to Ukraine to Mexico. / PAGE 4

Martina Skok, a diplomat at Slovenia’s U.N. mission and wife of the Slovenian envoy in D.C., said she’s happy that her small, picturesque nation is getting a PR bump from its most famous export: Melania Trump, the former model turned first lady. / PAGE 33


Tuesday, May 23, 2017 6:00 P.M.

National Building Museum Washington, D.C.

Gourmet Gala Co-Chairs Caroline Aderholt 2017 GOURMET GALA SPONSORS Vivian Bishop Colleen Ochoa Peters Gayle Wicker Finance Co-Chairs Debbie Marshall Erskine Wells 2017 GOURMET GALA CELEBRITY CHEFS

Rep. Rick W. Allen & Mrs. Robin Allen, GA Sen. John Barrasso & Mrs. Bobbi Barrasso, WY Sen. Richard Blumenthal & Mrs. Cynthia Blumenthal, CT Sen. Roy Blunt & Mrs. Abigail Blunt, MO Sen. Shelley Moore Capito & Mr. Charlie Capito, WV Sen. Bob Casey & Mrs. Terese Casey, PA Sen. Bill Cassidy & Dr. Laura Layden Cassidy, LA Rep. Mike Conaway & Mrs. Suzanne Conaway, TX Sen. John Cornyn & Mrs. Sandy Cornyn, TX Rep. Diana DeGette, CO Rep. Debbie Dingell, MI Sen. Joe Donnelly & Mrs. Jill Donnelly, IN Sen. Mike Enzi & Mrs. Diana Enzi, WY Sen. Deb Fischer, NE Sen. Jeff Flake & Mrs. Cheryl Flake, AZ Sen. Cory Gardner & Mrs. Jaime Gardner, CO Rep. Garret Graves & Mrs. Carissa Graves, LA Rep. Gene Green & Mrs. Helen Green, TX Sen. Dean Heller & Mrs. Lynne Heller, NV Sen. Mazie Hirono & Mr. Leighton Kim Oshima, HI Sen. John Hoeven & Mrs. Mikey Hoeven, ND Rep. Richard Hudson, NC Rep. Bill Johnson & Mrs. LeeAnn Johnson, OH Rep. Trent Kelly & Mrs. Sheila Kelly, MS Sen. Angus King & Ms. Mary Herman, ME Rep. Doug Lamborn & Mrs. Jeanie Lamborn, CO Rep. Bob Latta & Mrs. Marcia Latta, OH Rep. Dave Loebsack & Mrs. Terry Loebsack, IA Rep. Billy Long & Mrs. Barbara Long, MO Sen. Edward Markey & Dr. Susan Blumenthal, MA Rep. Doris Matsui, CA Sen. Jim Risch & Mrs. Vicki Risch, ID Sen. Pat Roberts & Mrs. Franki Roberts, KS Sen. Mike Rounds, SD Rep. Steve Scalise & Mrs. Jennifer Scalise, LA Sen. Tim Scott, SC Rep. Adrian Smith & Mrs. Andrea Smith, NE Rep. Mike Thompson & Mrs. Janet Thompson, CA Sen. Pat Toomey & Mrs. Kris Toomey, PA Rep. Michael Turner & Mrs. Majida Turner, OH Sen. Tom Udall & Mrs. Jill Cooper Udall, NM Rep. Marc Veasey, TX

Volume 24


Issue 3


March 2017



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Photo taken at the Gambian Embassy by Lawrence Ruggeri of











D.C.’s World Affairs Council honors unifiers in a divisive time.

Slovenia’s ambassador and his diplomat wife tout their links to first lady Melania Trump.

25 Lessons from Ike Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency offers lessons for Trump’s tenure.


“Decolonizing Alaska” goes beyond Eskimos and igloos.



Creating Chaos

Five hotspots to watch out for in Trump’s conflict-ridden world.


Trump’s ‘Betrayal’ The former Iraqi ambassador denounces the U.S. president’s controversial travel ban.

12 Testing Limits of Dissent Trump’s refugee clampdown sparks an uproar at the State Department.


Op-Ed: Politics of Dissent

Was the State Department’s dissent memo an act of conscience or a politicized PR stunt?

17 Cover Profile: The gambia

Global Gala


Nearly half of Americans may have heart disease in less than 20 years.


It Takes a Village …

Or Ten Thousand Villages to empower artisans around the world.


Diplomatic spouses

Going Native

Florentine Family Tradition Della Robbia sculptures are on vivid display at the National Gallery of Art.

REGULARS 38 Film Listing 40 Events Listing

Gambia’s ambassador disavows a brutal dictator in the name of democracy.


42 Diplomatic Spotlight



46 Classifieds

The Manufacturing Mystery

U.S. manufacturing jobs succumb to a complex web of trade, automation and economic evolution.

Parisian Poster Child

The Phillips Collection spotlights ToulouseLautrec’s Belle Époque.

47 Real Estate Classifieds


WD | United States

Creating Chaos Trump’s Conflict-Ridden World: Five Hotspots to Watch in 2017 by Larry Luxner


rom Berlin to Beijing, from Tallinn to Taipei, President Donald Trump seems eager to pick fights — even among U.S. allies — without leaving the White House, where infighting among his own team has made his young administration one of the most volatile in U.S. history. In less than a month in office, the 45th president has managed to turn the world order upside down. He infuriated Chinese leaders by questioning America’s long-standing commitment to Beijing’s “one China” policy regarding Taiwan, provoked anger across the Islamic world by instituting a refugee order widely seen as a blanket ban on Muslims and infuriated Arabs by insisting he would move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Two weeks into the job, he even sparked outrage in Australia, one of America’s most steadfast allies, by abruptly cutting short a 25-minute phone conversation with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. As if that’s not enough, he’s lashed out at Germany, indirectly called for the dismantling of the European Union and threatened to start a trade war with Mexico over the building of a massive border wall to keep out illegal immigrants. Yet all this pales in comparison to the fallout following the forced resignation of Trump’s national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, after it was revealed that he had discussed U.S. sanctions in a phone call with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and then lied about it to no less than Vice President Mike Pence. The White House, embroiled in controversy over the timeline of who knew what when, is now in full damage control mode. On Feb. 14, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said it was “highly likely” that the events leading up to Flynn’s departure would be included in a broader congressional probe into Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Democrats smell blood and are pushing for a wider independent investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia (the FBI is already reportedly looking into contacts between Trump’s campaign associates and Moscow a year before the U.S. election). Leaks have gushed out of the White House at an unprecedented pace and constant chaos seems to have become the new norm. Conservative pundit Eliot A. Cohen, director of the strategic studies program at Johns Hopkins University and a noted Trump critic, suggests that precisely because the problem is one of Trump’s temperament and character, the situation will not get better.


Photo: U.S. Department of Homeland Security

President Donald Trump, center, talks with Vice President Mike Pence, left, and Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly during a Jan. 25 visit to the Department of Homeland Security.

It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him. Eliot A. Cohen

director of the strategic studies program at Johns Hopkins University

“It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him,” Cohen wrote recently in the Atlantic. “It will probably end in calamity — substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars (even with China) on top of the ones we already have. It will not be surprising in the slightest if his term ends not in four or in eight years, but sooner, with impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment. The sooner Americans get used to these likelihoods, the better.” At the start of the year, many journalists and think tanks reported on possible conflict scenarios to watch out for in 2017, ranging from Islamic State attacks on Turkey to humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen to bloodshed in South Sudan, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Iraq. But in just a span of a few weeks, Trump has upended that equation, creating new trouble-spots that could erupt in violence or cause global chaos. To make sense of it all, we have selected five areas of conflict, military or otherwise, likely to worsen in 2017 under Trump — and

what experts say can be done to prevent things from spiraling out of control.

UKRAINE/BALTICS It remains to be seen whether Trump’s connections with Russia snowball into a Watergate-like downfall. Regardless, Trump’s admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin is well documented, as is his desire to please Moscow by lifting sanctions imposed against it by his predecessor, Barack Obama. That leaves Ukraine, still split between a beleaguered central government in Kiev and Moscow-backed rebels in the east, in the crosshairs. The Flynn scandal may have quashed the administration’s hopes of a major rapprochement with Russia for the time being, but European leaders worry about America’s commitment to the sanctions imposed on Moscow for annexing Crimea in 2014. Europe, a major trading partner with Russia, has felt the sting of those penalties far more than the U.S. has, and without Washington’s backing, Germany and other countries may be hard pressed to convince their publics to

stick with sanctions that have hurt their economies. But removing those sanctions would amount to rewarding the Kremlin for bad behavior, warned John Herbst, director of the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center. He said it’s no coincidence that within 36 hours of Trump’s Jan. 28 phone call with Putin — which focused mainly on working together to defeat the Islamic State — “the Russians upped the violence in Ukraine substantially.” Herbst, who was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2003 to 2006, noted that for three days, as fighting raged in eastern Ukraine that killed over two dozen civilians and soldiers, “the administration said only that, ‘We’re concerned about this.’ Only on Thursday, the fourth day of the violence, did Nikki Haley [U.S. ambassador to the United Nations] in New York slam the Kremlin for its aggression. But this slamming was never repeated by the White House. That Sunday, Trump was asked on the news if he was embarrassed by the fact that the violence went up substantially after his phone call, and he said he wasn’t.” Observers say there is also a chance, however, that Ukraine instigated some of the violence itself. “Kiev, too, has become less inclined to compromise as it has grown more uncerSee T r u mp • page 6

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Trump Continued • page 4

tain about Washington’s policy toward the conflict,” wrote Kiev-based Isaac Webb in a Feb. 6 Foreign Policy article. He noted that Ukraine has been making frequent incursions into the “gray zone,” the no man’s land separating government and rebel forces, increasing the likelihood of clashes. Moreover, neither side seems particularly inclined to implement the hard compromises laid out in the Minsk accords that led to the current fragile ceasefire. “At the same time, the Ukrainian president’s office has used the escalation to remind Trump of the costs of rapprochement with Russian President Vladimir Putin: ‘The shelling is massive. Who would dare talk about lifting the sanctions in such circumstances?’” Webb wrote. But for Trump, Ukraine — whose Russian intervention has led to nearly three years of war and about 10,000 deaths — is at best a secondary consideration, according to Herbst. “That’s why he keeps talking about lifting sanctions if the Russians help us fight ISIS [Islamic State]. He doesn’t seem to understand that Russia is conducting a war of aggression in Ukraine, and that their aim is to weaken NATO and the EU,” Herbst told The Diplomat. “What we’re seeing right now is a fair amount of institutional pushback against this unwise policy, and not just from Sen. John McCain [R-Ariz.] and the Democrats. Even McConnell made a statement about how this is not the time to be talking about removing sanctions. Sen. Paul Ryan [R-Wis.] said the same thing. I suspect that if Trump keeps pushing, he’ll produce a serious response from Congress.” Peter Doran, executive vice president at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), said this debate is being watched very closely throughout Eastern Europe, but especially in the three ex-Soviet republics of the Baltics: Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. “If the United States is going to be tested somewhere on its frontier of power, that test is likely to come where American capabilities are weak,” Doran told us. “Certainly NATO’s eastern flank has been one of the most neglected zones of conflict in recent memory. Since the Crimea invasion, the U.S. has scrambled to catch up with the game that Vladimir Putin is already playing very well — and winning, for now.” As part of an agreement struck by Obama last year, NATO has already begun moving thousands of troops to shore up its defenses in Eastern Europe, with the first contingent arriving in Poland in January. But allies remain nervous whether Trump will follow through on the new deployments and other promised NATO initiatives. Indeed, during a Feb. 15 visit to Brussels, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis reiterated Trump’s longstanding threat that NATO members must contribute their fair share and spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense. “If your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this alliance, each of your capitals needs to show support for our common defense,” he warned. At the same time, Mattis has repeatedly sought to reassure allies that the security bloc remains vital to U.S. interests. Still, NATO allies are closely watching to see how the Russia drama will unfold. Doran said that despite the general rancor in Washington, there is “strong bilateral support” on Capitol Hill for taking a tough line toward the Kremlin, as well as a transatlantic consensus that the sanctions against Russia are there for good reason. “Keeping the sanctions in place sends a very clear message to Russia: that the international system is governed by laws, that those 6 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MARCH 2017

Photo: © EVGENIY MALOLETKA / OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) monitors the movement of heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine in March 2015. A month before, Ukraine and Russia, along with France and Germany, agreed to a ceasefire under the Minsk agreement, but Kiev and Moscow-backed rebels in the east have failed to implement key parts of the deal.

Photo: DoD / Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley, U.S. Navy

A full honors arrival ceremony welcomes then-Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping to the Pentagon on Feb. 14, 2012. Xi, now president, has bristled at Donald Trump’s suggestion that the longstanding “one China” policy can be used as a bargaining chip in bilateral relations.

laws must be respected and that these actions are not acceptable in the 21st century. Putin is a leader who respects strength and power — and removing the sanctions as a way of accommodating the Kremlin would be a serious mistake.”

CHINA/TAIWAN Many observers assumed the initial flashpoint between China and the U.S. under a new administration would occur because of maritime disputes in the South China Sea, where Beijing has been aggressively staking its territorial claims. But Trump’s surprise December acceptance of a congratulatory phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen — the first since the U.S. and Taiwan severed relations in 1979 — infuriated China and drove a wedge between the world’s two largest economies. Even before that, the billionaire candidate blasted China for manipulating its currency and ruining the U.S. economy. Once in office, Trump promptly questioned whether the U.S. will use the one China policy — under which the U.S. acknowledges that there is a single Chinese government in Beijing — as leverage to extract concessions from Beijing, which views Taiwan as a renegade province and a core national interest. But after receiving the diplomatic cold shoulder from Chinese President Xi Jinping for weeks, Trump toned down his anti-China rhetoric, though it’s unclear what might happen next — especially with regard to Taiwan

and an even more potentially serious flashpoint: North Korea. “Donald Trump is enabling Xi Jinping to make China great again,” quipped Robert A. Manning, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. “Trump stepped in with his initial inane, ignorant comments, thinking that since the whole world is a real estate deal, he’d put Taiwan on the table as a bargaining chip,” Manning told The Diplomat in a phone interview. “The Taiwanese were pretty indignant. It achieved the unique goal of pissing off Taiwan and China at the same time.” On Feb. 10, Trump agreed to accept the one China definition during a phone call with Xi, his first since taking office. “The reality is, this is not a bargaining chip,” Manning said. “That’s why we’re able to have a policy with China in the first place. The idea that the Chinese would negotiate that is really dumb and deeply flawed.” In fact, he said — and this goes back way before Trump’s election — “many of our core assumptions about China have been proven wrong, for instance the notion that as they became more integrated into the international system, they’d buy into our rules, or as they succeeded economically, we’d begin to see political reform. Actually, it’s going the other way. Given that, there will be a rethinking of China policy in any event.” High on that policy agenda, of course, are economic issues. Yet here too, says Manning, the Trump administration has been long on

rhetoric and short on facts. “They’re right in identifying China as a troubling economic actor, but they’ve chosen all the wrong issues,” he argued. “They have not manipulated their currency in years. If you talk to 100 businessmen operating in China, 99 of them will tell you the currency issue is pretty far down on their list. The real issue of concern is China’s very nationalistic industrial policies.” Manning cited a recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce poll which found that 80 percent of U.S. companies say they feel less welcome in China than before. “Being frozen out — that is the central issue, and hopefully [the Trump administration] will eventually figure that out.” But Trump may have lost his biggest source of economic leverage by abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a sweeping trade deal with 12 Asia-Pacific nations that notably excluded China. While widely expected, the move opens the door for China to push its own competing trade pact — which has far less labor, intellectual property and environmental protections — and further cement its hegemony over the region. “By preemptively eliminating tools like economic statecraft from its foreign-policy toolbox, the Trump administration will be leaving itself with only hard power to counteract China’s ambitions,” wrote Hunter Marston in Foreign Policy magazine on Jan. 23. Marston cited comments by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at his confirmation hearing that the U.S. would deny China access to artificial islands it is building in the international waters of the South China Sea. White House press secretary Sean Spicer doubled down on that statement, perhaps unaware of its implications. That’s because any attempt by the U.S. to militarily bar China from those islands would require a naval blockade, which would be tantamount to an act of war. Whether those comments were a slip of the tongue because Trump officials don’t fully grasp the issue or an intentional warning, they sent a chilling signal to China watchers. “Tillerson’s provocative remarks may be a rhetorical gesture, another tenuous red line, or they may signal the beginnings of a far more assertive American policy of containment aimed at curbing China’s control of the South China Sea. Either interpretation invites peril,” warned Marston. What this means for North Korea’s nuclear ambitions remains to be seen. Trump has lamented that Beijing should do more to rein in its erratic neighbor, which fired a nuclear test and a barrage of missile launches last year. Its most recent provocation was an intermediaterange ballistic missile test that took place while Trump was visiting with Japan’s prime minister. Trump’s response was uncharacteristically muted as he sought to avoid an escalation with the North’s mercurial dictator, Kim Jong-un. But if the North fires an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S., that would immediately change the calculus. Regardless, Trump needs the cooperation of China, North Korea’s economic lifeline, to address the nuclear threat on the Korean Peninsula. But Beijing is wary of toppling Kim’s regime, fearing an influx of millions of poor refugees and a unified U.S. ally on its doorstep. “In the past, China’s role [in North Korea] has been cited as an area of U.S.-China cooperation,” said Manning. “But there’s a real risk it will become an area of U.S.-China contention. They clearly hate North Korea, and North Korea hates them, but they’re stuck with each other. China’s biggest fear is instability on the Korean Peninsula. They don’t want to do anything that would threaten that stability, so there are limits to how far they’d go.” To that end, some experts say it’s time to end the U.S. policy of strategic patience and engage with the North, a prospect China favors. John Delury, a senior fellow at the Asia Society’s

Center on U.S.-China Relations, wrote in Foreign Affairs that the Trump administration “should negotiate a freeze of North Korea’s nuclear program in return for a U.S. security guarantee, since that is the only measure that could enable Kim to start concentrating on economic development and the belated transformation of North Korea.” He adds: “Like it or not, North Korea’s nukes are a reality. The United States needs a new strategy for dealing with Kim — and Trump is well placed to deliver it.”

ISLAMIC STATE During his presidential campaign, Trump vowed to crush the so-called Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL) and “defeat the ideology of radical Islamic terrorism.” But that’s easier said than done — Obama essentially made the same pledge to defeat the terrorist group. Last year, Obama’s administration did, in fact, significantly degrade the group’s capabilities, dislodging it from large tracts of territory in Iraq, Syria and Libya and killing thousands of its fighters through a relentless bombing campaign. At the same time, the Islamic State has adapted into a guerilla-style insurgency still capable of recruiting lone wolves to launch spectacular attacks abroad, both in the U.S. and Europe. Experts fear that Trump’s controversial refugee ban (also see stories on pages pages 9, 12 and 13) will only add fuel to the fire, helping the Islamic State recruit disgruntled Arabs all over the world to attack the West. In any event, “crushing” the Islamic State has little to do with ending the grinding six-year war in Syria, a war that’s cost more than 500,000 lives and sparked Europe’s worst migration crisis since World War II. Nor will a military victory over the group end the global war on terrorism that began with 9/11. Michael Totten, a veteran foreign correspondent with more than a decade of experience in the Middle East, said Trump’s Mideast approach is doomed to fail. “President Trump has repeatedly said he wants to partner with Russia in Syria to fight ISIS, but there are a couple of problems with that,” Totten told The Diplomat in an email. “First, Russia is not fighting ISIS in Syria. Russia is propping up the [Bashar al-] Assad regime and fighting every faction in Syria except ISIS. Second, Russia is part of the Iranian/Syrian/ Hezbollah axis. Syria has been a Russian client state since the

Photo: U.S. Army / Spc. Paris Maxey

U.S. Army paratroopers maneuver through a hallway as part of squadlevel training at Camp Taji in Iraq in 2015 — part of the multinational effort to train Iraqi security forces to defeat the Islamic State.

Cold War, and Iran gets its nuclear material from Moscow. So Vladimir Putin is a patron and armorer of Syria, which is the biggest state sponsor of international terrorism in the Arab world, and of Iran, which is the biggest state sponsor of international terrorism in the entire world.” Totten, winner of the Washington Institute Book Prize for his 2012 analysis of Hezbollah, “The Road to Fatima Gate,” is predictably pessimistic about Trump helping to end Syria’s horrific civil war. “Trump wants to be tough on Iran and tough on ISIS, but he can’t do both at the same time if he climbs into bed with Vladimir Putin,” he told us, referring to Iran and Russia’s alliance in Syria. As of late 2016, write professors Hal Brands of Johns Hopkins University and Peter Feaver of Duke University in Foreign Affairs, the Islamic State had lost control of key strongholds such as Fallujah and Ramadi in Iraq, and Manbij and Jarabulus in Syria. Iraqi forces are currently struggling to retake Mosul, while U.S.-backed militia groups in Syria are attempting to capture the de facto Islamic State capital of Raqqa. Since August 2014, the Pentagon estimates that the U.S. coalition has killed more than 45,000 Islamic State fighters. But even if the Islamic State can be destroyed, what happens next in the Middle East?






“Remnants of the caliphate may morph into an insurgency. Al Qaeda and its affiliates will still pose a threat. Moreover, the conditions that breed jihadist organizations will likely persist across the greater Middle East,” the professors write. They say that leaves four options. “At one extreme, Washington could abandon its military commitments in the greater Middle East on the assumption that it is U.S. interference that provokes terrorism in the first place. At the other, it could adopt a heavy-footprint surge strategy that would involve using overwhelming military force … and attempt to politically transform the societies that produce [terrorist groups]. In between lie two options: one, a light-footprint approach akin to that taken by the Obama administration before ISIS’s rise; the other, a more robust approach closer to Washington’s response to ISIS since late 2014.” Their conclusion: None of the four options are ideal. “The least worst choice would be an approach close to the mediumfootprint strategy being used to defeat ISIS today.” A February report by Rand Corp. suggests a similar strategy and advocates viewing the group as a trans-regional threat. “The nature of the threat suggests the need to prioritize the security of Americans in the homeland, but does not imply placing the United States on a continuous war footing,” write authors Lynn E. Davis, Jeffrey Martini and Kim Cragin. Rather, this approach involves boosting resources for intelligence and law enforcement, as well airstrikes and special ops raids. The authors also say the U.S. must help address underlying grievances that breed radicalism, including weak states and poor governance. “The U.S. counter-ISIL strategy overseas should be designed to improve these conditions to the extent possible, but strategists must recognize that the United States has limited leverage to affect these conditions, and improvements will require years to accomplish.”

ISRAEL/PALESTINE Will Trump be the president that finally brokers peace between the Arabs and Jews? It’s hard to say, though Trump is the first U.S. leader to have a Jewish daughter and son-in-law. His relationship with Prime See T r u mp • page 8

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Trump Continued • page 7

Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is certainly warmer than the one his predecessor, Obama, Photo: By Bienchido - Own work / Wikimedia Commons GFDL had with Israel’s leader. A panorama of Jerusalem, the contested capital of Israelis and Palestinians, shows the Temple Mount, including Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, Throughout his campaign and even during as seen from the Mount of Olives mountain ridge next to the Old City. the first week of his presidency, Trump vowed to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel find the landscape daunting, the United States’ out of the equation. In fact, the president, in playing into the election campaign of 2018. If Aviv to Jerusalem. But no such move appears strategic interests and moral values call for typical Trump fashion, jettisoned decades of these economic measures are applied, that’s goimminent. That doesn’t surprise Gershon continued opposition to Israeli settlements in diplomatic convention by declaring that he ing to make economic conditions in Mexico Baskin, founder and co-chairman of the Israel/ occupied territory, a continued insistence that was open to the idea of a one-state solution, worse, which is likely to spur migration to the Palestine Center for Research and Informa- the Palestinians pursue their cause through thereby effectively abandoning Washington’s United States.” (Ironically, net migration from tion. peaceful means, a continued commitment to a long-term support of two states — one for Mexico has been down since the 2008 reces“Trump will probably sign the order delay- two-state solution, and continued attentiveness Jews, the other for Palestinians — as a way of sion.) ing the implementation of the move, mainly to Israel’s strategic vulnerabilities,” they wrote. ending the conflict. “I can live with either one,” Shifter warned that Mexico — which has because the intelligence and military people “In other words, the most basic requirement is he told reporters. been “very helpful” on issues ranging from will tell him that if he moves the embassy, to do no harm, thus following in the tradition Whether the Palestinians can is another drug interdiction to stemming the flow of CenAmerican lives will be at risk,” Baskin told of past presidents.” tral American migrants — might not want to matter entirely. The Diplomat in a phone call from Jerusalem. On Feb. 15, Trump — who has suggested NOTE: Although every effort made to assure your ad freeofof mistakes spelling “That’s what’s happened for theispast 20 years, enlisting theishelp Arab states toinbreak the and ultimately up to the customer to makestalemate the final—proof. and that’s content not likely it to is change. ” Israeli-Palestinian met with NeEven so, Trump is seen as more pro-Israel tanyahu in Washington and held a joint press presidentwill in recent memoThe than first any twoAmerican faxed changes be made at noconference. cost to the advertiser, subsequent changes ry. Although the president has called addition“TheSigned body language terrific, and their will be billed at a rate of $75 per faxed alteration. ads arewas considered approved. al settlement construction unhelpful toward rhetoric on Iran is probably very close,” said achieving peace, his pick for U.S. ambassador Ariel Cohen, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Please check this ad carefully. Mark any changes to your ad. to Israel, Orthodox Jewish lawyer David Fried- Council’s Global Energy Center. “I think both man, is an unabashed proponent of settlements Bibi and Trump are coming to the conclusion If the ad ishas correct sign the andtwo-state fax to: (301) needsimpossible changes to scuttle the who disavowed solution949-0065 and that it’ll be almost bashed liberal Jews. JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] The Washington Diplomat pro-Israeli (301) The administration’s bend933-3552 is not on Iran, but they both want to work to enforce necessarily a good thing, warn Dana H. Allin strictly the [nuclear weapons] agreement.” and Steven N. Simon, authors of “Our Separate He added: “They also want to work with Approved __________________________________________________________ Ways: The Struggle for the Future of the U.S.- Sunni Arab countries. One of the interesting Changes ___________________________________________________________ Israel Alliance.” challenges and opportunities is to get Arab ___________________________________________________________________ In a lengthy article for Foreign Affairs, the states to recognize Israel and provide the imtwo authors outline the dangers of Trump’s al- primatur for some kind of long-term or perliance with Israel’s hard right. manent peace arrangement.” “Although any new administration would But that has effectively left the Palestinians

Photo: By z2amiller - IMG_4919_2.jpg / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0

Mexican immigrants march for more rights in the northern California city of San Jose in 2006.





The two issues that propelled Donald Trump into the White House were trade and immigration — and Mexico is the proxy for both issues. It’s unfortunate, because until Trump’s election, the relationship between North America’s two most populous countries was quite positive. Yet Trump’s rhetoric about building a wall (now estimated to cost $21 billion), deporting up to 3 million undocumented immigrants and slapping a 35 percent tariff on imports from Mexico hasn’t ended with his campaign. That worries Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based think tank. “This administration is still figuring out what it’s going to do on both immigration and trade issues,” he said. “They’ll have to do something that’s a change from the previous administration, because that’s why Trump was elected.” But things are complicated by the fact that nobody is currently in charge of Latin America at the State Department. And while Roberta Jacobson — a seasoned diplomat who spent four years as Obama’s assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs — is now U.S. ambassador to Mexico, she’s unlikely to stay in that position for very long. “The question is, how far will he go?” Shifter mused. “[Secretary of State] Tillerson recently met with Mexico’s foreign minister. He and other Cabinet officials like [Secretary of Defense] James Mattis and [Secretary of Homeland Security] John F. Kelly have a better understanding about what the stakes are in the U.S. taking such an aggressive position, which could really hurt us economically. It’s already damaged Mexico in a number of ways and is

cooperate if the U.S. government pursues policies that hurt its southern neighbor. “The hope is that if you have responsible people like Tillerson, Kelly and Mattis in senior positions, and some members of Congress, including Republicans, begin to speak out, the basic elements of our relationship will be preserved going forward and some of the damage could be contained.” Shifter says he has no doubt that NAFTA will be renegotiated, most likely under the leadership of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Yet Walter Molano, writing in Latinvex, says Mexico could be the “unexpected star” of Latin America in 2017. “Despite the rhetoric from the White House, the Mexican economy will benefit from economic revival in the United States,” he predicted. “Today, Mexico is an integral part of the U.S. industrial base. Hence, the expansion in U.S. economic activity will surely be felt south of the border.” Molano noted that many of the companies that have announced changes to their Mexican investment plans, like General Motors and Chrysler, either received government bailouts in the past or depend heavily on federal contracts. “It is only natural that they kowtow to the new powers in Washington,” he observed. “Still, the larger set of corporations that are not as dependent on government assistance or projects will continue to operate unabatedly, and provide a strong boost to the Mexican economy. In other words, there will be winners and losers in 2017, but Mexico could be holding the proverbial Trump card.” WD Larry Luxner is the Tel Aviv-based news editor of The Washington Diplomat.

United States | WD

Trump’s ‘Betrayal’ Former Iraqi Ambassador Denounces Controversial Travel Ban by Karin Zeitvogel and Anna Gawel


t was a whirlwind month for America’s newly inaugurated president. On the last Friday in January, Donald Trump signed an executive order with the ominous title “PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES” — written like that, in all capital letters. The executive order banned “immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens” from seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days and put an immediate four-month pause on the entire U.S. refugee resettlement program until undefined stricter vetting procedures could be put in place. It also put an indefinite hold on all Syrian refugees. The seven countries that were subject to the 90-day entry ban were Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. For many Iraqis — especially those who have fought and died alongside U.S. troops since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion — seeing their country on that now-infamous blacklist stuck like a bone in their gullet. Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi said in an interview with France 24 that while he respected “any action by any government to provide security to their own nation … there is no right for any country to humiliate other nations.” The travel ban, in fact, caused embarrassment in U.S. foreign policy circles when it ensnared Lukman Faily, the former Iraqi ambassador to Washington. Faily, who retired last year, holds dual British and Iraqi citizenship and continues to work to improve U.S.-Iraqi relations. But Trump’s executive order barred him from traveling to the U.S. to participate in a long-planned conference. Faily told us that not only was he offended as an Iraqi by the executive order, but it was the “wrong way to go about resolving a major global threat of terrorism.” Like many security experts, Faily says the ban is counterproductive and plays straight into the hands of the Islamic State narrative that the West wants to wage a war against Islam. “It conveys a piece of propaganda to Daesh … that there’s a blanket ban against Muslims in the U.S.,” Faily said, using a derogatory Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. “As an Iraqi, I’m offended by the order. I take it as being labeled a terrorist until proven otherwise,” the former envoy said. On that note, he pointed out that none of the seven countries named in the order have committed terrorist acts on U.S. soil. “There are no data — none — which we have seen to reflect that Iraqis have engaged in international terrorism on U.S. soil or elsewhere. On

Photo: DoD / Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Edwin L. Wriston, U.S. Navy

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Rob Scarberry talks with an Iraqi soldier during a 2009 tour of a checkpoint south of Baghdad. President Trump’s temporary refugee ban has jeopardized the entry of Iraqi translators who worked alongside U.S. troops during the war.

As an Iraqi, I’m offended by the order. I take it as being labeled a terrorist until proven otherwise…. For me, this is a betrayal, a sign of a lack of understanding of what Iraqis are going through and aspire to. Lukman Faily

former ambassador of Iraq to the United States

the contrary, we are the victims…. For me, this is a betrayal, a sign of a lack of understanding of what Iraqis are going through and aspire to.” Iraq’s National Security Council and Parliament both debated the executive order. Lawmakers wanted to impose a reciprocal ban on Americans entering Iraq. But Faily said Prime Minister Abadi intervened to block such a move, which would have created havoc for the thousands of U.S. military contractors and journalists working in the country. “We need to focus on the current threat, which is Daesh. As far as international terrorism is concerned, fighting it is a long-term project that requires longterm, far-sighted cooperation,” Faily said. Nevertheless, the controversial execu-

tive order has clearly strained relations with Baghdad and threatened future security counterterrorism cooperation, just as the critical battle to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State swings into full gear. Many U.S. officials also saw it as a personal insult to Abadi, a pro-Western leader who has the unenviable task of balancing competing Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish constituencies — all while keeping the Islamic State from slaughtering more of his people. “Iraqi citizens have been the subject and the victims of terrorism,” Abadi said. “There have been many thousands of suicide bombers who have come from all over the world to kill innocent Iraqis inside Iraq. Every country has the right to investigate, to look carefully into would-be immigrants, but to just place

a blanket ban on a nation, I don’t agree with it.”

Legal and PR Nightmare Nor did many Americans, who took to airports, social media and the courts to voice their opposition to the temporary travel ban that they say is un-American. The executive order — hastily written with scant input from Congress or relevant U.S. government agencies — immediately threw U.S. airports into chaos. Men and women who had undergone the long and arduous vetting process to enter the United States were detained or sent back to their countries of origin, even though that meant a possible death sentence for those returning to warzones. Protesters mobilized and descended en masse on airports from New York to Los Angeles, while lawyers offered pro bono services to families waiting for hours for their loved ones to arrive. Media outlets ran heartrending personal stories of lives disrupted by the ban — husbands and wives separated, family members kept from visiting critically ill relatives, an elderly Iraqi mother stopped from joining her Army son in the U.S. after five years apart, an Iranian doctoral student unable to return to defend his dissertation. Meanwhile, the confusion created Kafkaesque scenes at airports as See Ir aq • page 10 THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MARCH 2017 | 9

immigration and put “America first.” And like Trump, they say the media is overhyping a situation that people outside the Beltway don’t care about. One worker in Dearborn, Mich., told Steve Friess and William Wan of the Washington Post that he “doesn’t understand what the big hubbub is. The media cares more about letting Iranians in than about the fact that GM just announced [hundreds of] job cuts. That’s what I want them and Trump to do something about.”


customs officials struggled to interpret the order, which initially included green card holders (the administration later backtracked on that restriction). The fiasco became a PR nightmare for the new administration. White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended the order, pointing out that only about 100 people out of some 325,000 travelers who enter the U.S. on a typical day were detained. But that did not take into account the tens of thousands of people who were prevented from traveling. The State Department has said that up to 60,000 visas were canceled shortly after the ban was imposed, although to put that number into perspective, it also pointed out that in the 2015 fiscal year, over 11 million immigrant and nonimmigrant visas were issued. As protests and dissent roiled the country, the order became mired in a flurry of lawsuits. Washington state and Minnesota filed one of the primary challenges, alleging that the order would damage individuals, businesses and universities, and that it unconstitutionally barred entry based on religion. On Feb. 9, a threejudge federal appeals court for the 9th Circuit unanimously sided with a lower court ruling to suspend the ban on seven Muslim-majority nations, saying that the government had presented no evidence that the ban was needed to protect the country’s security. The ruling gets to the most glaring flaw in Trump’s ban: It tackles a seemingly nonexistent threat. No one from those seven nations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — has committed terrorist acts in the U.S. In fact, despite Trump’s dire warnings about America’s shoddy immigration system, the U.S. has instituted some of the most rigorous



Iraqi Army soldiers move to positions for the final live-fire exercise before graduating from the guzlani Warrior Training Center in Mosul in 2011. After losing Mosul to the Islamic State in 2014, Iraqi forces are mounting an offensive to retake the key city, with support from the U.S.

screening procedures in the world, and there has not been a single terrorism-related death caused by a foreign operative since 9/11. Recent attacks such as the Orlando mass shooting were carried out not by refugees but by American-born U.S. citizens (that includes not only radicalized converts, but also right-wing extremists such as white supremacists). In addition, the executive order notably excludes nations that have funneled jihadists around the world, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt and Turkey. Trump denied that his order was arbitrary or that it was aimed at all Muslims, noting that the seven countries listed in the ban were flagged by former President Obama’s administration as sources of terrorism.


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The court did not explicitly rule on whether Trump’s executive order constituted a blanket ban on Muslims, although the administration will have to defend itself against charges of religious discrimination moving forward. Trump hasn’t helped his cause by repeatedly calling for a Muslim registry and a total shutdown on Muslims entering the U.S. — campaign rhetoric that can now be used against him in court. Despite the backlash, the president remains defiant. Shortly after the federal appeals verdict, Trump tweeted “SEE YOU IN COURT,” to which Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee retorted, “We just saw you in court and we beat you.” Dozens of separate legal challenges have been filed across the country, so the litigation will not end any time soon. An expanded version of the 9th Circuit court could rehear the case, but Trump has asked the court to wait until he issues a “brand new order,” which would preserve the core elements of the original directive. He said the new order would eliminate the judges’ concerns, but at the same pledged to impose “extreme vetting.” Thus, any new or reworked executive order would likely trigger a fresh round of lawsuits. The issue could eventually wind up before the Supreme Court. But because the Supreme Court is short one judge and ideologically split 4 to 4, the result could be a tie, which would keep the lower court suspension intact. (Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, will begin his confirmation hearings March 20.) Despite the uphill climb Trump faces, legal experts say the president has wide latitude to set immigration policy, including limiting refugee admissions and the issuance of visas to specific countries. Indeed, if it had not been for its sloppy rollout or if it had been more narrowly tailored, Trump’s executive order may have withstood legal scrutiny. Even the federal appeals court that refused to reinstate Trump’s travel ban did not strike down the part of the order that capped the number of refugees admitted in the 2017 fiscal year to 50,000 — down from the 110,000 ceiling Obama set. Polls have also found sizable support for Trump’s actions. A Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll in late January found that over 30 percent of people said the ban made them feel “more safe,” while 26 percent said they felt “less safe.” Another 33 percent said it wouldn’t make any difference. The poll also reported that 49 percent of Americans agreed with the order, while 41 percent disagreed with it. Trump’s supporters say he has the right to impose reasonable measures to keep the country safe, and that the economic impact of curbing travel from the seven countries will be negligible. They also point out that the president is simply fulfilling his campaign promises to curb

Experts say that kind of thinking is shortsighted, and the wide-ranging economic costs of the ban — on U.S. tourism and education — are not worth the infinitesimal chance of catching a potential terrorist. As the Cato Institute’s David Bier pointed out in a recent blog, “the likelihood of being killed by any refugee from any country is just 1 in 3.64 billion a year.” Meanwhile, Robert Kahn of the Council on Foreign Relations estimated that a full Muslim travel ban could cost the U.S. economy $31 billion to $66 billion and threaten 50,000 to 132,000 jobs. Many business leaders, including Silicon Valley tech giants, say Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda would hinder the innovation for which the U.S. economy is renowned. “Immigrants or their children founded more than 200 of the companies on the Fortune 500 list, including Apple, Kraft, Ford, General Electric, AT&T, Google, McDonald’s, Boeing, and Disney,” an amicus brief filed by companies such Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Uber said. “Long-term, this instability [caused by the executive order] will make it far more difficult and expensive for U.S. companies to hire the world’s best talent — and impede them from competing in the global marketplace.” On a broader level, a diverse cross-section of the country — from religious groups to Nobel laureates — warn that the order tarnishes America’s reputation as a nation of immigrants that welcomes people of all races and ethnicities. That not only damages America’s standing in the world, but it could also compromise its safety. “Turning away legitimate asylum seekers at the border and requiring mandatory detention of families and children will do nothing to make America safer,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said during a Feb. 6 appearance with faithbased nonprofits in Baltimore, Md. “Such cruel actions will inevitably bring harm and potentially death to survivors of violence and torture, while undermining America’s values and damaging our relationships with our allies.” A slew of high-ranking national security officials agree that the ban is counterproductive and will make the country less, not more, safe. They worry it could undermine counterterrorism cooperation with allies such as Jordan, hampering intelligence-sharing, for instance, or efforts to recruit spies. Even close Arab partners could be forced to pull back on security cooperation if public resentment of the U.S. becomes too high. The anti-American sentiment fueled by the ban could also endanger U.S. troops abroad, including the 6,000 stationed in Iraq. “[W]e risk placing our military efforts at risk by sending an insulting message” to Iraqis working with American forces, warned a group of prominent Democrats in a legal filing against the order. On the domestic front, experts fear it could needlessly alienate America’s Muslim community, whose cooperation with local police has at times been vital in identifying radicalized individuals and thwarting potential attacks. “American Muslims are 81 percent first or second generation Americans who came from among the most socially illiberal countries in the world,” Bier of the Cato Institute wrote. “Yet, they comprise the most socially liberal and tolerant Muslim in the world.” Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) derided the executive order as a “self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism” — one that feeds into Islamic State propaganda and could become a recruitment

tool for the group as it loses territory and seeks to groom converts capable of carrying out brazen lone-wolf attacks. The fact that Trump said persecuted religious minorities such as Christians in Muslim countries would receive preferential treatment — even though Muslims have been killed in vastly greater numbers in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere — further bolstered the Islamic State’s claim that the Christian West is indifferent to the plight of Muslims. “It’s exactly al-Qaeda’s original narrative from the ’90s, when they said that, ‘They don’t want you beyond oil. They are not open to Islam. They don’t respect it. It’s a Christian country that has a bias toward Christianity,’” Clint Watts, a former FBI counterterrorism special agent, told Time magazine’s Jared Malsin. “We’re talking about winning the war on ideas. How do we win the war on ideas when we just confirmed their idea is correct?” “The over-simplification that equates Islam to terrorism and assumes that entire populations are necessarily dangerous to America is a marketing campaign, not a step toward peace,” wrote Iraqi-born Zainab Salbi in an opinion piece in the New York Times. “It is lazy to demonize entire countries and religions. Unfortunately, though, many Americans do not distinguish between ISIS [Islamic State] and Islam, do not realize that ISIS members are targeting Muslims first and foremost.”

LoSINg THE BIggER FIgHT A tough-talking Trump vowed during the campaign to step up the fight against the Islamic State, which had been steadily losing ground in both Syria and Iraq, in part thanks to a U.S.-led bombing campaign and an Iraqi military offensive. Yet his travel ban has infuriated Baghdad just as Iraqi troops are working alongside their American counterparts in northern Iraq to slowly but surely push the terrorist group out of the key city of Mosul.

“At the very moment that Trump has sought to up the game against the Islamic State, his words and actions treat Iraq and Iraqis as though they’re irrelevant to the defeat of this organization,” Brookings Institution senior fellow Gen. John Allen, who led the international coalition against the Islamic State from 2014 to 2015, wrote in an opinion piece co-authored with another Brookings senior fellow, Michael O’Hanlon. “Indeed, the worst blows potentially preventing the defeat of the Islamic State have been landed by Trump himself and could lead to the end of the U.S. mission and American influence there. For all the ups and downs in Iraq over the past 14 years, we do currently have a friendly government of national unity (more or less) in Iraq right now, and it is controlling most of its own territory against various extremist forces while gradually restoring stability to the nation. All of that is now at new acute risk not from the Islamic State, Syria or Moscow, but from Washington,” the pair wrote in the piece, published in the Washington Post. Michael Knights of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy echoed that sentiment in a Feb. 13 piece in Foreign Policy, noting that the travel ban stands to empower hardline, antiAmerican Shiites and their allies in Iran. “If moderates like Prime Minister Abadi are undermined by these Iranian proxies, Iraq will slowly slide back into a Syria-like civil war,” Knights predicted. “The Islamic State or a successor will fill this vacuum … and the United States will be driven out of Iraq by Iranian proxies — thus losing the ability to directly prevent the re-emergence of a new terrorist safe haven in the heart of the Middle East.” That’s why Knights argues that Iraq is too big to fail. “Iraq is the fourth-most populous state in the Middle East,” he said, noting that it is also home to the world’s fifth-largest oil reserves. “If you are sickened by the suffering of Syria’s 23 million people … try to imagine how much worse the situation would be with an added 36

million Iraqis thrown into the mix.” Knights noted that tens of thousands of Islamic State fighters have been killed in Iraq, with Iraqi forces — not Americans — bearing the brunt of the casualties. “Trump should understand that the U.S.-Iraqi partnership is, put simply, a great deal,” he concluded. “If he is looking for a partner that supports U.S. objectives but carries most of the costs itself, he should look no further than Iraq over the last two years.” “U.S. blood has been spilled alongside Iraqi blood,” Faily told us. “I would be surprised if the U.S. military agreed with the executive order, which doesn’t enhance the U.S. moral, virtuous stance in the Middle East, but instead expands the widening gulf between the U.S. as a society.” The proposal was particularly seen as an affront to the thousands of Iraqis who risked their lives to help American troops, many of whom have urged the U.S. government to honor its promise to resettle their Iraqi comrades. “For some U.S. military veterans, the move to ban Iraqis is a betrayal of brothers-in-arms — one they take personally,” wrote Gayle Tzemach Lemmon of the Council on Foreign Relations in a Jan. 26 op-ed for the LA Times. She noted that these Iraqis have already been subjected to years of extensive vetting (which includes being personally vouched for by a member of the U.S. military). Thousands of Afghans and Iraqis have been let into the U.S. under a special visa program, all without incident. If anything, critics say the system is too slow. Now, Trump’s order could cement the impression that foreigners help the U.S. at their own peril. “What will the next Iraqi or Syrian interpreter say when his American colleagues ask him to risk his life?” Lemmon asked. Trump called Iraq’s prime minister the night after the 9th Circuit upheld the restraining order on his travel ban. According to Abadi’s office, the Iraqi prime minister “stressed the

importance of a review of the decision on the right of Iraqis to travel to the United States and lift Iraq from the list of countries mentioned in the executive order. Mr. Trump stressed the importance of coordination to find a solution to this issue as soon as possible and that he will direct the U.S. State Department in this regard.” The U.S. president is also reported to have invited Abadi to visit him at the White House, but it was unclear if the Iraqi prime minister accepted. Meanwhile, the legal wrangling continues. As of press time, White House lawyers were reportedly rewriting the executive order, hoping to produce a version that would win federal court approval. An administration official told the Reuters news agency that the White House “would like to win the case in court.” Trump could take the battle all the way to the Supreme Court or throw out the original order and tweak the policy to address legal concerns, such as clarifying that the order won’t affect legal permanent residents who want to leave the country and then return. The White House could also exempt students or other categories of people in an effort to negate arguments from states that the order hurts their residents. It remains to be seen whether tailoring his refugee policy will be enough to quell lingering public outrage or put it on more firm legal footing. The administration would still have to show the courts why the seven targeted countries pose a national security threat — and demonstrate that the order does not violate the constitution by discriminating against one religion. Winning over skeptical judges is one thing. Convincing Iraqis and millions of Muslims around the world that Trump doesn’t harbor an anti-Islamic agenda is going to be a much tougher sell. WD

Karin Zeitvogel (@Zeitvogel) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat. Anna Gawel (@diplomatnews) is managing editor of The Washington Diplomat.

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Testing Limits of Dissent Trump’s Refugee Ban Sparks Uproar at State Department by Brendan L. Smith


resident Donald Trump’s brief time in office has already been unprecedented in many ways, including the level of vociferous dissent he has triggered in the State Department. More than 1,000 Foreign Service and civil service officers signed a dissent memo in late January objecting to Trump’s executive order banning entry visas for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days along with refugees from any country for 120 days. The five-page dissent memo, labeled “SENSTIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED,” systematically dismantled the White House’s justifications for the travel ban and spelled out the damage it would cause to America’s reputation and its interests abroad. No other dissent memo in the State Department’s history has ever gained so many signatures in such a short timeframe. A dissent memo filed last year by 51 diplomats over U.S. military involvement in Syria was the previous record holder. While the travel ban has been suspended by a federal court, there are no signs that dissent will diminish in the State Department. The travel ban dissent memo was filed through the “Dissent Channel,” a long-standing official administrative pipeline for dissenting views created by the State Department in 1971 to quell internal tensions over the Vietnam War. Dissent memos over the past decades have raised important objections and may have led to some foreign policy reforms, but those memos are meant to be confidential and used as a means of last resort for any objections (also see “Op-Ed: Dubious Dissent” on page 13).

An Internal Matter Even though they agree with the sentiments expressed in the travel ban dissent memo, several former U.S. ambassadors and other knowledgeable sources told The Diplomat that the leaking of dissent memos, especially in a high-profile and politicized manner, may undermine the purpose and intent of the Dissent Channel in serious ways. “I actually don’t think dissent memos should be leaked. It’s supposed to be part of an internal debate process,” said Robert Ford, former U.S. ambassador to Syria and Algeria who is now a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute. “The future of the Dissent Channel may be called into question if it continues to be used as a political stick by the employees of the Department of State.” Given Trump’s infamously thin skin and propensity to hurl insults and hold grudges, the leaking of dissent memos also could trigger retaliation that might jeopardize careers. There are strict rules within the State Department to protect employees who file dissent memos, but it remains to be seen whether the Trump administration will respect those rules, said Hannah Gurman, a professor of U.S. history at New York University who wrote a book about the history of dissent in the State Department. “All the signals are suggesting that this is not an administration that tolerates dissent, even if it is internal,” she told The Diplomat. “We are in new times, and some of these old principles about the legitimacy of classified information is being subject to question. Trump is testing the bounds of what state secrecy is and what professional ethics are for people in the foreign policy establishment.” When questioned last month about the leaked dis12 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MARCH 2017

Photo: U.S. State Department

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivers welcome remarks during his first day in office on Feb. 2, 2017. To his right is acting Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Shannon, one of the few Obama-era officials to remain in a leadership position during the transition, which was marred by a dissent memo signed by over 1,000 State employees protesting President Trump’s temporary refugee ban.

I suppose some level of politicization is normal in foreign policy, but I don’t think Foreign Service Officers or civil service officers in the State Department are going to find that politicizing the issue is going to move the White House. Robert Ford former U.S. ambassador to Syria

sent memo, White House press secretary Sean Spicer didn’t pull any punches. “These career bureaucrats have a problem with it?” he said. “They should either get with the program, or they can go.” The State Department refused to answer a list of questions from The Diplomat but did provide a brief statement from acting spokesman Mark Toner that professed respect for the Dissent Channel while also warning against leaks. “The Secretary believes this is an important channel,” Toner stated. “As part of the protection of this communication, the Dissent Channel is close-hold within the Department to encourage maximum engagement by those raising important alternatives, additions, supplements, and critiques to policy debates. The Secretary endorses and defends its use, and that means not breaking the confidentiality that it affords the employee and the Department.”

In his Feb. 2 welcome remarks at the State Department, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sought to reassure employees about his commitment to their mission, but his comments urging unity also were perceived as a warning against rocking the boat. “I know this was a hotly contested election and we do not all feel the same way about the outcome. Each of us is entitled to the expression of our political beliefs, but we cannot let our personal convictions overwhelm our ability to work as one team,” he said. “Regardless of the circumstances shaping our country or our department, we must all remain focused on the mission at hand before us. I remind you that our undertakings are larger than ourselves or our personal careers.”

From Vietnam to Syria The Dissent Channel was created during the term of another combative president who also was obsessed with his public image and known for holding grudges. Richard Nixon deplored leaks and internal dissent, but he was having trouble reining in anger over the Vietnam War both inside the State Department and on the streets. In 1970, 20 Foreign Service Officers signed a letter to Secretary of State William Rogers condemning Nixon’s decision to invade Cambodia. The public nature of the protest was a departure for the usually staid Foreign Service, which traditionally had kept most of its grumblings in house. A year later, the State Department created the Dissent Channel for some self-serving reasons, Gurman said. “It was a way to make sure that [internal] protests didn’t become too chaotic and leak out to the press,” she said. See dis s en t • page 15

Global Vantage Point | WD

Op-Ed: Dubious Dissent State Department Memo on Trump’s Refugee Ban Long on Rhetoric, Short on Specifics by Peter Van Buren


ome 1,000 employees at the Department of State are said to have signed a formal memo sent through the “Dissent Channel” in late January, opposing President Donald Trump’s executive order suspending the admission of all refugees for 120 days, blocking Syrian refugee admissions indefinitely, prohibiting for 90 days all other travelers (diplomats excluded) from seven Muslim-majority nations and other immigration-related issues. What is the Dissent Channel those State employees used? What effect if any will the memo have on policy? What does the memo say to the new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson about the organization he now heads, and what will he do about it? What the State Department calls the Dissent Channel is unique inside the American government. Created in 1971 during the Vietnam War, the system allows Foreign Service Officers to express their disagreement with U.S. policy directly to senior leaders. The secretary of state is obliged to read and through his staff respond to all Dissent Channel messages, normally within 30 to 60 days. Persons using the channel are fully protected against retaliation. Dissent messages are intended to foster internal dialogue within the State Department and are never intended for the public. The issues surrounding the most recent dissent memo begin where that previous sentence ends. What was once understood as a way to foster internal dialogue is in this case playing out more like an online petition. Multiple versions of the memo circulated within the State Department globally, with persons adding their signatures and making edits as they opened their emails. Someone (no one seems to know exactly who) later allegedly melded the multiple versions into the one that was submitted, meaning some signers did not see the final text until it was leaked. That leak changed everything, making the exercise less an expression of policy dissent than an anonymous press release sent out from a bureaucratic safe place. The intent in going public seems to be a combination of whining about, provoking and embarrassing the administration. It is unclear if the decision to go to the press will foster greater discussion; actually, the opposite may have happened: Many diplomats hoping to open a channel for discussion were deeply dismayed the memo went public, followed by anonymous interviews.

Photo: U.S. State Department

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with State Department employees in the main lobby of the Harry S. Truman building during his first day in office.

The intent in going public seems to be a combination of whining about, provoking and embarrassing the administration.

As one career ambassador stated regarding another dissent message quickly leaked to the media: State Department officers’ “oath of office is to protect and defend the Constitution, but they are not free to debate publicly with their president…. If they want to go public they should resign.” And indeed that sentiment appeared to be contained, albeit indelicately, in the White House’s initial reaction to the memo. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said of those diplomats who signed that they “should either get with the program, or they can go.” Spicer, and the ambassador above, touch on a more fundamental issue underlying the dissent memo. The average State Department Foreign Service officer has served 12 years, meaning a large number have never worked for any president other than Barack Obama and more than half have not experienced a presidential transition. These employees have never had their oath of service to the Constitution — not to George W. Bush or Barack Obama or Donald Trump — tested. Government carries out the policies of the president on behalf of the United States; it’s called public service for a reason. Those concerned because the

wrong candidate won may be learning they are in the wrong business. That sense of frustration as much with the man in the Oval Office as with his policy appears evident in the text of the dissent memo. Among other arguments, the memo calls Trump’s refugee ban “counterproductive,” noting that the overwhelming majority of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil have been committed by native-born or naturalized citizens, not foreign nationals. Among the foreign nationals who have entered the U.S. on a visa to commit acts of terror, it points out that they have come from nations such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, which are excluded from the order, as opposed to the seven that are listed (Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen). The memo also contends that the ban will sour relations with “much of the Muslim world, which sees the ban as religiously motivated,” and alienate allies in the fight against terrorism. “We do not need to place a blanket ban that keeps 220 million people — men, women, and children — from entering the United States to protect our homeland. We do not need to alienate entire societies to stay safe. And we do not need to sacrifice our reputation as a

nation which is open and welcoming to protect our families,” it states. The memo is long on emotion (core values, nation of immigrants, shame of Japanese internment camps, yadayada), and short on concrete policy other than “we shouldn’t do what the executive order says” and suggestions for more vetting and social media monitoring. Potential lost revenue figures are mostly global, not limited to the seven countries, and presume none of the people denied entry will visit another time to spend their money. There is an extraordinary amount of high-caste rhetoric in the memo that appears to describe a situation that many Middle East travelers might not recognize: the supposedly welcoming atmosphere of the United States — as if long waits to pay $160 to apply for a visa, two-year or longer invasive vetting for refugees stuck abroad and crude TSA treatment did not previously exist. The memo Peter Van Buren speaks of souring relations with Middle Eastern nations, increased anti-American sentiment and creating the impression of a war based on religion, while somehow overlooking that 15 years of the horrors of the “war on terror” (torture, drone kills, wedding parties blown up, Guantanamo) have already accomplished those sordid tasks. See Op- ed • page 14 THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MARCH 2017 | 13

Photo: U.S. State Department

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Bonn, Germany, on Feb 15 to participate in the G-20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, his first official trip as secretary of state. Tillerson has had a slow start, with many top positions in the State Department yet to be filled.

Op-Ed Continued • page 13


© 2017 Feld Entertainment, Inc.



The memo also somewhat dramatically raises the specter of humanitarian issues, a child denied medical care in the U.S. for example, when the executive order in Section 3(g) clearly allows for such exceptions to be made on a case-by-case basis. The memo brushes that process off as unworkable, when in fact such exceptional processes exist throughout U.S. immigration law and work just fine — it has been the State Department that has in fact implemented them. Left unsaid is any commentary on preTrump U.S. refugee policy. Since 1980, the United States has accepted fewer than 2 million refugees overall, and 40 percent of those were simply children accompanying their refugee parent(s). By contrast, though not limited to refugees, the Obama administration alone deported 2.5 million people. The 2016 fiscal year U.S. quota for Syrian refugees was 10,000 — a figure Obama fought for despite fierce GOP opposition. In contrast, Canada has taken in nearly 40,000 Syrian refugees in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first year alone. Germany admitted 300,000 refugees from various nations in 2016, following close to 1 million in 2015. No dissent memos were publicly released about any of the stringent vetting measures employed by George W. Bush and continued under Obama. While the State Department drafters may not even have been aware of the crude reality of pre-Trump policy as they wrote of a welcoming America, one can bet persons in the Middle East affected by those policies are. Same for the Obama-era’s illegal and unconstitutional denial of passports to Yemenis. Those actions ended up crushed in federal court, but received no public dissent from inside State. (A memo last year signed by over 50 diplomats did denounce Obama’s Syria policy and his refusal to launch military strikes against President Bashar al-Assad.) Of ancillary interest, the memo, written by people who work with the nuts and bolts of visa and immigration law daily, makes no assertions that Trump’s executive order is illegal or unconstitutional — just that it is bad policy. So what happens next? Rex Tillerson’s staff owe the signatories a response. Past experience suggests, and the near-certainty that the response will be leaked within minutes assures, that the reply will be of the “we acknowledge your concerns” contentfree variety. It is possible the response could

be delayed until the end of the legal wrangling over Trump’s executive order, long after the media have forgotten the dissent memo ever existed. In characterizing the dissent memo as unprecedented (it is in the number of signatories, claimed to be 1,000, albeit out of a workforce of close to 19,000), many media outlets have raised the question of resignations. Will Tillerson one day find himself in a State Department without diplomats? Experience suggests no. There were no known State Department resignations of protest during the 15 years of atrocities known as the “war of terror.” At the State Department, there were only three resignations of conscience over the 2003 Iraq War, and one other related to Afghanistan. The last time more than a handful of diplomats resigned in protest was at the height of the Vietnam War, arguably a more significant foreign policy event than a temporary visa ban aimed at a handful of countries. That said, emotions are running high inside the State Department, and one should not be surprised by a handful of resignations (one employee announced his resignation was actually a protest 12 days after he handed in his papers, saying without explanation that Trump is a “threat to the Constitution”). There also could be few scheduled retirements re-categorized by the media as resignations of protest and an overreaction to all of that. Just remember that outside the Beltway there is little love, or even real knowledge of, the State Department. It is doubtful Trump’s core constituency could give a hoot about what happens at Foggy Bottom. How Secretary Tillerson handles all this will be an interesting preview of his relationship with the Department of State. Absent intervening events, a solid guess is that he will choose a mildly conciliatory approach (Tillerson’s initial remarks at State also suggest this), perhaps holding a town hall meeting. He’ll explain how he values thoughtful dissent, remind the cohort that foreign policy is a long game and then suggest everyone get back to work. That is in keeping with the overall approach to things at the State Department. It also shows an understanding that one historical purpose of the Dissent Channel has been to allow employees to blow off steam and defuse a situation no manager wants to exacerbate as he takes on a new job. WD Peter Van Buren (@wemeantwell; www. is the author of “We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People.” His next book is “Hooper’s War: A Novel of WWII Japan.” The views presented here are the author’s own and do not represent those of the Department of State.

Department’s Policy Planning Staff, where a response to a dissent memo is drafted and circulated to the secretary of state’s office for consideration. Oftentimes, the dissenting employee may just receive a boilerplate response that conforms with existing policy. The response also is sent to the regional bureau in question unless the memo writer requested anonymity from immediate supervisors. “In the end, it becomes kind of a bureaucratic exercise,” Ford said. “It’s kind of a one-time exchange, not a back-and-forth policy debate.” Last year, 51 U.S. diplomats signed a dissent memo urging U.S. air strikes in Syria to enforce a ceasefire that was repeatedly violated by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Ford, who was no longer U.S. ambassador to Syria at the time, said he didn’t agree with all of the recommendations in the memo, but he understood the motivation. “I certainly understand why people signed it, and I know several people who signed it,” he said. “They were moved by an enormous sense of frustration that more needed to be done to reduce the bloodshed.”

Dissent Continued • page 12

In 1971, the first dissent memo that was filed blamed the Nixon administration for doing nothing to stem the bloodshed of death squads unleashed in East Pakistan by the ruling military junta. That memo, like the travel ban dissent memo and many others, had no effect on foreign policy. While it is difficult to judge their true effect due to their confidential nature, there isn’t much evidence that dissent memos have had lasting impact on foreign policy, but they have allowed lower-level officers to register their views with superiors and perhaps clear their conscience, Gurman said. “It really is a protest more than an effort to influence policy,” she said. “By the time you get to a Dissent Channel message, it suggests you’re on the outskirts of what the president and his inner circle are doing.” Some Foreign Service Officers who filed dissent memos were transferred or fired, but many went on to illustrious careers including ambassadorships, Gurman said. “In that respect, it’s been very successful and people don’t feel their jobs are at risk,” she said. Dissent memos should be used sparingly to raise objections after other means have failed, said Georgetown University adjunct professor Anne C. Richard, who previously served as assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration. “I know it’s frowned upon to send a lot of Dissent Channel memos because that suggests the person who is writing them is a crank or complainer,” she told The Diplomat. “But when people judiciously choose to write something serious on a policy topic, then there is general respect for the process. That doesn’t mean they win the day, and I

Photo: U.S. State Department

USAID Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance Nancy Lindborg talks with Syrian refugees at Islahiye Refugee Camp in Turkey on Jan. 24, 2013. Over 1,000 State Department officials signed a dissent memo protesting President Trump’s executive order that put a halt to admitting Syrian refugees indefinitely.

think the writers realize that.” Richard said she wasn’t surprised that many Foreign Service Officers opposed the travel ban. “They are by nature internationalists, and they have served overseas so they understand the interconnected world we live in,” she said. “Some Foreign Service Officers are sons or daughters of refugees or immigrants or are refugees or immigrants themselves. They are the face of America overseas even if they weren’t born in the U.S. That is something that helps us tell the story of what it means to be American.” The Dissent Channel has never been widely utilized, averaging less than 10 dissent memos per year in a department now staffed by 13,000 Foreign Service Officers and specialists and 11,000 civil service officers. From 1971 to 2010,

the number of dissent memos ranged from a high of 30 memos in 1977 to just one memo in both 2002 and 2008. In one of the first dissent memos to receive widespread publicity, career diplomat John Brady Kiesling, who was stationed in Greece, objected to the Iraq War. He resigned a short time later in 2003 because “our current course will bring instability and danger, not security,” his resignation letter stated. The American Foreign Service Association offers four annual Constructive Dissent Awards for Foreign Service employees “who have demonstrated the intellectual courage to challenge the system from within, to question the status quo and take a stand,” although the awards aren’t limited to foreign policy issues or dissent memos. The Dissent Channel is managed by the State

Weighing Risks of Dissent Despite the high level of acrimony in the State Department over Trump’s policies, Ford doesn’t foresee a massive number of resignations. “For many mid-level officers, they have families and mortgages and kids in schools. Resigning is not a small thing,” he said. But if dissent memos or other means aren’t effective, then resignation might be the only option if Foreign Service Officers feel they are violating the Constitution by enforcing government policies, said University of Kentucky professor Casey Cavanaugh, who previously served as a State Department peace mediator and the chargé d’affaires for the first U.S. EmSee dis s en t • page 16


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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on the sidelines of the g-20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bonn, germany, on Feb. 16. Even though 15 of the 19 hijackers in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks came from Saudi Arabia, the major U.S. ally was not included in President Trump’s temporary refugee ban.

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bassy in Georgia. “Just saying you’re following orders isn’t sufficient,” he said. The leaking of the travel ban dissent memo was inevitable given its wide circulation, but it undercut the intent of the Dissent Channel, said George Washington University professor Edward Gnehm Jr., a former U.S. ambassador to Jordan, Kuwait and Australia. He also questioned the usefulness of filing a dissent memo before Tillerson had started work as secretary of state. The State Department will probably issue a specific directive reminding employees that the Dissent Channel “is not intended to be a public document and it’s inappropriate for

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career service to use it to express their political views externally,” he said. The leaking of dissent memos may help journalists and the public understand the inner workings of the State Department, but the Trump administration hasn’t shown much respect for dissenting views from any corner. State Department employees will need to weigh the potential benefit of signing a politicized dissent memo that may be leaked, Ford said. “I suppose some level of politicization is normal in foreign policy, but I don’t think Foreign Service Officers or civil service officers in the State Department are going to find that politicizing the issue is going to move the White House,” he said. WD Brendan L. Smith ( is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

Cover Profile | WD

Defying a Dictator Gambian Ambassador Disavows Longtime Ruler to Back Democratically Elected President by Larry Luxner


t’s not every day that a country’s ambassador to the United States publicly criticizes his own president. Even more rare is the Washingtonbased diplomat who risks everything by urging the longtime dictator back home to relinquish power after losing his bid for re-election. But that’s exactly what happened in early December, when Gambian President Yahya Jammeh refused to concede defeat following the surprising victory of real estate developer Adama Barrow, who won 43.3 percent of the 525,000 votes cast (Jammeh came in second, with 39.6 percent). Initially, BBC News called the outcome in the former British colony “one of the biggest election upsets West Africa has ever seen.” Jammeh himself — a brutal and bizarre autocrat who ruled for 22 years — praised the election as “the most transparent in the world,” adding that “as a true Muslim who believes in the almighty Allah, I will never question Allah’s decision. You Gambians have decided.” However, a week later Jammeh changed his mind and called for new elections — sparking worldwide condemnation and bringing his tiny country to the brink of collapse. (Rumors swirled that the prospect of prosecution at the International Criminal Court may have swayed his mind.) “He said the results were null and void, and not acceptable,” Ambassador Sheikh Omar Faye told The Washington Diplomat. “That put The Gambia on a very dangerous path. We were in a constitutional crisis, a political impasse.” Faye decided he had to do something. On Dec. 13, he published an open letter saying Jammeh made everyone proud when he conceded defeat and demanding that he actually keep his word and step down. In his letter, Faye declared that, “as a servant of The Gambia, I find it morally difficult to remain silent while Gambians are in fear and uncertainty.” On Jan. 21, after seven weeks of negotiations, the 51-year-old dictator finally relinquished power — but only after being threatened with an invasion by 7,000 troops fighting under the banner of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the dispute led around 45,000 Gambians to flee to Senegal, and another 800 to Guinea-Bissau. In the meantime, Barrow was forced to hold his inauguration ceremony in Dakar, the Senegalese capital, for his own safety (days before his inauguration, Barrow’s 8-year-old son was mauled to death by a dog in Gambia). Jammeh was whisked away to exile —

reportedly to Equatorial Guinea, which isn’t a party to the International Criminal Court (ICC) — and no blood was spilled as Barrow entered the country. On Feb. 2, Faye invited journalists to the Gambian Embassy on 16th Street for a small ceremony to replace Jammeh’s official portrait with that of Barrow. “Our people were put through a test,” he declared at the ceremony. “But the will of the voters eventually prevailed. Respect for the rule of law, democratic governance and transparency will be our guides from now on.” One of Barrow’s first official acts as president upon his arrival in Banjul was to remove the word “Islamic” from the country’s official name; in December 2015, Jammeh had declared Gambia, which is 90 percent Muslim, an Islamic republic. Barrow is himself a devout Muslim with two wives and five children. He’s also a fan of the English soccer team Arsenal. A one-time London store security guard, he was born in 1965, the same year his country won independence from Britain. Like Donald Trump — his counterpart in Washington — Barrow is also a property developer who never expected to become president. Barrow, who was formally inaugurated in Gambia on Feb. 18, knows he has an enormous job in front of him. Among other things, he’s vowed to undo Jammeh’s legacy of dictatorship, instituting term limits on the presiden-

Photo: Lawrence Ruggeri

I think what we did was applauded by Gambians all over the world…. I received emails from very senior people in this government saying it was a very principled decision to take that brave stand. Sheikh Omar Faye ambassador of The Gambia to the United States

cy, releasing political prisoners, reforming the military and rejoining the ICC and British Commonwealth, among other measures. On the economic front, he wants to build up the shoddy health and education system, while returning foreign investment and assistance to the country. By far the smallest country in mainland Africa, Gambia — one-third the size of Maryland — occupies a tiny sliver of land along the Gambia River. Except for a 50-mile-long Atlantic coastline, the country is completely engulfed by much larger Senegal. Its 1.9 million inhabitants scrape by

on an annual per-capita income of less than $500 a year, and its agriculturebased economy is supplemented with remittances from Gambians working in Europe. Jammeh rose to power in a 1994 coup and ruled harshly. In 2011, after winning 72 percent of the vote in a rigged election, he said his critics could “go to hell” and warned that “if I have to rule this country for a billion years, I will.” During his 22-year reign, human rights abuses were rampant. Among other things, Jammeh threatened to chop off the heads of homosexuals, claimed he had developed an herbalremedy cure for AIDS, had nine pris-

oners on death row executed by firing squad and forced more than 1,000 villagers to drink herbal potions that made them hallucinate for days on end. In 2013, Jammeh pulled his country out of the Commonwealth, saying Britain had done nothing for Gambia during 300 years of colonialism except “to tell us how to sing ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ and ‘God Save the Queen.’” Things weren’t always that way, though. “During the first republic, until the first coup happened, we were called the champion of human rights. The African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies was established in The Gambia because it was one of the most peaceful countries in Africa,” said Faye, 57. “But when people stay in power for too long, there’s a tendency to concentrate power. Those are the disadvantages of overstaying your welcome. That’s why it’s always good to have term limits.” Faye added: “We have shown a lot of political maturity as Gambians. And friends of The Gambia were really helpful. Lots of friendly governments helped See T he Gambia • page 18 THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MARCH 2017 | 17

The Gambia Continued • page 17

get us to where we are today. The United States stood by us. Senegal stood by us. So did ECOWAS, the African Union, the U.K. and the United Nations. Everybody said, ‘No, we’re not going to accept this.’ And all that culminated into Jammeh realizing he had to give it up.” In many respects, The Gambia is unique. For starters, it’s one of only two countries in the world whose name contains an article (it’s officially called Republic of The Gambia, not Gambia); the other is The Bahamas. It’s also one of the few countries that border only one other country, in this case Senegal — and the only one in the world where voters choose their leaders not with paper ballots but by dropping marbles into a barrel emblazoned with a picture of their favored candidate. Just as The Gambia isn’t a typical country, Faye isn’t a typical ambassador. A champion athlete, Faye — the grandson of an Islamic scholar by the same name — was for years his nation’s fastest sprinter, breaking records in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes. He competed in the Commonwealth Games in 1982 and was Gambia’s flag bearer at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Rising up the ranks of his country’s armed forces, Faye also became the first Gambian military officer to come to the United States for training. A major, he studied at the U.S. Army Com-

Photo: By Jongleur100 - Own work / Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Above, the Bundung mosque is one of the largest mosques in Serekunda, the largest urban center in Gambia, which is 90 percent Muslim. Photo: By Ikiwaner - Own work (eigenes Bild) / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

People sell and buy goods at the Serekunda market. Gambia, the smallest country in mainland Africa, has an annual per-capita income of less than $500 a year, with an agriculture-based economy supplemented by remittances from Gambians working in Europe.

mand and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. When the 1994 coup erupted, he decided to stay. Faye worked with several security companies and eventually became a supervisor at Atlanta-based Byers Engineering. In 2005, he returned to Banjul, where Jammeh appointed him director of information, later becoming minister of youth, sports and religious affairs. He was later named second-in-command at the Gambian Embassy in Mauritania, where he remained until 2014, when he was transferred to Washington. On Aug. 3, 2015, Faye presented his credentials to President Obama as ambassador. “Actually, I have always tried to work behind the scenes as an ambassador, telling our people to take it easy and do

Below, the Arch 22 monument commemorates the 1994 coup that saw the then 29-year-old Yahya Jammeh seize power in a bloodless coup, ousting Dawda Jawara, who had been president of Gambia since 1970.

the right thing,” he said. “What broke the camel’s back was when Jammeh trashed the election. He disregarded the constitution and was disrespectful to the Gambian people, and there’s no way we can allow anyone to do this.” On Dec. 27, two weeks after calling on Jammeh to step down, Faye was recalled as ambassador. Eleven other Gambian ambassadors serving overseas were also terminated, including those in Beijing, Moscow, Havana, Dakar, Madrid and London. “I think what we did was applauded by Gambians all over the world. They figured it was the right thing to do,” Faye told us. “I received emails from very senior people in this government saying it was a very principled decision to take

Photo: By Ikiwaner - Own work (eigenes Bild) / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

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that brave stand.” But actually returning to Gambia while Jammeh still held the reins of power would have been dangerous. “Being recalled is one thing. Getting on a plane is quite another,” quipped Faye, who also told NPR’s Ari Shapiro in a Dec. 26 radio interview that his safety would have definitely been at risk had he returned to Banjul under such conditions. We asked the ambassador why the former president changed his mind after having agreed to recognize Barrow as the winner. Faye speculates it’s because people close to Jammeh “were looking out more for their self-interest, including some top security people,” though he couldn’t confirm that. “We were told he’s now in Equatorial Guinea,” said the ambassador, naming the nearby West African dictatorship that is also known for human rights abuses, torture and extrajudicial killings. Jammeh reportedly took millions of dollars with him, and while there have been calls to hold him accountable for his human rights abuses, Barrow has been noncommittal on the issue, proposing a possible truth-and-reconciliation commission for the time being. The issue of justice versus moving on is a sensitive one for Gambians. J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, said that opposition members “were a little too giddy after their unexpected win and began talking about accountability and sending Jammeh and his henchmen to the International Criminal Court” — which is likely why the former president suddenly reversed course and decided to hold onto power at any cost. “The timing was bad. This talk of accountability could have waited until the transfer of power,” Pham told The Diplomat. He said Gambia faces an uphill battle fol-

The Gambia at a Glance Independence: Feb. 18, 1965 (from the U.K.) Location Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic ocean and Senegal Capital Banjul

Unemployment na

Population 2 million (July 2016 estimate)

Population below poverty line 48.4 percent

Religious groups Muslim 95.7 percent, Christian 4.2 percent (2013 estimate) GDP (purchasing power parity) $3.4 billion

(2010 estimate)

Industries Peanuts, fish, hides, tourism, beverages, agricultural machinery assembly, woodworking, metalworking, clothing

(2016 estimate)

National flag of The Gambia

GDP per-capita (PPP) $1,700 (2016 estimate)


GDP growth 23 percent (2016 estimate)

lowing Jammeh’s long despotic rule. “After all these years, it’s not going to be easy. The Gambia was peaceful at the tip of a gun,” said Pham, who has visited the country numerous times. “Other countries in the region said they wouldn’t recognize Jammeh holding onto power, so in that respect it was good that they were resolute. It was not so good that Senegalese troops had to enter the country, and Barrow had to be sworn in in a foreign capital.” Pham speculated that the Trump administration will do whatever it can to support the new democratically elected government. “The door is open,” he said. “It wasn’t just that Jammeh came to power through a coup. His human rights record left a lot to be desired — his ridiculous claims about HIV/ AIDS and other maladies, his anti-LGBT comments, serious concerns about money laundering. This was not a government the United States could work with.”


Nor could Senegal, which faced an influx of Gambian refugees as the situation in Banjul grew more and more tense. “In many African countries, the neighbors look the other way. This was a unique case,” Pham said. “ECOWAS has a charter against holding onto power, but ECOWAS acted only because one of its members — Senegal — had a direct interest in this. Even in their acting, it took them awhile to get their act together.” Now that things have calmed down, Faye said his main priority as ambassador is to cement bilateral relations between Gambia and the United States. Among other things, he would like Gambia reinstated into the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) — a program that provides duty-free access to the U.S. market for 6,400 products for dozens of countries. On Jan. 1, 2015, President Obama dropped Gambia, along with Swaziland and South Sudan, from AGOA benefits because of human rights concerns.

Real estate developer Adama Barrow upset gambian President yahya Jammeh in a surprise election victory last year, ousting the dictator from power after 22 years.

“We want to build on our bilateral relationship to make sure Gambia gets back into AGOA,” Faye said, noting that he also wants to improve his embassy’s outreach to the estimated 13,000 Gambians living in the United States — mainly New York, Atlanta and the D.C. metro area. “We have a longstanding relationship with the United States and together we can do a lot — particularly in agriculture and education — and we also want Americans to go and visit The Gambia.” One more thing he’s asking for: patience. “President Barrow is known to be a humble person who likes to listen to others, and he’s surrounded himself with very experienced people,” Faye said. “There are a lot of expectations, but we should take it easy. Things will not happen overnight.” WD Larry Luxner is news editor of The Washington Diplomat.

Please join us as we honor international leaders in global education, international affairs, and global communications






WD | United States

The Manufacturing Mystery Trade, Automation, Cheap Wages Abroad Conspire to Alter U.S. Economic Landscape by Ryan Migeed and Anna Gawel


s a presidential candidate, Don­­ald Trump struck a protectionist, populist tone that appealed to Rust Belt blue-collar workers but instilled fear among multinational companies, foreign governments and free trade advocates. Those fears were apparently well founded. Since assuming office, Trump has wasted no time railing against the perils of globalization. He’s threatened to slap punitive tariffs on key economic partners such as Mexico and China, named and shamed companies that outsource their operations to foreign countries and blasted multi-national trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); the latter he formally withdrew from and the former he’s vowed to renegotiate. Trump blames these trade deals — and the global competition they fostered — for widespread manufacturing job losses in the United States. But the question of why manufacturing jobs have shifted is as murky as global trade itself, which, in an interconnected 21st-century world, is not a zero-sum game that neatly conforms to blustery political rhetoric.

Tangled Web Changing trade policy does not have blowback effect on one area. It has dozens of consequences, many of which are unpredictable and lead to further repercussions. Punishing trading partners such as China and Mexico invariably affects American consumers and workers who depend on an intricate global supply chain that cuts across borders and trade barriers. Over the years, U.S. manufacturing has innovated, focusing less on lowcost goods and more on complex, sophisticated products such as computers and airplanes that require multiple components. The automobile market is a prime example of this highly integrated supply chain. Some 35 percent of “American-made” cars are, in fact, made with imported components from Mexico, China, Canada, Germany and other nations. Likewise, “Mexicanmade” cars are often made with American parts that support thousands of American jobs. In the Dec. 2 article “Trump’s Tough Trade Talk Could Damage American Factories,” the New York Times pointed out one such factory that stands to lose from punitive tariffs: Michigan’s First Class Seating, whose recliner seats for movie theaters rely on imports from China for their fabric, plastic cup holders, bolts, screws and other parts. A 20 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MARCH 2017

President Trump has blamed countries such as China and Mexico for the erosion of U.S. manufacturing jobs, but the industry has been steadily declining for decades.

Today, the manufacturing sector employs less than 10 percent of America’s workforce, as opposed to 25 percent in 1960. Manufacturing jobs in the U.S. peaked at 19.5 million in 1979 and have declined ever since. 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports, as Trump has suggested, would force companies such as First Class Seating to cut American jobs and pass the increased costs onto consumers. That in turn could stunt economic growth and lead to job losses in other industries. For instance, apparel (including Trump’s own clothing brands) is often made in low-cost countries such as China. If tariffs raise the price of those clothes, millions of American consumers may balk at having to pay twice as much for a shirt at Walmart in order to preserve a negligible amount of American manufacturing jobs. Moreover, if households cut back on buying clothes, it could threaten thousands of retail jobs in the U.S. Beyond the fact that the cost of import tariffs often trickles down to American consumers and hurts workers in firms that rely on global trade, many other variables are at play. For instance, companies in nations that don’t impose hefty import tariffs can access the global supply chain more

cheaply — and thus sell their wares to Americans more cheaply — thereby gaining an edge over their U.S. competitors. Additionally, targeting nations such as China or Mexico doesn’t necessarily shift production to the United States. It would simply migrate to other low-cost places such as Vietnam, Bangladesh and Africa. American workers may also balk at the kind of physically demanding, repetitive factory work counterparts in the developing world embrace for low wages. Moreover, any sudden tariff hike by the Trump administration would likely face legal resistance at the World Trade Organization (WTO). If the U.S. erects protectionist walls, companies in Europe and elsewhere may start looking for new trade partners in investmenthungry nations such as China. And it’s likely that China would fight back with tariffs of its own, damaging major U.S. exporters such as Boeing. Most economists agree that everyone loses in a global trade war, which could plunge the U.S. into a recession.

Shift to Services As for American manufacturing, there is no doubt that the industry has shed jobs. According to the Congressional Research Service, the U.S. share of global manufacturing has decreased by 29 percent in the early 1980s to 18.6 percent in 2015, mirroring similar trends in other industrialized nations such as Germany and Japan. In 2010, the U.N. estimated that China displaced the United States as the world’s largest manufacturing nation, although the U.S. has steadily outperformed other high-income economies such as Britain and Canada in terms of manufacturing growth and manufacturing as a share of GDP. China’s entry into the WTO in 2001 and the Great Recession of 2008 contributed to the over 5 million manufacturing jobs lost in the U.S. since 2000, although the sector rebounded under President Obama and is now holding steady at about 12 million positions. But economists warn that American manufacturing is unlikely to return to its heyday for a number of reasons. For one thing, the manufacturing sector employs less than 10 percent of America’s workforce, as opposed to 25 percent in 1960. Manufacturing jobs in the U.S. peaked at 19.5 million in 1979 and have declined ever since. Developed economies like the U.S., which were built on manufacturing, tend over time to transition to service

Photo: Tama66 / Pixabay

economies, with growing health care, retail and hospitality sectors. With unemployment already at historic lows, job growth has been happening not in traditional manufacturing but in areas such as food prep, customer service, retail sales and home health aides. In fact, some of the fastest-growing occupations are registered nurses and physical therapists, which require additional education but offer higher pay. Indeed, education seems to be the dividing line in this economic evolution. According to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, over 95 percent of the 11.6 million jobs created since the recovery in 2010 went to workers with at least some college education, while those with only a high school diploma or less were left behind. That’s why economists say education and increased worker training are key to adapting to the changing economic landscape. In fact, when taking higher-skilled jobs into account, the manufacturing picture in the U.S. is not nearly as bleak. With baby boomers retiring and factories increasingly relying on computers and high-tech equipment, the demand for workers with skills to operate that advanced machinery is on the rise — as are wages.

Automation Revolution The demand for old-fashioned blue-collar jobs that required little more than a high school degree, however, has been drying up, especially in industries such as textile and furniture manufacturing. Economists say the primary culprit behind those job losses is not necessarily free trade, but automation. The rise of machines and technology has increased productivity and decreased the need for workers performing “routine” jobs that require less skill, rendering many manufacturing jobs obsolete. Carla A. Hills, who served as U.S. trade rep-

Photo: SasinTipchai / Shutterstock

The rise in automation, as seen in the industrial welding robots above, has eliminated the need for many low-skill manufacturing jobs.

resentative from 1989 to 1993 in the George H.W. Bush administration, blames automation for taking the lion’s share of manufacturing jobs in America. Even as U.S. manufacturing productivity hit an all-time high in 2016, she notes, U.S. manufacturing jobs have steadily declined since 1979. That’s because factories don’t need as many people now that machines can do the work — more cheaply and more efficiently. A 2015 report from Ball State University found that trade only accounted for 13 percent of lost U.S. factory jobs while automation and other domestic factors claimed 88 percent. The trend is likely to continue. A December 2016 White House report found that over the next 15 years, 2 million to 3 million Americans who drive for a living — truckers, bus drivers and cabbies — will be replaced by self-driving vehicles. While some economists worry about the dire effects of robots replacing humans (not only in the U.S. but around the world), others say they will create new jobs as people adjust to this new reality — just as they have during previous technological disruptions.

Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy pointed out that the invention of ATMs, for instance, did not kill banking jobs. In fact, the number of bank jobs in the U.S. has increased at a healthy clip, according to Boston University economist James Bessen, because ATM machines allowed banks to operate branch offices at lower cost, which in turn prompted them to open more branches. Most economists agree that the jobs of the future will require education, creativity and flexibility to adapt to automation. Yet even the debate over whether global trade or automation is responsible for the erosion of manufacturing jobs oversimplifies a complex phenomenon. Economists attribute the decline to myriad factors, and finding agreement on the causes is about as elusive as finding consensus on a solution. For Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the new book “Failure to Adjust: How Americans Got Left Behind in the Global Economy,” a beneficial trade policy “looks like nothing Donald Trump would implement.” In a phone interview with The Diplomat,

Alden said that the trade-versus-automation debate is “slightly artificial.” He explained that the decline in U.S. manufacturing since the 1960s has three main causes: automation of the assembly line, global competition and the often forgotten factor of changing consumer demand. As Alden pointed out, businesses will naturally do what it takes to remain competitive, whether it’s outsourcing their work to cheaper labor or embracing robots that are able to replace humans. Some of this benefits consumers. Due to increased global trade, for instance, Americans have seen their choice of products grow by one-third, and lower-income households have benefited from cheaper-priced goods, according to a September 2016 report in the New York Times. On the flip side, trade has created winners and losers. Ironically, while people on the lower end of the salary totem pole have benefitted from increased consumer choice, they’ve also been hit hardest by globalization. “Across much of the industrialized world, an outsize share of the winnings have been harvested by people with advanced degrees, stock options and the need for accountants. Ordinary laborers have borne the costs and suffered from joblessness and deepening economic anxiety,” wrote Peter S. Goodman in the New York Times article.

Building Better Products and Workers While blue-collar workers around the world have seen their fortunes plummet, Alden said that two notable exceptions to this trend are Germany and Japan, which have been better than the U.S. at stemming the depletion of their manufacturing sectors. See man u fac tu r in g • page 22

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Manufacturing Continued • page 21

Economists Robert Hayes and William Abernathy explained why this might be the case in their touchstone essay “Managing Our Way to Economic Decline,” published in the Harvard Business Review in 1980. The economies of Japan and Europe generally have long been reliant on exports, forcing them to outmaneuver global competition while still employing their own workforces. Because of the threat of being undercut by lower-priced products from foreign competitors, “European managers feel they must place central emphasis on producing technologically superior products,” Hayes and Abernathy wrote. For these manufacturers, quality has been key to their success — from Germany’s luxury BMW automobiles to Japan’s Yamaha pianos. The pressure to maintain employment levels in Europe, meanwhile, comes largely from powerful labor unions that carry a “pervasive influence,” Hayes and Abernathy wrote. In stark contrast, unions in the U.S. have steadily seen their bargaining power eroded. Moreover, countries such as Germany and Switzerland invest heavily in worker retraining, apprenticeships and vocational education. A report by the Council on Foreign Relations points out that the United States lags far behind other industrialized nations when it comes to spending on worker training, allocating only 0.1 percent of total GDP to training and assistance compared to 0.8 percent in Germany and 2.3 percent in Denmark. Democratic proposals to spend more on retraining workers displaced by globalization have consistently met resistance from GOP lawmakers concerned such programs will become a government handout and waste of taxpayer money. Another factor that limits the ability of American workers to upgrade their resumes is the cost of college,

Photo: American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

While American manufacturing jobs in general have been in decline, the picture is mixed. Workers who can operate high-tech machinery are in demand, and many foreign companies rely on Americans to build their products. For example, over 99 percent of Honda and Acura vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2015 were manufactured in North America, the highest rate of any international automaker. Last November, Honda began production of its 2017 CR-V in Ohio, the first-ever global production launch for the East Liberty Plant, above.

which is far more expensive in the United States than it is in Europe.

Possible Solutions If jobs that once required human skills are inevitably being replaced by robots — or being shipped off to cheaper sources of labor — the question becomes what to do about the workers already laid off. Warren Coats, an economist who worked at the International Monetary Fund for nearly three decades, said the answer first and foremost is training new workers for the jobs of the future and retraining laid-off workers for the jobs that are available now. Former U.S. Trade Representative Hills agrees, arguing that American workers need retraining via public-private partnerships on a large scale. “I don’t care why you lost your job, I want you to have a job,” Hills told The Diplomat. “There are many acute needs and

one of the biggest is infrastructure,” she said. “There are two types of infrastructure, human infrastructure and physical infrastructure, and we need to build them both.” There are also a number of measures experts have suggested to help laid-off workers recover their financial losses. In the discussion paper “A Winning Trade Policy for the United States,” Alden and co-author Robert E. Litan call these measures “livelihood insurance.” They include options such as expanding the earned income tax credit for low-income workers, topping up salaries for workers who lose their positions and have to take new jobs at lower pay, repayable loans for workers training for new careers and subsidies to help workers move to where jobs in their field are more plentiful. Alden is also an advocate of higher minimum wages, passed on a state-by-state basis, because minimum-wage jobs do not generally compete with positions in the trade



sector but raising those wages would raise wages across industries. Given that the manufacturing jobs that have been lost cannot be replaced, another option to ease the burden on workers is a guaranteed basic income, a concept that is gaining advocates on both ends of the U.S. political spectrum. Coats prefers this option to other forms of livelihood insurance. While he has “qualms about overly complex schemes of assistance from government,” he told The Diplomat that he supports giving a minimum income to every citizen — man, woman and child, whether working or not — with requirements such as depositing certain percentages of that income into retirement and health insurance accounts. Finally, the “gig economy” — in which workers take odd jobs such as freelance labor through sites such as TaskRabbit or drive for a carsharing service like Uber — could provide another solution for laid-off workers. But it is hard to say definitively if temporary gigs are a permanent solution, Alden cautioned. “The economy places a lot more of the risk on the shoulders of working people, and the gig economy does some of that, which worries me,” he said. But it is difficult to generalize, he added. Some Uber drivers need the job to feed their families; others just want to earn a little extra cash while working a full-time job. This is only the “low-end” of the gig economy, Alden said. There is also a “high-end,” with jobs like consulting, which can earn large fees.

Adapting to Change

Trade agreements

United States 20

Mexico 46

EU 60

China 15

Trade as % of GDP




41% $2.3 trillion

Total value of annual goods exports

$1.5 trillion

$381 billion

$2.3 trillion

Total value of annual goods imports

$2.3 trillion

$395 billion

$2.2 trillion




$1.7 trillion Credit: Bertelsmann Foundation

While unfettered trade has elevated some workers at the expense of others, most economists agree that on the whole, it has raised incomes, given consumers more choice and lifted billions out of poverty. Ultimately, changes in trade, employment and, importantly, how we make products have been happening since the Industrial Revolution, said Coats. Automation has impacted how workers do their jobs since the

advent of the printing press, the cotton gin and countless other inventions. It is the pace of the current change that is the problem, Coats said. Slow change allows populations to adapt. Rapid change can lead to isolationist tendencies and fingerpointing. Trump is right, however, that a significant portion of the U.S. loss in manufacturing jobs is the result of global competition, specifically after China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. That consequential move ushered in a wave of offshoring as Beijing aggressively courted businesses with sweetheart deals and took advantage of a ready pool of hundreds of millions of cheap workers unencumbered by labor rules, environmental standards or intellectual property protection. But this is no longer relevant, Coats argued. China did manipulate its currency and flood world markets with cheap goods in the early 2000s, but it is now doing the opposite, he told The Diplomat. “That history is gone,” Coats said. “This history should not guide our policy today or for the future.” In fact, Jeffrey Rothfeder of the New Yorker reported last year that a significant number of companies are “reshoring” jobs from China and moving them back to the U.S., particularly the South. The reasons are varied — among them, the quality of the American workforce, lower energy costs in the U.S. and the advantages of minimizing far-flung supply lines. But another major factor is rising wages in China, which is beginning to face the same dilemma American manufacturers have grappled with for years: how to compete with nations that offer lower wages? In an odd way, the forces of globalization and automation have leveled the playing field. Rothfeder’s article quoted Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, who said in 2013 that, “Today, the product is the process, more or less. If you look at an aircraft engine, the content of labor is probably less than 5 percent. We have two hours of labor in a refrigerator. So it really doesn’t matter if you make it in Mexico, the U.S. or China. Today it’s really about globalization, not about outsourcing; it’s how do I capture markets faster than the competition?” Still, low wages abroad will continue to hurt blue-collar workers at home. To that end, some economists have praised Trump’s pledge to renegotiate NAFTA, agreeing that the 1994 trade pact needs to be updated. The president’s focus on bilateral trade deals over sweeping multilateral ones like the TPP may also be more manageable and better able to address specific worker concerns. The president has a point, Coats argued, that bilateral trade deals offer more leverage to get better deals. And preferring bilateral agreements does not mean he is opposed to liberal trade full-stop. “I fear the worst with Trump, but all the evidence isn’t in,” he said. WD Ryan Migeed (@RyanMigeed) is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C. Anna Gawel (@diplomatnews) is the managing editor of The Washington Diplomat.

United States | WD

Global Gala D.C.’s World Affairs Council Honors Those Who Unify, Educate and Inform by Stephanie Kanowitz


t a time when Washington feels divided, the World Affairs Council – Washington, DC is preparing to honor five organizations for their unifying global contributions. The council’s annual HONORS: Global Education Gala, to be held March 29 at the Ritz-Carlton on 22nd Street, NW, recognizes organizations that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to global education, international affairs and global communications — WACDC’s three mission points. “It’s become an eagerly sought-after event,” said Tony Culley-Foster, the council’s president and chief executive officer. “If it isn’t an A-list event, it’s a B-plus-plusplus, even on the Washington calendar.” About 25 percent of the 800 expected guests hail from the diplomatic corps, Culley-Foster said, but attendees can also expect to rub elbows with leaders from Capitol Hill, private industry and nonprofit groups at the $1,000-per-seat event. The goal is to bring in $1 million for the council, whose net assets totaled about $1.2 million in 2015. For those who can’t make it, WAC-DC will livestream the event with sponsorship from the National Press Club.

About WAC-DC Founded in 1980, WAC-DC is a nonpartisan educational organization that puts on 40-plus events every year, including the Ambassador, Embassy, Author, Distinguished Speaker and Foreign Policy Panel series, putting the council in contact with more than 1,500 members and guests annually. Recent events included a discussion with European Union Ambassador David O’Sullivan; a panel on Donald Trump’s controversial refugee ban; and an author series on Roby Barrett’s “The Gulf and the Struggle for Hegemony.” According to the group, since 2000, more than 125 foreign ambassadors, 50 U.S. ambassadors, 23 Cabinet secretaries and two U.S. presidents have shared their perspectives on international affairs with WAC-DC audiences. Additionally, the Global Communications Committee, led by Kristin Roach, produces “World Affairs TODAY,” a TV program that records the series events, held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, and goes out to about 25 million homes nationwide. (The Washington Diplomat publisher/editor-in-chief Victor Shiblie is a member of the committee.) WAC-DC is one of 97 councils nationwide with a TV program. “It definitely distinguishes us,” said Roach, whose team also posts the shows on YouTube for international viewers. WAC-DC, which bills itself as the place “where learning happens,” also spearheads a variety of educational programs as part of its mission to involve as many citizens as possible in the exchange of ideas, knowledge and understanding of global issues. For example, it hosts professional development programs for local educators. Workshops have covered topics such as human rights, climate change and “Turkey: Where East Meets West.” In addition, WAC-DC provides a weeklong Summer Institute on International Affairs for U.S. educators who want to learn new and engaging ways to bring global education into their classrooms (also see “World Affairs Council – DC Prides Itself as Place

Photo: World Affairs Council – Washington, DC

World Affairs Council – Washington, DC President and CEO Tony Culley-Foster, left, honors Pakistani Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani during a WAC-DC event in 2015. Founded in 1980, the nonpartisan educational organization hosts over 40 events each year.

All the ambassadors that I have spoken to have indicated enormous interest in doing more with us and I think that has to do with recognizing the power of education.

Tony Culley-Foster

president and chief executive officer of the World Affairs Council – Washington, DC

‘Where Learning Happens’” in the March 2016 issue of The Washington Diplomat). This “small but mighty” organization, as CulleyFoster calls it, sees 2017 as a prime time for growth. Tata Consultancy Services, which has a vice president on WAC-DC’s board, helped the council develop the “2020 Vision Plan” that “has mapped out our budgets and required income and, most importantly, our controlled growth plan for the organization, domestically and internationally, between now and Dec. 31, 2020,” Culley-Foster said. Over 80 percent of the money that comes into the council goes toward programming, he added. For example, WAC-DC now considers as branded products its International Teacher Exchange Program, which other countries are interested in emulating. “On a fee-for-program service, we can go to a country and assist them with setting up this program in their coun-

try,” Culley-Foster said. Additionally, the council is working with Arlington, Va.-based Marymount University on establishing a graduate certificate in global education for public school teachers across the United States. Expanding its international footprint is a major goal for 2017, Culley-Foster told us. “We strongly believe that there is tremendous expansion potential for the global education, international affairs and global communications program services between now and 2020,” he said. “All the ambassadors that I have spoken to have indicated enormous interest in doing more with us and I think that has to do with recognizing the power of education.”

And the Award Goes to… WAC-DC will celebrate the power of education at its gala later this month by honoring five entities that meet the council’s specific criteria, but more importantly, that align with its three overarching goals. The winners are thoroughly vetted over the course of a year by WACDC’s board of directors. Culley-Foster emphasized that the awards go to organizations, and that the people who accept them at the gala do so on the organization’s behalf. What’s more, for the Distinguished Diplomatic Service Award, “the countries nominated have to be an ally nation of the United States. It’s not open to the world,” he explained. “It’s rewarding people who have a commitment to the democratic process and engaging with the global community in a constructive way.” Here’s a look at this year’s winners: See WAC - DC • page 24 THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MARCH 2017 | 23

Marymount to achieve our vision.”


Global Education Award

Continued • page 23

Distinguished Diplomatic Service Award This was a no-brainer this year, Culley-Foster said. The board voted unanimously for Colombia to receive this honor, which goes to a country that is an ally of the United States and seeks to advance, through diplomacy, its relationship with America. Colombia was the clear choice, Culley-Foster said, because of the signing of a revised peace agreement between the Colombian government and the country’s largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The country was sharply divided over whether the government should work with FARC, which emerged as a left-wing guerrilla group in the 1960s in response to socio-economic inequalities but in recent decades launched a wave kidnappings, killings, extortion and other brutal tactics while also trafficking cocaine. Despite a public referendum last October that narrowly rejected the historic accord and almost derailed years of peace talks, President Juan Manuel Santos was able to refine the deal to address voter concerns and push it through Congress. Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for brokering the agreement, which effectively ends the longest armed conflict in Latin American history — one that, over the last 50 years, has cost as many as 220,000 lives and displaced nearly 6 million people. At the end of 2016, a delegation of business leaders led by former Vice President Joe Biden (including Bill Ballhaus, who will accept the Global Education Award on behalf of Blackbord) traveled to Colombia to form a new U.S.-Colombia Advisory Council to discuss the countries’ economic partnerships. “It’s been a transformational event for Colombia, and we feel very good about the fact that there was unanimous approval from our board to give this as our apex award in terms of the diplomatic community,” Culley-Foster said. “Colombia is a nation trans-

Photo: World Affairs Council – Washington, DC

From left, Dan Pelino of IBM, recipient of the 2016 Global Education Award; Michael Norris, chairman of the WAC-DC Board of Directors; Edie Fraser, CEO of STEMconnector and Million Women Mentors; former Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.); former Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.); and WAC-DC President and CEO Tony Culley-Foster attend the World Affairs Council – Washington, DC’s 2016 Global Education Gala held at the Ritz-Carlton.

formed and on the path to securing a stable and lasting peace that will ensure prosperity for future generations,” said Juan Carlos Pinzón, ambassador of Colombia to the United States, in a statement. “We are deeply humbled by this recognition, and we look forward to building on our global dialogue and exchange of ideas with the World Affairs Council.”

Global Communications Award

International Public Service Award Typically presented to a U.S. Cabinet-level representative, WAC-DC opted this year to honor the Jane Goodall Institute. Based in Vienna, Va., the institute has helped cover 3.4 million acres of habitat under conservation action plans; provided over 300 education scholarships to women; cared for 290 chimpanzees and gorillas at its sanctuary; published nearly 500 scientific papers; and engaged youth in nearly 100 countries through its Roots & Shoots program. Brought to fame by her work with chimpanzees in the 1960s, Goodall has since traveled the world speaking about and encouraging action on environmental issues. When she delivers the keynote address at the

From left, National Geographic Society President and CEO Gary E. Knell, recipient of the Global Communication Award; David Trulio of Lockheed Martin; and WAC-DC President and CEO Tony R. Culley-Foster attend the World Affairs Council – Washington, DC’s 2016 Global Education Gala.

gala, she will focus on environmental protection and sustainability, Culley-Foster said. “It will be a different sort of message this time than we’ve had in previous years,” he noted. “The Jane Goodall Institute works to inspire people to take action to benefit other people, animals and the world we all share,” Goodall, founder of the institute, said in a statement. “We each have the power to make a difference every day and to be an ambassador of positive change for our world. I am honored to receive the Global Ambassador Award from the World Affairs Council-Washington, DC in recognition of this work.”

Educator of the Year

Photo: Larry Luxner

Basketball legend Magic Johnson, right, auctions off autographed jerseys at the World Affairs Council-DC’s fundraising gala in 2015.


This year’s winner is Blackboard, having served as a role model for the development, advancement and delivery of worldwide programs that promote WAC-DC’s goals. Headquartered here in D.C., the educational technology company provides kindergarten through 12th grades and higher education institutions with software designed to foster new ways of learning. Additionally, it conducts learner research, enabling the company to adapt to students’ needs. “It is a privilege and an honor for Blackboard to receive the Global Education Award from the World Affairs Council,” said Blackboard Chairman, CEO and President Bill Ballhaus in an email. “Not only is this a reflection of our employees and the passion that they bring every day to making a difference in the education community, but it’s also a testament to the work of our partners and their dedication to making an impact on the lives of learners worldwide.”

This award goes to a university, college or school system that shows academic excellence, innovation and entrepreneurship in a curriculum that hits on the council’s goals of global education. This year, the prize goes to Marymount, where taking an international perspective is written right into its vision: “Marymount will distinguish itself through a culture of engagement that fosters intellectual curiosity, service to others, and a global perspective,” President

LEARN MORE: For more about WAC-DC, visit

Matthew Shank noted in an email. He will accept the award on the university’s behalf. “One of the hallmarks of a Marymount experience is our diversity and world view,” Shank said. “We are enriched and blessed by our diversity. As a Catholic University founded by the [Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, a Roman Catholic community], we have a special obligation to preserve and celebrate our diversity in the many forms that it takes on our campus.” The award reinforces the university’s “common ground” theme, he added. “We come together with unique perspectives from many backgrounds, but learn and leave Marymount sharing and embracing our values of faith, diversity and respect for the dignity of all individuals,” Shank said. “So as you can see, this honor is very rewarding and reinforces the work we are doing at

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting won the award this year for its efforts to educate through its funding of public television and radio, as well as its support of independent filmmakers. “CPB is proud to support public media’s courageous international reporters and appreciates the recognition by the World Affairs Council of D.C. for our commitment and their work,” Patricia de Stacy Harrison, president and CEO, who will accept the award, said in an email. “This past June, two NPR journalists, David Gilkey and Zabihullah Tamanna, were killed while on assignment in Afghanistan. In their honor, CPB provided the lead gift to start a memorial fund to increase the number of photo and video journalists worldwide so that their work will continue through new generations.” CPB helps almost 1,500 locally owned and operated radio and TV stations nationwide, and in the past seven years, it has provided more than $27 million to public media stations to fund 22 local journalism collaborations — in addition to its support of National Public Radio’s foreign news bureaus. “The Global Communications Award from the World Affairs Council of D.C. is an important recognition of the essential role public media plays advancing understanding of issues of national and international importance,” added Harrison, former assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs and acting undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs. WD Stephanie Kanowitz is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

United States | WD

How to Be Like Ike Eisenhower’s Presidency offers Lessons for Trump By JoHN SHAW


resident Donald Trump reportedly studied the inaugural addresses of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan as he prepared his speech for Jan. 20, 2017. This was reasonable. Both Kennedy and Reagan delivered stirring speeches that outlined their worldviews, framed their agendas and readied their contemporaries for the stern challenges ahead. The Kennedy and Reagan inaugural speeches are still read today for perspective and inspiration. Trump’s inaugural address, however, shared only Kennedy and Reagan’s brevity. It lacked their lift and poetry, presenting a grim, dystopian vision of the United States while slamming the establishment and any nation that gets in the way of the 45th president’s “America first” populist agenda. Instead of unity and optimism, it capitalized on the division and anger that has roiled U.S. politics. And it offered the world a clenched fist rather than an extended hand. Trump has not shown much regard for studying history, but if he wants to successfully lead the United States over the next four years, it would make sense for him to review the record and especially the governing style of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president. Eisenhower served in the White House from 1953 to 1961 following a stellar military career that included leading the historic D-Day invasion of Normandy in 1944 that turned the tide of World War II. Eisenhower was the last non-politician to be elected president. He entered the White House after 20 years of Democratic administrations led by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman and navigated the nation through a difficult phase of the Cold War. To be sure, Eisenhower’s personal and professional background could not be more different than Trump’s and the political world he dominated is of a different century — and seemingly different universe — than today’s. Nonetheless, there are lessons from Ike that Trump would be wise to consider. Here are a dozen that Trump could learn from Eisenhower:

1. RESPECT THE DIgNITy oF THE PRESIDENCy. Eisenhower, despite his stodgy and benign public image, was an intense, restless and forceful man with a fierce

temper. But Ike was careful to make sure his explosions occurred only in private. He believed the president needed to publicly comport himself with optimism, confidence and class. The president, he recognized, was the face and voice of America. People were watching and paying attention — long before the advent of cable news and Twitter. In a letter to Time magazine’s publisher, Henry Luce, Ike emphasized the importance of “maintaining a respectable image of American life before the world,” adding that “among the qualities that the American government must exhibit is dignity.” The president as the nation’s symbol and spokesman “must strive to display” this dignity at all times. Eisenhower, a global superstar, was genuinely humbled by the office he assumed. In a memoir, he describes entering the Oval Office for the first time as president. “There had been dramatic events in my life before but none surpassed, emotionally, crossing the threshold to an office of such awesome responsibility. Remembering my beginnings I had to smile. If my chances of walking into this room had been calculated when I was born in Denison, Texas, in 1890, they would have been approximately


You can’t drastically reform everything at once…. If you strive to gain everything at once, without compromise, you end up with nothing.


zero. And yet the homely old saw had proved to be true: in the United States, any boy could grow up to be President.”

2. UNDERSTAND THE PRESIDENT’S DUAL RoLES AS CHIEF oF STATE AND HEAD oF goVERNMENT. While Eisenhower identified himself as a Republican and was proud to be the leader of a unified GOP government in 1953, he was also keenly aware that he represented all Americans. He understood the presidency combined two different responsibilities: chief of government and head of state. Herbert Brownell, Eisenhower’s attorney general, recalled Ike’s belief that as chief of state he was the symbol of national unity and aspiration, while as

head of government he had to plunge into the roiling and murky waters of practical politics. Eisenhower was a tough boss who demanded careful work from his cabinet and staff. While sparing with praise, he appreciated excellence and engendered a sense of competence and a spirit of common endeavor. He did not refer to “my” administration or “my” cabinet, but usually spoke of “the” administration and “the” cabinet.

3. CHALLENgE PEoPLE’S VIEWS, BUT NEVER QUESTIoN THEIR MoTIVES. Eisenhower enjoyed spirited policy debates, but he was determined to keep them focused on the issues. He encouraged his staff to argue and challenge each other — and him — but never to question the motives of others. He told his secretary, Ann Whitman, that it was

Dwight D. Eisenhower, seen in his official White House portrait above, is widely viewed by historians as a successful president who led the country through the Cold War.

essential to “always leave a line of retreat open to your antagonist and the most important one you can leave is never to challenge his motives.” He believed that people can handle disagreements easily, but never forgive having their good faith questioned. This basic civility was powerful and contagious; Ike’s staff venerated him. “He was by all measures that I can apply to people a splendid and beloved man,” recalled Maurice Stans, Eisenhower’s budget director. “His sole aim was to do the right thing for the country; he was uniquely forthright and direct, never devious; his mind was sharp and his questions were precise, sometimes cutting.”

4. MANAgEMENT AND PLANNINg ARE CRITICAL To goVERNINg. While Ike was derided by many academics and journalists for trying to recreate a military staff system in the White House, historians have come to SEE eIs en hOW er • PAgE 45 THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MARCH 2017 | 25

WD | Medical

Common and Costly Heart Disease Could Cost U.S. $1 Trillion Per Year by 2035: Report by HealthDay News

American Heart Association estimates that nearly half of Americans will have heart disease in less than 20 years


eart disease is increasing at a troubling pace in the United States, with costs expected to double from $555 billion in 2016 to a whopping $1.1 trillion in 2035, a new American Heart Association (AHA) report estimates. “Our new projections indicate cardiovascular disease is on a course that could bankrupt our nation’s economy and health care system,” said AHA President Steven Houser. He’s also associate dean of research at Temple University in Philadelphia. By 2035, 45 percent of the total U.S. population — about 131 million people — will have at least one health problem related to heart disease, the AHA report projected. Heart disease is spreading much more quickly than previously estimated, Houser said at a recent news conference. The last time the AHA performed these calculations, in 2011, researchers projected that by 2030 about 40 percent of the United States would have some form of heart disease. “We were incorrect,” Houser said. “We reached that benchmark in 2015 — almost 15 years sooner than we anticipated.” In 2015, about 41.5 percent of the U.S. population had at least one heart-related health problem, said the report, titled “Cardiovascular Disease: A Costly Burden for America.” The AHA’s previous projections underestimated the impact of America’s ongoing obesity epidemic on the nation’s heart health. Surging rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes in younger adults “are more impactful than we had anticipated, unfortunately,” Houser said. The aging of the baby boomer generation is also playing a large role in the projected increase in heart disease rates, the study reported. At age 24, a person’s risk for heart disease is just 20 percent, the report said, but by 45 that same person now has a 50 percent risk of heart problems — more than doubled. “Not surprisingly, 90 percent of those over 80 have some form of cardiovascular disease,” Houser said. The new study projects that by 2035: • More than 123 million Americans will have high blood pressure. • 24 million will have coronary heart disease. • More than 11 million will have had a stroke. • Almost 9 million will have congestive heart


Photo: Lawrence Long / Dreamstime

Our new projections indicate cardiovascular disease is on a course that could bankrupt our nation’s economy and health care system. Steven Houser

president of the American Heart Association


• More than 7 million will have atrial fibrillation, a dangerous heart rhythm disorder. “The burden of cardiovascular disease is growing faster than our ability to combat it, and our new report indicates it could get much worse in the coming years,” Houser said. Total heart disease costs across all conditions are projected to more than triple among people aged 80 or older. Heart disease costs are also expected to more than double among those aged 65 to 79, the report found. The United States will spend $749 billion in direct medical costs treating heart-related diseases in 2035. That’s more than double the $318 billion now spent annually, the report revealed. Indirect costs tied to lost productivity also will increase by an estimated 55 percent. That

will drive those costs up to $368 billion in 2035 from $237 billion today. On average, a worker with heart disease costs their employer nearly 60 hours and over $1,100 more in lost productivity per year than a healthy employee, the AHA estimated. Heart disease survivor Shane Mandel provided a personal example of those indirect costs during the AHA news conference. “After my heart attack in November, when I was attending cardiac rehab, I was doing that three times a week for five months,” said Mandel, a military vet living in Suffolk, Va. “My employer was really good about giving me the necessary time off, but it was still a lot of productivity lost to them,” Mandel said. Copies of the report will be distributed to policy makers in Congress as they contemplate the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Houser said. “As this report shows, we have and will continue to have significant numbers of Americans with pre-existing cardiovascular disease conditions,” Houser said. “Prohibitions on pre-existing conditions are critical for anyone who has cardiovascular disease, and they must be maintained, in our view,” he added. The ACA also has expanded patient’s access to preventive care, which “will also be key to reducing cardiovascular disease and its health care costs moving forward,” Houser said. WD Copyright (c) 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

luxury Living a special section of The Washington Diplomat

March 2017

photoS: ten thouSand VILLageS

Shopping with Purpose Ten Thousand Villages Brings Artisan Goods to U.S. Store Shelves •

BY macKenZIe WeIngeR


scarf from Laos, a basket from India, a pitcher from Indonesia — unique, handmade objects from around the world can be found at shops in the D.C. area that are dedicated to preserving the local traditions behind the crafts as well as promoting the economic empowerment of their creators. With about 50 stores scattered around the country — locally, one is in Alexandria, Va., while others can be found in Baltimore and Hagerstown, Md. — Ten Thousand Villages allows visitors to browse and buy goods from artisans around the world. The makers, all from developing countries, build long-term relationships with Ten Thousand Villages to sell their goods — and it’s all fair trade. “People understand that what they’re giving is not just

a beautiful gift. What it represents is real empowerment, economically and socially, for people around the world, in particular women,” Becca Stamp, the marketing communications manager at Ten Thousand Villages, told The Washington Diplomat. As the nation’s largest fair trade retailer, Ten Thousand

ten thousand Villages sells goods made by artisans all over the world. above, Lasiche haruna works with a women’s cooperative processing shea butter in rural northern ghana. top photo, women in moradabad, India, weave birdhouses from recycled materials that they sell through ten thousand Villages.

See villages • page 28


People understand that what they’re giving is not just a beautiful gift. What it represents is real empowerment, economically and socially, for people around the world, in particular women. Becca Stamp marketing communications manager at Ten Thousand Villages


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Villages Continued • page 27

Villages has impacted the lives of 20,000 artisans around the world and generated $140 million in sustainable income for them since its founding in 1946. In addition to the retail stores, goods ranging from jewelry to handbags to vases are also available online, or through 200 various wholesale accounts around the country. The products come from about 30 developing countries, and the majority of the artisan groups the organization works with are women, according to Stamp. “We do focus on women because we know that in a lot of the communities we work in that is the key factor in helping families break the cycle of poverty,” Stamp said. “When a woman can earn her own income, that might be what enables them to send their children to school or make that difference. A lot of times, the woman’s income through fair trade is the most reliable source of income that family has.” In total, Ten Thousand Villages features products made by about 80 to 100 different artisan groups. And the group’s business model is particularly noteworthy. It’s all about making long-term commitments to the artisans, Stamp said. “We don’t just buy from them one time. We don’t just look for a product and then walk away. When we enter into a relationship with an artisan group, it is for a long period of time. And like any relationship, the key to that is communication,” she said. The company’s buyers and designers work with the artisan groups to take the skills they have — often traditional skills such as basket weaving or pottery — and help them develop designs that will both preserve that tradition and also sell in the United States. “We’re bringing them here to the United States where there is a market, whereas in their home country there often is not a market for that particular handicraft,” she said. And they’re paying the groups in advance. Ten Thousand Villages places up to a 50 percent advance on

Photo: Ten Thousand Villages

In Lombok, Indonesia, women create earthenware pottery in the same tradition as their ancestors.

an order. “That way artisan groups can use that money to purchase the materials they need without going in debt,” she said. And once the completed order has been shipped, typically by sea, the makers are paid in full. “So by the time a product reaches our shelves or our warehouse, the artisan group has already been paid in full for it,” Stamp said. “We really make a commitment to that order — no matter what happens for some of the groups that we work with who have challenges. There are rolling blackouts in some countries, there’s monsoon season that we need to work around, just the political intricacies. “Because we’ve made this commitment, the groups are not responsible for those sorts of things,” Stamp added. “So it’s a little bit riskier for us, but we know that kind of sustainability and that kind of consistency is what will make a difference for them to be a successful business.” Stamp, who has been with the business for six years, recalled her own personal story about what makes Ten Thousand Villages such a special shopping experience. One of the artisan groups they work with is the Lombok Pottery Cooperative, See villages • page 30

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Villages Continued • page 28

women potters in Indonesia who make earthenware pottery. When a woman retires, she does so with a pension and the ability to pass her membership on to daughters or other female family members who are over the age of 18, Stamp said. “They use a turntable, it’s not even a pottery wheel. Their tools are a twig for measuring, maybe a pencil for etching. They basically hand shape from clay that’s dug locally there in Indonesia these beautiful, amazing pieces of pottery in the same way that their ancestors were doing 300 years ago,� Stamp said. “And in that particular area, there are few opportunities for economic empowerment, but this group has given the women the opportunity to earn their own income. And they’ve been able to send their kids to school and many of them onto universities.� Stamp gave a pitcher from the cooperative to her mom. “That’s the thing behind so many of our products — the tradition behind the craft or the empowerment that it represents, in particular for women, it just makes them really meaningful gifts,� she said. “It was a really meaningful gift to give my own mother. And we hear those stories a lot.� Stepping into a Ten Thousand Villages shop offers a sense that “so much of the world is represented,� Stamp noted, thanks to the wide variety of traditional craft and global culture on offer. “And one of the things we are trying to do is make sure we help artisan groups,

we work with them — it’s a collaboration — to try and help them develop the most successful product,� she said. “But we want to do that in a way that allows them to use traditional skills and preserve some of their cultural heritage.� Each product on the shelves “represents an opportunity for someone in a developing country,� Stamp told The Diplomat. “That piece might be the thing that makes the difference for their family, that sends the child to school, that helps them literally put a roof over their heads, build a warmer, safer home, get their children the medicine they need.� WD Mackenzie Weinger (@mweinger) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

Where to Buy Alexandria 915 King St. alexandria, Va 22314 phone: (703) 684-1435 email:

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Culture arts & entertainment art

diplomatic spouses




The Washington Diplomat





March 2017



The Melania Effect Martina Skok, a diplomat at Slovenia’s U.N. mission and wife of the Slovenian envoy in D.C., said she’s happy that her small, picturesque nation is getting a PR bump from its most famous export: Melania Trump, the former model turned first lady. / PAGE 33


Real Alaska Natives “Decolonizing Alaska” looks past the stereotypes of Eskimos, igloos and sled dogs to examine the past and present struggles of indigenous people in Alaska. / PAGE 34


A Family Affair Sculpture in Florence during the Italian Renaissance was apparently a family affair — one that has endured for over 500 years and is on stunning display in a new exhibit at the National Gallery of Art that showcases terracotta pieces done by the Della Robbia clan. / PAGE 35

DIPLOMATIC SPOTLIGHT Rex Tillerson on the job / BCIU Ambassadors Luncheon / PAGE 42

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s 1895 “May Milton”




DECADENCE With loose sketches and brilliant splashes of color, French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec captured the lurid and decadent world of late 19th-century Montmartre — and Washingtonians can step back into it with the Phillips Collection exhibit “Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque.” / PAGE 32


WD | Culture | Art

Parisian Poster Child Phillips Collection Spotlights Toulouse-Lautrec’s Belle Époque •

Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque THROUGH APRIL 30 PHILLIPS COLLECTION 1600 21ST ST., NW



ith loose sketches and brilliant splashes of color, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec captured the lurid and decadent world of late 19th-century Montmartre — and Washingtonians can step back into it at the newest exhibition inside the Phillips Collection. “Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque” showcases 96 works by the French artist, presenting an impressive collection of images spanning nearly his entire printmaking career. Many pieces are on view for the first time in the United States, said Renée Maurer, associate curator at the Phillips, which organized the show along with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. “It’s a rare opportunity to have so much Lautrec here at one time,” Maurer told The Washington Diplomat. The show hums with the movement and thrills of the Belle Époque, capturing the dynamic cabaret, café and dance hall scenes that epitomized Parisian nightlife. Thanks to its massive size and its narrow focus on one era — through the vision of one iconic artist — the exhibit transforms into a truly immersive experience for visitors. The repetition of proofs and prints in their different states becomes a way to fall deeper into the world of bohemian Paris. The posters seem freshly ripped from city streets, while the quick sketches of real people feel as if they were just finished, thrown up on the wall after a drawing session in a nightclub. The exhibition starts with a bang thanks to the spectacular “Moulin Rouge: La Goulue,” Toulouse-Lautrec’s first attempt at printmaking. It made the artist an overnight sensation in 1891, with more than 3,000 copies printed. The image encapsulates everything that would come to define his approach to lithography, Maurer said, with its focus on color, silhouettes, dynamic viewpoints and the embrace of the star and the narrative. The richly vibrant, large-format lithograph is hung alongside its blackand-white trial proof — a joy for anyone fascinated by an artist’s process. This is repeated several times throughout the exhibition, with notable finished works accompanied by trial proofs in various stages of development. “When we installed the show, we wanted to make sure the trial proofs and final impressions were side by side to really understand the process,” Maurer noted. “You get a better understanding of how Lautrec approached color in a very definitive way, a very impactful way.” The proof and print of the luscious Art Nouveau lithograph “Jane Avril” from 1899, his final image of the danc-



“Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque” allows viewers to see the process that the French artist used to create his iconic posters, as seen in the 1893 lithograph of dancer Jane Avril, at left, and the 1899 version at right, which was printed in four colors from three stones.

er, are both stunners. Set up side by side, you’re able to see Toulouse-Lautrec’s gift for color, movement and perspective — and how he understood the need for brilliant drama in a poster for public consumption. Another set of Jane Avril posters from 1893 take you even deeper through the artistic process of Toulouse-Lautrec. There’s an unrecorded trial proof — recently discovered, and not in any publication, Maurer noted — without text or color, as well as a later proof and a bold final print. “You see the progression in the development of the poster image that is remarkable to showcase,” she said. Theatricality and performance captivated Toulouse-Lautrec, an obsession matched by his fascination with what happened behind the scenes and in the audience. The images on view show that push and pull between what is considered public versus private. Toulouse-Lautrec’s deep exploration of this dynamic and how it blended together in theater, life and art is especially fascinating given that his posters served as a medium aimed squarely at the masses. Toulouse-Lautrec was interested in the lurid elements of daily life in turn-of-the-century Paris, as seen in his depiction of the scandalous American heiress Clara Ward in a theater audience in his 1897 work “A Princely Idyll.” Ward gained notoriety after she ditched her Belgian prince husband to elope with a Gypsy musician. But Toulouse-Lautrec’s depiction of Ward is not for the sake of merely being shocking — it’s for the color and drama that comes with the most heightened of human drama. Meanwhile, in “Divan Japonais,” dancer Jane Avril is the spectator, while the singer Yvette Guilbert, who Toulouse-Lautrec repeatedly captured in exaggerated images seen earlier in the show, appears on stage. At this point in the show, it feels as if you know the characters that populated Toulouse-Lautrec’s world. There’s also a treat for visitors who find themselves enthralled by the brilliant blue poster of “May Milton.” After touring the exhibition, you can pop into a nearby room in the museum’s regular collection to see that Pablo Picasso included the dramatic print in the background of his painting “The Blue Room.” While women are unquestionably the stars of the show and Toulouse-Lautrec’s world, “Ambassadeurs, Aristide Bruant” offers an example of a striking image featuring a man at its center. The print is done in stark color blocks, and unlike much of Toulouse-Lautrec’s work, it is not about movement, but immovability. That’s fitting, given the print’s history. Bruant, a cabaret singer, had his friend Toulouse-Lautrec design the poster, but the director of the Ambassadeurs venue did not appreciate the style. Bruant stubbornly vowed not to perform unless the poster was put on display, and so it went up both outside and inside the theater. This mesmerizing exhibition — which also includes additional works by Toulouse-Lautrec’s contemporaries — channels a magnetic time in history through its most iconic chronicler. Author Charles Hiatt wrote in 1895 that Toulouse-Lautrec’s posters “are at once realistic and grotesque,” and that duality means they still burst with life today. WD Mackenzie Weinger (@mweinger) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.


“Moulin Rouge: La Goulue,” at left, was Henri de ToulouseLautrec’s first attempt at printmaking and made the artist an overnight sensation in 1891. Above, the 1892 lithograph “Ambassadeurs, Aristide Bruant” was one of the few posters Toulouse-Lautrec created that centered on a man.

WD | Culture | Diplomatic Spouses

Slovenian Role Model Ambassador and Diplomat Wife Tout Links to First Lady Melania Trump •



lovenia is a small, picturesque European nation that is capitalizing on a big new name making waves around the world: Melania Trump, a former model who is the Slovene-American wife of U.S. President Donald Trump. Martina Skok, wife of Slovenian Ambassador Božo Cerar — who herself serves as a minister counselor at Slovenia’s permanent mission to the United Nations — said she is understandably “very happy” that America’s first lady has Slovenian roots. “The attention from the media is already helping our tourism. I am happy for her and for us. Now more people will know where Slovenia is,” Skok said, noting that her mountainous nation is located “on the sunny side of the Alps.” Slovenia, which touts that it is the only country in the world with “love” in its name, is located in the top corner of the Adriatic and borders Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. This small but stable nation of 2 million split from the former Yugoslavia and became independent in June 1991. Slovenia is a member of the EU, NATO and the Schengen passportfree zone. Skok had a chance to talk to Melania two years ago at the International Red Cross Ball held at the Trumps’ Palm Beach estate, Mar-a-Lago, in Florida. PHOTO: GAIL SCOTT “When I met her in the receiving line, I said hello in English and then I started Martina Skok serves as a minister counselor at Slovenia’s permanent mission to the United Nations and is married to Slovenia’s ambassador speaking Slovene,” Skok recalled. While to the U.S., Božo Cerar, seen below. their husbands cooled their heels, the two women continued their spontaneous chat. “I thought she was very kind. She looks as their apartment. “She is getting excellent grades and loves biology and chemSlovenian,” Skok said, noting that Melania “was already very, very famous at home istry,” Skok said. “But I don’t think she wants to be a diplomat,” she added. “This summer my husband will leave his post here but we will stay in New York so Ve— one of our top three models.” The first lady, originally known as Melanija Knavs, was born to a working-class ronika can finish her last year of school.” As busy as she is, Skok said she loves to set aside time for cooking. “I try to family in what was then Yugoslavia in 1970. “Her small hometown of Sevnica has two clothing factories. One, Lisca, is famous for making quality underwear and create a family environment like I had in my childhood. I like to make Slovenian swimsuits. Her mother worked there and Melania, when she was quite young, beef soup with noodles,” she said. But she can’t always count on what her daughter wants to eat. “One day she is vegetarian, the next day she’s something else! My started modeling for a sister firm of a children’s clothing line,” Skok said. After attending the University of Ljubljana for one year, Melania went on to husband and I both cook. We love to collect cookmodel for fashion houses in Milan and Paris before settling in New York City books and wine. At home, we all drink my mom’s in 1996. A few years later, she family wine. Her family has been making wine for met Trump, marrying the real generations. “In the summer for two to three weeks, we go to estate magnate in 2005. Skok also works primarily our small house in the country where we pick vegfrom New York City, although etables from our garden and cook without going to in a very different capacity than the store. It’s so good. How could it be any better?” the former model. As minister Skok said, noting that the family has access to fruit counselor in Slovenia’s Perma- trees bearing apples, pears and cherries, as well as nent Mission to United Na- fresh fish from the local rivers and wild forest anitions, she deals with diplomatic mals. “Our country is 60 percent woodland. Our cables and multilateral nego- land is close to the sea, in the Mediterranean part of tiations instead of fashion run- Slovenia in the south,” she said. “We also have biodiversity with four different sections of the country. ways and photography shoots. MARTINA SKOK Skok, who holds bachelor’s, We go from the Alps to the sea.” wife of Slovenian Ambassador Božo Cerar This marriage is the second for the ambassador, master’s and Ph.D. degrees in sociology, is also currently busy who has two grown children and two grandchildren from a previous marriage. Tanja, 41, is a pediatrician who is married with two taking international studies classes at New York University. As if that weren’t enough, the mother of one also commutes regularly to D.C. to children. Janez, 30, works in IT at the Meteorological Institute in Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital city. help out her husband. “I am 21 years younger than my husband,” Skok explained. “We met at the Uni“Once every three weekends, I come down to Washington to host or attend diplomatic events with my husband. I take the bus. It leaves from and returns to versity of Ljubljana when I was a grad student working on my Ph.D. and he was a Dupont Circle, which is very close to our residence in Washington. I like the bus professor in the master’s program. I was part time and he was full time. One of his professors during his Ph.D. studies was also my professor at my master’s studies. because it is so close and I can read my mail and my studies,” she told us. Meanwhile, their 17-year-old daughter Veronika lives with Skok in New York and walks to the United Nations International School, which is in the same block SEE SPOUSES • PAGE 37

The attention from the media is already helping our tourism. I am happy for [first lady Melania Trump] and for us. Now more people will know where Slovenia is.


WD | Culture | Art

Going Native ‘Decolonizing Alaska’ Digs Deeper Than Eskimos and Igloos •





n the long, blood-stained history of oppression faced by indigenous people in America, the travails of Alaska natives often are forgotten, except for demeaning stereotypes about Eskimos, igloos and sled dogs. Featuring 30 native and non-native Alaskan artists, “Decolonizing Alaska” at the George Washington University’s Corcoran School of the Arts and Design confronts the fraught history of colonization and shifting cultural heritage in Alaska, where native people have had to rediscover their own identities after systematic efforts by Russian and American interlopers to stamp their own government, religion and values onto people who had lived there for centuries. The exhibition also challenges Western assumptions that native art is supposed to be a quaint time capsule, a non-threatening collection of ceremonial garb, pottery and totem poles separated from their original meaning and encased in glass museum display cases. While some of those traditional materials are used with resounding effect in this exhibition, they are combined with decidedly modern techniques and materials. Joel Isaak’s video projection through a screen of sewn salmon skins is one of the most captivating works. Titled “Łuqa’ ch’k’ezdelghayi Visions of Summer,” the video features Isaak’s shadowy figure dancing in a shifting sea of colors interspersed with recordings of family conversations and punctuated by the rhythmic chopping of fish. The translucent screen of salmon skins, complete with fish tails emerging at odd angles, binds the familial fishing traditions of the Dena’ina people to modern life through a video lens. The rocky outcropping on the Kenai Peninsula where Captain James Cook landed his British ships in 1778 to seize the territory for King George III is aptly named Point Possession. It’s near modern-day Anchorage, where a large bronze statue of Cook stares out to sea at Resolution Park, the site of a pop-up installation called “DiscovRED” by artist Da-ka-xeen Mehner that is projected through the head of a traditional drum. Mehner surrounded Cook with steel sculptures based on the warrior knives of Alaska’s Tlingit tribes and then photographed himself interacting with the sculpture and other visitors, challenging the notion that native people didn’t really exist until they were “discovered” by foreign explorers. Westerners speak of Eskimos as if they are just one monolithic tribe in Alaska, but the stereotype is a haphazard collection of the Inuit and Yupik peoples that many deem to be inaccurate or insulting. In “White Gaze (Yu’pik Ena),” white Alaskan photographer Michael Conti depicts an indigenous woman trapped inside a museum display case surrounded by fur-covered mannequins depicting a traditional indigenous family in a wood-hewn hut. She is pressing her hands against the glass, seeking to escape Western preconceptions that pigeonhole her people into the past with no connection to the living. There is often some trepidation by white artists to create work that speaks to the experiences of people of color out of fear it



“Decolonizing Alaska” features contemporary works by native artists such as, from top, Joel Isaak’s “Łuqa’ ch’k’ezdelghayi Visions of Summer,” Michael Conti’s “White Gaze (Yu’pik Ena),” Nicholas Galanin’s “10 Revolutions” and Holly Nordlum’s “Drey.”

will be misinterpreted or dismissed because it lacks the imprint of personal experience. But all artists should be free to speak truth to power and acknowledge the sins of the past, the ongoing abuses of the present and the unsettling mix of hopes and fears for the future. Each artist provides a brief description of their work in some enlightening wall text that provides valuable context. In “Drey,” Holly Nordlum depicts the heartbreaking story of her adopted brother’s upbringing. Nordlum creates his portrait using a brightly hued array of beer bottle caps in a piece that looks fun and psychedelic on the surface before digging deeper into its sad backstory. Drey was taken from his birth mother and placed in foster care after she was found extremely inebriated in a cab while attempting to breastfeed him. He was bounced among foster homes before being adopted by Nordlum’s mother when he was 2 years old. In another tragic legacy of colonialism, almost 12 percent of deaths among American Indian and Alaska natives are alcohol-related, more than three times the rate for the general population. Studies have found that while indigenous people have similar rates of binge drinking as white Americans, other factors may contribute to the disproportionate amount of deaths related to alcohol, including high rates of diabetes and hepatitis among indigenous people, along with a lack of basic health care, clean water and adequate housing. In another video work titled “10 Revolutions,” Nicholas Galanin tells the decade-long story of the HomeSkillet Fest music festival in a small island community called Sitka southwest of Juneau. The 13-minute video juxtaposes concert images of energetic musicians with stunning scenes of nature, including water dripping from verdant leaves, a moss-covered tree climbing over a roiling river and an eagle snatching a salmon from the water in midflight. The work celebrates the power of music to bond a tightknit community together and connect it to the land in ways that many city dwellers might not understand. The exhibition also confronts the challenges that women face from an additional layer of discrimination — both from colonizers and their own SEE ALASKA • PAGE 39

Sculpture | Culture | WD

Florentine Family Della Robbia Sculpture on Colorful Display at National Gallery of Art •



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


The enduring

culpture in Florence during the Italian Renaissance was beauty of Della Robbia apparently a family affair — one that has endured for sculptures over 500 years and is on stunning display in a new exmade in hibit at the National Gallery of Art that showcases terFlorence racotta pieces done by the Della Robbia clan. hundreds of “Della Robbia: Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence” years ago is — which premiered at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts — is the on vivid display first major American exhibition dedicated to works by three at the National Gallery of Art, generations of the Della Robbia family and their competitors. as seen in works In the 1400s, Luca della Robbia invented a signature glazsuch as, from ing technique that produced a rainbow of rich cerulean blues, top: “The opaque whites, greens, yellows and purples that retain their viNativity,”“The brancy even today. The technique involved combining durable Visitation” and terracotta (baked clay) with the brilliant hues of painting and “Resurrection of Christ.” the shine of vitreous glaze to meticulously preserve the colors of his sculptures. His workshop quickly flourished and Luca passed the tradition down to his nephew Andrea, who in turn passed it to his son, ensuring the survival of the family legacy, although different generations lent their own particular style and distinct colors to the art form. PHOTO: NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART “People maybe know the Della Robbia but don’t really know them,” said Alison Luchs, San Giovanni Fuorcivitas in Pistoia, is on view for the first curator of early European sculpture and time ever outside of Italy. deputy head of the Department of Sculpture The nearly life-size composition depicts a touching, intiand Decorative Arts at the National Gallery mate scene in which a pregnant Virgin Mary is welcomed of Art. “The art is sometimes seen in places by her elderly cousin Elizabeth, herself pregnant with St. and treated as decoration, but Boston curator John the Baptist. According to the National Gallery, the two Marietta Cambareri selected the best Della figures were fired in four individual pieces that fit securely Robbias and made it possible to appreciate together. Following its time in Washington, the beloved the quality of what they did and the charm, work will return to Pistoia, designated as the Italian Capital colors, luminosity and subject matter.” of Culture in 2017. Della Robbia terracotta sculptures are In Luca’s rendition, Elizabeth is on her knees as the two PHOTO: CHURCH OF SAN GIOVANNI FUORCIVITAS, PISTOIA some of the most iconic pieces of art from pregnant women share a comthe Italian Renaissance, with the family’s recognizable cerampassionate gaze and embrace. ics gracing Florence’s courtyards, churches, hospitals and the “It’s a visualization of a miracle homes of a wide range of patrons. The exhibit highlights 40 in very human terms,” Luchs examples that illustrate the range of sculptural work produced said. “One old, one young, but by the family’s workshop, including Madonna and Child rethere’s such an understanding liefs, household statuettes, portraits and more. of what’s happening.” The sculptures “evoke the spirit of Renaissance Florence,” Another showstopper is GioLuchs said. “The colors are still fresh after years and in a way vanni della Robbia’s “Resurrecit transports you to another time and place — the colors are tion of Christ,” an ornate piece so harmonious and serene, yet exhilarating and soothing at that sits high above the garden PHOTO: BROOKLYN MUSEUM, GIFT OF A. AUGUSTUS HEALY the same time.” court when entering the West Visitors will be struck by how well preserved the works are. “By simply Building. The 12-foot-wide relief — composed of 46 separate pieces — once looking at the colors and realizing they’re the same colors people saw in the adorned the upper section of a garden gate in the Tuscan villa of the Flo1440s, it’s a visual experience comparable to what original viewers have seen,” rentine Antinori family, who commissioned it in the early 16th century. To Luchs said. prepare for its departure from Brooklyn for the first time since its donation in The exhibit serves as a bridge between cultures — much as the worldly Luca 1898, the lunette underwent a year-long conservation funded by the current della Robbia did in the 1400s, according to Luchs, who invoked a quote from generation of the Antinori family, who also provided support for the exhibiart critic John Ruskin about the master sculptor: “Luca is brightly Tuscan, tion. with the dignity of a Greek, he has English simplicity, French grace, Italian Throughout the exhibit’s stay, there will also be concerts in the West Builddevotion — and is, I think, delightful to the truest lovers of art in all nations ing. The musical program “Florence: The Cultural Crucible” will be performed and all ranks.” March 4, April 15 and May 6 at noon and 2 p.m. WD Indeed, some of the art is a rare visual treat for U.S. audiences. Luca’s masterpiece “The Visitation,” for example, which is on loan from the Church of Kate Oczypok (@OczyKate) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat. THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MArcH 2017 | 35

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This is how we ‘started the conversation,’” she recalled. “Then we met again at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” Before she entered the Foreign Service, Skok wrote for Delo, the top daily newspaper in Slovenia. Their first posting together was in Canada from 1997 to 2007. Cerar has also served as Slovenia’s ambassador to Poland, permanent representative to NATO and state secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs twice. “In Canada, I didn’t work,” Skok recalled. “I took advice from other welleducated diplomatic spouses. That’s

when I got my Ph.D. Then we went to Brussels and Veronika started the British School.” Now that Veronika is a teenager, Skok said she strives to “keep the routine, especially in New York. I try to create an environment that my parents did for me. We keep in contact with family back home, eat healthy, sleep well and study and work hard — everything in moderation.” But she admits that work is critical. “I am a typical Slovenian. Work and jobs come first. Our country and our people are known for punching above our weight. “Being a diplomat is a very interesting life,” she said. “The best part is the traveling. Every nation has a different style of hospitality. Life can be really nice — the best of all cultures.”

But diplomacy also involves plenty of sacrifices. “It can be difficult if you’re not able to go home when you’re needed and your parents are old. Plus you lose your friends,” she said, adding that if you don’t make the effort to stay in touch with the friends you make along the way, “you can have 40 years of a broken heart.” At the moment, Slovenia has 46 missions around the world with 46 ambassadors. When asked if she hopes to be an ambassador one day herself, Skok admitted that if she weren’t married to an ambassador, that would naturally be her goal. “Every diplomat wants to be an ambassador one day or there’s something wrong with you!” WD Gail Scott is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

From right, Martina Skok, her husband, Slovenian Ambassador Božo Cerar, and their daughter Veronika visit Venice.


WD | Culture | Film

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

Arabic Gaza Surf Club Directed by Philip Gnadt and Mickey Yamine (Germany, 2016, 87 min.) Trapped in the world’s largest open-air prison and ruled by war, a new generation in Palestine is drawn to the beaches. Sick of occupation and political gridlock, they find their own personal freedom in the waves. Landmark’s E Street Cinema Mon., March 20, 7 p.m.

English The Beekeeper and His Son Directed by Diedie Weng (Switzerland/Canada, 2016, 85 min.) In a rural village in northern China, a father and son’s apiary clash, captured with intimacy, artfulness and humor, echoes the conflict between tradition and modernization. AFI Silver Theatre Mon., March 20, 7:15 p.m.

Born in China Directed by Lu Chuan (China/U.S., 2017, 76 min.) Navigating China’s vast terrain, from the frigid mountains to the heart of the bamboo forest, this documentary follows the adventures of three animal families — the majestic panda, the savvy golden monkey, and the elusive snow leopard (English and Mandarin). National Museum of Natural History Sun., March 19, 1 p.m.

Brothers of the Wind Directed by Gerardo Olivares and Otmar Penker (Austria, 2016, 98 min.) When an eagle chick is pushed out of his nest, Lukas rescues him and cares for him in secret, finding a love denied to him at home. Avalon Theatre Sat., March 18, 10 a.m.

Galapagos by Christian Zuber Directed by Christian Zuber (France, 1976, two 35 min. films) Discover the famed archipelago, as you navigate aboard a boat at the heart of the islands, viewing never- before-seen footage and photos of this paradise and the rare species that dwell there. Embassy of France Fri., March 17, 7 p.m.

Letters from Baghdad Directed by Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbühl (U.S./U.K./France, 2016, 95 min.) British spy, explorer, and writer Gertrude Bell shaped the destiny of Iraq in ways that still reverberate. Told mainly in Bell’s words, the film gradually reveals her remarkable story through spectacular historical footage while chronicling Bell’s journey into both an uncharted Arabian

desert and the inner sanctums of British colonial power. National Gallery of Art Sat., March 25, 3 p.m.

Long Way North Directed by Rémi Chayé (France/Denmark, 2016, 81 min.) Set in 1892, this animated adventure follows a 15-year-old Russian aristocrat as she leaves behind her comfortable St. Petersburg life in the hopes of tracking down and saving her beloved grandfather, a famous explorer who has gone missing near the North Pole (English and French). National Gallery of Art Sat., March 18, 11:30 a.m., Sun., March 19, 11:30 a.m.

My Life as a Zucchini

comes from an unlikely hero: a creature, often reviled, that has survived previous mass extinctions and climatic change in a magical ecosystem hidden beneath one of the world’s last great wildernesses in Tasmania. National Museum of Natural History Sat., March 18, 4:15 p.m.

South Directed by Gerard Walsh (Ireland, 2016, 80 min.) When Tom hits the road to find his estranged mother, beloved guitar in-hand, he begins to overcome his crippling stage fright as a musician, and meets a freespirited young woman who captivates his mind and heart. AFI Silver Theatre Sun., March 5, 4:45 p.m.

Directed by Claude Barras (Switzerland/France, 2017, 68 min.) Nine-year-old Icare, who prefers the nickname Zucchini, is left alone after the sudden death of his mother. Taken by a friendly policeman to his new foster home, filled with other orphans his age, he at first struggles in the strange and sometimes hostile environment, but Zucchini soon discovers he can make new friends. Landmark’s Theatres Opens Fri., March 3

A United Kingdom

A Plastic Ocean

You’ve Been Trumped Too

Directed by Craig Leeson (Hong Kong/U.K./U.S., 2016, 102 min.) An international team of adventurers, researchers, and ocean ambassadors embark on a mission around the globe to uncover the shocking truth about what is truly lurking beneath the surface of our seemingly pristine ocean. Angelika Mosaic Tue., March 21, 7 p.m.

Directed by Anthony Baxter (U.K., 2017, 80 min.) The deeply troubling confrontation between a feisty 92-year-old Scottish widow and her family and a billionaire developer who is now the U.S. president is explored in this timely and explosive film. Landmark’s E Street Cinema Fri., March 17, 7 p.m.

The Sense of an Ending

Directed by Peter Foott (Ireland, 2016, 84 min.) What do you get if you mix Ireland’s biggest-ever cocaine seizure and two cheeky, foul-mouthed teenagers from Cork on the road trip of a lifetime? That would be this unlikely coming-of-age yarn that struck comedy gold at the Irish box office last fall. AFI Silver Theatre Sun., March 5, 6:30 p.m.

Directed by Ritesh Batra (U.K., 2017, 108 min.) A man becomes haunted by his past and is presented with a mysterious legacy that causes him to re-think his current situation in life. Angelika Mosaic Opens Fri., March 17

Sing Street Directed by John Carney (Ireland/U.K./U.S., 2016, 106 min.) Teenager Conor, experiencing trouble at home with his bickering parents and struggling to fit in at his new school, finds new purpose when he falls for the glamorous Raphina. Trying to impress her, he invites her to star in his band’s new music video, despite not actually having a band. AFI Silver Theatre Fri., March 3, 9:45 p.m., Sun., March 5, 9 p.m.

Sixteen Legs Directed by Niall Doran and Justin Smith (Australia, 2016, 101 min.) With the approach of the next period of global mass extinction, a message of hope


Directed by Amma Asante (U.S./U.K./Czech Republic, 2017, 111 min.) Prince Seretse Khama of Botswana causes an international stir when he marries a white woman from London in the late 1940s, just as apartheid was being introduced to South Africa. Angelika Mosaic Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema Landmark’s E Street Cinema

The Young Offenders

Wild City: Urban Wild Produced by Beach House Pictures forChannel News Asia (Singapore, 2015, 45 min.) Explore the wild side of Singapore, a tropical paradise that became a city, whose 5.4 million people make it one of the most densely populated nations on earth. Screens with “Wild City: Islands” (Singapore, 2015, 45 min.), which explores Singapore’s coasts and islands, home to an array of fascinating creatures. Embassy of Singapore Wed., March 22, 7 p.m.

Window Horses: The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming Directed by Ann Marie Fleming (Canada, 2016, 89 min.)

THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | March 2017 Anne Marie Fleming’s animated feature features her alter ego Stick Girl as a struggling poet who is invited to a poetry festival in Iran. There, she meets fellow poets from around the world, learns about the rich Persian poetry tradition, and seeks to unravel the mystery of her Iranian-born father, who left when she was a little girl. S. Dillon Ripley Center Sun., March 5, 1 and 3 p.m.

The Zookeeper’s Wife Directed by Niki Caro (U.S., 2017) The keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, help save hundreds of people and animals during the German invasion of World War II. Angelika Mosaic Opens Fri., March 31


climate change, this documentary focuses on a rapidly transforming continent and its inhabitants, including a key species, the Emperor Penguin. Embassy of France Tue., March 21, 7 p.m.

César Directed by Marcel Pagnol (France, 1936, 142 min.) The third part of writer/director Marcel Pagnol’s epic love story begins 20 years after the events of “Fanny.” Her son, Césariot, is in a military academy, and Panisse (Fernand Charpin) is on his deathbed, where the doting father refuses to tell his son about his biological father. Fanny then divulges the secret, which sends Césariot on a search for his own identity and for Marius, whose life has been filled with calamity and poverty. Landmark’s Theatres Opens Fri., March 10

village of Rogljevo in Serbia to make wine. The French promise to revive the ancient wine glory of a forgotten region, but a clash of cultures and mentalities puts that goal into question (French and Serbian). Embassy of France Fri., March 10, 7 p.m.

Seasons Directed by Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud (France, 2015, 95 min.) This documentary captures exceptional footage of the wild, diverse and wonderful animal life in Europe’s forests, now under threat from climate change and human civilization. Carnegie Institution for Science Sun., March 26, 7 p.m.



The Day the Sun Fell Directed by Aya Domenig (Switzerland/Finland, 2015, 78 min.) Swiss-Japanese filmmaker Aya Domenig, the granddaughter of a Red Cross doctor on duty during the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima, approaches the experience of her deceased grandfather by tracing the lives of a doctor and of former nurses who were there also (German and Japanese). Avalon Theatre Sat., March 18, 1 p.m.


Directed by Marc Allégret (France, 1932, 127 min.) The second part of screenwriter Marcel Pagnol’s epic love story follows Fanny’s grief after Marius’s departure—and her realization that she’s pregnant. Panisse continues courting her and embraces the baby’s impending arrival as a gift, so long as its paternity remains a secret. Fanny and Panisse wed, but after her baby’s birth, Marius returns unexpectedly and demands what he believes is still his. Landmark’s Theatres Opens Fri., March 10

The Salesman (Forushande)

Little Gems (Les Pépites)

Directed by Asghar Farhadi (Iran/France, 2017, 125 min.) A young couple living in Tehran act together in an amateur production of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.”When their flat becomes damaged, they are forced to move into a new apartment, where an intruder attacks the wife, prompting her husband to become an amateur detective in an attempt to find the assailant and soothe his wife’s addled nerves. Angelika Mosaic Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema

Directed by Xavier de Lauzanne (France, 2016, 88 min.) The French NGO Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (For a Child’s Smile), or PSE, started in 1996 with around 20 children, to whom a daily meal was given directly on the Cambodian landfill they lived on. Soon, it involved hundreds and then thousands of children. Founders Christian and MarieFrance des Pallières overcame a variety of obstacles and today, about 6,500 children receive general education and vocational training to support the whole family (French and Khmer). Embassy of France

Directed by Lothar Riedl (Austria, 2015, 40 min.) “One of Us” tells the story of Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter (1907-43), who as a conscientious objector refused to serve in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II and was sentenced to death and executed in 1943. The screening is followed by a discussion with the author of the documentary Peter Schierl and director Lothar Riedl. Embassy of Austria

Silent Land: The Fight for Fair Food Directed by Jan van den Berg (The Netherlands, 2016, 73 min.) In Cambodia, more and more fertile land is taken over by large-scale farming industries while farmer families are fighting to keep the ownership of their land in order to maintain local food security. The George Washington University Marvin Center Thu., March 23, 7 p.m.

Finnish Return of the Atom Directed by Mika Taanila and Jussi Eerola (Finland/Germany, 2015, 110 min.) Finland was the first country in the west to give permission to build a new nuclear power plant after the Chernobyl disaster. This film portrays the strange and stressful life in a small “nuclear town” during an era of nuclear renaissance. Embassy of Finland Thu., March 23, 6:30 p.m.

French Antarctica, in the Footsteps of the Emperor Directed by Jérôme Bouvier (France, 2016, 90 min.) In this ode to the biodiversity and protection of the white continent in the face of

Marius Directed by Alexander Korda (France, 1931, 127 min.) In the first part of screenwriter Marcel Pagnol’s epic love story, Marius, a handsome young barman working at his father’s waterfront bar in the busy port city of Marseille, and Fanny, the spirited girl who sells shellfish in front of the bar, fall in love. They seem destined to be together forever, but Marius cannot overcome his deep yearning to see the world. Landmark’s Theatres Opens Fri., March 10

The Promise Directed by Zeljko Mirkovic (Serbia/Belgium/France/Montenegro, 2016, 74 min.) This character driven feature documentary follows the extraordinary experience of a French family who moved to the remote

One of Us

Toni Erdmann Directed by Maren Ade (Germany/Austria/Romania, 2016, 162 min.) A father who is a divorced music teacher and an old-age hippie of sorts — with a passion for bizarre pranks involving fake personas — decides to reconnect with his adult daughter, a high-powered business consultant posted in Bucharest (German, English and Romanian). Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema

Italian Red Desert Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni (Italy/France, 1965, 120 min.) Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni’s first color film is set against a forbidding industrial landscape, where the mentally fragile young wife of a factory engineer finds herself increasingly drawn to one of her husband’s handsome associates (Italian and Turkish). AFI Silver Theatre Thu., March 23, 7 p.m.

Film | Culture | WD

JAPAnEsE After the Storm (Umi yori mo mada fukaku) Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda Japan, 2017, 117 min.) Dwelling on his past glory as a prizewinning author, Ryota wastes the money he makes as a private detective on gambling and can barely pay his child support. After the death of his father, his aging mother and beautiful ex-wife seem to be moving on with their lives. Renewing contact with his initially distrusting family, Ryota struggles to take back control of his existence. Landmark’s Theatres Opens Fri., March 31

Mifune: The Last Samurai Directed by Steven Okazaki (U.S./Japan, 2016, 80 min.) Academy Award-winning filmmaker Steven Okazaki explores the career of Toshiro Mifune, one of the true giants of world cinema (English and Japanese). Japan Information and Culture Center Thu., March 23, 6:30 p.m.

Yojimbo Directed by Akira Kurosawa (Japan, 1961, 110 min.) Toshiro Mifune is at his wily, charismatic best in this beautifully filmed, darkly comic masterpiece in which he plays a master-less samurai who exploits a war between two village clans for his own gain. American History Museum Sat., March 25, 2 p.m.

KAZAKh The Eagle Huntress Directed by Otto Bell (U.K./Mongolia/U.S., 2016, 87 min.) Among the isolated Kazakh tribe in northwest Mongolia, eagle hunting has been practiced by men only. But Aisholpan, a 13-year-old girl, aspires to be the first female in 12 generations of her family to become an eagle hunter. National Gallery of Art Sat., March 25, 11:30 a.m.

mAnDArin Behemoth Directed by Liang Zhao (U.K., 2015, 95 min.) The environmentally destructive impact


Film highlight

25 years of environmental Films


he environmental Film this year’s festival includes Festival in the na55 international films from 32 lEArn mOrE: tion’s Capital (DCeFF), the different countries. Most screenFor a complete schedule, world’s premier showcase of ings will include discussions visit environmentally themed films, with filmmakers, scientists and celebrates its 25th anniversary environmental experts, and March 14 to 26 with more than 150 films that many are held in conjunction with the city’s attract an audience of over 27,000. embassies.

of coal mining is laid bare in a Chinese documentary whose stunning images speak louder than words. Landmark’s E Street Cinema Mon., March 20, 9:30 p.m.

Plastic China Directed by Wang Liu-liang (China, 2016, 82 min.) Yi Jie’s family works sorting plastic waste from the U.S., Europe, and Asia at a recycling plant in China, where the children discover hidden treasures that give them a glimpse of a different, much richer life. National Museum of American History Sun., March 19, 3:30 p.m.

silEnt The Red Turtle (La tortue rouge) Directed by Michael Dudok de Wit (France/Belgium/Japan, 2017, 80 min.) This haunting and magical tale, told wordlessly but eloquently, is a simple fable of a man shipwrecked on a tropical island, and his efforts to survive. The island is populated by birds and crabs and is one day visited by a large sea turtle that seems to have mysterious intentions. AFI Silver Theatre Sat., March 25, 3:15 p.m. West End Cinema

try with some of the most extraordinary creatures and diverse habitats on earth. Carnegie Institution for Science Sun., March 19, 7 p.m.

Dark Habits (Entre tinieblas) Directed by Pedro Almodóvar (Spain, 1983, 114 min.) Following her lover’s fatal drug overdose, bolero singer and drug addict Yolanda seeks refuge in the Convent of Humble Redeemers, an enclosure dedicated to the rescue of wayward women with a past in drugs, prostitution and murder. But no redemption is in sight as this haphazardly run convent turns out to house a kitsch collection of vices and sins. AFI Silver Theatre Mon., March 13, 9:20 p.m., Wed., March 15, 9:20 p.m.

Death by a Thousand Cuts


Directed by Jake Kheel and Juan Mejia Botero (U.S., 2016, 73 min.) A Dominican park ranger was found brutally murdered by machete while patrolling for illegal charcoal production by Haitians farmers. With shocking revelations, this murder becomes the metaphor for the film’s larger story of increasing tension between Haiti and the Dominican Republic over illicit charcoal exploitation and mass deforestation. Landmark’s E Street Cinema Thu., March 23, 6 p.m.

Colombia: Wild Magic (Colombia Magia Salvaje)

High Heels (Tacones lejanos)

Directed by Mike Slee (U.K., 2016, 90 min.) From majestic mountain ranges with ancient glaciers, virgin jungles, open grasslands and desert plains, to vast rivers and teeming oceans, Colombia is a coun-

Directed by Pedro Almodóvar (Spain, 1991, 112 min.) This colorful blend of kinky sex, melodrama and murder features Victoria Abril as Rebecca, a news anchorwoman whose life turns upside down when her

Alaska CONTINUED • PaGe 34

ominous pointed porcupine quills, a traditional material used by the Athabascan women. Burnham, who moved to Alaska from Massachusetts 35 years ago, remembered watching her grandmother lace herself into a corset, seeking to literally conform to the unrealistic and painful standards of beauty prescribed by a patriarchal society. Rebecca Lyon takes a modern tack in a mixedmedia work called “Counting on Liberty,” featuring an image of her Dena’ina Athabascan greatgrandmother Anastasia Nutnaltna wearing the spiked crown of the Statue of Liberty. Her head

estranged movie-star/singer mother returns after 15 years to discover Rebecca married to one of her old flames. When Rebecca’s husband turns up murdered, she confesses in a live telecast. But is she covering for her mother? AFI Silver Theatre Sun., March 26, 8:45 p.m., Thu., March 30, 9:30 p.m.

Kika Directed by Pedro Almodóvar (Spain, 1993, 114 min.) This is the type of comedy that only Pedro Almodóvar could make — a daring farce which takes on motherhood, serial killers, reality television, suicide and media sensationalism. AFI Silver Theatre Fri., March 31, 9:40 p.m.

Labyrinth of Passion (Laberinto de pasiones) Directed by Pedro Almodóvar (Spain, 1982, 100 min.) Cornily named nymphomaniac Sexilia falls for Riza, the gay son of the Emperor of Tiran (a fictional Middle Eastern state), while Sexilia’s psychoanalyst, Susana, has the hots for Sexilia’s father, who unfortunately is a sex-averse gynecologist. AFI Silver Theatre Tue., March 7, 7 p.m.

Matador Directed by Pedro Almodóvar (Spain, 1986, 110 min.) Diego is a former star bullfighter forced into early retirement after being gored by a bull. Maria is a femme fatale lawyer dressed to kill in androgynous business suits. A shared obsession with blood and murder brings the two into an alliance. AFI Silver Theatre Tue., March 21, 7 p.m., Wed., March 22, 9:25 p.m.

is framed on a $20 bill where she has replaced Andrew Jackson. America’s seventh president was a notorious slave owner nicknamed the “Indian killer” for his ruthless campaign of war and forcible removal of thousands of indigenous people from their homelands, including the infamous Trail of Tears where 4,000 Cherokee died from hunger, cold and disease during their forced march at bayonet point westward. But Lyon sees some hope in the recent decision to replace Jackson on the front of the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman, the former slave and Union spy who led African Americans to freedom through the Underground Railroad. Viewers should spend some time contemplating the work in this exhibition, which is needed now more than ever amid Trump-fueled isolationist rancor, where immigrants and outsiders are targeted for persecution and derision. The

Directed by Mike Plunkett (Bolivia/U.S., 2015, 76 min.) Set at the dawn of the modern age on the world’s largest salt flat, Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, the film is seen through the eyes of Moises, one of the last salt gatherers, or “saleros.” Landmark’s E Street Cinema Tue., March 21, 9:30 p.m.

Samuel in the Clouds Directed by Pieter Van Eecke (Belgium/Bolivia/Netherlands, 2016, 70 min.) In Bolivia, the glaciers are melting. Samuel, an old ski lift operator, is looking out of a window onto the rooftop of the world, where generations his family lived and worked in the snowy mountains. Royal Netherlands Embassy Wed., March 22, 6 p.m.

The Shepherd Directed by Jonathan Cenzual Burley (Spain, 2016, 105 min.) Shepherd Anselmo lives a modest but happy life in a remote house on Spain’s unforgiving central plain. When he refuses a lucrative offer from a construction company planning to build a new residential complex on his property, his life is turned upside down. Former Residence of the Spanish Ambassador Thu., March 16, 6:45 p.m.

The Swirl (El Remolino) Directed by Laura Herrero Garvín (Mexico, 2016, 73 min.) A tiny riverside community in Chiapas, the most flooded region in Mexico, El Remolino strikes a fragile balance between floods intensified by climate change and its natural bounty. Mexican Cultural Institute Wed., March 15, 6:45 p.m.

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (Atame!) Directed by Pedro Almodóvar (Spain, 1990, 101 min.) In one of Pedro Almodóvar’s most risqué comedies, a newly released mental patient (Antonio Banderas) stalks and kidnaps the object of his obsession — former porn star Marina — and holds her captive until she falls in love with him, in a bizarre case study of Stockholm

syndrome. AFI Silver Theatre Thu., March 30, 7:20 p.m.

What Have I Done to Deserve This? (Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto?) Directed by Pedro Almodóvar Spain, 1984, 101 min.) Overworked Gloria takes multiple cleaning jobs to make ends meet. Her unforgiving life is inhabited by a cast of eccentric characters: an abusive taxi-driver husband who schemes to forge Hitler’s handwriting, a drug-dealing teenage son who is the actual forger, an unappreciative mother-in-law and a prostitute neighbor who pays Gloria to sit in on sex acts she performs with exhibitionist customers. AFI Silver Theatre Tue., March 14, 9:20 p.m., Thu., March 16, 9:20 p.m.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios) Directed by Pedro Almodóvar (Spain, 1988, 90 min.) Dumped by her lover, soap actress Pepa is on a mission to track him down and deliver a message. Along the way, she’s distracted by her ditsy friend, who has recently discovered her boyfriend is a terrorist; her ex-lover’s son and his crazy mom, out of the asylum and ready for revenge. AFI Silver Theatre Sat., March 25, 7:30 p.m., Wed., March 29, 9:30 p.m.

turKish Kedi Directed by Ceyda Torun (Turkey/U.S., 2017, 79 min.) Hundreds of thousands of Turkish cats roam the metropolis of Istanbul freely. For thousands of years they’ve wandered in and out of people’s lives, becoming an essential part of the communities that make the city so rich. Claiming no owners, the cats of Istanbul live between two worlds, neither wild nor tame — and they bring joy and purpose to those people they choose to adopt. AFI Silver Theatre Sat., March 18, 5 p.m. Landmark’s E Street Cinema

decolonization of Alaska may be an overly optimistic goal for the time being, but there is a fundamental need to foster understanding and empathy for Alaska natives that transcends white privilege and guilt while avoiding condescension. We are all human and our lives are inextricably woven together in a diverse tapestry that must hold taut against the fraying forces of hate and anger. WD Brendan L. Smith ( is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat and mixed-media artist ( in Washington, D.C. Photo: the GeorGe WashInGton UnIVersIty’s CorCoran sChooL oF the arts anD DesIGn

rebecca Lyon’s “Counting on Liberty” depicts an image of her Dena’ina athabascan great-grandmother wearing the spiked crown of the statue of Liberty.


WD | Culture | Events

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

ART March 3 to May 31

El Vuelo y su Semilla This exhibition of works by renowned Mexican artist Bestabeé Romero (Mexico City, 1963) is comprised of installation pieces and reflects on the identity and culture that Mexican immigrants carry with them. Romero’s works explore these phenomena through symbolic objects, such as papel picado and tires, and culinary components, like bread and corn, underscoring the role that eating and cooking play in the formation and transformation of Mexican identity. The result is a body of work that places Mexican culture as a fundamental part of the migrant journey from Mexico to the U.S. Mexican Cultural Institute Through March 5

Gender Equality: We’ve come a long way - haven’t we? Sweden’s achievements in gender equality are hailed as inspiring examples. Focusing on four sub-goals of gender equality set up by the Swedish government — equal division of power and influence; economic equality; equal distribution of unpaid housework and provision of care; and men’s violence against women — this exhibition aims to inspire and reflect as well as discuss the changes that have been made and to initiate the changes still needed. House of Sweden Through March 5

Spirit of the Wild: Through the Eyes of Mattias Klum All life on earth is interconnected. Cities, societies and nations depend on healthy natural ecosystems to survive and prosper. Mattias Klum, one of the most important natural history photographer of our time, shares the stories of his journeys; from deep in the Artic to wild places like the Borneo rainforest, to the savannahs of Tanzania and the life under the sea. House of Sweden Through March 5

Sweden’s Freedom of the Press Unfolded The freedom to express oneself in speech and writing is one of the basic human rights according to the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights from 1948. Sweden’s Freedom of the Press Act was passed almost 200 years earlier, in 1766. This unique timeline exhibition reveals how Sweden’s freedom of the press came about and focuses on some of the advances and setbacks that have shaped it. House of Sweden

Through March 5

Viktigt by Ingegerd Raman With love of craftsmanship and simplicity at the heart of it all, Viktigt pieces do their job in silence. Ingegerd Råman, the House of Sweden’s own designer, explores the craftsmanship behind her IKEA collection of glass, ceramic, bamboo and natural fibers. House of Sweden Through March 5

Woodland Sweden Nature is prevalent everywhere in Sweden and there is a long tradition of using nature’s raw materials in the country’s built environment. Wooden architecture and design, in fact, are becoming a new Swedish export item. This exhibition shows the rapid development of Swedish innovative contemporary architecture and examines different aspects of construction work with wood. House of Sweden Through March 5

Photography Reinvented: The Collection of Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker The collection of Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker brings together works of critically important artists who have changed the course of photography through their experimentation and conceptual scope. Especially rich in holdings of work by photographers of the famed Düsseldorf School, among them Struth, Candida Höfer, Andreas Gursky and Thomas Ruff, the collection also includes examples by photographers exploring the nature of the medium itself, such as Demand, Cindy Sherman and Vik Muniz. National Gallery of Art Through March 5

Stuart Davis: In Full Swing As one of the most important American modernists, Stuart Davis (1892–1964) blurred distinctions between text and image, high and low art, and abstraction and figuration, crafting a distinct style that continues to influence art being made today. National Gallery of Art Through March 6

eight local artists who will examine our cultural obsession with selfies and our narcissistic desire to record and manipulate digital representations of ourselves. Flashpoint Gallery Through March 12

Mehring / Wellspring: The Early Color Field Paintings of Howard Mehring This survey samples reflects on the work of Howard Mehring, a native Washingtonian who became a leading figure in the loosely defined Washington Color School movement, a form of Abstraction particular to D.C. American University Museum Through March 18

Decolonizing Alaska This exhibit explores how 31 native and non-native Alaskan artists are grappling with issues related to climate change and responding to socio-political conditions in the state. It will highlight themes related to Alaska’s history with the colonization of native lands, how Alaska is sustaining its heritage and how Alaskans are responding to climate change. Among the works are Linda Infante Lyons’“St. Katherine of Karluk,” which replaces symbolic elements of a Russian Orthodox icon with those of the native Alutiiq people of Kodiak, Alaska, an area greatly affected by Russian colonization. The George Washington University’s Corcoran School of the Arts and Design Through March 26

The Great Swindle: Works by Santiago Montoya Colombian artist Santiago Montoya uses paper currency as the base for his work, re-contextualizing one of our most basic and intimate relationships: the relationship with money. Comprised of works that Montoya has made over the last 10 years, “The Great Swindle” represents a sustained examination of the complicated, fluid relationships we have with financial systems, as well as a journey through the artist’s forays into the materiality of paper bills — raising questions and taking positions on our place within the financial system. OAS Art Museum of the Americas

Lens of Adventure

Through April 23

In 2016, Spaniards Mon Zamora and Raisa Leao decided to experience and document the nature, beauty and outdoor adventures around Washington, D.C., with the resulting 25 photographs on display, as well as the launch of their book “20 Weekend Trips Near Washington, D.C.” Inter-American Development Bank Staff Association Art Gallery

Jacob Lawrence: The Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture Featuring a series of 15 rarely seen silkscreen prints created by American artist Jacob Lawrence between 1986 and 1997, this exhibition portrays the life of Toussaint L’Ouverture (17421803), the former slave turned leader of Haiti’s independence movement. The Phillips Collection

Through March 11

Through April 30

Selfie: Me, Myself and I This exhibition by the Sparkplug Collective features innovative work by


500 Years of Treasures from Oxford Founded 500 years ago in 1517, the

THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | March 2017 library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, is a repository of extraordinary treasures, few of which have ever been seen by the public. To mark the 500th anniversary, a selection of 50 manuscripts and early printed books, ranging in date from the 10th to the 17th centuries, is being brought to America for the first time. Folger Shakespeare Library

rich region that fostered artistic expression. Martinez’s bold adaptation of an ancient black-on-black pottery design technique reflected Pueblo artistic traditions and also appealed to the modernist sensibility. Gilpin was one of the first women to capture the landscape and peoples of the American West on film. National Museum of Women in the Arts

Through April 30

Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque

Through May 14

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors

Through his lithographs and posters, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec captured the heart of Parisian nightlife in dynamic cabaret and café-concert scenes inspired by the city’s burgeoning entertainment district. This special exhibition presents, for the first time in the United States, one of the foremost collections of the artist’s prints and posters. Nearly 100 examples of incomparable quality and color celebrate daily life and the premier performers of the belle époque — Aristide Bruant, Marcelle Lender, Cha-U-Kao and others — cleverly caricatured through Toulouse-Lautrec’s perceptive skills of observation and transformation. The Phillips Collection

“Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” is a celebration of the legendary Japanese artist’s 65-year career and promises to be one of 2017’s essential art experiences. Visitors will have the unprecedented opportunity to discover six of Kusama’s captivating Infinity Mirror Rooms alongside a selection of her other key works, including a number of paintings from her most recent series “My Eternal Soul” that have never been shown in the U.S. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Through May 13

Consider the influence and intellect of feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir in an interpretation of her Paris studio alcove. This installation invites visitors to reflect on Beauvoir’s impact, not only in her time and not only as a feminist, but in our own time and in the areas of literature, philosophy and popular culture. National Museum of Women in the Arts

Bordes/Borders This contemporary video exhibit curated by Othón Castañeda features nine short films with borders as their main concept. The works were among a number of films submitted by international artists to the Bienal de las Fronteras, an artistic initiative that offers a platform to emerging artists of diverse backgrounds. This selection questions the boundaries of the biennial itself, including participating artists that establish an alternative view of the border, this time “from the inside out.” Mexican Cultural Institute Through May 14

Border Crossing: Jami Porter Lara While visiting a remote area along the U.S.–Mexico border, Albuquerque-based artist Jami Porter Lara found the remains of ancient pottery as well as plastic bottles discarded by migrants moving through the region. Intrigued by this juxtaposition, she began to reconceptualize the plastic bottle. National Museum of Women in the Arts Through May 14

New Ground: The Southwest of Maria Martinez and Laura Gilpin Contemporaries and friends, potter Maria Martinez (ca. 1887–1980) and photographer Laura Gilpin (1891–1979) brought the American Southwest into focus as a culturally

Through June 2

From the Desk of Simone de Beauvoir

Through June 4

Della Robbia: Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence Luca della Robbia, a master sculptor in marble and bronze, invented a glazing technique for terracotta sculpture that positioned him as one of the most innovative artists of the 15th century. Today, the sculptures created by Luca and his family workshop retain their brilliant opaque whites, deep cerulean blues, and botanical greens, purples and yellows over modeling that makes them powerful and engaging examples of Italian Renaissance art. National Gallery of Art Through June 11

Friends and Fashion: An American Diplomat in 1820s Russia Focusing on 45 portraits from an album assembled by the family of politician and statesman Henry Middleton, this exhibition paints a captivating picture of diplomatic life in early 19th-century St. Petersburg. The intimate portraits, along with selected objects, images and publications, offer an exploration

into a number of themes, including Middleton’s posting in St. Petersburg and the historical events surrounding his time there, the family’s social life in Russia, the artistic traditions of the period, and the elaborate fashions and hairstyles of the day. Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens Through Aug. 6

The Urban Scene: 1920-1950 American artists of the early 20th century sought to interpret the beauty, power, and anxiety of the modern age in diverse ways. Through depictions of bustling city crowds and breathtaking metropolitan vistas, 25 black-and-white prints in this exhibition explore the spectacle of urban modernity. National Gallery of Art Through Aug. 6, 2017

José Gómez-Sicre’s Eye A half-century ago, Cuban-born curator José Gómez-Sicre took the reins of the OAS’s art program, thrusting himself into the rapidly expanding Latin American art world and bringing young, emerging talent to the OAS’s budding exhibition space. Impassioned by the arts, Gómez-Sicre planted the seeds of what is today considered among world’s finest collections of modern and contemporary Latin American and Caribbean art. The OAS will be celebrating the centennial of Gómez-Sicre’s birth throughout 2016, honoring his contribution to the legacy of the hemisphere’s art. OAS Art Museum of the Americas

DANCE March 1 to 5

The Washington Ballet: Giselle Celebrating its 72nd year as an organization and its first season under the aegis of new artistic director Julie Kent, the Washington Ballet brings to life the classic ballet “Giselle,” a treasured romance about love, betrayal and forgiveness. Tickets are $33 to $130. Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater Thu., March 9, 7 p.m.

OnStage Korea The Korean Cultural Center in D.C. presents the inaugural “OnStage Korea” showcase featuring the renowned Korea National Contemporary Dance Company for the U.S. premiere of “Immixture,” which creates visible music by combining sound and movement from both Eastern and Western traditions. There will also be a special performance by the Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company, D.C.’s leading modern dance company, now in its 25th anniversary season, of their original work “Confluence.”“OnStage Korea” seeks to uncover and highlight

Events | Culture | WD

brilliant artists actively performing in the U.S., Korea and around the world with an opportunity to showcase their creativity on stage for the American public in the capital region. Admission is free; for information, visit Arena Stage Sat., March 18, 8 p.m., Sun., March 19, 4 p.m.

Russian National Ballet Theatre This ballet double bill represents some of the very best of classical ballet with all of the beauty, grace and passion that typifies the grand Russian ballet tradition. On March 18, the Russian National Ballet Theatre performs “Chopiniana” and Bizet’s “Carmen.” On March 19, it performs “The Sleeping Beauty,” considered by many to be the finest achievement in classical ballet and the crowning jewel of Petipa’s career. Tickets are $34 to $56. George Mason University Center for the Arts

DISCUSSIONS Mon., March 6, 6 p.m.

Queer as Volk The Zeitgeist DC literature festival makes the richness of Germanlanguage literature accessible to English speakers by presenting the latest works of the literary scenes of Austria, Germany and Switzerland. To mark the occasion, the GoetheInstitut, Austrian Cultural Forum and Embassy of Switzerland invite three important emerging and established writers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland to America’s capital to present and discuss their recent works. This year’s theme, ”Queer as Volk,” will highlight new works in German that deal with themes of identification and queerness. Human Rights Campaign Tue., March 14, 6:45 p.m.

Mexico & Guatemala Mano a Mano with Guest Chef Mirciny Moliviatis For centuries, Guatemala and Mexico formed part of the vice-royalty of New Spain under the Spanish Colony. From 1821 onwards, Mexico and Guatemala went on separate paths; however, their kitchens retain the memory of their shared past, not only under the Spaniards but also of their Maya heritage. Mexican chef Pati Jinich and Guatemalan chef Mirciny Moliviatis participate in a “mano a mano,” of ingredients and dishes, that both unite and distinguish Mexican and Guatemalan cooking. Please call for ticket information. Mexican Cultural Institute

FESTIVALS March 2 to 31

Francophonie 2017 The D.C. Francophonie Cultural Festival celebrates the diversity and

richness of the French language and francophone communities around the world through a series of cultural events and outreach programs presented every spring. This year’s highlights include: “African Art on the Move” exhibit at the Embassy of Côte d’Ivoire (through April 2); “Hemingway in Paris and Spain” discussion at the Alliance Française (March 3); spring tours in French at the National Museum of African Art throughout the month; a Moroccan evening of live music, Berber culture and traditional cuisine at the Alliance Française (March 17); a French chanson recital by two Swiss artists, Laurent Brunetti and Mario Pacchioli, at the Embassy of Switzerland (March 23); “Places in Between” concert at the Embassy of Luxembourg (March 23); a Tahitian evening at the Alliance Française (March 24); and La Grande Fête closing celebration at the Embassy of France (March 31). For information and a schedule of events, visit Various locations

MUSIC Sat., March 4, 8 p.m.

Dobet Gnahoré The Grammy-winning Ivory Coast-born singer and dancer, who performs in at least seven languages, returns to The Barns for an unforgettable and charismatic performance. Tickets are $25 to $30. Wolf Trap Sat., March 4, 8 p.m.

Kronos Quartet One of the most innovative and eclectic forces in music for more than 40 years, the Grammy-winning Kronos Quartet launched and continues to lead a renaissance in repertoire for string quartet, having commissioned more than 900 new works and arrangements from composers from around the world. This concert is the first main stage performance in a five-year collaboration between Kronos and Washington Performing Arts, which also includes the quartet’s ongoing participation in the Embassy Adoption Program. Tickets are $40. Sixth & I Sat., March 4, 7 p.m.

Tribute to Gardel Teatro de la Luna presents a musical homage to the most prominent figure in the history of Tango, the unforgettable Carlos Gardel, with a special concert featuring acclaimed singer Omar “El Alemán” Fernández. Tickets are $35. Rosslyn Spectrum Theater Thu., March 9, 7:30 p.m.

Josemi Carmona and Javier Colina: De Cerca Josemi Carmona and Javier Colina engage in a musical conversation, with echoes of deep flamenco joining their unique jazz swing to create a natural dialogue that blends

different musical languages. Tickets are $15; for information, visit www. Former Residence of the Spanish Ambassador

THEATER March 4 to 18


One of the most admired and well respected jazz singers in Slovakia, Hanka G. has been performing on the domestic as well as international jazz scene for well over a decade now, with her signature musical style of jazz and soul music. Tickets are $95 and include buffet reception and wine; for information, visit www. Embassy of Slovakia

Grammy–winning composer Terence Blanchard uses jazz to tell the true story of Emile Griffith, a professional boxer from the U.S. Virgin Islands who threw a fatal punch in the boxing ring in 1962 after being taunted for his sexuality by his rival. “I kill a man and the world forgives me. I love a man and the world wants to kill me.” Using a diverse soundscape along with powerful multimedia elements, this Washington National Opera production explores issues of race, sexuality and self-discovery. Tickets are $35 to $300. Kennedy Center Opera House

Sat., March 25, 7:30 p.m.

Through March 5

Fri., March 17, 7:30 p.m.

Hanka G., Jazz Soul Singer

The Four Seasons of Vivaldi and Piazzolla Four seasons become eight when the National Chamber Ensemble presents “The Four Seasons,” one of Antonio Vivaldi’s most famous works, along with a reading of sonnets that provide a narrative for the music, as well as a multimedia presentation that includes photos, moving images and Vivaldi’s own words that he wrote into the composition. Tickets are $33. Rosslyn Spectrum Theater Fri., March 31, 8 p.m.

Falu’s Bollywood Orchestra

As You Like It Rosalind is banished from court and flees to the Forest of Arden, where she discovers Orlando and a world of passion and possibility in one of Shakespeare’s most cherished romantic comedies. When she disguises herself as a man, enchantment abounds and blossoms into an exploration of the beauty and complexities of young love. Tickets are $35 to $75. Folger Theatre Through March 5

The Very Last Days of the First Colored Circus


Restoration Stage presents Steven A. Butler Jr.’s intense and heartwarming drama about black entertainers in 1920s America. Laced with infectious musical performances and set in his rural hometown, this must-see production is a love letter to the complicated lives, love and loss of the forgotten black circus performer. Tickets are $45 to $55. Anacostia Playhouse

Sun., March 5, 5 p.m.

Wed., March 8, 7:30 p.m.

Lauded as “ethereal and transcendent” (Billboard), the internationally acclaimed Indian vocalist who has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Ricky Martin and A.R. Rahman returns to The Barns. Tickets are $25 to $35. Wolf Trap

Czech Heritage Night with the Washington Wizards

Illegal Helpers

Through March 11

March 23 to 24

Dead Man Walking

Theater by Palestinians: Where Can I Find Someone Like You?

This Washington National Opera production is based on Sister Helen Prejean’s acclaimed 1993 memoir, which tells of her time working with death row inmates at Louisiana State Penitentiary and of a particular relationship she developed with one of the inmates. The opera explores the human conflicts posed by society’s demands for vengeance and the Christian imperative for forgiveness and love. Tickets are $35 to $300. Kennedy Center Opera House Through March 12

King Charles III The Queen is dead. After a lifetime of waiting, Prince Charles ascends the throne with Camilla by his side. As William, Kate and Harry look on, Charles prepares for the future of power that lies before him — but how to rule? Written primarily in Shakespearean blank verse, this modern history play explores the people underneath the crowns, the unwritten rules of Britain’s democracy and the conscience of its most famous family. Please call for ticket information. Shakespeare Theatre Harman Hall Through March 19

The Taming of the Shrew Come to “Paduawood” where Synetic Theater will spoof Hollywood’s famous-for-no-reason socialites in this modern-day adaptation of one of the Bard’s best-known romantic comedies. See the original battle of the sexes enacted with the dazzling choreography and physical comedy that only Synetic can deliver (no dialogue). Tickets start at $35. Synetic Theater Mon., March 20, 7:30 p.m.

Curie_Meitner_Lamarr_ indivisible

The Wizards host Czech Heritage Day as a way for the Czech community to get together to enjoy an evening of basketball and cheer for Wizards Czech star Tomáš Satoranský. Bring a small Czech flag to root on Satoranský as the Wizards take on the Orlando Magic. Tickets are available at (promo code: CZECH). Verizon Center

Come witness an emotionally powerful documentary play by prizewinning playwright Maxi Obexer. It examines the plight of the illegal helpers who provide aid and shelter to migrants flooding Europe, even though assisting them is against the law. This play sheds a powerful light on the contemporary tragedy that threatens to engulf Western Europe. Admission is free; for information, visit Embassy of Austria

This play focuses on the lives of three outstanding pioneers who represent the achievements of women in the fields of science and technology: The double Nobel Price winner and discoverer of radioactivity Marie Curie (1867-1934), the Austrian-Swedish nuclear physicist Lise Meitner (18781968) and the Viennese Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000) and her invention of frequency hopping. Admission is free; for information, visit Embassy of Austria

Mon., March 6, 7:30 p.m.

March 10 to May 20

Swedish Heritage Night: Washington Capitals vs. Dallas Stars


March 20 to April 9

Enjoy this fun combination of hockey and a celebration of Sweden at the Washington Capitals NHL game against Dallas Stars. A Q&A session with the Swedish players follows the game, along with a chance to watch and play a game of broom ball. Tickets are $59 and available in the 421 and 422 sections (promo code: SWEDISH). Verizon Center

Based on E.L. Doctorow’s celebrated 1975 novel, the Tony Award-winning musical “Ragtime” confronts both the unbridled optimism and the stark reality of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When the lives of a wealthy white family, a daring Harlem musician and a determined Jewish immigrant intersect, their fates are inextricably bound and profoundly changed. Tickets are $20 to $73. Ford’s Theatre

The Night Alive Playwright Conor McPherson’s touching drama explores lost souls and the hope of redemption, with an ample dose of Irish wit. Tommy is a disheartened schemer, estranged from his family. One night, he saves a young prostitute, Aimee, and begins to feel that his life may indeed have a purpose. Yet, all of that may end, as an ominous and unwelcome man from her past appears. Tickets are $35 to $40. Atlas Performing Arts Center

In collaboration with the Sundance Institute, this U.S. premiere is written, produced and performed by Raeda Taha, who faces loss, the reality of being an orphan and the absence of a father who can never be replaced, while turning the women of her family into real-life heroines. Tickets are $15. Kennedy Center Terrace Gallery March 24 to 26

Sulayman Al Bassam: Petrol Station Internationally acclaimed AngloKuwaiti writer-director Sulayman Al Bassam returns to the Kennedy Center with a compelling drama that uses the setting of a deserted petrol station as a poetic space to explore the dysfunctions that a rise from the chaos of oppression. Tickets are $15 to $39. Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater March 31 to May 7

A Raisin in the Sun Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” follows the Younger family yearning for a better life far from the cramped confines of their Chicago tenement. Hope arrives in the form of an unexpected financial windfall, but when they realize they have differing definitions of the American dream, which dreams get realized and which deferred? Tickets are $40 to $90. Arena Stage Through April 2

The Select (The Sun Also Rises) A stage littered with liquor bottles and café chairs seamlessly transforms itself from the bistros of Paris to the banks of the Irati River. As the story winds its way through France and Spain and lands in Pamplona where bullfighting and the fiesta rage in the streets, Ernest Hemingway’s narrator carries the heavy burdens of a war injury and his inability to have the woman he loves. Please call for ticket information. Shakespeare Lansburgh Theatre Through April 9

Intelligence Jacqueline E. Lawton’s new political thriller explores the cost of deception and the consequences of speaking truth to power. “Intelligence” is a fictionalized account inspired by true events of a covert operative who, tasked with protecting the national security of the United States post-9/11, is racing to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. With her country at war, her cover is blown and the lives of her assets are put in jeopardy. Tickets are $40 to $90. Arena Stage


WD | Culture | Spotlight

Diplomatic Spotlight BCIU Ambassadors Inaugural Luncheon

Tillerson’s First Weeks

The Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU) hosted an Ambassadors Inaugural Luncheon on Jan. 19 at the Top of the Hay as a tribute to the public service and global dedication of the diplomatic corps. Serving as a keynote to over 50 ambassadors, corporate guests and senior officials from the State and Commerce Departments and U.S. Trade Representative was K.T. McFarland, President Trump’s deputy national security advisor.

Lockheed Martin Vice President of International Government Affairs, Operations, and Regional Executive for Latin America David Trulio, Ambassador of Colombia Juan Carlos Pinzón and Lockheed Martin Vice President of International Government Affairs Nancy Ziuzin Schlegel.

March 2017

BCIU President and CEO Peter Tichansky.

Ambassador of China Cui Tiankai and Karen Leggio, senior vice president and general manager of Automotive Americas at TE Connectivity.

Ambassador of Vietnam Pham Quang Vinh, Chevron Manager of International Government Affairs J.J. Ong, Chevron Vice President and General Manager of Government Affairs Maria Pica Karp, Ambassador of Indonesia Budi Bowoleksono and Ambassador of Thailand Pisan Manawapat.

Photos: Neshan H. Naltchayan

Vice Chairman of McLarty Associates John Negroponte, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia Abdullah Al-Saud and Ambassador of Egypt Yasser Reda.

Alan McFarland, Fiona McFarland and Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland.

Google Diplomatic Outreach Manager Michele Lynch, Ambassador of Sweden Björn Lyrvall, Google Head of International Relations Ross LaJeunesse and Google International Relations Analyst Ria Bailey-Galvis.

Despite a contentious nine-hour Senate confirmation hearing, former ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson took office as the 69th U.S. secretary of state on Feb. 1. His first days were bumpy, with prominent resignations and retirements and a widely publicized dissent memo signed by over 1,000 State employees protesting President Trump’s controversial refugee ban. But Tillerson dove into his diplomatic duties, meeting with foreign ministers in D.C. and traveling to Bonn, Germany, for a G-20 meeting last month, where he urged Russia to pull back from eastern Ukraine.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson chats with his counterparts at the G-20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bonn during his first official trip as secretary of state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signs the guest book before participating in a working dinner hosted by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the State Department. Joseph Szlavik of Scribe Strategies & Advisors and Ambassador of South Africa Mninwa Johannes Mahlangu.

Rethinking Urban Transportation For the Jan. 11 event “Rethinking Urban Transportation: How Can Cycling and Public Space Contribute to Better Cities?”, Danish Ambassador Lars Gert Lose joined D.C. officials, the World Resources Institute and experts around the world for a panel discussion at the National Press Club and a bike ride around the Capitol led by the Washington Area Bicycle Association. With 54 percent of the world’s population living in cities, traffic congestion and deaths worsening in urban centers and commuting becoming increasingly difficult, many people are embracing urban cycling. Denmark has pioneered ways to make cities safe and accessible for bikers and pedestrians. In fact, Copenhagen is considered the most bicycle-friendly city in the world. Speakers rode to the “Rethinking Urban Transportation” discussion on D.C. bicycle lanes.


CEO of the Opportunities Development Group Nancye Miller, former CIA Director Jim Woolsey, BCIU Chairman and Citi CEO of North America Bill Mills and Wendy Mills.

From right, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi listen as German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel delivers remarks. Photos: U.S. State Department

Left, Danish Ambassador Lars Gert Lose bikes past the Capitol. Photos: World Resources Institute

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the G-20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the World Resources Institute.

Participants in the “Rethinking Urban Transportation” event pose by the Capitol.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini at the State Department. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson joins Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, left, and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se on the sidelines of the G-20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

Spotlight | Culture | WD

Syrian Fundraiser at Hungary Over 100 patrons raised thousands of dollars at a recent gala dinner and auction at the Hungarian Embassy to help Syrian refugee children in Jordan go to school again. These children have food and a roof over their heads, “but they don’t have money to provide for their education,” said Shahin Mafi, founder of the Azar Foundation for Children of the World, which partnered with the Middle East Children’s Institute (MECI) for the Dec. 9 fundraiser. MECI works to build stability in the Middle East by educating women and children.

Lena Alfi, director of strategic partnerships for the Middle East Children’s Institute; Ambassador of Hungary Réka Szemerkényi and Shahin Mafi, founder of the Azar Foundation for Children of the World.

Internationally recognized Syrian opera singer Lubana Al Quntar and Ambassador of Hungary Réka Szemerkényi.

Ambassador of Mozambique Carlos dos Santos and his wife Maria Isabel Macedo.

Ambassador of Albania Floreta Faber and Leila Beale, wife of former Ambassador of Barbados John Beale.

Photos: Neshan H. Naltchayan

Joy Gawga, cultural attaché for the Embassy of Kenya.

Egyptian composer and musician Ramy Adly performs on the oud.

Ukrainian Fashion and Culture The American Center for a European Ukraine in cooperation with the Ukrainian Federation of America hosted an event and runway show on Ukraine’s impact on the fashion world. The event, held at the historic Anderson House, attracted an audience of 200 Washingtonians, including members of Congress, the State Department, World Bank, academia, media and embassies. Featured Ukrainian brands included: Roksolana Bogutska, Oksana Polonets, Golda, Ruta, Lobortas Classic Jewelry House and many more. The evening also showcased jazz versions of Ukrainian folk music performed by violinist Innesa Tymochko Dekajlo and a photography collection by Treti Pivni Art Studio depicting modern Ukrainian women wearing traditional floral headdresses. Guests included Nadia Diuk of the National Endowment for Democracy, John Waterston of the World Bank and Lily Waterston of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Photos: Yuriy Lozitskiy

Ornament designs by Irina Kibiryaeva.

Ambassador of Botswana David John Newman and his wife Changu Newman donated a one-week luxury safari in Botswana for two.

Egyptian composer and musician Ramy Adly and his wife, CNN producer Jill Chappell.

Finland’s 100th Anniversary Finland is celebrating its 100th anniversary of independence with centennial events throughout the United States. The two largest public events will be held in D.C.: a Finnish Midsummer celebration on the National Mall on June 17 and a Finnish Christmas festival at Dupont Circle on Dec. 2. Another highlight is the Traveling Sauna, the country’s national mascot, which will trek 10,000 miles across the U.S. In December, the Finnish Embassy fêted its 99th anniversary before switching gears to mark its centennial year on Jan. 19 with a “Suomi Finland 100” reception toasting the country’s achievements in gender equality, governance, innovation and high quality of life. Ambassador of Norway Kåre R. Aas and Ambassador of Finland Kirsti Kauppi.

Photo: Gail Scott

Secretary-General of the Nordic Council of Ministers Dagfinn Høybråten and Ambassador of Finland Kirsti Kauppi kick off “Suomi Finland.”

Photo: James Cullum

Ambassador of Finland Kirsti Kauppi speaks at the 99th anniversary reception.

Photo: Gail Scott

Designs by Roksolana Bogutska.

Violinist Innesa Tymochko Dekajlo.

IFE Kick-Off On Jan. 23, the Institute for Education (IFE) held its annual kick-off lunch hosted by IFE Steward William Webster, former CIA and FBI director, at the historic Alibi Club. Charlie Black, chairman of Prime Policy Group, joined the off-the-record event, where IFE Board Chair Marci Robinson presented David Fenstermaker with the IFE Crystal Ball Award. Fenstermaker predicted Donald Trump’s win at an IFE event last year. Right, wife of the Japanese ambassador Nobuko Sasae, Judge William Webster, Charlie Black of the Prime Policy Group and Ambassador of Jordan Dina Kawar.

Miss World Ukraine 2013 Anna Zayachkivska wears designs by Olena Dats.

Left, Peter Ruffo of ZTE USA, Charlie Black, Marci Robinson, Ambassador of Sweden Björn Lyrvall and coach Kathy Kemper. Photo: James Cullum

Guests look at a display of Finnish emojis.

Ria and Larry Hieonia.

Photo: James Cullum

Ambassador of Denmark Lars Gert Lose and Ambassador of Finland Kirsti Kauppi. Photos: Institute for Education

Peter Ruffo of ZTE USA and Ambassador of Thailand Pisan Manawapat.

Photo: James Cullum

Guests sign a giant chalkboard for Finland’s independence anniversary.

Photo: James Cullum


WD | Culture | Spotlight

Diplomatic Spotlight

March 2017

IFE’s 25th Anniversary

Georgian Hepatitis C Project

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Institute for Education (IFE) held a special IFE-INFO Salon featuring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith at the 1924 Georgian Revival-style home of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Esther Coopersmith. The event was attended by 17 ambassadors, along with White House Presidential Innovation Fellows, the media and IFE supporters. After a quarter century, IFE’s flagship program, INFO, has hosted over 300 speakers, including ambassadors, Cabinet secretaries, Nobel laureates, Pulitzer winners, members of Congress, Supreme Court Justices, governors, the secretary of state, vice president and a Miss America.

The Embassy of Georgia hosted a reception at Anderson House to celebrate the Hepatitis C Elimination Project in Georgia. Hepatitis C (HCV) has been particularly devastating for Georgia — the prevalence is about 7 percent of the country’s population. But breakthrough therapies now provide cure rates of over 90 percent and enable shorter treatments and reduced side effects. In April 2015, the government started an unprecedented public-private partnership called the Hepatitis C Elimination Project, the world’s first project to eliminate HCV on a national scale. The project is the result of close cooperation among the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Gilead Sciences Inc. and the Georgian Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs. With therapies provided free of charge by Gilead Sciences, this life-changing program will cure an estimated 150,000 HCV patients in Georgia. To honor this achievement, Georgian artist David Datuna, a cancer survivor, created a heart-shaped work that depicts hundreds of photos of grateful Georgians. Photos: Embassy of Georgia

Photo: Kevin Allen

U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith; IFE International Tennis Finalist Gouri Mirpuri, wife of the ambassador of Singapore; IFE founder and CEO coach Kathy Kemper; IFE International Reigning Tennis Champion Joanna Breyer; and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

Photo: Kevin Allen

Coach Kathy Kemper, Lena Boman Schuwer, Ambassador of the Netherlands Henne Schuwer and Ambassador of Luxembourg Sylvie Lucas.

Photo: Kevin Allen

Photo: Kevin Allen

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Mexican Supreme Court Justice and former Ambassador of Mexico Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza and Laura Pérez Vázquez.

IFE Senior Fellow George Zaidan, former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Ambassador of Austria Wolfgang Waldner.

Executive Vice President of Corporate and Medical Affairs at Gilead Sciences Gregg Alton and artist David Datuna.

Ambassador of Nicaragua Francisco Obadiah Campbell Hooker.

Ambassador of Greece Haris Lalacos and IFE Innovation Steward Amy Geng.

Photo: Kevin Allen

A pianist performs at Anderson House.

Photo: Kevin Allen

A violinist performs at Anderson House.

Deanne Bell, co-host of CNBC’s “Make Me a Millionaire Inventor,” and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Michelle K. Lee. Photo: Kevin Allen


Georgian Embassy Charge d’Affaires Giorgi Tsikolia and Minister of Agriculture Levan Davitashvili watch the award unveiling.

Photo: Emma Shetter

Photo: Emma Shetter

Ambassador of Singapore Ashok Mirpuri, John Paul Farmer of Microsoft, IFE Innovation Steward Amy Geng and White House Presidential Fellow Sokwoo Rhee.

Dr. Tamar Tchelidze discusses the Hepatitis C Elimination Project.

Wanchana Manawapat, Ambassador of Thailand Pisan Manawapat and Susan Blumenthal, wife of Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). IFE Digital Ambassador Devika Anand Patil and former Pepco Vice President Beverly Perry. Photo: Kevin Allen

David Datuna’s artwork is unveiled.

Guests discuss Georgia’s Hepatitis C Elimination Project.

Eisenhower Continued • page 25

respect his managerial acumen. Political scientist Fred Greenstein credits him with significant organizational innovations in the modern presidency. He created such offices as chief of staff, legislative liaison, cabinet and White House staff secretaries, scientific advisor and national security advisor. He took great pride in the structure and rigor of his National Security Council and chaired virtually all of its meetings during his two terms. Eisenhower made his share of mistakes, but rarely because of impulsive actions. “Organization cannot make a genius out of an incompetent; even less can it, of itself, make the decisions which are required to trigger necessary action,” Ike wrote. “On the other hand, disorganization can scarcely fail to result in inefficiency and can easily lead to disaster.”

5. Understand which issues can be delegated and which require presidential attention. Eisenhower did not want peripheral issues brought to his desk. “Never bring me a sealed envelope,” he told his staff. But he knew what he needed to know. He set aside time during Christmas vacations at Augusta National Golf Club to review the White House’s coming budget submission, even working with his budget director on New Year’s Day to go over line items. He was also willing to dive deep into security issues. He once spent four hours in a briefing on a ballistic missile system, convinced that he needed to understand its nuances. He hired science advisors to brief him on cutting-edge developments. But he bristled when his defense secretary, Charles Wilson, scheduled meetings with him to discuss second-tier issues, telling Wilson he should decide those matters on his own.

6. Think before speaking — and be careful before proposing new policies. When Eisenhower came to office in January of 1953, congressional Republicans were ready to move aggressively on multiple fronts, having spent two decades in the political wilderness. Ike understood the power of momentum and the temptation of quick action. However, he also had a conservative’s appreciation for caution and prudence. He wrote this diary entry less than two weeks after entering the Oval Office: “I feel it is a mistake for a new Administration to be talking

Photo: U.S. Army

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower speaks with men from the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Division, on June 5, 1944, the day before the D-Day invasion.

so soon after the Inauguration; basic principle, expounded in an inaugural talk is one thing — but to begin talking concretely about a great array of specific problems is quite another. Time for study, exploration and analysis is necessary.” Ike resisted the entreaties of some Republicans to dismantle the New Deal, saying his mission was to slow the growth of government and consolidate past achievements. He was an advocate of incremental progress and bipartisan negotiations. “You can’t drastically reform everything at once,” he said. “If you strive to gain everything at once, without compromise, you end up with nothing.”

7. Approach problems like a fair-minded judge. The quintessential executive, Eisenhower also had the temperament and inclination of a judge. He aggressively sought out and carefully examined evidence and was willing to immerse himself in complexity and ambiguity. He preferred issues to be presented to him in carefully prepared oral briefings and then have experts debate vigorously in front of him. While often depicted as plodding and unimaginative, one aide, Sherman Adams, said he had a “truly agile” mind and Richard Nixon, his vice president for eight years, said Ike could be “bold, imaginative and uninhibited” as he unpacked issues. “Clearly, there are different ways to try to be a leader,” Ike said. “In my view, a fair, decent and reasonable dealing with men, a reasonable recognition that views may diverge, a constant seeking for a high and strong ground on which to work together is the best way to lead our country in the difficult times ahead of us.”

8. People remember how they are treated, especially by the president. Everyone likes to be dealt with

respectfully and people especially remember their encounters with a president. Ike never forgot this. In his remarks at the unveiling of a portrait of Senate Republican leader Everett Dirksen, he lavished praise on the man being honored. After the ceremony, he realized he had not offered a similar tribute to the House Republican leader, Charlie Halleck, who was also in attendance. The president immediately sent Halleck a note of apology in which he said “how appreciative I am of your friendship and how much I admire your capabilities as our leader in the House.”

9. Admit mistakes and take personal responsibility for matters large and small. In the spring of 1960, the Soviet Union shot down an American U-2 spy plane and captured the pilot, Gary Powers. American officials initially put out false cover stores that the Soviets discredited when they displayed Powers and the remnants of his plane. After the initial debacle, Eisenhower stepped forward and took personal responsibility for the decision to have the U-2 fly into Soviet airspace. He rejected a recommendation that he blame the incident on the CIA. He would not do this because it would signal he was not in charge of his own government — and especially because it was not true. “He had this thing about honesty,” said Douglas Dillon, Ike’s undersecretary of state.

10. Cultivate respectful, tactful and honest relationships with global leaders. Given his remarkable military career and his World War II heroics, Eisenhower knew leaders from around the world. He was gracious to all and skillful in his dealings with them, even those who could be difficult, such as Winston Churchill,

Charles de Gaulle, Jawaharlal Nehru, Nikita Khrushchev and Konrad Adenauer. He took great care to never publicly embarrass them and provided thoughtful replies to their concerns. He strove to find areas of agreement and expressed differences with tact and clarity. Receiving a disputatious letter from French President de Gaulle in the summer of 1960 on foreign policy, Ike acknowledged it immediately. But he said he wanted additional time to study the letter before giving a detailed response. The letter he eventually sent was masterful. It was conciliatory and respectful to de Gaulle, but also forceful. Eisenhower yielded no ground and pointed out several inconsistencies in the French leader’s reasoning. “I must confess, my dear General, that I cannot quite understand the basic philosophy of France today,” he said in a restrained but pointed summary. However, Ike ended the letter in a positive way, vowing to continue the “close friendship I have for you and France.”

11. Bluster is not the same as toughness. Ike was a commanding presence and dominated every room he entered. “Upon first encounter, the man instantly conveyed one quality — strength,” said an aide, Emmet John Hughes. But his strength was modulated and restrained. Ike was not a bully. Eisenhower said the United States, as the global leader, should “display a spirit of firmness without truculence, conciliation without appeasement, confidence without arrogance.” This was also his personal style. Eisenhower was tough and determined, but not harsh or ruthless. In a fitting tribute, Gabriel Hauge, one

Photo: Signal Corps – U.S. Army

Dwight D. Eisenhower, seen above in 1945, served in the White House from 1953 to 1961 following a stellar military career that included leading the historic D-Day invasion of Normandy that turned the tide of World War II.

of Eisenhower’s aides, presented the president with a small black paperweight with a Latin inscription that said, “Gently in manner, strongly in deed.”

12. Problem solving is hard work, but essential. Eisenhower said he approached practical problems with the same relish that others brought to cross-

word puzzles. He liked to break an issue down to its essence, determine the long-term interests of the nation and then consider the immediate options before him. Shortly after entering office, Eisenhower decided that he needed to fundamentally reexamine America’s foreign policy strategy. He created a secret and rigorous process, called Project Solarium, in which several strategic options were researched, refined and finally presented to him and his foreign policy team in a full day of briefings. Eisenhower listened carefully, asked probing questions and gave a nuanced summary. George Kennan, the renowned American diplomat, attended the session and said Eisenhower showed his “intellectual ascendancy” over the entire group. “He spoke, I must say, with a mastery of the subject matter and a thoughtfulness and penetration that I found remarkable,” Kennan recalled. Ike oversaw the drafting of a revised security strategy that guided the nation for several decades and helped it win the Cold War. Because of these qualities and others, Eisenhower was revered by the American public. During his presidency, Ike’s approval rating averaged 64 percent and it dipped below 50 percent only once. He was often scorned by journalists and academics as a passive, absentee president who preferred golf and bridge to active governance and deeper interests. Ike bristled at these criticisms in private, but did not engage in a public debate with his critics. Eisenhower told his associates that he would wait for history’s verdict of his presidency. In his final week in office, he received a supportive letter from a British friend, Hastings Lionel Ismay, and returned a gracious reply. “You are characteristically understanding of the emotions that crowd my mind these days. I appreciate beyond words your comments concerning what I have tried earnestly to do. The verdict on my efforts will of course be left to history, and I don’t have to worry about it now — but it is wonderful to know of your approval.” The initial verdict of Ike was harsh. In 1962, a poll of 75 scholars ranked all the presidents from George Washington to Eisenhower in order of “greatness” and Ike placed 21st, tied with Chester A. Arthur. Though hurt and angered by the survey, Ike was confident that history would vindicate him. It has. Scholarly rankings now put Eisenhower in the top tier of presidents. In a survey by the American Political Science Association several years ago, Ike was rated seventh. Historian Jean Smith believes that Ike ranks only behind FDR of all 20th-century presidents. As Donald Trump learns the roles and responsibilities of the presidency, the United States and the world would be well served if this president reflects on Eisenhower’s leadership style and draws insights and guidance from Ike. WD John Shaw is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.


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