Page 1

Education Special Section

INSIDE

Education

A Special Section of The Washington Diplomat

May 2019

MAY 2019

WWW.WASHDIPLOMAT.COM

VOLUME 26, NUMBER 05

The Great Dome is seen overlooking Killian Court at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which in April announced it was terminating all research funding connected with and Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp. in light of recent federal probes into security risks associated with both Chinese companies.

Middle East

The Islamic State’s Youngest Victims: Its Own Children Caught between strategic power plays, politics and security fears, the children of Islamic State fighters were born into brutality and now face a bleak, uncertain future. PAGE 8

PACIFIC OCEANIA

NEW ZEALAND HEALS 50 Muslim worshippers

in New Zealand stunned the otherwise tranquil

and defiant response — and a pledge that the

tragedy will not change the values that

President Trump’s decision to eliminate assistance to the Northern Triangle is still reverberating across Washington — and in Central America, where, instead of curbing migration, cuts in aid could have the opposite effect by driving more desperate migrants to the U.S. border. PAGE 14

Culture

Influence from China

and Others •

PHOTO: BY JOHN PHELAN

- OWN WORK, CC BY 3.0

BY RYAN R. MIGEED

that might pose national cybersecurity risks from accessing U.S. computer networks, whether in government, business or, now, in academia. The bill would also require For example, Secretary students from China, North of State Mike Pompeo Korea, Russia and Iran who has to espionage and sabotage, warned European allies not are working on projects that to reChina’s Huawei Technologies, use hardware produced by other foreign competitors not only from China, but from ceive funding from the intelligence community, Pentagon as well. or Energy Department to equipment company, arguing the world’s largest telecom In March, Rep. Jim Banks obtain approval from the head that (R-Ind.) introduced the Pro- the funding agency of Trojan horse for Chinese spying it could be a high-tech tect Our Universities to participate in Act, which would create a and cyber attacks. This would be separate from such a project. task force Huawei is positioning itself within the Department of the approval process for to facturing the equipment needed become a leader in manu- sities’ research projects Education to coordinate univer- classified projects, “which are subject with the intelligence community. to numerous other for the next generation security requirements,” as Marks reported. of super-fast mobile networks The bill would initially ban known as 5G. China’s domiBut the bill, which was referred nance of what could be a Chinese companies Huawei technologies produced by transformative market has to the House Armed and ZTE Corp., as well led to Kaspersky Labs, fears among U.S. policymakers as Services Committee, is likely “not a cybersecurity company that Washington is falling linked to Rus- words of a former congressional going anywhere,” in the behind in the global battle sian intelligence, from being staffer who spoke for digital used The latest front in this geopolitical supremacy. research projects, as originally in “sensitive” university the condition of anonymity to preserve working to us on reported March 13 by Jo- ships. tug of war appears to relationbe universities, which are increasingly seen as vulnerable seph Marks in The Washington Post. It’s part of a growing effort to block foreign companies 24 | THE WASHINGTON SEE CYBER • PAGE 26 DIPLOMAT | MAY 2019

white supremacist that killed

prompted a decisive

Trump Takes Aim At Violence-Plagued Northern Triangle

T

Ground Zero for Cyber

he U.S. is steadily increasing pressure on China, and Chinese companies, in an effort to thwart what many see as aggressive attempts by Beijing spy on, and exert influence to over, U.S. policymakers and other governments.

The shooting rampage by an avowed

island nation but

Central America

Hard Lesson in Politics

U.S. Universities Become

New Zealanders

pride themselves on, according to the country’s

ambassador,

Rosemary Banks. PAGE 17

People of World Influence

Trump May Reignite Arms Race With Russia Thomas Countryman of the Arms Control Association warns that one of the landmark treaties constraining Russian and American nuclear ambitions is unraveling, signaling a possible return to the Cold War-era arms buildup that had the world on edge. PAGE 4

Diplomatic Spouses

Style and Substance Undefined ‘Contours’

Ursula von Rydingsvard’s monumental sculptures offer whispers of emotion but no concrete answers. PAGE 30

Isabel dos Santos, wife of the Mozambican ambassador and a former diplomat herself, is working to help her homeland recover from a devastating cyclone while pursuing a newfound passion: fashion design. PAGE 31


LETTER TO THE EDITOR

“African Staying Power: Continent’s Longest-Serving Leaders Stay Put While Lining Their Pockets”

|

Issue 05

|

May 2019

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief

APRIL 2019 ISSUE OF THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT The article on long-standing corrupt African dictators was fabulous — well researched, written and courageous. “Courageous” because the article touched on a multiplicity of issues regarded as taboo subjects in diplomatic cycles — longevity in office, corruption, flagrant human rights violations, rigged elections, among others. For example, “government,” as you and I know it, does not exist in many African countries. What exists is a criminal enterprise or what I call a vampire state. Government has been turned into a vehicle for self-enrichment and self-aggrandizement. For the past 30 years, it has been a taboo to describe a government in Africa as such. I can testify to this because of my own frustration in pushing this narrative. Few editors would touch this subject because it is not politically correct; nor does one want to portray Africa in a negative light. I am writing this, not because I am delighted to have been quoted, but for the more fundamental reason that the truth about Africa is ugly but you cannot solve the problems in Africa without talking honestly about them. The ugly truth is that true freedom never came to much of Africa after independence

Volume 26

in the 1960s. All we did was to trade one set of masters (white colonialists) for another set of masters (black neocolonialists) and the exploitation and repression of the African people continued unabated. Sixty years after independence, only 17 of the 54 African countries are democratic and fewer than 10 may be classified as economic success stories. Africa is poor because she is not free. Omar al-Bashir of Sudan has been toppled. Incongruously, he was a Western ally in the war against terrorism. The Arab Spring caught the West flat-footed. Let’s hope the West has learned some hard lessons. Toppling a dictator is only the first step in establishing a free society. The second step is dismantling the dictatorship itself. In many countries, the second step was botched, which led to the revolution being reversed (as in Egypt, with the military back in charge) or hijacked by a crocodile liberator far worse than the ousted dictator (Liberia in 1991, Ethiopia in 1991, the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1996). Once again, kudos for the article. I hope it encourages others to do so too. George B.N. Ayittey, Ph.D. Washington, D.C.

|

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ON THE COVER

Photo taken at the New Zealand Ambassador’s Residence by Lawrence Ruggeri of RuggeriPhoto.com.

2 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MAY 2019


Contents

THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MAY 2019

8

24

11

34

17

14 NEWS PEOPLE OF WORLD INFLUENCE A top arms control expert warns that Cold Warera nuclear constraints are unraveling.

4

8 SINS OF THE FATHER

The children of the Islamic State are born into a world of rejection and possible radicalization.

11 NATO STILL RELEVANT

NATO’s first post-Soviet members remain laser-focused on a resurgent Russia.

14

NORTHERN TRIANGLE TANGLE

Fed up with soaring migration, Trump wants to cut aid to Central American countries. COVER PROFILE: NEW ZEALAND The massacre of Muslim worshippers in New Zealand prompts a strong, swift response.

17

20

ISLAM’S SOFT POWER

“Islam as Statecraft” looks at the intersection of religion and politics in the Middle East.

23

MEDICAL

33

FOREST OF FAIRYTALES

A new “cancer vaccine” could harness the immune system to attack tumors from within.

“Into the Woods” is a fantastical journey that offers not-so-happy fairytale endings.

EDUCATION

34 AMORPHOUS ‘BORDERS’ At the Mexican Cultural Institute, five artists break down the walls we build in and around us.

24

INSIDIOUS INFLUENCE

U.S. college campuses have become ground zero for foreign cyber influence.

CULTURE 30

PARADOXICAL ‘FEELING’

Monumental sculptures offer a tiny window into the inner workings of an artist.

31

DIPLOMATIC SPOUSES

A former Mozambican diplomat wears her heart on her meticulously designed sleeve.

32

REVOLUTIONARY ALLIES

“Revolutionary Reflections” documents France’s role in America’s war for independence.

35

INTERWOVEN COMMUNITY

At the Canadian Embassy, quilts evolve from blankets to blank canvases in “Sense of Community.”

REGULARS 36 CINEMA LISTING 38 EVENTS LISTING 40 DIPLOMATIC SPOTLIGHT 45 APPOINTMENTS 46 CLASSIFIEDS 47 REAL ESTATE CLASSIFIEDS MAY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 3


WD | People of Wor ld Influence

Cold War Meltdown Arms Control Expert Warns of Potential New Arms Race Between U.S., Russia BY AILEEN TORRES-BENNETT

T

he Cold War, it could be argued, is rearing its ugly head again. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been aggressively seeking to reassert Russia as a dominant geopolitical player, to the consternation of Western powers. As a result, one of the seminal accomplishments between Russia and the United States is unraveling, signaling a possible return to the Cold War-era arms buildup that had the world on edge. Earlier this year, President Trump announced the U.S. would walk away from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan and his Russian counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev, in 1987. The arms control pact put a stop to the buildup of ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a 500to-5,500-kilometer range. It is a landmark agreement because it represents the first time the U.S. and the Soviet Union decided to mutually cut nuclear weapons — resulting in the elimination of over 2,600 missiles — and keep each other in check with on-site verifications. The INF was also critical because it eliminated the threat of intermediate-range missiles that could quickly trigger a nuclear war because of their short flight time, which could deliver a nuclear warhead to Europe in as little as 10 minutes. It thereby significantly cut down on the risk of an accidental nuclear strike during a misunderstanding — an ability that is even more important today given the potential of cyber hacks. But now one of the most important military and diplomatic achievements of the Cold War is in danger of becoming obsolete—not because it is no longer needed, but because the U.S. and Russia seem ready to scrap it. Problems with the treaty are not new to the Trump administration. During the Obama administration, in 2014, the U.S. called out Russia for violating the INF by developing a new long-range ground-launched cruise missile — a charge many experts say is accurate. The Trump administration used the violation as justification for pulling out of the treaty. Another likely factor in its decision was that the INF constrained America’s ability to counter the military rise of China, which is not a party to the treaty. “We can no longer be restricted by the treaty while Russia shamelessly violates it,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared. Russia denounced the decision, accusing the White House of using any pretext to abandon the treaty without

4 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MAY 2019

PHOTO: STATE DEPARTMENT

Thomas Countryman works to remove landmines in Afghanistan in May 2010 when he served principal deputy assistant secretary at the State Department, among the various positions that the arms control expert held during his 35-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service.

Nonproliferation and arms control is an issue where the national security of both countries is at stake…. It’s possible to engage with Russia on this existential issue even while we disagree on so many issues. It’s vital. THOMAS COUNTRYMAN

chair of the Arms Control Association Board of Directors

even trying to resolve the issue. It marked another low in U.S.-Russia relations and increased the possibility of a new global arms race between the two rivals (along with other nations that may now respond by modernizing their own nuclear weapons programs). Already, the U.S. has begun building a low-yield nuclear weapon that could be used in conventional warfare. “The U.S. nuclear weapons modernization budget is projected to cost $494 billion between 2019 and 2028, with some estimates putting the 30-year cost at $1.7 trillion, even before adding in new intermediate-range missiles,” wrote nuclear policy experts Pranay Vaddi and George Perkovic in a Jan. 30, 2019, brief for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Both

Moscow and Beijing will likely outpace any U.S. deployments of intermediaterange missiles, especially over the next decade, making an arms race unwise and costly for the United States.” In a similar vein, New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), which entered into force in 2011, also seems to have a tenuous future under the Trump administration. New START, which replaced an earlier 1991 treaty, significantly reduces U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals, notably by allowing each side to verify the other’s compliance. New START expires in 2021, just after the next U.S. presidential election. The potential demise of New START could mark the collapse of over four decades of constraints on nuclear weap-

ons, reopening the door to an arms brinkmanship that threatens national, regional and global security. Thomas Countryman, chair of the Arms Control Association (ACA) Board of Directors, is working to find a diplomatic solution. A career diplomat, he served in the U.S. Foreign Service for 35 years, including as the acting undersecretary of state for arms control and international security and as assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation. He was among several high-ranking career diplomats who were dismissed from the State Department in the early, chaotic days of the Trump administration. He spoke with The Diplomat about SEE COUNT RYM AN • PAGE 6


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Countryman CONTINUED • PAGE 4

the current state of affairs between the U.S. and Russia regarding nuclear weapons and the ramifications for the world order. THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT: Tell us a little about the Arms Control Association and your role there. THOMAS COUNTRYMAN: The Arms Control Association is one of the oldest NGOs working in this field. It was established in 1971. When I was assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation, I was always impressed by the practicality of their policy recommendations, so when I left government two years ago and they asked me to join the board, I was surprised to learn that by Washington standards this is a very small organization compared to other NGOS, but it has always punched above its weight in delivering quality analysis and up-to-the-minute policy recommendations for the administration, Congress and foreign governments. I’m proud to be chairman of the board, overseeing this small staff and the influence they have over this crucial conversation on nonproliferation and arms control. TWD: The U.S. and Russia are both abandoning INF. NATO supports the U.S. decision. What does that mean for national security? NATO regional security? Global security? TC: First, Russian deployment of the cruise missile that violates the INF treaty is not a direct threat to the U.S. homeland — it is a direct threat to European countries and cities and military sites, so the Europeans have the most to lose from this new dispute between Moscow and Washington. NATO needs to find a response that balances an appropriate military response, an effective deterrent, while avoiding escalation or provocation. There are many aspects of the INF treaty, including mutual assurances and inspections, that could be preserved by less formal agreements, but it depends very much on Europe finding its own voice and not being subject only to decisions made in Washington and Moscow. On a global level, I’m concerned this will spur U.S. and Russia to produce intermediate-range ballistic missiles, which many other countries are already doing. The spread and vertical proliferation of missiles is obviously a concern. TWD: What do you predict will happen to New START, and what will be the consequences? TC: On the negative side, word around Washington is that National Security Adviser John Bolton has always been a critic of New START. It’s rumored that he’s dragging out the

Thomas Countryman of the Arms Control Association says, "One of the things we take hope from is there is absolutely common ground for the U.S. and Russia to talk about national security and to think about the best means to avoid the nuclear end of the human species."

PHOTO: STATE DEPARTMENT

Ambassador Eileen Malloy, chief of the arms control unit at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, is pictured at the destruction site in Saryozek in Kazakhstan (then part of the Soviet Union), where the last Soviet short-range missiles under the IntermediateRange Nuclear Forces Treaty were eliminated in the spring of 1990.

decision process in the U.S. government and may even seek to prevent any extension of New START. That would be consistent with his reputation as a serial assassin of other arms control agreements. So, I’m very concerned about that. On the positive side, there’s increasing interest in Congress of the importance of New START. I think congressional and foreign leaders will attempt to get across the message that this is important to national security. It will serve U.S. interests. If Trump isn’t re-elected, there will be a small opportunity under a new president to extend the treaty before it expires in 2021.This is the most important and easiest step that the U.S. and Russia could take right now to reduce the dangers of nuclear conflict.

PHOTO: JOSE LOPEZ / DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

A Soviet inspector examines a BGM-109G Tomahawk ground-launched cruise missile prior to its destruction, as mandated by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Under the pact, over 2,600 U.S. and Russian missiles have been eliminated.

TWD: Let’s say all major nuclear deals are off. How do you propose nuclear-capable countries keep themselves in check?

TWD: Keeping the peace requires the cooperation of all parties. Russia doesn’t seem interested. Is it possible to engage them again in arms reduction/nonproliferation while Putin remains in power?

TC: That is a very big question. I do fear a situation in which there is no arms control, no bilateral treaties between Washington and Moscow. It would be the first time since 1972 that there are no numerical limits and no legal strictures to prevent a brand new arms race. In that environment, there will be enormous pressure to resume the arms race that we last saw in the 1960s. There are measures that both countries could take to prevent the worst outcome. It’s possible to agree to continue respecting New START limits, to agree to mutual information exchange and even on-site inspections. Even if an agreement is not as formal as New START, it would hold in check excesses of a nuclear arms race. The more urgent issue is: Can the U.S. and Russia at the military level reinstate the consultation channels, the de-escalation mechanisms to prevent nuclear conflict?

TC: Disputes between the U.S. and Russia are serious, and they’ve brought us to a low point in our bilateral relations. It’s true a lot of those are actions initiated by Putin, like Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It’s hardened the attitude of many people toward Russia, including me. I’m deeply concerned about this declaration of soft war by Putin against the U.S. I think history will show, will recount years from now, that the election attack on the U.S. was the single biggest mistake Putin ever made. But nonproliferation and arms control is an issue where the national security of both countries is at stake. It’s an issue in which we have consulted and cooperated through difficult times throughout the Cold War. We ended up with agreements that protected the national security of both sides. It’s clear Russia is ready to resume

6 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MAY 2019

the discussion of stability. The U.S. at the moment is less prepared to move forward on this, but it’s essential. It’s possible to engage with Russia on this existential issue even while we disagree on so many issues. It’s vital. TWD: The U.S. is readying a low-yield nuclear weapon and has already called out Russia for testing a weapon that violates the INF. Are we at the start of a new arms race, including emerging nuclear powers (China, North Korea, etc.)? What does this mean for arms control/ nonproliferation going forward? TC: There are two levels here. There is concern about the development of a so-called ‘low-yield’ nuclear weapon. Let me divert for a moment to say that the concept of low-yield is a definite misnomer. A nuclear weapon that is only half as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb is still a nuclear weapon. It is hard to achieve a scenario in which using that does not lead to an escalation to all-out nuclear warfare. The fact that the U.S. is preparing a nuclear version of the so-called low-yield and that Russia has about

2,000 tactical nuclear weapons, this means both countries are thinking of a situation in which it would be conceivable to use nonstrategic lowyield nuclear weapons — and imagining that to be possible is deeply concerning because there’s no reason to have confidence that even a single use will not trigger a ladder of conflict. The other level is what other nations will do. I don’t think the U.S. having a low-yield nuclear weapon has a direct impact on North Korea, which has been very consistent for decades in pursuing a nuclear strategy. They know they won’t compete with the U.S. In their view, they don’t need to. They only need credible capability. China is a different story. In the last few years, China has behaved more responsibly in the nuclear weapons field than either Russia or the U.S. It’s kept a lid on the total number of nuclear weapons. It has not sought to have first-strike capability but only second-strike capability. In a situation where the U.S. and Russia no longer have New START, are increasing their arsenals and no longer sharing information, Beijing may be tempted to expand its nuclear capabilities because of uncertainty about what the U.S. and Russia are doing. My fear of a world without New START is there’s not only a bilateral arms race — China would now have incentives to join in the race. TWD: Anything you want to add? TC: My main concern is about the trend in U.S.-Russian relations, so ACA, like several other NGOs in this field, has been heavily engaged in track-two diplomacy — that is, talking to Russia in different formats, trying to find a more reasonable policy for our two governments to pursue. It’s hard to see how that effort is paying off immediately, but it’s necessary to continue the conversation when our two governments are not talking. One of the things we take hope from is there is absolutely common ground for the U.S. and Russia to talk about national security and to think about the best means to avoid the nuclear end of the human species. WD Aileen Torres-Bennett is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.


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WD | Middle East

Guilty by Association Unwanted and Feared: Families and Children of the Islamic State Caliphate Face Dire Future BY JONATHAN GORVETT

I

n the camp at Al-Hol in northeast Syria, some 74,000 men, women and children — many injured and traumatized by years of war — are currently crammed into tents and makeshift huts in terrible conditions. Many of them arrived in the span of just a few days, back in March, while escaping the fighting as U.S.-backed Kurdish forces eliminated the last holdout of the Islamic State around Baghouz, some 200 miles to south. Among the people in these camps, however, are not only innocent people caught up by the conflict, but also Islamic State fighters and their families from Syria, Iraq, other Middle Eastern countries and the West. Around 90 percent of them are women and children, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), with thousands of young kids now exposed to these dire circumstances. At Al-Hol, figures from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) indicate that 65 percent of the camp’s inhabitants were under the age of 18 as of March 31. “These children are victims,” Elodie Schindler from the ICRC told The Washington Diplomat. “War has robbed them of their childhood.” Yet, while few would disagree that these camps are no place for minors, the thorny question of what should be done about them — and their parents — is one that many seem unwilling, or unable, to face. Caught between strategic considerations, international and local politics and security concerns, Islamic State families are now in limbo — a status that many now regard with increasing alarm. “What we are talking about here could be catastrophic, and is getting more dangerous by the day,” warned Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics, who has long studied this issue.

DEFEATED BUT STILL DANGEROUS

The danger, first of all, is because AlHol and camps like it lie within an open battlefield, where Islamic State (ISIS) cells still operate and where territory is disputed between a host of local and international players. In this contested, volatile landscape, the number of U.S. and other Western special forces continues to dwindle as President Trump seeks their withdrawal. While Trump has triumphantly de8 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MAY 2019

PHOTO: UNICEF / DELIL SOLEIMAN

UNICEF has been supporting children and their families in Al-Hole camp in northeast Syria who were displaced by the last push against the Islamic State, but the short-term needs are great and the long-term prospects are dim, as the families of Islamic State fighters — and the fighters themselves — have melted into the camp, leading to fears that the children will be radicalized or abandoned.

The children in this story deserve our humanity, not our hatred. These children are victims who must not be punished for the sins of their parents. ELODIE SCHINDLER

spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross

clared that “100 percent” of the Islamic State’s self-styled caliphate has been defeated, experts warn that the group itself is still very much alive — and active. “Territory the size of the United Kingdom has been liberated and over 100,000 ISIS militants reportedly killed. However, we remain a long way from victory,” wrote Charles Lister, director of the Countering Terrorism and Extremism Program at the D.C.-based Middle East Institute, in a recent brief. Like other experts, Lister points out that thousands of Islamic State fighters have gone underground and are waiting to regroup. James Jeffrey, the U.S. special envoy for Syria, estimated there may be 15,000 to 20,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, many in sleeper cells. As the group steadily lost more of its territory, it adopted guerrilla-style tactics and has now morphed back into a

more traditional terrorist organization. Today, the Islamic State continues to launch attacks in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, and according to the United Nations, it may have a war chest of between $50 million to $300 million to help finance its operations. Moreover, the conditions that gave rise to the movement in the first place — poverty, corruption, lack of governance, sectarian hostility — still exist across the wartorn region. In addition to those fighters who slipped away, tens of thousands are languishing behind bars with nowhere to go, creating another breeding ground for radicalization. “At least 30,000 to 40,000 ISIS members lie in squalid prisons in Syria and Iraq and more than 150,000 former ISIS residents live in secured [internally displaced persons] camps with no future prospects for a meaningful life,” Lister

wrote. “Amid these numbers are tens of thousands of children who are stateless and likely to receive no help to recover from the trauma of their ISIS experience and probable indoctrination.”

ISLAMIC STATE RESURGENCE

In this highly dangerous geography, there is the growing fear of an Islamic State resurgence, especially inside the camps, and its children. The longer these people remain in limbo, the greater their risk of radicalization. Children in particular are vulnerable to Islamic State ideology propagated by unrepentant parents and by group members who still work within these ramshackle camps. There’s even a term for what the Islamic State calls this indoctrinated children: “cubs of the caliphate.” “There is no program to de-radicalize them,” said Kamal Chomani of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, “while there is a lot of fear of ISIS members within the camps that prevents people from breaking ranks with them.” Those members include many women who remain loyal to the group and have attacked camp residents whom they see as impious, as reported by Erin Cunningham in an April 19 article for The Washington Post. “While there are scores of instigators, the ranks of those


who remain staunchly behind the Islamic State could still number in the thousands, and they are committed to upholding its ideology even as the self-declared caliphate has been brought to an end,” Cunningham wrote. The Kurdish forces responsible for security at these centers — members of the U.S.backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) or the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) — lack the capacity to do much within them, both in terms of personnel or facilities. The region is already home to hundreds of thousands of displaced people, with communities and infrastructure shattered by years of brutal conflict. The Kurdish forces responsible for security at these centers — members of the U.S.backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) or the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) — lack the capacity to do much within them, both in terms of personnel or facilities. The region is already home to hundreds of thousands of displaced people, with communities and infrastructure shattered by years of brutal conflict. “You’re talking about a huge task here,” said Gerges. “The Kurdish authorities simply do not have the capacity on their own to address the growing dangers.” That applies to Kurdish-run prisons where Islamic State fighters are holed up. The SDF has already warned that if it does not receive more resources, it may have to begin releasing thousands of prisoners in its custody. Moreover, no one wants to take responsibility for the detainees. Those who are imprisoned in Syria and sent to Iraq, for example, face life either in jail or tightly controlled camps. The Islamic State is also likely to take mat-

PHOTO: UNICEF / MASOUD HASEN

On Jan. 16, 9-month-old twins Hasnaa and Hawraa, along with their mother and two siblings, fled the violence in northeast Syria and made the trek to Al-Hol camp, where nearly 75,000 people are crammed, most of them women and children.

ters into its own hands to free its comrades in arms. Many remember how prison breaks in Iraq helped bolster the insurgency there, initially boosting al-Qaeda’s ranks, while also providing the hard-core militants who later constituted the backbone of the Islamic State itself. On April 6, these fears were heightened when the Islamic State made just such an at-

tempt to break out followers at the Derik detention center in the Kurdish-administered part of northeastern Syria — a region known to Kurds as Rojava. While unsuccessful, the attempt set off alarm bells across the region.

JUSTICE FOR ALL

There is also tremendous pressure for Islamic

State militants who participated in atrocities — and who may still be in the camps — to be brought to justice. “It is very important to see justice is done, for those whose families and friends were massacred by ISIS, and also to prevent future atrocities from taking place,” said Chomani. “The other issue is, if they are not tried and then if they are released, everyone will assume they are guilty — and in this part of the world, people taking their own revenge is very common.” The Kurdish authorities have proposed a tribunal to examine cases in the camps, with international participation and funding. Yet this faces several challenges. First, as Chomani points out, “Rojava is not internationally recognized.” The legal authority of any tribunal might therefore be questioned from the beginning, without some kind of international recognition. This in turn would be anathema to countries such as Turkey, which have declared the Kurdishcontrolled area an “existential threat.” At the same time, a huge vetting process in the camps would be necessary to identify the real militants. “The ICRC strongly advocates for crimes committed during an armed conflict to be investigated and punished,” said Schindler. “But under these challenging circumstances, it is paramount that states don’t lower their legal and protection standards. These challenges are global in nature and cannot be solved by one state alone.” Such an initiative would therefore require major international participation. “If you just send them all to Iraq,” said GergSEE CHIL DR EN • PAGE 10

MAY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 9


Children CONTINUED • PAGE 9

es, “well, you know what the Iraqis will do.” Indeed, after negotiations with U.S. officials, Baghdad has offered to take the detainees, saying it would do so for a payment of $10 billion, followed by a further $1 billion a month, the U.K.’s Guardian reported April 10. Yet the deal also reportedly stipulated that no humanitarian workers be granted access to the detainees and that no objections be made to the use of the death penalty. The terms were reportedly rejected. At the same time, the ICRC, and many groups on the ground, argue that Western countries should repatriate for trial their nationals who are among the Islamic State detainees. “This would spread the burden,” said Chomani. “It would also help focus attention on what has been happening here back in Western countries. Trials back in Germany, for example, would help people there understand the terrible things that have been going on.” So far, however, there has been extreme reluctance in many Western countries to accept back any of their nationals who volunteered to join the Islamic State and traveled out to

PHOTO: UNICEF / DELIL SOLEIMAN

On Jan. 26, Syrian children and families huddle together before embarking on the 200-mile journey to Al-Hole camp after being forced to flee the fighting in nearby Baghouz, the last Islamic State holdout.

fight for or otherwise support it. “In the U.K., France, Belgium, repatriating these people is hugely unpopular,” Gerges said. Often, they are seen as traitors and also potential security threats in countries that have suffered major terrorist attacks from the Islamic State in recent years. “So Western domestic politics is also complicating this whole issue.”

SINS OF THE PARENTS

Thus, thousands of children remain in limbo, suffering for their parents’ sins. A case in point is that of British national Shamima Begum. A teenager who went to Syria to join the Islamic State, she became a detainee at Al-Hol, where she gave birth to a

boy, Jarrah. Her plea to be returned to the U.K. was met with authorities rescinding her citizenship, soon after which the boy died of pneumonia. “Women and children are particularly vulnerable,” said Schindler, “and must receive special protection. It is paramount that they continue to be considered civilians. Children, even those accused

of committing crimes with armed groups, are first and foremost victims and must be detained only as a last resort. The children in this story deserve our humanity, not our hatred. These children are victims who must not be punished for the sins of their parents.” Some children have since been repatriated by other countries. France took five orphans of Islamic State members in early April, while Germany has taken back “a high, singledigit figure” number of minors in recent weeks, according to the German Foreign Ministry. But that represents a minuscule fraction of the thousands of children who’ve been tainted by being born into an Islamic State family — not to mention the hundreds of thousands of other children across the Middle East still suffering from war and destitution. “Who knows what will happen to the Kurds, too?” asked Gerges. “The camps are exposed and vulnerable on an open battlefield that could easily deteriorate into war between the Kurds and Turkey. Meanwhile, the whole question has become entangled in geostrategic issues and domestic politics in Europe. It is something that has to be treated more seriously. It’s really not going away.” WD Jonathan Gorvett (jpgorvett.com) is a freelance writer and journalist specializing in Near and Middle Eastern affairs.

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Europe | WD

NATO’s Cheerleaders Security Bloc’s First Post-Soviet Members Remain Focused on a Resurgent Russia BY JASON OVERDORF

A

day after NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg called for the alliance to hold its ground against an increasingly bellicose Russia, the foreign ministers of the three Central European countries that joined the bloc as part of its first eastward expansion following the collapse of the Soviet Union also warned of new threats from Moscow even as they celebrated what Polish Ambassador Piotr Wilczek termed “arguably the most successful alliance in the history of mankind.” The Czech, Hungarian and Polish foreign ministers were marking the 20th anniversary of their membership into NATO as well as the security alliance’s 70th anniversary. The day before the three ministers spoke at the Polish ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C., Vice President Mike Pence reiterated his boss’s criticisms that some NATO members aren’t carrying their weight, although Pence declared that “the alliance at 70 has never been stronger,” due in large part to President Trump’s leadership. The three foreign ministers backed Trump’s calls for increased defense spending but cautioned against viewing the alliance in transactional terms during a panel discussion titled “Twenty Years Later: Lessons from NATO’s Enlargement and the Alliance’s Future.” Pushed through despite protests from Moscow, NATO’s first eastward expansion added the three Central European countries in 1999, as the sheen was just starting to wear off Francis Fukuyama’s idea of the “end of history,” Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz recalled. Two weeks later, NATO’s intervention in the Kosovo War began. “With [NATO] membership, we got more rights, we got more security, but at the same time we took responsibility,” said Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček, touching on a key theme all three countries repeatedly emphasized — that they are among the most vocal propo-

PHOTO: DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE / SGT. A.M. LAVEY, U.S. ARMY

U.S. Army paratroopers arrive at Świdwin Military Air Base in Poland on April 23, 2014, to begin a training rotation with the Polish Army as part of regular NATO military exercises in the region. Poland has been a consistent ally in President Trump’s demands for NATO members to step up their defense spending and a major supporter of the security bloc as a counterweight to a resurgent Russia.

With [NATO] membership, we got more rights, we got more security, but at the same time we took responsibility.

nents of a muscular alliance. “We want to be active and we have been an active member of NATO. We contributed to many missions, and we also sacrificed the most valuable price, the price of human life,” Petříček said. Poland has sent troops into Kosovo and Afghanistan along with contributing to other NATO missions. Hungary, too, provided soldiers for those operations, and recently announced it would boost its contribution to the training mission in Iraq to 200 troops from 167. And the Czechs sent more than 2,000 doctors, medical staff and military police to the Iraq War, deployed special combat troops to Afghanistan and joined missions in the Balkans and Baltic

TOMÁŠ PETŘÍČEK

foreign minister of the Czech Republic

states. “We can be proud of ourselves, because we turned out to be countries that not only speak about the importance of the fight against terror, but act accordingly,” said Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó. Szijjártó was especially frank in his support for the polarizing American president, calling Trump’s initial remarks excoriating NATO freeloaders “the most exciting speech I have heard from a politician who was not my prime minister.” “It is a very legitimate expectation on behalf of the American president and the American people that we Europeans should do much more when it comes to con-

tributing to the success [of NATO],” Szijjártó said. NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg, whose term was recently extended by another two years, has also credited Trump with pushing members to increase their defense spending to 2 percent of annual GDP, even though Trump’s predecessors, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, repeatedly pushed for the same commitments (and member states had already agreed to meet that target by 2024). Critics say Trump’s singleminded focus on defense spending simplifies and obscures more critical issues, such as improving battlereadiness and coordination among NATO’s 29 member states, as well as preparing for

emerging threats such as cyberattacks. In addition, Trump’s claim that the U.S. is “owed” this money is inaccurate, because the money represents domestic spending levels, or funds that NATO countries decide to spend on their individual militaries — not money paid to anyone else or that’s put into a collective pot. But by relentlessly hammering away at members’ defense spending, Trump has put the issue front and center on NATO’s agenda. And allies have been quick to respond for fear that Trump will make good on his repeated threats to abandon a security bloc that has served as a bedrock SEE NATO • PAGE 12 MAY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 11


NATO CONTINUED • PAGE 11

of transatlantic stability since World War II. Many say that Stoltenberg’s constant praise for Trump’s efforts has mollified the president and resulted in a marked decrease in the heated anti-NATO rhetoric that marked his first two years in office. Member states that have boosted their spending or reached the 2 percent goal have also been quick to tout their achievements. That includes the three Central European nations that have been strong supporters of the U.S. president. Poland was among the handful of NATO countries to meet the 2 percent requirement last year, according to expenditure data published by the alliance. The Czech Republic boosted its outlay to reach 1.11 percent of GDP, compared with 1.04 percent in 2017. And Hungary, which increased spending to 1.15 percent of GDP from 1.05 percent a year earlier, is on track to surpass

PHOTO: STATE DEPARTMENT / RON PRZYSUCHA

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the NATO Foreign Ministerial held at the State Department on April 4, 2019, as NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, to his left, looks on.

the 2 percent threshold well before the 2024 deadline set following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Szijjártó said. Located on Europe’s east-

ern and southern frontiers, the three nations are also perhaps the alliance members most keen to push back strongly against Moscow’s moves to expand its sphere of

influence westward — even if some pundits see Russia’s post-Cold War assertiveness as a reaction to the expansion that brought them into NATO.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has for years warned that NATO’s steady encroachment into its backyard would poison relations with the West and force Rus-

sia to safeguard its borders. Moscow, in fact, recently severed all diplomatic contact with NATO in response to the bloc ending its contact with Russia on military issues, marking another low in the relationship since Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Ukraine’s flirtation with joining NATO and the European Union in part set the stage for the Crimea land grab. Ironically, Russia’s interference in Ukraine’s civil war helped persuade NATO members that they needed to fortify their eastern flank, resulting in more rotating NATO troops and battle groups deployed along Russia’s borders. In reiterating calls for a permanent U.S. troop presence in Poland, Czaputowicz said Russian antagonism “looks like a permanent feature of the geopolitical environment,” and emphasized that “a military presence is crucial for our security because it is the only real deterrent against Russia.” Although Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has sometimes shown more affinity for Putin than for fellow European Union leaders, Szijjártó pointed out

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that Budapest helped circumvent Russia’s energy blockade of Kiev with reverse gas flows, even though Hungary, too, gets its entire energy supply from Russian gas. And Petříček joined his counterparts in supporting Trump’s recent decision to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, although he said America’s NATO allies are keen to avoid a Cold War-era arms race in Europe (also see this month’s People of World Influence column). “Any treaty needs both sides to comply,” Petříček said. “We have witnessed that Russia hasn’t complied, and that created a situation where it wasn’t prudent for the U.S. to comply, either.” With talk swirling of a possible move to boot Turkey out of the alliance over its recent purchase of a Russian air and missile defense system, the three beneficiaries of NATO enlargement agreed that the alliance should continue its expansion rather than look to expel members. “One of the most successful policies of NATO is enlargement,” said Hungary’s Szijjártó, emphasizing that Turkey boasts the second-largest standing army in the alliance, after the U.S. Similarly, Petříček reiterated his country’s support for the so-called “open door” policy rooted in Article 10 of the 1949 treaty that found-

PHOTO: U.S. MARINE CORPS / SGT. DERRICK IRIONS

After locating and destroying a simulated enemy’s primary defense location, U.S. and Bulgarian forces depart from the battle zone at the Koren Field Training Ground in Bulgaria on Oct. 16, 2014 — part of regular bilateral military exercises held in the region to reinforce America’s NATO security commitments.

ed the alliance, although he recognized that Turkey’s arms purchases are a complicated issue, while Poland’s Czaputowicz said that buying Russian military equipment did not call Turkey’s general loyalty to the

alliance into question. “Turkey is a reliable member of NATO,” Czaputowicz said. Where emerging threats are concerned, there were hints of dissent among the three allies. With Hun-

gary’s rightwing populist government and geographical location on the southern border of the European Union, Szijjártó identified illegal migration from war-torn countries in North Africa and the Middle

East as a problem that is just as crucial to the alliance as is the threat of Russian adventurism. “I’m coming from a country through which 400,000 illegal migrants marched in 2015, so when we speak about the threat from the south or the challenge from the south, we have to be aware that if we are not only to protect our own borders, we are not going to be able to guarantee the security of our citizens,” Szijjártó said, tacitly justifying Hungary’s construction of fences and other barriers along its border with Serbia and Croatia in 2015. In contrast, Petříček spoke of the need to remember that NATO is not only about military operations, but also about the values that the alliance is defending — a fuzzy ideal that the ministers steered clear of elucidating. And Czaputowicz made clear that his nation’s interest in securing Europe’s southern borders was a concession to its obligations, saying, “We understand that we have to demonstrate our solidarity with others if we want them to help us.” As the idea of common values seesaws with changes in national governments, that solidarity will be essential to NATO’s survival. WD Jason Overdorf (jasonoverdorf.com) is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C.

MAY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 13


WD | United States

Targeting Northern Triangle In Wake of Migration Surge, Trump Wants to Cut Aid to Central American Countries BY ERIC HAM AND ANNA GAWEL

P

resident Trump’s surprising announcement to eliminate foreign aid to the Northern Triangle is still reverberating across Washington — and Central America. Desperate to stop the flow of illegal immigration from the U.S. southern border, the White House is enacting aggressive measures and issuing bold threats. Trump has repeatedly warned that he would close the U.S.-Mexico border if Mexico doesn’t do more to curb the influx of immigrants trying to enter the U.S., although he has yet to do so given the economic repercussions that would cause. But he hopes to make good on another threat: cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the three Northern Triangle nations. While the administration has not specified which programs will be targeted, the State Department has already notified Congress that it will divert roughly $500 million in funds from 2018 and prior years that have yet to be spent. The president, who has made illegal immigration a hallmark of his administration, is hoping the drastic cuts will spur the governments of these three nations to act. He argues that they have done little to stem the tide of immigrants who are straining resources at the southern border, including caravans made up of families and unaccompanied minors. “We were paying them tremendous amounts of money, and we’re not paying them any more because they haven’t done a thing for us,” the president told reporters last month. But many experts, including a large number of Republicans, say slashing crucial aid to these fragile states will have the opposite effect — increasing the very crime and poverty that these asylum seekers are fleeing. Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he sympathizes with the administration’s plight. But he said that one of the “most effective tools” the U.S. has for combating illegal immigration from Central America is foreign assistance. “This assistance supports the Northern Triangle countries’ efforts to combat transnational criminal organizations like MS-13 that are involved in the trafficking of persons and drugs. U.S. assistance also promotes economic prosperity and strengthens democratic institutions and rule of law,” he said during an April 10 committee hearing on the issue. “This assistance merges secu-

14 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MAY 2019

Some 2,000 Honduran migrants fleeing violence and poverty in their country travel toward the U.S.-Mexico border in October 2018. President Trump recently declared he wanted to cut all U.S. aid to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala for failing to curb migration to the north.

We were paying them tremendous amounts of money, and we’re not paying them any more because they haven’t done a thing for us.

U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

rity and economic support to create stability in the region and address the root causes of illegal migration.” Those root causes run deep, including civil wars in the 1980s that left a “legacy of violence and fragile institutions,” according to a June 26, 2018, brief by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). “The region remains menaced by corruption, drug trafficking, and gang violence despite tough police and judicial reforms.”

SURGING NUMBERS

The skyrocketing violence, rampant poverty, lack of jobs and political instability that have plagued the Northern Triangle for years have pushed the

region to the brink. Now, the U.S. immigration system is confronted with the fallout as a record number of immigrants seek refuge in America. While the overall number of people crossing the border has actually declined in recent years — and apprehensions are down dramatically from a high of 1.6 million during the George W. Bush administration in 2000 — the number of migrant families making the trek from Central America has soared. In February alone, more than 76,000 migrants were taken into U.S. custody, most of them from Central America, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. And in March, the number of people crossing

the Mexican border illegally hit a 12year high. Worldwide, the number of asylum seekers originating from the Northern Triangle reached 110,000 in 2015, a five-fold increase from 2012, according to CFR. The dynamics of illegal immigration have also shifted. In 2000, the bulk of border crossings were made up of migrant men from Mexico looking for better jobs who could be deported more quickly. But the recent exodus has been largely driven by families and unaccompanied minors from Central America whose claims of asylum have to be processed. As a result of this surge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say the agency is at a breaking point. Because it is running out of detention space and is only allowed to detain minors for so long, asylum seekers are being released into the community while they wait for an immigration hearing, which could take months or years given the current backlog of some 800,000 pending cases.

TRUMP HITS A WALL

The breakdown at the border has left the administration scrambling for

PHOTO: BOITCHY / FLICKR


solutions, although it has consistently run into road blocks. Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border and the partial government shutdown earlier this year failed to get the president the billions of dollars he wants from Congress to fund his long-promised border wall. Even if a massive wall were built, it wouldn’t do anything to stop the flood of families reaching U.S. soil because border patrol agents are legally obligated to take them into custody and process their asylum claims. In response, Trump is pushing for tougher vetting of asylum seekers, raising the bar for them to prove “credible fear” of persecution back home, among other possible measures. Thus far, the president has not revived his policy of separating families at the border, which sparked an uproar last summer. Regardless, any controversial policy changes are likely to run into legal challenges, as they have throughout the president’s term. Most recently, Trump’s experiment to force asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their cases are processed was blocked by a federal judge. Frustrated, Trump has purged top officials from the Department of Homeland Security for failing to implement his hardline policies. Yet no matter who winds up filling those slots, Trump is likely to run into another obstacle: lawmakers, including those from his own party. That’s because the president cannot unilaterally redirect funding, as he wants to do with aid to Central America. Congress has to sign off on any changes that will reduce resources to those violence-riddled nations, a proposition that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle say is counterproductive. It’s also a precarious time to be asking for any sweeping changes considering that Democrats now control the House and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are still smarting over the president’s national emergency declaration and government shutdown. So, as the budget season kicks into high gear, the Trump White House is on a collision course — yet again — with Congress over the direction of U.S. immigration policy.

CONGRESSIONAL HURDLES

When pressed for details as to when Trump’s proposed cuts to Central American aid could take effect and where the money will be redirected to, the State Department did not provide a clear answer. A spokesperson said, “We are still in the process of finalizing the overall allocation of FY 2019 funds…. The State Department and USAID intend to consult with and notify Congress regarding the planned reprogramming of funds, consistent with applicable requirements.” Although Trump has seethed over migration flows from Central America, foreign aid requests for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have remained steady throughout

CREDIT: DHS PHOTO BY TIM GODBEE

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen visits Honduras on March 27, 2018, to meet with Honduran President Juan Hernandez and security ministers from the Northern Triangle countries to discuss the recent surge in migrant caravans coming to the U.S. from Central America. Nielsen tendered her resignation on April 7, 2019, to President Trump, who’s been unhappy about the failure to stop migrants from claiming asylum in the U.S.

his tenure. According to a spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee, the president’s fiscal 2020 budget included a request of $445 million for all of Central America, including no less than $250 million in bilateral assistance for the Northern Triangle. The 2020 request is slightly higher than last year’s request of $435.5 million. Congress has allocated much higher figures. While lawmakers approved $655 million in fiscal 2017 and $615 million in fiscal 2018 for assistance to Central America, the administration has the authority to deviate from those amounts and reprogram the funds for other bilateral assistance purposes. Such authority to redirect the funding, however, is subject to prior consultation with the appropriations committees in the House and Senate. No decisions have been made about future funding levels and conditions regarding assistance to Central America. The president’s push to cut aid to the Northern Triangle underscores stark differences within the GOP when it comes to Trump’s campaign to curtail government spending. Republicans are hesitant to openly defy Trump, who remains popular with his base. Yet, when it comes to foreign aid, Republicans have consistently rebuffed the White House’s demands to slash the international affairs budget. In fact, rejecting Trump’s draconian cuts to the State Department and USAID have become a routine exercise in Congress. “The budget sent from the president is always D.O.A. in Congress,” said Francisco Albert, a former staffer with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Albert added that in the Trump era, lawmakers have even inserted

PHOTO: PETER HADEN / FLICKR

Central American migrants find quarter in southern Mexico in 2008. The routes that migrants travel are well known — to Mexican authorities, criminals and local people. Operativos, the mobile Mexican military units based along the route, sometimes stage night ambushes on trains. Terrified of being sent back home, migrants often jump from moving trains. Kidnappers are another group that preys on migrants, taking advantage of the confusion in small towns along the route, where the trains stop. Given these dangers, migrants from Central America recently began traveling in caravans, which offer safety in numbers but have drawn the ire of U.S. border officials.

more direct legislative language to prevent political appointees from not complying with bills signed into law. This pervasive skepticism of Trump’s policies and mistrust of his officials — combined with a confrontational Democratic-led House — makes it highly doubtful that assistance to the Northern Triangle will disappear. In fact, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) argues that resources should be increased, not cut. “I think we should even do more, and I think that we should make sure the resources are used for the purpose they are designed for, and that is to improve the safety and quality of life of people so they do not feel the urgency to go endanger their families, to travel so far to take the chance for seeking asylum,” she said.

DESPERATE CONDITIONS

The reasons for seeking asylum are obvious. El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras consistently rank among the most violent countries in the world. According to the June 26, 2018 report by the Council on Foreign Relations, organized crime is a legacy of the civil wars that upended the region for over four decades. When the fighting finally stopped, “a large pool of demobilized and unemployed men with easy access to weapons morphed into organized criminal groups, most notably in El Salvador.” Meanwhile, U.S.-led efforts to crack down on narco-trafficking routes in Colombia, Mexico and the Caribbean turned Central America into a major transit cor-

ridor for drugs, sparking turf wars among rival gangs. The region’s largest gangs, MS-13 and M-18, are estimated to have 85,000 members, according to CFR. Extortion, kidnappings and endemic poverty also drive Central Americans to make the arduous trek northward. Compounding the problem is widespread government corruption and weak institutions. People neither trust leaders at the top nor police and judges on the ground. In fact, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, says no amount of money will help Central Americans if their leaders squander it. “It makes no sense to cut off the aid that can improve people’s lives and lessen pressures for out-migration,” he told Time’s W.J. Hennigan for an April 5 article. “But we also need to recognize that all the aid in the world — and we’ve been providing aid to these countries for a long time — is not going to make the difference unless they have leaders with integrity who care as much about addressing the needs of their own citizens as we do.”

STUBBORN PROBLEM

The chaos and complexities of the Northern Triangle have vexed previous presidents as well. President George W. Bush focused on increased trade and free market reforms to improve conditions in the region, awarding hundreds of millions of dollars in grants via the Millennium Challenge Corporation. But when levels of migration continued to rise, Bush adopted a “zero-tolerance policy” under which migrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border were criminally prosecuted and deported, wrote Rocio Cara Labrador and Danielle Renwick in their CFR background brief. “In its last year, the Bush administration introduced a security assistance package for the region known as the Merida Initiative,” they wrote. “President Barack Obama separated Mexico from the Merida grouping and rebranded it the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI). Over the years, the United States has provided more than $1 billion in aid through CARSI to help the region’s law enforcement, counternarcotics, and justice systems.” Like Trump, Obama faced his own migrant crisis in 2014, when a flood of unaccompanied minors swamped the U.S. border. In response, Obama requested a significant increase in economic aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, advocating for greater cooperation with the three governments and a more holistic approach to address the region’s deep-seated woes. But like Trump, Obama struggled to find a durable solution to the humanitarian challenge at the border. Trump adopted some of his predecessor’s policies for the region — for example continuing the mulSEE CENTRAL AMERICA • PAGE 16

MAY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 15


Central America CONTINUED • PAGE 15

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tibillion-dollar Alliance for Prosperity Plan developed by Northern Triangle governments and the Inter-American Development Bank to improve economic and security conditions in the region. But in general, the administration has taken a hardline stance on immigration, accelerating deportations, eliminating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for hundreds of thousands of immigrants, instituting travel WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT NETWORKING EVENT bans and ramping up security at the border. The fact that many of Trump’s more controversial immigration policies have been blocked might actually work to the president’s advantage, allowing him to play up to his base that he’s taking a tough line on immigration but Democrats are standing in his way. CREDIT: DHS PHOTO BY TARA MOLLE Meanwhile, Democrats may be boxed On March 21, 2019, thenHomeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen visited the U.S. Border Patrol in by their own progressive, leftwing base, McAllen Station in Texas to conduct a roundtable meeting on the current migrant crisis at the which is pushing for strong pro-immigration U.S.-Mexico border. policies that might alienate moderate voters. vealing that for every 10 additional murders many ills, it has been shown to have a positive in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, impact. Research conducted by Vanderbuilt STATISTICS AND SUCCESSES six additional children sought safety in the University found that U.S.-funded violence prevention programs — including commuThe partisan grandstanding and gridlock United States. Another study by the Inter-American Dia- nity policing, youth mentorship and graffiti doesn’t bode well for stopping the flow of desperate migrants coming in droves to the logue found that in El Salvador, homicides removal — resulted in a 50 percent drop in United States. While Trump argues that aid boost migration by 188 percent. In Guatema- reported homicides in the neighborhoods to Central America has done nothing to pre- la, a 1 percent increase in homicides drives where the programs were implemented. migration by 100 percent, while in HonduSimilarly, USAID’s community policing vent this influx, data suggest otherwise. Join The for a one-on-one interview withprograms Ambassador Estonia ras, aDiplomat 1 percent increase causes a 120 percent and youth with the of State DepartA study by Michael Clemens of the Center jump Vseviov in migration. ment’s Bureau for International for Global Development found a direct corJonatan and The Washington Diplomat’s Managing Editor Narcotics While aid is not a cure-all for the region’s and Law Enforcement in Honduras helped relation between violence and migration, re-

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slash homicide rates in at-risk communities by up to 73 percent between 2013 and 2016, according to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. Through Feed the Future, USAID investments in agriculture also helped lift 89,000 Hondurans out of extreme poverty. Meanwhile, homicide rates and migration flows in El Salvador have plummeted over the last three years. Many — including U.S. government officials — attribute this drop in part to U.S.-led programs that have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to train the country’s security forces, support job prospects for at-risk youth, increase tax collection and improve government transparency, among other measures. Experts — and lawmakers — say the these results show that aid can work. “Our assistance is having positive results,” Rep. McCaul said at the House hearing on Central American aid. He noted that he and his counterpart, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, have visited the region and seen the results for themselves. “Last month, I traveled with Chairman Engel to El Salvador and we witnessed firsthand how our assistance is driving at-risk youth away from criminal gangs like MS-13 by providing technical skills and employment opportunities,” McCaul said. “I think the chairman and I came back realizing these programs are highly effective and that cutting these programs would be counterproductive and make the situation worse, not better.” WD

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Cover Profile | WD

New Zealand Heals Massacre of Muslim Worshippers Shatters Tranquility but Prompts Strong, Swift Response BY ANNA GAWEL

W

hen we initially approached the Embassy of New Zealand for an interview several months ago, the goal was to highlight an island nation that many Americans only know of as the fantastical backdrop for the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. As managing editor, I try to switch up covers between timely profiles driven by the crisis of the day (such as Venezuela in the April issue) with profiles of lesser-known countries that enjoy relative stability and therefore tend to fly under the radar. But then, tragedy struck, catapulting New Zealand into the news and shattering its sense of security. On March 15, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a 28-year-old white supremacist from Australia, went on a shooting rampage that killed 50 Muslim worshippers in two mosques in the tranquil city of Christchurch. The dead ranged in age from 3 to 77 and hailed from all walks of life. Among them was a beloved heart doctor, a high school student with dreams of becoming a footballer and a Syrian refugee who came to the country to escape the violence in his own. Many victims had spent decades making a home for themselves in New Zealand after emigrating from places as diverse as Afghanistan, Egypt, Somalia, India and the UAE. The grisly murders played out in real time on social media thanks to a camera mounted atop the shooter’s helmet to maximize the bloodshed. The video — in which Tarrant pumps himself up with a mix tape to “get this party started” — went viral before social networks could stamp it out. He also posted a 74-page manifesto ranting about everything from white genocide to sarcastic memes. The massacre shook the 4.7 million people of New Zealand, which is home to a small, unassuming population of 50,000 Muslims, including 3,000 in Christchurch. But it also reverberated around the world, exposing the scourge of xenophobia, anti-Muslim bigotry and the cesspool of extremism incubated by the internet. While the attack revealed that terrorism is not specific to one religion, it demonstrated the enduring power of religious hatred to fuel radicalism and violence. On Easter Sunday in April, a coordinated series of explosions at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka killed over 350 people. As of press time, authorities speculated that the bombings were carried out by a local Islamist militant group — whose “fighters” the Islamic State claimed as their own — in retaliation for the Christchurch

PHOTO: LAWRENCE RUGGERI

[Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been] both reassuring the nation but at the same time reaffirming the values that we must defend — that we must not feel that this dreadful event, horrific as it was, can somehow change us. ROSEMARY BANKS

ambassador of New Zealand to the United States

mosque shootings. If true, the carnage in Sri Lanka and New Zealand serve as a sad reminder of the deep-seated religious and ethnic tensions that can erupt at any time in any part of the world. Nearly a month after the Christchurch attack, we spoke to New Zealand’s ambassador to the U.S., Rosemary Banks, who said her countrymen are still trying to process their sadness and shock. “I think the mood is still quite subdued,” she told us in an interview at her residence. “I think we’re still coming to terms with what’s happened, and that’s going to take a while.” A 40-year veteran of New Zealand’s foreign service, Banks has served as ambassador to France and Portugal. She was also her country’s permanent representative to the United Nations in

New York and to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. While the ambassador, who speaks softly in calm, measured tones, has not served in dangerous hotspots, she is no stranger to crisis. Banks coordinated the emergency responses to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Bali bombings and the South Asian tsunami, developing a new emergency response system and guidance manual for New Zealand. But the carnage in Christchurch — at the hands of man, not Mother Nature — hit close to home for the New Zealand native and her colleagues. “It’s been a hard time at the embassy,” she told us. Banks said she was particularly moved by the stories of people who put their lives at risk to stop the shooter, including Naeem Rashid, a 50-year-

old Pakistani-born teacher who tried to tackle the gunman before being shot and killed (his son was also killed). The Pakistani government announced it would give Rashid a posthumous national award for his bravery. What also resonated with her and her fellow Kiwis, Banks said, is the leadership their prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has shown in the wake of the crisis. Banks said she has been “both reassuring the nation but at the same time reaffirming the values that we must defend — that we must not feel that this dreadful event, horrific as it was, can somehow change us.” The killings thrust the 38-year-old prime minister into the unfamiliar glare of the global spotlight. Previously known for being the world’s youngest head of state and only the second to give birth while in office, Ardern was occasionally referred to as the antiTrump for her progressive, collaborative approach to politics that focused on kindness, not combativeness. But she quickly earned worldwide respect for her empathetic yet defiant and decisive response to the shootings. She never once hesitated to label them an act of terrorism, unlike the prevaricating that so often happens when the perpetrator is white and not Muslim. She refused to say the shooter’s name to deprive him of the notoriety he so desperately craved. And she donned SEE NEW Z EAL AND • PAGE 18 MAY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 17


PHOTO: BY KIRK HARGREAVES, CC BY 4.0, HTTPS://COMMONS.WIKIMEDIA.ORG/W/INDEX.PHP?CURID=77410319

New Zealand CONTINUED • PAGE 17

a black headscarf as a sign of respect when she visited members of the Muslim community. In fact, photos of Ardern embracing grief-stricken family members and listening to their concerns — a panged expression on her face — went viral, serving as a stark counterpoint to the video of Tarrant methodically slaughtering as many people as his magazine rounds would allow. “Everybody has felt that she handled it with a wonderful combination of professional calm and a degree of personal emotion and empathy,” Banks said, noting that many Muslim governments have commended Ardern’s actions. Beyond the rhetorical show of support, however, Ardern has delivered concrete results. Just six days after the shooting spree, she announced a nationwide ban on all militarystyle semiautomatic weapons, assault rifles, high-capacity magazines and related modifying parts. The proposal met little resistance and on April 10, it passed parliament in an overwhelming 119-1 vote. Gun owners will now have until the end of September to hand in their firearms through a buyback program before the amnesty period ends. “I could not fathom how weapons that could cause such destruction and largescale death could have been obtained legally in this country,” Ardern, holding back tears, told lawmakers. In one fell swoop, the prime minister accomplished a feat that would be unimaginable in the United States, where thoughts and prayers

have become the token response to the recent spate of mass shootings in Parkland and elsewhere. While those shootings increased calls for gun reforms in the U.S., the National Rifle Association still maintains a powerful grip on lawmakers, resulting in continued inertia. But Banks cautioned that while New Zealand has an active gun culture — roughly 250,000 New Zealanders own between 1.2 million to 1.5 million firearms — it does not have the equivalent of the NRA. “We don’t have a gun lobby that has anything like the prominence that the NRA has here,” she said, noting that the country does have sporting organizations that may oppose gun control on hunting grounds. “But we haven’t reported any major resistance.” Despite the passage of gun reform, hurdles remain. Only a tiny fraction of firearms is registered in New Zealand, meaning it is virtually impossible to track who owns what firearm and whether they’ve turned it in. The government is now working to put a national registration system in place. Banks also pointed out that New Zealand already had stringent background checks, but she said the Christchurch massacre was the catalyst to enact tougher gun reforms that had stalled for years. The recent legislation is also unique in that it focuses on capability, not just specific classes of weapons, as Damien Cave and Charlotte Graham-McLay pointed out in a March 20 article for The New York Times in which they wrote that this approach could amount to a new global standard “because it could include weapons and accessories not yet developed.” The New Zealand massacre could also prove to be a seminal moment in tackling

18 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MAY 2019

PHOTO: GOVERNMENT HOUSE, NEW ZEALAND - FLORAL TRIBUTES AT HAGLEY PARK, CC BY-SA 4.0

At left, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visits members of the Muslim community at the Phillipstown Community Centre on March 16, less than 24 hours after a terrorist attack left 50 Muslim worshippers dead and dozens seriously injured in Christchurch. Above, Patsy Reddy lays flowers at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens on March 19 to honor the victims of the Christchurch shooting rampage.

PHOTO: BY ABDULLAH@XTRA.CO.NZ AT ENGLISH WIKIPEDIA

The Al Noor Mosque, seen above in 2006, was the first of two mosques where a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist fatally shot 50 Muslim worshippers on March 15.

one of the most pressing yet perplexing dilemmas of our time: whether — and how — to control the internet to prevent extremism and violence. The shooter lived in a fanatical online world where hate ran rampant. He announced his attack on an anonymous messaging board known as 8chan, a cauldron of extremism where users applauded the Christchurch killings and even posted the addresses of other religious centers that should be targeted. Many experts say sites like 8chan should be treated no differently than the jihadi forums used by terrorist groups such as the Islamic State to radicalize and recruit disenfranchised, angry young men. That would entail closely monitoring and possibly shutting down incendiary sites. After the Christchurch attack, New Zealand and Australia temporarily blocked access to 8chan and other sites that were spreading video of

PHOTO: EMBASSY OF NEW ZEALAND

Among the various areas of cooperation between New Zealand and the U.S. is a burgeoning space industry in New Zealand, home to over 70 space-related businesses.

the bloodbath, but experts say this is akin to a game of whack-a-mole because whenever one site is shut down, another one pops up in its place. Not only could this tactic be ineffective, it may be counterproductive because it forces users to go deep underground where law enforcement cannot track them.

Any talk of censoring the internet also invariably brings up the debate over free speech versus public safety. But Ardern says she hopes the Christchurch massacre galvanizes the international community to come together and curb the spread of radicalism online. “It cannot be a case of all profit, no respon-

sibility,” the prime minister said of tech giants, which she doubts are willing to self-regulate at this point. The ambassador said the issue “is exceptionally complicated” and admitted that she herself does not know enough about it to determine whether tech companies are capable of policing themselves or what form of government regulation is needed. But, she said, the complexity of the debate is no longer an excuse for avoiding it. “We are an open, democratic society, as you are, so you can’t go too far toward controlling freedom of expression and freedom of speech,” she told us. “But at the same time, as the prime minister has recognized, we see examples of people who have been radicalized in quite a short period by [the internet]. It doesn’t seem acceptable to just keep turning a blind eye to that and say, ‘Oh well, it’s too difficult to do.’” Banks noted that Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), for example, could serve as a global model for creating a framework for data privacy and internet accountability. “It’s a challenge that our societies have not confronted before,” Banks conceded. But she said that’s exactly why her prime minister insists that the international community unite to address what is a worldwide problem. If anyone could be a global advocate — and disruptor — for change, Ardern seems to fit the bill. After her election as leader of the Labour Party in 2017, winning on a campaign based on “relentless positivity,” a wave of “Jacindamania” swept the country. Ardern even captured international attention not only for giving birth while


in office, but for bringing her newborn baby to the U.N. General Assembly last September. Ardern has also attracted attention for her emphasis on kindness in politics — a sharp contrast to the combative, divisive tactics embraced by right-wing populist parties that have attacked immigrants and minorities. “In New Zealand, Ardern’s commitment to fighting child poverty and homelessness has come as a relief after years of relentless increases in both,” wrote Helen Clark, Ardern’s predecessor, in a recent essay for Foreign Policy. Among other policies, Clark praised Ardern for passing a family tax package that’s forecast to significantly reduce child poverty by 2021; offering refuge for 150 refugees stranded in Australia-run detention camps; and ending new permits for oil and gas exploration in New Zealand’s waters in an effort to combat climate change. Banks said these policies are part of an overall push to adopt a “well-being” budget for 2019 that, unlike traditional economic indicators, factors in quality of life and the environment. Banks said that slashing child poverty — which the prime minister has pledged to cut by half over the next decade — will be one of the main pillars of the budget, along with improving living standards; reducing domestic violence; lifting the economic performance of Māori and Pacifica peoples because they lag behind the national average; and addressing climate change. On that note, Banks said climate change is a critical issue for New Zealand and the Pacific island region as a whole given its exposure to extreme weather events. For example, she noted that New Zealand recently experienced severe bush fires in an area where none had ever broken out before. “The pattern of drought and relief from drought is also changing and speeding up — in other words more frequent drought. And all the messages to the farming community are to become more resilient, to look at better ways of water management and pasture management. So there is definitely a built-in assumption that we’re going to have to deal with more of this.” The island nation is also instituting a raft of other ambitious initiatives. It already relies heavily on renewables and is committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner. There’s also a plan to plant 1 billion trees over the next decade to sequester carbon emissions. “So the focus of the government is both trying to suck up some of the carbon that we’re producing while at the same time trying to reduce it,” Banks said. “We’re also very active in climate change research in agriculture,” she added, noting that New Zealand began a global alliance of around 60 agriculture-producing countries, including the U.S., to tackle the issue. “And we’re looking at different sectors of agriculture that produce greenhouse gases, everything from livestock to rice paddies, and trying to work together and have our scientists well connected to find solutions because agricultural is a big area that’s difficult to address. “We have been loud proponents of more vigorous, more rapid international action for decades now. So it’s both a concern for ourselves and our near neighbors.” While most countries are moving forward on their commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions as part of the Paris climate change agreement, one country is noticeably absent from the effort: America. Banks said that despite President Trump’s withdrawal from the landmark accord, her government continues to work with the U.S. at the state level to coordinate not only on climate change, but also other issues such as housing and transportation. “Most of your states are bigger than our country,” said Banks, who had just completed a visit to California to visit with that state’s Environmental Protection Agency. “California’s economy is bigger than the U.K. and France, so yes, we do cooperate, we do find useful lessons.”

New Zealand at a Glance Independence Day Sept. 26, 1907

(from the U.K.)

Flag of New Zealand

Location Oceania, islands in the South

Pacific Ocean, southeast of Australia

Capital Wellington Population 4.5 million (July 2018 estimate) Ethnic groups European 71.2 percent,

Maori 14.1 percent, Asian 11.3 percent, Pacific peoples 7.6 percent, Middle Eastern, Latin American, African 1.1 percent, other 1.6 percent, not stated or unidentified 5.4 percent (2013 estimate)

Religious groups Christian 44.3 percent,

Hindu 2.1 percent. Buddhist 1.4 percent, Maori Christian 1.3 percent, Islam 1.1 percent, other religion 1.4 percent (includes Judaism, Spiritualism and New Age religions, Baha’i, Asian religions other than Buddhism), no religion 38.5 percent, not stated or unidentified 8.2 percent, objected to answering 4.1 percent (2013 estimate)

GDP (purchasing power parity) $189 billion (2017 estimate)

GDP per-capita (PPP) $39,000 (2017 estimate) GDP growth 3 percent (2017 estimate) Unemployment 4.7 percent (2017 estimate) Population below poverty line NA

PHOTO: 680451 / PIXABAY

A cathedral is seen in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, which is home to roughly 3,000 Muslims.

Industries agriculture, forestry, fishing, logs and wood articles, manufacturing, mining, construction, financial services, real estate services, tourism

SOURCE: CIA WORLD FACTBOOK

PHOTO: EMBASSY OF NEW ZEALAND

Above, an indigenous New Zealand Māori troupe performs a ceremonial Haka dance on the steps of the U.S. Lincoln Memorial on April 9 to pay tribute to the victims of the Christchurch massacre. Below, a tram rolls through the otherwise-tranquil city of Christchurch.

PHOTO: 680451 / PIXABAY

As for action at the federal level, New Zealand, like so many other countries, hopes that the isolationism under the Trump administration — whether it’s on climate change or free trade — is a temporary phenomenon. “Since America is such an important ally globally and in any multilateral system, I think we’re all happier when the U.S. is inside the

tent rather than outside. We hope that the kind of architecture of international relations and of rules that has been constructed over many decades, that it will remain,” she said. Banks added that the U.S.-New Zealand relationship is an enduring one “irrespective of administrations. It’s been a great friendship over our entire history, which, in fact, goes

back to your first consul, who was to sent to New Zealand in 1839.” Today, the two counties continue to cooperate on issues such as New Zealand’s burgeoning space industry. Banks also made it a point to mention that the U.S. enjoys a small trade surplus with New Zealand and expressed hope that Trump will eventually remove the tariffs he’s imposed on steel and aluminum imports. Banks demurred, however, when asked if Trump’s repeated denunciations of immigrants, including Muslims, and his hesitancy to outright condemn white supremacists have contributed to the surge in xenophobia, both in the U.S. and around the world. “The rise of white supremacists or extremism or any kind of dangerous ideology is clearly a concern, but we’re not getting into trying to pinpoint where that’s coming from or who could help it or not help it,” she replied. “We’ve been quite focused on our own situation and our own responses.” And part of that response has been to stress that the Christchurch massacre will not threaten New Zealand’s tradition of tolerance and openness. In fact, Banks pointed out that her country is home to some 200 ethnicities and 160 languages, “which is not what people typically think of when they think of New Zealand.” A key part of the island’s diversity is its indigenous Māori people, whose rights were enshrined in the Waitangi Treaty signed back in 1840. Banks said New Zealanders have embraced many Māori values. “And there are two particular Māori values that I think have really shown up in the period post-Christchurch.” One is “manaakitanga,” which she said is “the Māori concept of living with each other in tolerance, respect and caring for each other. The other one is about caring for the natural world in the same way, and that’s ‘kaitiakitanga.’ And those two values are really important in our society.” Asked what she wanted Americans to take away from the Christchurch tragedy once the headlines inevitably fade in today’s 24-7 news cycle, Banks said, “It would be the message that the prime minister has given — that we take this as a reminder to everybody, not just us in New Zealand but around the world, that we need to redouble our efforts at understanding each other, at counteracting extremism and at being open to differences, whether they’re religious or cultural.” Banks also cited a comment the mayor of Christchurch made at one of the initial remembrance ceremonies: “She said I’d like us to be remembered for our response, not for the fact that these terrorist attacks happened.” WD Anna Gawel (@diplomatnews) is the managing editor of The Washington Diplomat.

MAY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 19


WD | Middle East

Islam’s Soft Power Report Analyzes the Intersection of Religion and Statecraft in Middle East BY RYAN R. MIGEED AND ANNA GAWEL

R

eligion and politics have a long, complicated history around the world, but in the Middle East, religion continues to play a crucial — and at times corrosive role — in the region’s dynamics. “Whether it is state support for transnational religious propagation, the promotion of religious interpretations that ensure regime survival, or competing visions of global religious leadership,” several Muslim-majority countries are strategically using religion as a form of soft power, according to a report coauthored by two senior fellows at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy, Peter Mandaville and Shadi Hamid. Using religion to project power is certainly not exclusive to the Middle East. Religion and politics have been inextricably linked around the world for centuries. But in the Middle East, where varying strains of Islam are integral to, and at times define, a nation’s identity, the interplay between religion and geopolitics can be a combustible mix. Mandaville and Hamid’s report, “Islam as Statecraft: How Governments Use Religion in Foreign Policy,” says the discussion on Islam in world politics tends to focus on social movements, political parties and militant groups — i.e., the Islamic State’s quest for an Islamic caliphate or the Muslim Brotherhood’s attempts to enter the political fray. “Much less attention, however, has been paid to the ways in which a number of governments … have opted to deploy Islam as a component of their own foreign policy conduct.” For example, the two scholars note that emerging powers such as Turkey and Indonesia push distinctive “brands” of Islam “as part of the cultural diplomacy that accompanies their broader international efforts,” they write. Meanwhile, in countries such as Egypt, Morocco and Jordan, government-linked religious institutions promote “moderate Islam” as a way of appealing to Western nations and bolstering their counterterrorism credentials, according to the report, which was released last November. But two countries in particular use religion as a fundamental component of their foreign policy agendas: Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia and its Shiite adversary Iran, whose rivalry has created a proxy war that has reverberated across the region and the world.

THE EXPLOITATION OF FAITH

There is little doubt that differences

20 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MAY 2019

PHOTO: KONEVI / PIXABAY

Every year, roughly 1 million to 2 million Muslims make the Hajj pilgrimage to the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, considered the holiest city in Islam.

The long-standing Saudi ArabianIranian rivalry is a sectarian battle, to be sure, but it is first and foremost a conventional geopolitical competition — one that has more recently intensified into a battle for survival. PETER MANDAVILLE AND SHADI HAMID

co-authors of ‘Islam as Statecraft: How Governments Use Religion in Foreign Policy’

between Sunni and Shiite Islam have created a major schism between Saudi Arabia and Iran. But experts say both countries cynically exploit this religious divide to rile up their publics and further their own geostrategic ambitions. “The long-standing Saudi ArabianIranian rivalry is a sectarian battle, to be sure, but it is first and foremost a conventional geopolitical competition — one that has more recently intensified into a battle for survival,” Mandaville and Hamid write. The two oil-rich neighbors have long competed for regional influence — a tug of war that has escalated in recent years. Under Saudi Arabia’s de facto young ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom has flexed its muscle in Yemen, where Riyadh

has spearheaded a military campaign to oust Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels from power. It has also led a largely unsuccessful blockade of Qatar, ostensibly to curb its financing of terrorism, although most experts say Salman wants to turn energy-rich Qatar into a vassal state. Most importantly, Salman has sided with President Trump in targeting Iran as an existential threat to the region. Meanwhile, Iran’s proxies such as Hezbollah continue to meddle in countries such as Lebanon. In addition, Iranian manpower and money have been instrumental in propping up Syria’s embattled president, Bashar al-Assad, against Sunni-backed rebel groups trying to oust him. While Iran’s involvement in Syria’s civil war has been hugely

costly, it has allowed Tehran to preserve a critical ally in the region. Behind this projection of power, however, are vulnerabilities that factor into each nation’s calculus. Shiite-majority Iran is encircled by a sea of more powerful, wealthier Sunni-dominated monarchies. Saudi Arabia boasts the Arab world’s largest economy, while a combination of international sanctions and mismanagement has crippled Iran’s economy, leading to widespread discontent at home. But the Iranians have some geostrategic advantages. Militarily, Saudi Arabia is able to buy much more sophisticated weaponry and technology, but Iran has a larger, more battle-tested army and nimble proxy militias. Population-wise, Iran’s 81 million people dwarfs the 32 million in Saudi Arabia. Like Saudi Arabia, Iran is also home to a highly educated, sizable youth demographic. And the constraints on Iran’s oil exports have forced Tehran to diversify its economy, whereas oil-dependent Riyadh lags behind in making this transition. Given these factors and Tehran’s substantial oil and gas reserves, if Iran were to ever emerge from international isolation, it could pose a significant threat to Saudi hegemony in the region. Both governments also purposely stir up sectarian grievances as a convenient way to galvanize national anger at an ideological enemy and deflect it away from their own bungled policies — in


Saudi Arabia’s case, its military quagmire in Yemen, and in Iran’s case, its inept handling of the economy. Mandaville and Hamid acknowledge this cynical use of religion for geopolitical ends — what one scholar termed as “geosectarianism” — which creates a vicious cycle that makes it difficult to distinguish the “religious” from the “political.” “The religious fuels the political; a worsening political conflict inflames religious passions, and so on,” they write. They add that projecting religious influence abroad, “far from representing a monolithic and deliberate expression of foreign policy intent,” is often shaped by domestic views on the role of Islam in politics. “Because Islam is such a resonant political currency and resource, even governments that are viewed as more secularly oriented such as Jordan, Morocco or the United Arab Emirates, have a strong interest — and a strong security interest — in engaging with religious ideas,” they write. “If these governments didn’t directly involve themselves in debates around the nature and purpose of Islam, they would be leaving an ideological vacuum that domestic challengers can take advantage of.” And that would be particularly dangerous to authoritarian governments because “they tend to see regime survival as inextricably linked to religious legitimacy.”

Two armed men stage a demonstration during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Behind them is a banner that reads “long live antiimperialism and democratic forces.” While Western powers denounced the hardline religious clerics who took power in Iran, many recently decolonized countries viewed Iran as an alternative to the twin poles of U.S. capitalism and Soviet communism.

Given that Saudi Arabia and Iran each claim the mantle of their respective forms of Islam and have engaged in a battle for supremacy in the Muslim world, Mandaville and Hamid focus on Saudi Arabia’s history of “exporting” Wahhabism and on Iran’s unique brand of “resistance culture.”

SAUDI ARABIA’S RELIGIOUS EXPORTS

Saudi Arabia’s export of Wahhabism, the puritanical form of Islam based on a literal interpretation of the Koran that is the dominant sect in the country, has evolved over

the years. Mandaville and Hamid note that in the 1960s, for example, Saudi Arabia’s embrace of religious conservatism was seen as a counterweight to the secular nationalism of Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser. Interest in Saudi Arabia’s more conservative brand of Islam grew exponentially after the Sept. 11,

2001, terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda, an extremist group that was itself an outgrowth of Saudisponsored fundamentalism. Mandaville and Hamid argue that while the kingdom has spent tens of billions of dollars to promote Wahhabism as a form of soft power, it has not always done so as a concerted government effort. Rather, there are a constellation of Saudi state organizations and non-state entities that have spread this ultraconservative form of Islam around the world. “It is not the case that there is someone sitting in Riyadh directing money to fund proselytization to specific countries where Saudi Arabia is trying to have a particular affect or achieve a certain foreign policy objective,” Mandaville, who was previously a member of the Policy Planning Staff at the State Department during the Arab Spring, said at the report’s launch at the Brookings Institution on Jan. 8. The report lists a number of groups loosely affiliated with the Saudi royal family, including the Muslim World League, an organization “established in 1962 through royal patronage to promote Muslim solidarity,” and the Islamic University of Medina, established in 1961 to provide “training in the classical Islamic sciences to Muslims from around the world.” SEE IS L AM • PAGE 22

MAY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 21


Islam CONTINUED • PAGE 21

“The state certainly has a role, particularly through the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Da’wa [or propagation], which for decades has been involved in providing support and funding for everything from mosque building around the world, lecture tours by particular clerics, the distribution and dissemination of certain kinds of textbooks and religious materials,” Mandaville said. Since 9/11, the Saudis have been more “stringent” in their oversight of religious charitable organizations, Mandaville said. At the same time, various members of the sprawling, and at times competing, web of royal family members continue to act as financial patrons for some of these organizations, making it difficult to determine whether they are acting with the endorsement of the state or not. There is another reason for the recent shift in how Saudi Arabia promotes its distinct strain of Islam: Crown Prince Salman, who has made an effort to brand himself as a moderate Muslim reformer intent on modernizing the kingdom. Whether or not he is a true moderate, Salman sees that “pursuing a moderate Islamic branding is very effective from a foreign policy standpoint,” Hamid, who also recently co-edited the volume “Rethinking Political Islam,” told The Diplomat. Hamid described Salman as an “anti-Islamist,” even though Saudi Arabia is still “one of the most rigidly Islamist regimes in the world.” In some ways it is a contradiction that Salman “is the de facto leader of what is still to some extent a theocratic regime, and one of the few in the world,” Hamid said. At the same time, Hamid said Salman “is not a secularist. He believes that religion should play an important role in public life.” Salman is also practical. He knows he can’t rock the religious boat too much for fear of jeopardizing the historical pact between the House of Saud and the ultraconservative Wahhabi establishment that gives Saudi leaders religious legitimacy. Under this bargain, the monarchy controls political and military affairs, while Wahhabi clerics have ultimate authority over religious and social affairs. Salman’s reluctance to fully break with this longstanding compact might explain why his modernization efforts have at times appeared schizophrenic. For instance, Salman

PHOTO: JÖRG PETER / PIXABAY

An elaborate white-and-gold mosque stands out in Abu Dhabi. Scholars Peter Mandaville and Shadi Hamid argue that even in more secularly oriented countries such as the United Arab Emirates, “because Islam is such a resonant political currency and resource, [these governments] have a strong interest — and a strong security interest — in engaging with religious ideas.”

lifted the ban on women driving last year, earning him international praise, but in the same breath, he jailed several prominent women’s rights activists — possibly as a way of appeasing religious hardliners who feared his reforms were moving too fast. This contradiction underscores one of the report’s central conclusions: that a state’s projection of religion outside its borders explains a lot about the “competing social and political forces within the country from which it emanates.” In Saudi Arabia, “deference to stability, deference to the preservation of the state takes precedence over all other concerns, and Islam in this view is supposed to protect the state and be intertwined with the state in order to protect it,” Hamid told The Diplomat. In other words, the royal family works to project a brand of Islam that reinforces its own legitimacy at home. This is where Saudi Arabia finds common cause with the United Arab Emirates, which also has an interest in self-preservation in regards to how it perceives and promotes Islam. This, in many ways, explains Saudi Arabia’s rivalry with Iran, a state founded on the idea of “Islamic Revolution,” which continues to support Shiite minority groups across the Middle East that, depending on one’s viewpoint, are either seeking to overthrow existing regimes or standing up against marginalization by the Sunni majority.

IRAN’S ‘RESISTANCE CULTURE’

Both Iran and Saudi Arabia use the narrative of the Islamic Revolution to justify

22 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MAY 2019

CREDIT: OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO BY SHEALAH CRAIGHEAD

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump join Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on May 21, 2017, for the opening of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology. Trump has been a strong supporter of autocrats who take a hard line against Islamist extremists.

their feud. Salman, in an October 2017 interview with The Guardian, blamed his kingdom’s embrace of ultraconservatism over the last 30 years as a direct response to the Islamic Revolution and Tehran’s attempts to spread that revolutionary fervor across the region. “We didn’t know how to deal with it. And the problem spread all over the world. Now is the time to get rid of it,” Salman told reporter Martin Chulov. But Iran’s theocratic leaders say this zero-sum attitude shows why they must defend themselves against outside forces, particularly the United States, that are seeking to take over the country — just as they did for decades prior to the 1979 Revolution, when Ayatollah Khomeini led the overthrow of the unpopular U.S.-backed Shah. That move gained the Islamic republic unlikely admirers. In the midst of the Cold

War, Mandaville and Hamid write that Iran had successfully tapped “into a persistent yearning among many recently decolonized countries for an alternative to the twin poles of U.S. capitalism and Soviet communism.” This helped Iran become an emblem of the non-aligned movement that resisted choosing sides in the Cold War. “A number of Sunni-dominated countries such as Indonesia and Nigeria saw pockets of conversion to Shia Islam due to Iran’s perceived antiimperialist credentials in the wake of 1979,” according to the report, which noted that even mainstream Sunni Islamists initially welcomed the notion of Iran serving as an ally against their own repressive regimes. In addition to emphasizing its anti-imperialist credentials, Tehran became deft at using religious soft power as a tool to advance its tactical objectives, such as stoking Shiite

grievances in Iraq following the U.S. invasion in 2003. Hewing to its “resistance” roots, Iran continues to position itself as “a hub for pushing back against American influence in the Middle East.” It also portrays itself as “the protector of embattled Shia minorities,” backing local Shiite populations in their fights against established status quo governments in countries such as Sunni-dominated Bahrain. Today, however, Iran is seen as much more sectarian than it once was, in large part because of its support for Assad’s regime in Syria, according to Hamid. Assad, who is part of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, brutally suppressed an uprising against his minority rule. Sunni powerhouses such as Saudi Arabia quickly joined the fight, backing insurgents against the regime. The resulting violence has killed upwards of 500,000

people and displaced millions more. Most Sunnis view the Assad regime as odious for using ruthless tactics such as carpet-bombing and gassing thousands of civilians, most of whom are Sunni. Iran’s alliance with the Assad regime “constrains Iran’s popularity” in the region, Hamid said. Still, Iran’s flexibility has been “the defining feature of Iran’s soft power strategy since the revolution,” according to the report. Iran tailors its approach based on religious, ethnic, linguistic and historical differences — for instance, stressing its ethnic and historical “Persian” commonalities in its outreach to Afghanistan. Iran conducts this cultural outreach through the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization (ICRO). “Often co-located with Iranian embassies around the world but reporting directly to the supreme leader, ICRO officers provide funding and other assistance for a wide range of cultural initiatives including art exhibitions, libraries, educational initiatives, and people-to-people exchange programs,” Mandaville and Hamid write. This traditional outreach is being coupled with innovative new technologies as the SaudiIran rivalry increasingly plays out in social media and on news broadcasts. “[A]ll of this activity has generated a social environment in the Middle East in which many issues — religious and otherwise — have been viewed through the lens of sectarianism,” the report says.

RELIGION’S ENDURING POLITICAL POWER

For those in the West, where countries are seeing a generational decline in young people identifying with a religious affiliation, it may be difficult to grasp how potent religion remains in the Middle East. In his book describing how Islamists and extremists use social media to spread their ideologies and recruit young followers, American scholar Haroon Ullah writes that religion is still a powerful force in the Middle East. It is a myth that “religious leaders don’t matter — they do,” Ullah told an audience at Boston’s World Affairs Council in June 2018. Indeed, Muhammad al-Arifi — a Salafi cleric educated at King Saud University — is the region’s “most influential personality on Twitter,” Ullah said. Of course, this phenomenon is not new nor is it confined to the Middle East. SEE IS L AM • PAGE 47


Medical | WD

Inside Attack New ‘Cancer Vaccine’ Could Harness Immune System to Destroy Tumors from Within BY DENNIS THOMPSON

A

new method of brewing a cancer vaccine inside a patient’s tumor could harness the power of the immune system to destroy the disease, researchers reported. Immune stimulants are injected directly into a tumor, which teaches the immune system to recognize and destroy all similar cancer cells throughout the body, said senior researcher Dr. Joshua Brody. He is director of the Lymphoma Immunotherapy Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. “We’re injecting two immune stimulants right into one single tumor,” Brody said. “We inject one tumor and we see all of the other tumors just melt away.” Eight out of 11 lymphoma patients in a small, early clinical trial experienced partial or complete destruction of the tumor that received the initial injection, according to the report published April 8 in the journal Nature Medicine. The vaccine also halted overall cancer progression in six patients for three to 18 months, and caused significant regression or actual remission in three patients, the investigators found. The results were solid enough that the research team is expanding its next clinical trial to include lymphoma, breast and head and neck cancer patients, Brody said. That trial started in March. Prior efforts at unleashing the immune system to fight cancer have focused on T-cells, which Brody calls the “soldiers” of the immune army because they directly attack harmful invaders in the body. Drugs called checkpoint inhibitors help T-cells identify cancer cells as the bad guys and kill them off. “We call them the ‘Jimmy Carter’ medicines because that’s what Jimmy got when he had very advanced-stage melanoma,” Brody said. But the checkpoint inhibitors have typically only been able to help about one in five cancer patients significantly, “so there’s lots of room for improvement,” he added. This new vaccine approach focuses on dendritic cells, which Brody calls the “generals” of the immune system’s army. Dendritic cells guide the response of T-cells to fight off invaders. “We’re trying to mobilize these immune generals to tell the soldiers what to do,” Brody said.

LEARN MORE: The American Cancer Society has more about cancer immunotherapy at www.cancer.org/ treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/ treatment-types/immunotherapy/what-isimmunotherapy.html.

PHOTO: MELETIOS VERRAS / SHUTTERSTOCK

We’re injecting two immune stimulants right into one single tumor…. We inject one tumor and we see all of the other tumors just melt away. DR. JOSHUA BRODY

director of the Lymphoma Immunotherapy Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Patients first received nine daily injections of an immune stimulant intended to “recruit” dendritic cells by teaching them how to recognize cancerous cells, the study authors explained. The patients then received eight injections of a second stimulant that “activates” the dendritic cells, prompting them to instruct T-cells to hunt and destroy the now revealed cancer cells in the body. Essentially, the method turns the injected tumor into a cancer vaccine factory, the researchers explained. The approach differs from traditional vaccines for the flu or measles because those are preventive, teaching the body beforehand how to fight off an infectious disease, Brody pointed out. This vaccine is therapeutic. “We’re trying to teach the immune system to get rid of the thing

even after you’ve already got the problem,” he said. Lab tests involving mice show that this vaccine approach could be at least three times more powerful if combined with checkpoint inhibitors, Brody added. Because of this, patients in the new trial will receive both the vaccine and checkpoint inhibitors, the researchers said. Susanna Greer, scientific director of clinical cancer research, nutrition and immunology for the American Cancer Society, said that “priming” dendritic cells inside a person’s tumor to produce the best anti-tumor immune response “suggests a promising immunotherapy strategy.” “Additional human studies are warranted to confirm these findings,” Greer said. Dr. Catherine Diefenbach, director of clinical lymphoma at the NYU Langone Perlmutter Cancer Center in New York City, said the vaccine approach is “novel and extremely interesting,” and could help explain why checkpoint inhibitors usually don’t help patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. However, she noted that really only three of the 11 patients in the initial clinical trial had truly meaningful responses to the vaccine. “These are indolent lymphoma patients,” said Diefenbach, an expert for the American Society of Clinical Oncology. “The fact there was stable disease doesn’t really mean anything because these cancers don’t grow fast.” WD Dennis Thompson is a HealthDay reporter. Copyright © 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved. MAY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 23


Education A Special Section of The Washington Diplomat

May 2019

The Great Dome is seen overlooking Killian Court at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which in April announced it was terminating all research and funding connected with Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp. in light of recent federal probes into security risks associated with both Chinese companies.

Hard Lesson in Politics U.S. Universities Become Ground Zero for Cyber Influence from China and Others •

T

he U.S. is steadily increasing pressure on China, and Chinese companies, in an effort to thwart what many see as aggressive attempts by Beijing to spy on, and exert influence over, U.S. policymakers and other governments.

For example, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned European allies not to use hardware produced by China’s Huawei Technologies, the world’s largest telecom equipment company, arguing that it could be a high-tech Trojan horse for Chinese spying and cyber attacks. Huawei is positioning itself to become a leader in manufacturing the equipment needed for the next generation of super-fast mobile networks known as 5G. China’s dominance of what could be a transformative market has led to fears among U.S. policymakers that Washington is falling behind in the global battle for digital supremacy. The latest front in this geopolitical tug of war appears to be universities, which are increasingly seen as vulnerable 24 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MAY 2019

to espionage and sabotage, not only from China, but from other foreign competitors as well. In March, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) introduced the Protect Our Universities Act, which would create a task force within the Department of Education to coordinate universities’ research projects with the intelligence community. The bill would initially ban technologies produced by Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE Corp., as well as Kaspersky Labs, a cybersecurity company linked to Russian intelligence, from being used in “sensitive” university research projects, as originally reported March 13 by Joseph Marks in The Washington Post. It’s part of a growing effort to block foreign companies

PHOTO: BY JOHN PHELAN - OWN WORK, CC BY 3.0

BY RYAN R. MIGEED

that might pose national cybersecurity risks from accessing U.S. computer networks, whether in government, business or, now, in academia. The bill would also require students from China, North Korea, Russia and Iran who are working on projects that receive funding from the intelligence community, Pentagon or Energy Department to obtain approval from the head of the funding agency to participate in such a project. This would be separate from the approval process for classified projects, “which are subject to numerous other security requirements,” as Marks reported. But the bill, which was referred to the House Armed Services Committee, is likely “not going anywhere,” in the words of a former congressional staffer who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity to preserve working relationships. SEE CYB ER • PAGE 26


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MAY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 25


with countries such as China, Russia and Saudi Arabia to examine potential problem areas involving “intellectual property, export controls, data security and access, economic competitiveness, national security, and political, civil and human rights,” according to the institute.

Cyber CONTINUED • PAGE 24

It’s not hard to see why: House Democrats, who control the chamber, would likely prefer to put forward their own proposal rather than back one introduced by a second-term Republican. Both the offices of Banks and Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), who chairs the Armed Services Committee, failed to reply to repeated requests for comment. Kevin Powers, founding director of Boston College’s Graduate Program in Cybersecurity Policy and Governance, questions whether there is even the need for such a bill. Anyone working on sensitive projects as part of grants from the National Security Agency, Department of Defense or other government agencies must pass security clearances to view or access any of the research material, Powers told The Diplomat. Another problem with Banks’s bill, according to the former congressional staffer, is that Democrats could view the singlingout of students from China, North Korea, Russia and Iran as a “bad precedent” that opens the door to blocking students from Muslim-majority countries from working on research projects. It could also keep away vital intellectual talent that benefits U.S. universities and America as a whole. Powers agrees with this sentiment. “That’s what universities are: the greatest minds in the world coming together,” he told us. Security concerns that may exist can largely be resolved by using “protocols” like the required clearances, without “blocking people out of the process,” he added. Regardless of what happens on Capitol Hill, several major academic institutions are already taking matters into their own hands. In early April, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said it was terminating all research and funding connected with Huawei and ZTE in light of recent federal probes investigating security risks associated with both companies. MIT joins the ranks of Stanford University, the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Minnesota in severing research collaboration with Huawei. MIT also announced that it would review its relationships

CLOSING ONE VALVE OF CHINESE INFLUENCE: CONFUCIUS INSTITUTES

But tech giants such as Huawei and ZTE are not the only avenues China could use to infiltrate America’s higher institutes of learning. In recent years, universities have also grappled with the threat of foreign interference and influence on college campuses stemming from fellowships and study abroad programs funded by foreign governments, and — notably — Confucius Institutes. These Chinese government-backed institutes are partnerships between Chinese and Western universities that typically offer Chinese language and cultural classes to Western students (they avoid more sensitive topics such as politics and history). U.S. campuses are currently home to about 90 Confucius Institutes, which are run by the Chinese Ministry of Education. Their presence initially attracted notice because of concerns that Beijing was essentially using them as a propaganda mouthpiece and a vehicle to censor and subvert academic freedom in the U.S. Rachelle Peterson, author of “Outsourced to China: Confucius Institutes and Soft Power in American Higher Education,” conducted a two-year study of 12 Confucius Institutes in New York and New Jersey. “I found that Confucius Institutes operate as central nodes in the deepening relationship between China and Western universities — many of which are dependent on full-tuition-paying Chinese students and desperate for funding for humanities programs,” she wrote in a May 9, 2017, article for Foreign Policy. “But Confucius Institutes also serve as a vehicle for Chinese propaganda, restricting what the teachers they supply from China can say, distorting what students learn, and pressuring American professors to censor themselves.” More recently, the institutes have come under greater scrutiny as a potential national security threat. “When national security professionals first sounded the alarm about Chinese partnerships in U.S. universities last year, the academic sector was skeptical and resistant,” wrote The Washington Post’s Josh Rogin in an April 4 article. “Now, through a mixture

of external pressure and internal debate, more U.S. colleges and universities are taking a sober look at the Chinese government’s presence on their campuses — and are deciding to curtail it.” The University of Massachusetts in Boston and the University of Rhode Island (URI) are two of the latest in a string of American, Canadian and European universities that have cut ties with the Confucius Institutes they had been hosting. UMass-Boston ended its partnership with its Confucius Institute on Jan. 11, 2019. In a statement to the campus community, Interim Chancellor Katherine Newman and Provost Emily McDermott said that, “Following careful consideration, we have decided that a new model, a different arrangement, would better meet the academic needs of our university.” UMass-Boston has continued its partnership with Renmin University in Beijing to continue offering Chinese language and history courses. But it has essentially cut out the Confucius Institute, which had been the intermediary between the two universities. A spokesperson for UMass-Boston denied in an email to The Diplomat that the university’s decision was based on security concerns. The decisions by UMass-Boston and URI closely followed that of the University of Michigan in December 2018. The more recent closures are likely due to a provision in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act, which authorized millions of dollars in grants for universities seeking contracts to conduct research for the Pentagon. Under the new law, universities are barred from using Pentagon grants for any program that is supported by a Confucius Institute, including Chinese language programs. Indeed, in a statement, URI explained that it terminated its relationship with its Confucius Institute because it could have jeopardized federal funding for URI’s Chinese-language program, according to Linda Borg’s Jan. 10 report on URI’s decision in the Providence Journal.

‘SHARP POWER’

To be fair, there is scant evidence that Confucius Institutes have threatened the academic integrity of the universities they partner with, or that they directly interfere or manipulate classroom curricula. Oftentimes, the activities they host are benign, such as Lunar Day cultural celebrations. In some cases, they are the only source of Mandarin language classes or other China-

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related subjects that are key to helping students understand a critical part of the world. Moreover, Confucius Institutes are not monolithic. Their partnerships vary greatly and, in many cases, benefit both American students and university research projects by bringing in valuable know-how and offering today’s youth valuable insights into an emerging global power. Nevertheless, the institutes have come under mounting pressure — driven largely by U.S. lawmakers — to address what some see as Beijing’s increasing attempts to influence Western policies toward China. In December 2017, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) coined the term “sharp power” to describe how authoritarian regimes, particularly China and Russia, insert themselves into other countries’ political and social institutions to exert influence in ways that are more coercive than “soft power” and ultimately shift those countries’ policies to benefit the authoritarian regimes. While soft power, as conceived by political scientist Joseph Nye, uses a country’s culture such as music and movies to attract allies, sharp power “enables the authoritarians to cut, razorlike, into the fabric of a society, stoking and amplifying existing divisions,” Christopher Walker and Jessica Ludwig wrote in the introduction of the NED report “Sharp Power: Rising Authoritarian Influence.” “Contrary to some prevailing analysis, the attempt by Beijing and Moscow to wield influence through initiatives in the spheres of media, culture, think tanks, and academia is neither a ‘charm offensive’ nor an effort to ‘win hearts and minds,’ the common frame of reference for ‘soft power’ efforts,” the report argues. “This authoritarian influence is not principally about attraction or even persuasion; instead, it centers on distraction and manipulation. These ambitious authoritarian regimes, which systematically suppress political pluralism and free expression at home, are increasingly seeking to apply similar principles internationally to secure their interests.” There are examples around the world of Russia and China cultivating presences in other countries’ media, academia and policy communities. Both Beijing and Moscow, for example, offer exchange programs for journalists to counter the picture often painted of their countries by Western media. Meanwhile, China’s state-run media has been making inroads in Latin America, similar to the expansion of Russia’s state-owned RT in Western Europe and the U.S.

Contrary to some prevailing analysis, the attempt by Beijing and Moscow to wield influence through initiatives in the spheres of media, culture, think tanks, and academia is neither a ‘charm offensive’ nor an effort to ‘win hearts and minds’…. [I]nstead, it centers on distraction and manipulation.

CHRISTOPHER WALKER AND JESSICA LUDWIG, contributors to ‘Sharp Power: Rising Authoritarian Influence’

Of course, this does not mean that all Russian and Chinese outreach has a sinister agenda. The two countries are hardly alone in trying to win over public opinion around the world. Every government, including the U.S., wants to create a positive impression of itself and shape policies to support its geopolitical interests. But given the repressive climates in China and Russia — and the threats they pose to U.S. power — their outreach is viewed with suspicion by many American officials. And the problem with Confucius Institutes in particular, according to Ludwig, is “the lack of transparency that has tended to accompany how they are established and governed.” “Faculty and administrative staff at universities where Confucius Institutes have been established are usually not consulted prior to their establishment,” Ludwig told The Diplomat in an email. “The charters under which the agreements are formed are often kept secured from view by the highest levels of university leadership,” Ludwig added, noting that contributions the university has accepted from the Chinese Ministry of Education’s Hanban Confucius Institute Headquarters are often not publicly disclosed. In 2014, the American Association of University Professors called on U.S. universities to close the Confucius Institute on their campuses “unless they could get full control over its academic affairs and ensure that institute teachers have the same academic freedoms as their American peers,” according to Borg’s report. Just months after that letter, the University of Chicago and then Penn State University shut down their Confucius Institutes. Following these developments, Texas A&M closed its Confu-

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cius Institute in April 2018 after U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar (DTexas) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas) urged the chancellor to do so in an open letter. Not everyone agreed with the decision. Marshall Sahlins, a professor of anthropology emeritus at the University of Chicago and a critic of Confucius Institutes, told Elizabeth Redden in an April 9 article for Inside Higher Ed that he’s been contacted by two U.S. congressional committees that are looking into the institutes. “In the ironic upshot, as the Texas A&M episode shows, agents and agencies of the American government now mimic the totalitarian actions of the Chinese government by dictating what can and cannot be taught in our own universities,” Sahlins warned. Whether the pressure exerted by U.S. lawmakers rivals the totalitarian apparatus that China has built, however, is questionable. China, for instance, is known to monitor its citizens who go abroad for university studies, and Confucius Institutes are believed to be at least one tool for this type of surveillance. In 2008, for example, after a 20-year-old Chinese student at Duke University was “caught up in a pro-Tibetan independence demonstration,” she was labeled a traitor and her parents in China were forced to go into hiding, according to a report in the Strait Times.

PROTECTING OURSELVES ONLINE

While universities may be “ground zero” in foreign attempts to muscle in on policy research and monitor dissidents abroad, U.S. universities can also be a testing ground for solutions to SEE CYB ER • PAGE 28

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MAY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 27


Cyber CONTINUED • PAGE 27

keep data secure. As Powers noted, universities conduct a lot of research, which results in a lot of intellectual property. “It’s much easier to lose this, or have it stolen, especially in the digital age,” Powers said. The need to protect intellectual property, together with the perceived threats from China, Russia or other actors covertly gaining access to U.S. computer systems, is one reason why data privacy has become a priority among the many cybersecurityrelated issues that Congress may finally tackle in the coming months. “To the extent that cybersecurity is taken up in this session, it will be in a privacy bill,” said Michael Kans, an attorney who specializes in technology, cybersecurity and defense contracts. But the effort will be complicated by state efforts at writing their own data privacy provisions, as seen in a sweeping bill being debated in California and a proposed Privacy Act in Washington state, Kans told The Diplomat. But the fact that states are moving on their own also lends urgency to the task of creating nationwide data privacy regulations. A patchwork of laws could end up giving residents of one state different data privacy guarantees than residents of another state. “It would be good if we had something consistent in the U.S. that everyone could follow,” Powers said. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which guarantees EU citizens an array of data privacy rights, has also intensified calls in the U.S. for a similar national solution to keep internet users’ private data secure. U.S. companies operating in Europe must comply with the GDPR, which went into effect in May 2018, but only for customers in Europe. Support for a U.S. version of the GDPR has grown in light of the cascade of high-profile security breaches in recent years, from the Equifax data breach in 2017, which exposed the personal information of 143 million Americans, to the damning revelations that Facebook has sold access to consumers’ data to third parties. Powers suggested a framework similar to the GDPR — which

gives users more control over their data and holds companies tion, Democrats for instance proposed a so-called “Internet Bill more accountable for breaches — but less “draconian” and still of Rights” to protect people’s privacy. It mirrors many of the refocused on protecting consumers’ personal information. A par- quirements set out by Europe’s GDPR and includes guidelines ticularly contentious rule in the GDPR, for example, is the “right such as the right “to have access to and knowledge of all collecto be forgotten,” which allows individuals to have all of their per- tion and uses of personal data by companies;” putting the onus sonal data erased — a demand that may not be feasible given the on companies to first obtain permission from consumers before interconnected nature of the internet. using their personal data, i.e. an “opt in” system over the current Powers argues that companies that collect people’s private in- “opt out” system; and timely notifications of breaches. formation should be the ones responsible for protecting it. But Whether this bill of rights goes anywhere, however, is anyone’s critics say tech companies, guided by profit, have been unable guess. While there is bipartisan consensus that the Wild West and unwilling to police themselves, and that some form of gov- days of unregulated growth for tech companies are over, reachernment regulation is long overdue. ing an agreement on a universal set of rules to protect people’s Yet no one at the federal level has been able to agree on what data and protect the country against cyber hacks has so far provthat regulation should look like, and there is still a long cyberse- en elusive. curity “to-do list” facing lawmakers. For one, Congress still has not passed comprehensive election security legislation to protect CAMPUSES AS CYBERSECURITY voting machines from foreign hacking, as reported by The DipINCUBATORS lomat ahead of the 2018 midterms. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency When it comes to cybersecurity, though, it may be universities (CISA), housed in the Department of Homeland Security, was that help make headway on the issue. originally hailed by some members of Congress as a central orgaThe UMass network of campuses has launched a number of nizing hub that would allow the government to better coordinate programs to train the next generation of cybersecurity profesand beef up its response to cybersecurity concerns. sionals, including UMass-Amherst’s Cybersecurity Institute and But a March report by the Homeland Security inspector gen- is its Center Data Science, founded in 2015. NOTE: Although every effort made tofor assure your ad is free of mistakes in spelling and eral found that CISA is “not adequately staffed” and could be doBoston College’s graduate program in cybersecurity content it is ultimately up to the customer to make the final proof.policy ing more to secure voting machines, according to a report by may also offer a model for how universities can be a part of deZack Whittaker for TechCrunch. veloping cybersecurity solutions alongside government. The firstsome twoorganizational faxed changes will beThe made at noincost to the advertiser, While the new agency addresses issues, students the program include FBI subsequent agents, bankers,changes willa be billed response” at a ratetoof $75 per faxed Signed are considered approved. the federal government still has “fractured cyberlawyers andalteration. software engineers — ads a cross-section of the various security, with jurisdictions bumping up against each other from industries that confront cybersecurity challenges on a daily basis. the FBI, U.S. Cyber Command, the NSA, the Secret Servicethis and ad carefully. The college alsoMark hosts Boston’s Cyber to Security ConferPlease check any annual changes your ad. other agencies, Kans told The Diplomat. ence in partnership with the FBI. CISA did not return numerous requests for comment from Former FBI Director James Comey and current Director If the ad is (301) 949-0065 needs changes CISA’s director, Christopher Krebs, forcorrect this story.sign and fax to: Christopher Wray have both spoken at the conference in recent On a broader level, lawmakers have struggled to come up years. with a unified responseThe to the wave of tech Diplomat scandals that have (301) Washington “The933-3552 whole idea [of the program] is that cybersecurity can’t tarnished the reputation of Silicon Valley — including foreign be siloed,” said Powers, arguing that a coordinated response will manipulation of social media to divide and dupe American require buy-in from different sectors and actors. Approved __________________________________________________________ voters; the enormous clout of tech giants such as Amazon and He said government, industry and academia have to work to___________________________________________________________ whether they should beChanges treated as monopolies and broken up; gether on finding solutions to cyber threats and adapting to the and growing privacy concerns as people put more and more of realities of a complex new online world. WD ___________________________________________________________________ their lives online. In response to the uproar, Congress is in the process of ex- Ryan R. Migeed (@RyanMigeed) is a freelance ploring various privacy proposals. Shortly after the 2018 elec- writer based in Boston.

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Culture arts & entertainment art

diplomatic spouses

theater

DIPLOMATIC SPOUSES

Style and Substance Isabel dos Santos, wife of

photography

music

The Washington Diplomat | May 2019

history

dining

film

events

ELUSIVE ‘FEELING’

the Mozambican ambas-

sador, is a former diplomat who is pursuing a new

passion: the world of high fashion. PAGE 31

HISTORY

Comrades In Arms “Revolution-

ary Reflections: French Memo-

ries of the War for America” is a small exhibi-

tion that packs

a definite academic punch, reminding visitors that America’s war for independence was an international battle. PAGE 32

THEATER

Darkly Fun Trek ‘Into the Woods’ “Into the Woods” is a tangle of

fairytales, but instead of a

happy ending,

In “The Contour of Feeling” at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Ursula

story offers a

their rough edges leave us to carve out a deeper meaning for ourselves. PAGE 30

this bedtime

cautionary takeaway: Be careful what you wish

von Rydingsvard’s monumental sculptures give shape to her inner emotions, but

for because the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the forest. PAGE 33

A visitor stands next to Ursula von Rydingsvard’s 2015 sculpture “For Natasha.”

CREDIT: © URSULA VON RYDINGSVARD, COURTESY OF GALERIE LELONG & CO.; PHOTO BY MICHAEL BODYCOMB

MAY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 29


WD | Culture | Sculpture

Reflective ‘Contours’ Monumental Sculptures Reveal the Elusive Inner Workings of an Artist •

Ursula von Rydingsvard: The Contour of Feeling THROUGH JULY 28

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF WOMEN IN THE ARTS

BY DERYL DAVIS

The National Museum of Women in the Arts showcases the work of sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard — seen below marking cedar in 2007 — with her monumental pieces such as “Scratch II,” at left, and “Ocean Floor,” bottom.

1250 NEW YORK AVE., NW

(202) 783-5000

| WWW.NMWA.ORG

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here’s a paradox at the heart of the Ursula von Rydingsvard exhibit at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA): MonumenCREDIT: © URSULA VON RYDINGSVARD, COURTESY tal sculpture that evokes inwardness. OF GALERIE LELONG & CO.; PHOTO BY ZONDER TITEL Michelangelo may have envisioned the inside of a block of marble, but his David, like his Moses or his Pithe familiar and the totemic. “Apron” età, is a very public display of public ideas. That’s not (1997), a large cedar and graphite wall what you get with von Rydingsvard’s sprawling “The hanging that hints at its title, almost Contour of Feeling,” the most ambitious exhibition of seems a fetish of some indigenous the German-born, New York-based artist held in the people. “Ocean Floor” (1996), also of United States. cedar and graphite and 13 by 11 feet in Here is an artist using monumental forms to “shape” diameter, evokes nothing so much as an interior landscape all her own. Her organic wood the bottom half of a huge, primordial sculptures are, in a sense, an emotional outlet that allow clam shell or perhaps a gigantic womb. von Rydingsvard to carve out a visual representation of Notably, its exterior is ringed with her inner self. dried cow intestines sewn together as You may read pieces like the early “Zakopane” pouches and filled with peat moss. In(1987), a monumental wall installation of 22 interlocktestinal membranes form the bulk of ing vertical units, as cultural history. It evokes a space of another sculpture, “Untitled (stacked shared seating, as in a Native American council lodge or blankets)” (2014), which juxtaposes the the chapter house of a medieval cathedral. Or there you comfort and security associated with a could tease out a more literal interpretation. The title, blanket with the eerie translucence and which refers to the name of a Polish town historically insubstantiality of a vital organ. known for mining, suggests the vertical pieces and holIt is noteworthy that von Rydingslow vessels at the bottom might represent tools used by vard’s monumental sculpture is often PHOTOS: © URSULA VON RYDINGSVARD, COURTESY OF GALERIE LELONG & CO.; PHOTO BY CARLOS AVENDAÑO Polish peasants — a logical assumption given that von presented in larger contexts than that of Rydingsvard comes from a long line of peasant farmers. the more refined spaces of the NMWA. In a sense, But ultimately, the history and meaning is shaped by and the subtle, decorous, white-palette setting of this through the artist. The exhibit title, taken from a famous poem by exhibit helps to emphasize the amorphous, primal, German writer Rainer Maria Rilke, gives it away: A “contour” is almost uncontainable nature of von Rydingsvard’s merely an outline or an edge of something. It tells us where to look art. The single room that holds the monumental but not what to see. carved and serrated pieces “Krypta I” (2014), “For Fortunately, von Rydingsvard helps us with that by providing Natasha” (2015) and “Scratch II” (2015) could ala prose-poem about her work near the beginning of the exhibit. most be an interior Stonehenge, where the artificial Titled “Why Do I Make Art?,” it reveals an unusual level of honesty lights are always on and the shadows have explicit about von Rydingsvard’s struggles as both artist and individual. purposes. The meaning seems to be not beyond There is no career summation or authoritative artist statement comprehension but fixed somewhere deeper in the here. Rather, von Rydingsvard admits that she makes her “monpsyche of the unconscious. strous pieces” in order “to survive” and because she wants “to get That is the feeling one gets when encountering answers to questions for which I know there are no answers.” As a child refugee at the “Droga” (2009) in the very first room — a heavy, floor-bound sculpture resembling end of World War II and the daughter of parents who were forced laborers under the a giant wooden sea slug or some ancient, extinct leviathan. Walking around to either Nazis, it is not surprising that von Rydingsvard would feel these kinds of existential ten- end — it is 15 feet in length — one finds the “creature” has been partially hollowed out. sions, or that they would find expression, directly or indirectly, in her art. There is no center. Only the contours remain to tell us what it once was, what, like its While von Rydingsvard — who spent her early childhood in the wooden barracks of creator, it held inside. Some of the latter can be found in the 39-piece wall installation refugee camps — resists attempts to identify her work with her background, she admits “little nothings” (2000-2015), which offers a glimpse of the interior of von Rydingsthose crucial early years form an innate part of her subconscious. “Zakopane,” for in- vard’s Brooklyn studio and the things she has collected there: Cow stomachs, a piece stance, may hint at the wartime legacy of the eponymous Polish town that served as an of her brother’s hair, sheep’s wool, thread, shells and photos, including one of the artist underground staging point for the resistance during World War II. in this studio. The inward pull of von Rydingsvard’s work is underscored by her choice of materials “The Contour of Feeling” also includes nine other intimate, collage-like works on paand the organic shapes of the 26 sculptures represented here. Each of the monumental per. While they often exude the same type of immediacy as the sculptures, they cannot sculptures is made from carved cedar wood, some of them up to 22 feet long, often of course match their sheer presence. You may look at them but feel the more distant incorporating cavities and hundreds of perforated incisions. sculpture looking at you. But is it a kindly glance or something more sinister? Who “Thread Terror” (2016), measuring over eight feet tall and wide, is one such example. knows. All the artist has given you are the contours and the edges. The interior meaning The dozens of carved curvilinear lines, squiggles and circles suggest something at once you must decide for yourself. WD very familiar — sewing thimbles and thread or yarn, perhaps — and yet unknown. Are those “thimbles” really pincers hiding in wooden vegetation? Are we looking at an Deryl Davis is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat and abstraction of modern domesticity or something from the dawn of creation? an adjunct professor of drama, literature and film at Wesley Theological Many of the sculptures evoke a similar sense of physical and psychic interiority, of Seminary in Washington, D.C.

30 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MAY 2019


Diplomatic Spouses | Culture | WD

Heart on Her Sleeve Mozambican Wife, a Former Diplomat, Enters World of High Fashion •

BY GAIL SCOTT

I

Isabel said her country is relying on sabel dos Santos, wife of Carlos dos Santos, the ambassador help both large and small — from interof Mozambique, was not in her national organizations such as the U.N. homeland in mid-March when and IMF and World Food Program, as Cyclone Idai ravaged Mozambique, well as from average Mozambicans. “We recover with love by helping as well as Zimbabwe and Malawi, in what was one of the worst weather-reeach other. Here in Washington, the lated disasters to ever hit the Southern embassy supports the small but enHemisphere. thusiastic Mozambican community in But she was there when massive Maryland, Virginia and the District. We flooding inundated Mozambique in created a GoFundMe page under www. 2000, killing hundreds. The disaster gofundme.com/f/cyclone-idai-fundwas compounded by Tropical Cyclone raiser-for-mozambique so others here Eline, which lashed the country with can help, too. “Automatic help comes from our Na160-mile-per-hour winds. “I still remember what it’s like,” Isational Institute of Disaster Management bel, a former diplomat herself, told us. and our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and “I was 19 and living at home. Most of Cooperation, which coordinates forour house was hit. We had no eleceign aid,” she added. “It’s the people, that’s what’s unique tricity, lots of flooding. I remember how a little girl was born in a tree. It about Mozambique, a former Portuwas scary,” she said, noting that many guese colony,” Isabel told us. “Everyone people were trapped. “They said, ‘This is very friendly and caring. They will is my home. Where would I go?’” always go the extra mile to help you, to She said her Portuguese-speaking make you happy. They care about evnation of 30 million is used to flooding eryone; neighbors are our family. That’s and cyclones, especially with its expanhow we all grew up.” Maria Isabel dos Santos was born sive Indian Ocean exposure. Climate change has also increased the severand raised in Mozambique and began ity and frequency of extreme weather her diplomatic career in 1984 at the events. Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For the rest “Every January there’s a lot of floodof the decade, she worked at the Higher ing; it is the rainy season from OctoInstitute of International Relations in ber to March. Every cyclone is not as Maputo, Mozambique’s capital. For the destructive. Sometimes it just rains. following two years, she was a protecCoastal countries like ours are contions assistant for the United Nations stantly hit by cyclones. We never know High Commissioner for Refugees. “I how strong it will be. We’ve had four especially enjoyed my work with UNstrong ones in my lifetime.” HCR and the refugees,” she noted. Her And this latest one, Idai, could final assignment with the Foreign Afbreak all records. The cyclone made fairs Ministry was with Mozambique’s landfall near the port city of Beira in National Demining Institute. “Then I married and left the ministry Mozambique, home to 500,000 people. PHOTO: GAIL SCOTT According to reports, the Category 3 and everything changed,” she said. storm decimated 90 percent of the city. Isabel dos Santos, seen above and at left with her husband, Mozambican Ambassador Carlos dos Santos, and their three children, is a former diplomat who is preparing While the neighboring counto launch her own fashion design business. tries of Zimbabwe and Malawi were also affected, Mozambique bore the brunt of the powerIt’s the people, that’s what’s unique ful storm. As of press time, the death toll stood at over 1,000. about Mozambique, a former Portuguese Nearly 2 million people in colony…. They will always go the extra Mozambique need humanitarian assistance, according to the mile to help you, to make you happy. U.N. The country is also bracing for a cholera outbreak, with ISABEL DOS SANTOS 4,000 documented cases so far. wife of Ambassador of Mozambique Carlos dos Santos The World Bank estimates that direct economic losses from Idai range from $656 million to Her husband, Carlos dos $773, potentially setting the country’s development back years. Santos, assumed his first amWhile Mozambique has enjoyed strong economic growth over the last two de- bassadorial post in 1996 as Mozambique’s permanent representative to the United cades and is rich in natural resources, poverty remains widespread and infrastruc- Nations and the couple moved to New Rochelle, just outside of Manhattan. She ture is weak, making the country more vulnerable to natural disasters. stayed at home with their two youngest children, Vanessa, 14, and Helio, 4, while Exacerbating the problem is economic mismanagement by the government, in- their older daughter Regina was just starting at New York University. cluding corruption and failing to invest energy revenues into rural areas. All of that While there, Carlos was named secretary-general of a convention to ban landhas made donors hesitant to give the government money. mines, an issue close to his heart because of the millions of mines planted in MoBut the need is acute because of Idai. The United Nations has appealed for $133 zambique during the civil war that raged from 1977 to 1992. He also worked to stop million over the next three months to help with initial recovery efforts, which are small arms proliferation, another vital issue in his country. sure to continue for years to come. The country hasn’t even fully recovered yet from In 2003, the family returned to Mozambique so he could serve as a presidential Eline back in 2000. Filipe Nyusi, Mozambique’s president, recently described Idai as the worst humanitarian disaster to hit his country. SEE S POUS ES • PAGE 46

MAY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 31


WD | Culture | History

Revolutionary Perspective Exhibit Documents French Impressions of America’s War for Independence •

BY MACKENZIE WEINGER

Revolutionary Reflections: French Memories of the War for America THROUGH OCT. 27

AMERICAN REVOLUTION INSTITUTE OF THE SOCIETY OF THE CINCINNATI

2118 MASSACHUSETTS AVE., NW | (202) 785-2040 WWW.AMERICANREVOLUTIONINSTITUTE.ORG

E

ight French officers traveled across the Atlantic to fight in the American War of Independence. Along the way and back at home, they wrote down their recollections and impressions of the war and this new country in letters, diaries and memoirs — and this summer, Washington can relive it all in a new exhibition. “Revolutionary Reflections: French Memories of the War for America” is a small exhibition that packs a definite academic punch. The primary source documents on display here are impressive, and these firsthand reflections are accompanied by an array of medals, portraits and prints that bring alive an uncertain time in American history. The show, set in a room at the Anderson House, an opulent Gilded Age mansion in Dupont Circle, is largely drawn from the American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati’s collections. Often the American’s War of Independence is heavily mythologized, and this exhibition helps strip that away — and remind visitors that it was a much broader international conflict than the name suggests. The exhibition also explores how these officers’ American experience impacted their perceptions of the turmoil in their country’s own subsequent revolution just six years later. “I feel that liberty will ultimately be established in the old as well as in the new world, and that then the history of our revolutions will put all things and all persons in their proper places,” the exhibition quotes from the memoir of the Marquis de Lafayette. “Revolutionary Reflections” stems from the strength of the institute’s collection, curator Emily Schulz Parsons said. In the last decade, it acquired a number of the journals and even some of the portraits on display, she noted, and “we knew we had this richness of material about these French officers and what their service here meant to them.” “[Out of] six of the eight journals we have that are in original manuscript form, we have five of them in our collections and one of them is on loan from the family in France. That was really the core of the exhibition and our starting point,” she told The Washington Diplomat. Alongside each of the written French works, visitors can see portraits of the officers themselves. On display are masterpieces by the French artist Jean-Baptiste Greuze and Spanish portrait painter Vicente López y Portaña, among other works. “It’s obviously an exhibition about the French experience, but there are threads in here for those who ended up in Spain after the war, there’s an Irish connection, some of the regiments that they were serving in ended up with German soldiers in them as well,” Parsons said. The Spanish portrait is one of the highlights of the show, and a fascinating story in its own right. A depiction of the Marquis de Saint-Simon — who commanded

32 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MAY 2019

PHOTOS: COURTESY THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION INSTITUTE OF THE SOCIETY OF THE CINCINNATI

“Revolutionary Reflections: French Memories of the War for America” includes historical items such as, from top, a manuscript from the memoir of French noblemen Comte de Rochambeau; an allegorical portrait of Thomas François Lenormand de Victot painted by Nicolas-René Jollain; and a portrait of Marquis de Saint-Simon — who commanded 4,000 French troops at Yorktown — by Spanish portrait painter Vicente López y Portaña.

4,000 French troops at Yorktown, but as a royalist, moved to Spain in 1792 — it was put in deposit at the Prado Museum for safekeeping during the Spanish Civil War. “And then somehow it lost the identity of who he was. When we acquired it, the dealer we acquired it from had literally just found out who he was in the last year or two. Before that, it was published in the 1990s in a catalogue of the artist just as an unknown general. So the painting’s had an extraordinary life,” Parsons noted. “And after we acquired the painting and really dove into his story, we learned that a member of the society who represents him, who’s a descendant, owned his journal. It had never been published, never been displayed in America, and he was generous enough to send it for display here so we were able to join them together for the first time probably since Saint-Simon died,” she added. The small but memorable show revels in other remarkable moments. Back in July 1782, the French army camped on the very site of the Anderson House as the 4,000 men were marching back up to Boston from wintering in Virginia. This July, Anderson House will host an evening with champagne and history to commemorate that event. Throughout the exhibition, there is an excellent mix of portraiture, original documents and helpful informational text, especially necessary for those who can’t read French (or late 18th century and early 19th century French handwriting). But the artistic highlight is the allegorical portrait of Thomas François Lenormand de Victot by Nicolas-René Jollain, painted in 1783. Lenormand died in April 1782 as he was serving in Admiral de Grasse’s fleet in the Caribbean. In the painting, Death in the form of a skeleton swoops in, covered in a sheet and bearing a sickle. It’s a vividly wrought, wonderfully strange image that is worth the visit alone. WD Mackenzie Weinger (@mweinger) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.


Theater | Culture | WD

Thicket of Imagination ‘Into the Woods’ Mish-Mashes Fairytales to Create Not-So-Happy Endings •

BY LISA TROSHINSKY

Into the Woods THROUGH MAY 22 FORD’S THEATRE

211 10th ST., NW TICKETS ARE $25 TO $30.

(202) 347-4833

| WWW.FORDSTHEATRE.COM

“I

nto the Woods” is an intricate cautionary tale that embodies the warning: “Be careful what you wish for.” To prove the point, collaborators Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) and James Lapine (author of the book) intertwine the plots of several Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault fairytales, including “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Rapunzel,” “Cinderella” and a made-up story for this play, “The Baker and His Wife,” who were made barren by an evil witch’s curse. The couple encounter this motley crew of iconic characters as they trek through the woods on a quest to lift the witch’s curse. “Once upon a time, there were three houses in a far-off kingdom,” the narrator simply states at the top of the play. After that, chaos ensues, including results the characters didn’t nor want to see coming. Some of them are thus: Cinderella finds her prince, who ends up disappointing her; the Baker’s wife, Jack’s mother and Rapunzel are crushed by the angry Giant; and Jack ends up on the Giant’s wife hit list for stealing the gold, hen and harp, not to mention killing her husband. Not your normal happily-ever-after endings one associates with fairytales. Although on the surface, it appears to be a children’s show, the dark humor and fateful plot twists resonate with mature audiences. In addition to untimely deaths of the characters, the play contains its share of gore. Cinderella’s evil stepmother, for example, mutilates the stepsisters’ feet so they will fit the tiny slipper to prove they are the Prince’s elusive match. But once one gets past the carnage and convoluted plot that at times is hard to keep up with, the play holds its own host of treasures. The night I was there, at the height of cherry blossom frenzy in D.C., the theater was filled with families with children of all ages, proving that this show is, indeed, for everyone. The Ford’s Theatre rendition of the musical that’s been going strong since it debuted in 1986 is colorful, innovative and captivating. Directed by Peter Flynn, the production is a visual and musical delight, with the artistic team taking a lot of the credit. Elaborate and detailed costumes by Wade Laboissonniere jump off the stage and bring the characters to life. Red Ridinghood’s wolves (two are in this story), played by Hasani Allen and Christopher Mueller, are clothed in leather and fur and walk on leg stilts, making them appear even more dangerous as they loom high above their prey. Milky White, Jack’s cow, (played by Tiziano D’Affuso), is a believable four-legged friend as he maneuvers, hunched over, in a white costume. The witch, who has promised the Baker and his Wife a child if they follow her complicated and almost impossible instructions, wears alarmingly frightening makeup by Anne Nesmith. Rapunzel has a wig that might stretch the length of the stage. In addition, lighting designer Rui Rita creates magic with the scene

PHOTOS: CAROL ROSEGG

“Into the Woods” at Ford’s Theatre offers up a hodgepodge of fairytale characters who run across a baker and his wife (played by Evan Casey and Awa Sal Secka, at left) on their quest to lift a witch’s curse that’s preventing them from having a child.

where the wolf devours grandma and Little Red Ridinghood. The characters move behind a scrim and are somehow — with lighting tricks — replaced with cartoonish silhouettes performing the dirty deeds. The result is both comical and awe inspiring. The singing and acting in this production are superb. The character who jumps out in this category is Jade Jones, who plays a formidable Ridinghood. Blessed with a powerful voice and large presence, she embodies an appealing Ridinghood who is comically unfazed by the wolf on her quest to visit her grandmother. The witch, portrayed by Rachel Zampelli, rivals Margaret Brainard Hamilton’s wicked witch in “The Wizard of Oz” movie based on her treachery and evilness. She taunts and enslaves both the Baker and his Wife and her daughter, Rapunzel, who she stole from the couple as punishment for stealing her magic beans. The Baker’s Wife, played by the lovely Awa Sal Secka, has both a pleasing voice and the acting chops to convey a barren woman who would break moral codes just for the chance to conceive. In Act I, the characters manage to get what they wished for, including the Baker and his Wife, who give birth to a son. Meanwhile in Act II, most of their lives come tumbling down in an uncontrollable series of fated aftermaths. After all the craziness, one has to be reminded of the big picture. For what would this story about magical and imaginary beings and lands be without a moral? Not to fear: There is one. The Baker and Cinderella explain in the song “No One Is Alone” that choices have consequences and that everyone is connected. And the story ends as happily as it can, considering all the mishaps. The Baker and Jack kill the Giant, restoring peace to the kingdom, and Cinderella, Jack and Ridinghood plan to help the Baker rebuild his home and raise his son. Meanwhile, the spirit of the Baker’s Wife comforts her mourning husband, encouraging him to tell their child the story. And so he does, as the cast sings, “Careful the Things You Say, Children Will Listen.” And remember, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. WD Lisa Troshinsky is the theater reviewer for The Washington Diplomat. MAY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 33


WD | Culture | Art

Imaginary Barriers ‘Underlying Borders’ Breaks Down the Walls We Build in and Around Us •

BY ANNA GAWEL AND KATE OCZYPOK

Underlying Borders THROUGH MAY

MEXICAN CULTURAL INSTITUTE 2829 16th ST., NW

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WWW.INSTITUTEOFMEXICODC.ORG

T

he notion of borders and boundaries is often an artificially constructed one. We draw physical borders and create emotional boundaries, but both can be easily erased or shattered because as humans, there is only so much that can divide us. Given the contentious political rancor over immigration in the United States, the Mexican Cultural Institute offers a timely commentary on what divides — and ultimately unites — us in its newest exhibit, “Underlying Borders,” which combines the work of five artists who have experienced migration between Mexico and the U.S. The artists tackle the issue of migration both literally and metaphorically, exploring and blurring concepts of identity, gender and nationalities. Artist Alison Lee Schroeder, who was born in Washington, D.C., to a Colombian mother and grew up in a bicultural household, was the impetus behind the show. At 22, Schroeder moved to Mexico to study Spanish. It was there she met her husband, Gerardo Camargo, a fellow artist. The two lived in Mexico for 12 years and about four years ago moved to the U.S. and began attending events at the Mexican Cultural Institute. The duo inquired about possibly showing their work there — and “Underlying Borders” was eventually born. Schroeder said the exhibit aims to “show a few different perspectives from artists that have a strong connection with the U.S. and Mexico, who have had some experience of migration between the two countries.” “The idea that we have of an immigrant is just an idea. When you meet a person and talk to an artist and they have a body of work, it’s all very specific to their human experience,” Schroeder added. “The mold or image we have in our mind initially quickly gets wiped away as we get to know that person.” Schroeder uses parody and seemingly innocuous humor to challenge our stereotypes of identity, personal interpretation and the cultures to which we “belong.” For Schroeder, home is subjective and multifaceted. Schroeder’s husband takes a more esoteric, abstract approach to his art, playing with the process of construction and destruction to reflect on both global events and everyday behaviors. Camargo takes otherwise mundane, discarded objects and repurposes them to give them

34 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MAY 2019

“Underlying Borders” at the Mexican Cultural Institute features the work of five artists who have experienced migration between Mexico and the U.S.

meaning and depth with the goal of “generating an ambiguous correlation between urban and domestic environments,” according to exhibition materials. Meanwhile, artist Felipe Baeza focuses on what he calls the “migrant fugitive body” through collage and printmaking. Born in Guanajuato, Mexico, he now lives and works between New Haven, Conn., and Brooklyn, N.Y. Baeza tackles issues of memory, migration and displacement to create what he calls a state of hybridity and “fugitivity.” The results are striking amalgamations of people and plants that seem to give life to the detached human bodies that history has rendered invisible and obsolete. Thematically, the work of the other two artists is a bit of stretch given that it doesn’t directly with migration per se, but the pieces in and of themselves are interesting. Marela Zacarias is notable for a distinct, labor-intensive technique that merges sculpture and painting. She attaches wire screening to wooden supports or found objects and then applies layers of plaster to create undulating forms. Through sanding, polishing and painting, she creates sculptures with the characteristics of fabric, filled with movement. She then paints the sculptures with original patterns and geometric abstract shapes that are inspired by her research on the history of a particular place and its physical context, along with current events. Meanwhile, Irene Clouthier’s sculptures deal specifically with the complexities of human relationships, including feelings of love, loneliness, despair and disappointment. Schroeder said the diversity of work and the different perspectives that examine the issue of migration make for a fascinating display that’s hugely relevant to the times in which we live. “We really like this idea and hope it can go far,” she told us. “I’m a little surprised we haven’t seen more of this idea. I think there’s a lot of potential for it to be explored more in the visual arts but also as an idea that we can explore as a society.” WD Anna Gawel (@diplomatnews) is managing editor of The Washington Diplomat. Kate Oczypok (@OczyKate) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.


Art | Culture | WD

Fabric of Our Lives Quilts Weave Together History and Art in ‘Sense of Community’ •

BY CLARA LONGO DE FREITAS

A Sense of Community: Canadian and American Quilters THROUGH MAY 24

EMBASSY OF CANADA

501 PENNSYLVANIA AVE., NW

(202) 682-1740

| HTTPS://BIT.LY/2VBGZC1

W

hen the early settlers came to North America in the 17th century, quilts were a central part of their lives, as they had few ways to stay warm in the cold winter months. But quilting as an artform is fairly recent. As women joined the workforce after World War II, quilting became less of a practical necessity in the home and more a canvas for expressing history, identity and values. It also served to bring together different communities where people could share techniques, ideas and even participate in quilting guilds, both local and international. The Embassy of Canada explores this evolution and the unifying power of quilts in the exhibition “A Sense of Community,” which displays quilts from both Canadian and American artists. “The idea that we wanted out of [this exhibition] is a community within cultures, a community between Canada and the U.S., and how we can get inspired and learn by others.” Kate Grumbacher, the curator of the exhibit, said. The project was started by Canadian quilters who designed patches for the Houston International Quilt Show, the largest in North America, in 2017. They decided that each quilt would have to include a “nine patch,” a quilting technique that uses block patterns and dates back to the 1800s, and that the overarching theme would be Canada’s 150th birthday and reflecting on what being Canadian means to them. With the help of the Canadian Consulate in Dallas, they displayed the patches in the show, and then gave them to the embassy in Washington, D.C. “We thought that they were beautiful quilts and they were wonderful to show,” Grumbacher said. “But then [we thought] it would also be kind of neat to see what would happen if we had American quilters come in and make something to go along with them.” Each American artist sewed a patchwork inspired by the Canadian quilts. The artworks featured traditional aspects of Canadian culture, with nature, wildlife and the maple leaf commonly depicted, paired with American works. Mary Pal, a professional artist from Canada, juried the American quilts, which were selected to highlight the contrasts and similarities between the United States and Canada. “The reasons for the pairings varied and viewers may enjoy the challenge of seeking the connection between two pieces,” Pal said. “Some are connected by color palette, some by motif and others by subject matter.” Two such quilts, for example, were “Paint the Town Jelly Bean” by Shel-

PHOTOS: EMBASSY OF CANADA

The Embassy of Canada explores the evolution and unifying power of quilts in “A Sense of Community,” which displays quilts from both Canadian and American artists.

ley DeHay-Turner, a Canadian artist, and “Painting the Towns” by Linda Strowbridge from the United States. Both feature vibrantly colored neighborhood homes found in Newfoundland, Canada, on the one hand, and Baltimore, Md., on the other. Another highlight of the show is a quilt from 1908 that served as a wedding gift for the bride from her sister, Jessie. It illustrates the historical role of quilts as family heirlooms — each telling a unique story that gets passed down from one generation to anotther. “Jessie’s great-granddaughter and greatgreat-granddaughter made a quilt inspired by that one,” Grumbacher said. “They’ve echoed the pattern … and put in postcards, pictures, [a] map of the family’s farm.” The quilters used a laser technique to print the postcards and pictures into the quilt fabric. The family — which still lives on the same farm that Jessie grew up on — plans to create quilts documenting their heritage for every future generations. “They wanted to tell the story. I thought it was a really good way to display history,” Grumbacher said, “and be linked to family.” During the opening night of the exhibition, 42 quilts were on display, and 18 of the artists — 11 from the United States and seven from Canada — attended the event. Grumbacher said the exhibit made them proud to show off their work, which is not always seen as a distinct form of art with its own long history. “A lot of the folks you see here, some are hobbyists, but some of these people are professionals and artists,” Grumbacher said. “They are taking a traditional path and trying to put an artistic spin on it, so you’re getting really unique pieces.” WD Clara Longo de Freitas is an editorial intern for The Washington Diplomat. MAY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 35


WD | Culture | Film

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

CZECH Toman

Directed by Ondref Trojan (Czech Republic, 2018, 144 min.) This fascinating historical drama revolves around the real-life figure of Zdeněk Toman, a controversial and singular character in modern Czech politics. He was an unscrupulous careerist and an unsavory politician, blackmailing, exploiting, and intimidating his way to the top of the communist food chain. But he has another unlikely other role in the history books — as a savior of Jews (part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival). AFI SILVER THEATRE SUN., MAY 19, 7:15 P.M.

LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA TUE., MAY 21, 7:50 P.M.

ENGLISH Abe

Directed by Fernando Grostein Andrade (Brazil, 2019, 85 min.) In this delectable charmer fresh from Sundance, 12-year-old Brooklynite Abe navigates the complicated identity issues that arise from having a JewishIsraeli mother and a MuslimPalestinian father (English, Arabic and Portuguese; part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival). LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA SAT., MAY 18, 1:45 P.M. AFI SILVER THEATRE SUN., MAY 26, 3 P.M.

All Is True

Directed by Kenneth Branagh (U.K., 2019, 101 min.) An all-star casts looks at the final days in the life of renowned playwright William Shakespeare. AFI Silver Theatre ANGELIKA MOSAIC OPENS FRI., MAY 17

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché

Directed by Pamela B. Green (U.S., 2018, 103 min.) Alice Guy-Blaché was a true pioneer who got into the movie business at the very beginning, in 1894, at the age of 21. Two years later, she was made head of production at Gaumont and started directing films. She and her husband moved to the United States and she founded her own company, Solax, in 1910. But by 1919, Guy-Blaché’s career came to an abrupt end, and she and the 1,000 films that bore her name were largely forgotten. AFI SILVER THEATRE OPENS FRI., MAY 10

The Chaperone

Directed by Michael Engler Australia/U.K./U.S., 2019, 103 min.)

A slice of pre-Hollywood history comes to light in this comingof-age story centering on the relationship between the young, free-spirited and soon-to-be international screen starlet Louise Brooks and her tee-totalling chaperone. On their journey from the conservative confines of Wichita, Kansas, to the flash and sizzle of New York City, both women are driven by a kindred desire for self-discovery and liberation from the past. WEST END CINEMA

Family

Directed by Laura Steinel (U.S., 2019, 85 min.) Kate Stone, a career-focused, self-absorbed workaholic. She’s not good with kids. She’s not good in most social situations. When her estranged brother tracks her down to watch her awkward and bullied 12-year-old niece Maddie, Kate thinks babysitting for the week can’t get any worse — until Maddie tries to run away from home. LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA

Flower Drum Song

Directed by Henry Coster (U.S., 1961, 132 min.) Based on a novel by Chinese American author Chin Yang Lee, this Rodgers and Hammerstein musical is a lighthearted look at young Chinese Americans and their tradition-bound parents in San Francisco’s Chinatown. FREER GALLERY OF ART MON., MAY 6, 1 P.M.

From Cairo to the Cloud: The World of the Cairo Geniza

Directed by Michelle Paymar Canada/Egypt/France/Israel/ U.S., 2018, 92 min.) In 1896, Solomon Schechter entered the sacred storeroom of an ancient synagogue in Cairo and discovered a vast treasure trove of manuscripts that revolutionized our understanding of Jewish history and illuminated 1,000 years of vibrant Jewish life in the heart of the Islamic world (part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival). LANDMARK’S E STREET CINEMA SAT., MAY 11, 8:30 P.M. AFI SILVER THEATRE SUN., MAY 11, 8 P.M.

Gloria Bell

Directed by Sebastián Lelio (Chile/U.S., 2019, 102 min.) Gloria (Julianne Moore) is a freespirited divorcée who spends her days at a straight-laced office job and her nights on the dance floor, joyfully letting loose at clubs around Los Angeles. LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA

LANDMARK’S E STREET CINEMA WEST END CINEMA

Hail Satan?

Directed by Penny Lane (U.S., 2019, 95 min.) When media-savvy members

36 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MAY 2019

of the Satanic Temple organize a series of public actions designed to advocate for religious freedom and challenge corrupt authority, they prove that with little more than a clever idea, a mischievous sense of humor, and a few rebellious friends, you can speak truth to power in some truly profound ways. AFI SILVER THEATRE WEST END CINEMA

Hotel Mumbai

Directed by Anthony Maras (Australia/U.S., 2019, 125 min.) Based on the true story of the 2008 terrorist attack on the famed Taj Hotel in Mumbai, hotel staff risk their lives to keep everyone safe as people make unthinkable sacrifices to protect themselves and their families (multiple languages). LANDMARK’S E STREET CINEMA LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA

High Life

Directed by Claire Denis (Germany/France/U.K./Poland/ U.S., 2018, 110 min.) A father and his daughter struggle to survive in deep space where a group of criminals have become the subjects of a human reproduction experiment. AFI SILVER THEATRE

LANDMARK’S E STREET CINEMA

Junun

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (U.S., 2015, 54 min.) Filmed in India’s spectacular 15th-century Mehrangarh Fort, this rare documentary captures Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood’s collaboration with Israeli singer Shye Ben Tzur and Indian ensemble Rajasthan Express (English, Hebrew, Hindi and Urdu). FREER GALLERY OF ART MON., MAY 20, 1 P.M.

King Bibi

Directed by Dan Shadur (Israel/U.S., 2018, 87 min.) This documentary explores Benjamin Netanyahu’s rise to power using archival footage of his media performances over the years: from his days as a popular guest expert on American TV, through his public confession of adultery, and his mastery of social media (part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival). AFI SILVER THEATRE MON., MAY 13, 7:30 P.M.

LANDMARK’S E STREET CINEMA TUE., MAY 14, 6:15 P.M.

Knock Down the House

Directed by Rachel Lears (U.S., 2019, 86 min.) Four exceptional women mount grassroots campaigns against powerful incumbents in “Knock Down the House,” an inspiring look at the 2018 midterm elections that tipped the balance of power. LANDMARK’S E STREET CINEMA OPENS FRI., MAY 1

Little Woods

Directed by Nia DaCosta (U.S., 2019, 105 min.) In a North Dakota fracking boomtown well beyond its prime, Ollie is trying to survive the last few days of her probation after serving jail time for smuggling prescription pills over the Canadian border. But when her mother dies, she is thrust back into the life of her estranged sister Deb, who is facing her own crisis with an unplanned pregnancy and a deadbeat ex. LANDMARK’S E STREET CINEMA

Lost & Found

Directed by Liam O’Mochain (Ireland, 2019, 96 min.) Come celebrate the resilient spirit of Ireland, with this delightful dramatic comedy of seven interconnecting stories set in and around the lost & found office of a train station in a small Irish town, where everyone knows everyone else’s business. WEST END CINEMA OPENS FRI., MAY 3

Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love

Directed by Nick Broomfield (U.S., 2019, 97 min.) Renowned filmmaker Nick Broomfield’s most personal and romantic film to date captures the beautiful, yet tragic, love story between Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian muse, Marianne Ihlen (English and Norwegian; part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival). AFI SILVER THEATRE THU., MAY 16, 7:15 P.M.

Meeting Gorbachev

Directed by Werner Herzog and Andre Singer (U.K./U.S./Germany, 2019, 90 min.) This riveting documentary chronicles the life of Mikhail Gorbachev, the visionary last leader of the Soviet Union, who tried to make the world a safer place (English, Russian, German and Polish). LANDMARK’S THEATRES OPENS FRI., MAY 24

The Mustang

Directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre (France/U.S., 2019, 96 min.) Roman Coleman, a violent convict, is given the chance to participate in a rehabilitation therapy program involving the training of wild mustangs.

The Washington Diplomat Gershwin and photographer Lee Abbott (English, Hebrew, French and Arabic; part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival).

LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA SAT., MAY 18, 3:45 P.M. AFI SILVER THEATRE SAT., MAY 25, 1:45 P.M.

The Passengers

Directed by Ryan Porush (Ethiopia/Israel/U.S., 2019, 70 min.) “The Passengers” tells the story of the Ethiopian Jews and the struggle for a final, abandoned community to immigrate to Israel. The film follows the unlikely journey of two young men on a fateful trip to America as representatives of a grassroots advocacy campaign (English, Hebrew and Amharic; part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival). LANDMARK’S E STREET CINEMA SAT., MAY 11, 6:15 P.M. AFI SILVER THEATRE TUE., MAY 14, 6:30 P.M.

Red Joan

Directed by Trevor Nunn (U.K., 2018, 101 min.) Joan Stanley (Judi Dench) is a widow living out a quiet retirement in the suburbs when, shockingly, the British Secret Service places her under arrest. The charge: providing classified scientific information — including details on the building of the atomic bomb — to the Soviet government for decades. As she is interrogated, Joan relives the dramatic events that shaped her life and beliefs: her student days at Cambridge, where she excelled at physics while challenging deep-seated sexism; her tumultuous love affair with a dashing political radical; and the devastation of World War II. LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA

Sefarad

Directed by Luis Ismael (Portugal, 2018, 100 min.) A sweeping epic that covers Jewish history in Portugal from the times of the Crypto Jews in 1496, through to the Nazi regime to modern times, “Sefarad” centers on the life of army captain Arturo de Barros Basto, founder of the Oporto Jewish Community (English, Hebrew, Yiddish and Portuguese; part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival). AFI SILVER THEATRE SUN., MAY 12, 5:45 P.M.

LANDMARK’S E STREET CINEMA

LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA MON., MAY 20, 8:15 P.M.

Paris Song

Song of Lahore

Directed by Jeff Vespa (Kazakhstan/Latvia/U.S., 2018, 90 min.) A small-town vocalist travels from Soviet-ruled Kazakhstan to the 1925 Paris Expo to compete in an international singing competition, where he develops an unlikely friendship with JewishAmerican songwriter George

Directed by Sharmeen ObaidChinoy and Andy Schocken (U.S., 2015, 82 min.) “Song of Lahore” follows Sachal Studios musicians from their hometown in Pakistan to New York City (English, Urdu and Punjabi). FREER GALLERY OF ART MON., MAY 13, 1 P.M.

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May 2019

The Souvenir

Directed by Joanna Hogg (U.K./U.S., 2019, 119 min.) A young film student in the early 80s becomes romantically involved with a complicated and untrustworthy man. ANGELIKA MOSAIC OPENS FRI., MAY 24

Sustainable Nation

Directed by Micah Smith (Israel, 2019, 70 min.) “Sustainable Nation” follows three extraordinary individuals doing their part to bring sustainable water access to an increasingly thirsty planet using solutions developed in water-poor Israel (part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival). LANDMARK’S E STREET CINEMA SAT., MAY 11, 3:45 P.M. AFI SILVER THEATRE WED., MAY 22, 6:30 P.M.

Teen Spirit

Directed by Max Minghella (U.K./U.S., 2018, 93 min.) Violet is a shy teenager who dreams of escaping her small town and pursuing her passion to sing. With the help of an unlikely mentor, she enters a local singing competition that will test her integrity, talent and ambition. Driven by a pop-fueled soundtrack, Teen Spirit is a visceral and stylish spin on the Cinderella story. LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA

LANDMARK’S E STREET CINEMA

Tolkien

Directed by Dome Karukoski (U.S., 2019, 112 min.) “Tolkien” explores the formative years of the orphaned author as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school. ANGELIKA MOSAIC OPENS FRI., MAY 10

Walking on Water

Directed by Andrey Paounov (Italy/U.S./Germany/UAE, 2019, 105 min.) Seven years after the passing of his wife and creative partner, Jeanne-Claude, renowned environmental artist Christo sets out to realize The Floating Piers, a project they conceived together many years before. We follow his visionary quest to install a wide golden walkway floating across the scenic Italian alpine Lake Iseo, looking like a dream but sturdy enough to support hundreds of thousands of people. LANDMARK’S THEATRES OPENS FRI., MAY 31

The White Crow

Directed by Ralph Fiennes (U.K./France, 2019, 127 min.) This is the story of the defection of Rudolf Nureyev, a top Soviet ballet and contemporary dancer and choreographer, to the West (English, Russian and French). ANGELIKA MOSAIC OPENS FRI., MAY 3


Film | Culture | WD FRENCH My Polish Honeymoon

Directed by Elise Otzenberger (France, 2019, 88 min.) Fresh off their wedding ceremony, a Jewish couple from Paris travels to Poland for a memorial service. The eye-opening trip awkwardly doubles as their honeymoon in this delightful romantic comedy (part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival). AFI SILVER THEATRE SAT., MAY 11, 8:45 P.M.

LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA SUN., MAY 19, 3:30 P.M.

GERMAN Anna’s War

Directed by Aleksey Fedorchenko (Russia, 2018, 75 min.) Ukraine, 1941: A Jewish girl regains consciousness under a thick layer of black earth. Close-ups of milky-white body parts surrounding her reveal she is in a mass grave. The image is startling and haunting, but it’s Anna’s resolve to persevere that’s truly indelible (German, Russian and Ukrainian; part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival). LANDMARK’S E STREET CINEMA SAT., MAY 11, 4 P.M. LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA WED,. MAY 22, 8:30 P.M.

A Fortunate Man

Directed by Bille August (Denmark, 2018, 168 min.) A gifted but self-destructive young man leaves his suffocating Lutheran upbringing in the country for the metropolitan Copenhagen of the 1880s. An engineer with progressive ideas, he is welcomed by a wealthy Jewish family and assimilates himself into their opulent milieu, embarking on a journey of personal and professional ambition that teeters on the razor’s edge between triumph and catastrophe (German and Danish; part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival). AFI SILVER THEATRE THU., MAY 9, 7:30 P.M.

LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA THU., MAY 16, 8 P.M.

The Mover

Directed by Davis Simanis (Latvia, 2018, 87 min.) This beautifully rendered testament to the heroism of blue-collar family turned righteous saviors looks at Žanis and Johanna Lipke, who would become Latvia’s Schindlers (German, Yiddish and Latvian; part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival). LANDMARK’S E STREET CINEMA THU., MAY 9, 6:15 P.M. LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA SUN., MAY 19, 3:15 P.M.

HEBREW Autonomies

Directed by Yehonatan Indursky (Israel, 2018, 210 min.) Broide is a smuggler in Israel who makes his living sneaking

frank treatment of female desire, utterly unique in Korean cinema.

minor contraband between the two secular and ultra-orthodox regions of Jerusalem. One day, he receives a life-changing proposal to kidnap a little girl at the heart of a custody battle between two families that live in the opposite regions (part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival).

FREER GALLERY OF ART FRI., MAY 31, 7 P.M.

Hotel by the River

AFI SILVER THEATRE SUN., MAY 12, 1:30 P.M.

LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA THU., MAY 16, 6:30 P.M.

Back to Maracana

Directed by Jorge Gurvich (Brazil/Germany/Israel, 2018, 90 min.) Middle-aged divorcee Roberto and his septuagenarian father—Brazilian expats living in Israel—are soccer fanatics, boiling over with excitement for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. That is, until Roberto’s ex-wife informs him that she’s off on a business trip (to Rio, no less!), saddling him with sole care of their spoiled teenage son (part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival). LANDMARK’S E STREET CINEMA THU., MAY 9, 8:15 P.M. LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA SUN., MAY 19, 7:20 P.M.

The Dive

Directed by Yona Rozenkeir (Israel, 2018, 91 min.) After learning of his father’s death, prodigal son Yoav returns to the sparsely populated kibbutz where he was raised alongside his brothers Itai and Avishai, who is about to ship off for military service in Lebanon (part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival). LANDMARK’S E STREET CINEMA SAT., MAY 11, 7:45 P.M. AFI SILVER THEATRE SAT., MAY 18, 8:30 P.M.

Family in Transition

Directed by Ofir Trainin (Israel, 2018, 70 min.) In this deeply affecting paean to the true meaning of family, love and parenthood, Amit is a father raising four children in the traditional Israeli town of Nahariya. When he confides to his wife Galit that he is a transgender woman planning to transition, she’s remarkably supportive. But as Amit’s transformation takes shape, this harmony begins fraying at the edges, and not in ways that were entirely expected (part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival). LANDMARK’S E STREET CINEMA WED., MAY 15, 8:45 P.M. LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA MON., MAY 20, 6:30 P.M.

Redemption

Directed by Joseph Madmony and Boaz Yehonatan Yaco (Israel, 2018, 104 min.) Menachem is a middle-age single father struggling to finance his 6-year-old daughter’s medical treatment with his meager income as a grocery clerk. He had fronted a rock ‘n’ roll band until the adoption of a devoted Hasidic practice that set him apart from his old friends. Playing music promises to be more lucrative than stock-

PHOTO: BARRY WETCHER / PBS DISTRIBUTION

Elizabeth McGovern and Blythe Danner star in “The Chaperone,” in which a young starlet and her mentor journey from the conservative confines of Kansas to the flash and sizzle of New York City. ing shelves, but would a return to singing be compatible with a life of worship? (Opening night of the Washington Jewish Film Festival.)

AFI SILVER THEATRE WED., MAY 8, 6:45 P.M.

LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA TUE., MAY 21, 8:15 P.M.

Shooting Life

Directed by David Kreiner (Israel, 2018, 87 min.) Igal Gazit, an unemployed film director from Tel Aviv, moves to Sderot and takes up a teaching job at the local high school. His first meeting with the students doesn’t go well: they make fun of the ‘enlightenment’ he brings from Tel Aviv. But the road to fulfilling that promise is one that the students will never forget (part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival). LANDMARK’S E STREET CINEMA SUN., MAY 12, 8:45 P.M. LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA WED., MAY 22, 6:30 P.M.

Working Woman (Isha Ovedet)

Directed by Michal Aviad (Israel, 2019, 93 min.) Orna is the attractive mother of three young children, with a husband struggling to start his own restaurant. To help support her family, Orna returns to the workplace, landing a plum job with a former army superior. She is ambitious and good at her job, soon earning promotion and bonuses. Working closely with her boss, she begins to experience escalating sexual harassment from him, a pattern of predatory behavior which ultimately brings her career and marital relationship to the brink. LANDMARK’S THEATRES OPENS FRI., MAY 17

ITALIAN Dogman

Directed by Matteo Garrone (Italy/France, 2019, 103 min.) Marcello is a small and gentle dog groomer in a rundown seaside resort town who wants two things: to look after his dogs and take his daughter on exotic holidays. But to fund this lifestyle he gets into a side business that has a more unsavory clientele, and he soon finds himself being coerced into the

petty criminal schemes of the local bully Simoncino, a huge, violent ex-boxer who terrorizes the neighborhood.

LANDMARK’S THEATRES OPENS FRI., MAY 10

JAPANESE Rashômon

Directed by Akira Kurosawa (Japan, 1950, 88 min.) The murder of a man and the rape of his wife in a forest grove are seen from several different perspectives. Akira Kurosawa’s meditation on the nature of truth transformed narrative cinema as we know it, and birthed the term “Rashômon effect.” AFI SILVER THEATRE THU., MAY 2, 5:15 P.M.

KOREAN Burning

Directed by Lee Chang-dong (South Korea, 2018, 148 min.) In the most acclaimed Korean film to hit American shores in years, Lee Chang-dong brilliantly blends two love tales into a riveting cinematic experience that continues to haunt the viewer long after the lights come up. FREER GALLERY OF ART SAT., MAY 18, 2 P.M.

Grass

Directed by Hong Sang-soo (South Korea, 2018, 66 min.) In a pleasant Seoul café, a woman sits alone pecking at her laptop and eavesdropping on other customers, whose conversations range from relationship troubles to artistic ambitions, but soon we become aware that nothing is as straightforward as it appears. FREER GALLERY OF ART SUN., MAY 12, 1:30 P.M.

Hit by the Night

Directed by Jeong Ga-young (South Korea, 2017, 85 min.) Playing an independent filmmaker much like herself, Jeong Ga-young invites a handsome young actor out for drinks under the pretense of interviewing him for her latest project. But her real goal is to get him into bed. As the liquor flows and her questions range from provocative to explicit, the results are flustering (for him), hilarious (for the audience), and, in their

Directed by Hong Sang-soo (South Korea, 2018, 96 min.) The latest feature from awardwinning auteur Hong Sang-soo follows two interconnected storylines set in and around a quiet hotel in winter. In one, an aging poet is visited by his estranged adult sons. In the other, a young woman with an unexplained hand wound holes up with a friend to recover from a bad breakup. FREER GALLERY OF ART SUN., MAY 12, 3:30 P.M.

Little Forest

Directed by Yim Soon-rye (South Korea, 2018, 103 min.) The latest film from pioneering female director Yim Soon-rye is the heartwarming story of a young woman who abandons city life for her remote childhood home. There, she rediscovers the simple pleasures of growing and cooking her own food while reconnecting with childhood friends and her troubled single mother. FREER GALLERY OF ART FRI., MAY 10, 7 P.M.

MANDARIN The Story of Yanxi Palace

Multiple directors (China, 2018, 90 min.) Set in the Qing dynasty during the Qianlong emperor’s reign and full of gorgeous costumes and sets, this show reveals the world of the 18th-century Chinese court, complete with love, betrayal and palace intrigue. FREER GALLERY OF ART SAT., MAY 11, 3:30 P.M.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Directed by Bi Gan (China/France, 2018, 130 min.) In this noir-tinged stunner that has become China’s biggest art house hit of all time, a lost soul on a quest to find a missing woman from his past. Following leads across Guizhou province, he crosses paths with a series of colorful characters, among them a prickly hairdresser played by Taiwanese superstar Sylvia Chang. When the search leads him to a dingy movie theater, the film launches into an hourlong, single-take, gravity-defying climactic sequence that plunges its protagonist into a labyrinthine cityscape. LANDMARK’S E STREET CINEMA LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA OPENS FRI., MAY 3

POLISH The Dancing Dogs of Dombrova

Directed by Zack Bernbaum (Canada, 2018, 102 min.) On a cold winter night, estranged siblings Sarah and Aaron Cotler arrive at an empty train station in Dombrova, Poland. With their only available

ride being a determinedly silent driver, they embark on a quest to fulfill their dying grandmother’s wish — to find, dig up and bring home the bones of her favorite childhood dog, Peter (Polish and English; part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival). AFI SILVER THEATRE SUN., MAY 19, 7:30 P.M.

LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA THU., MAY 23, 8:30 P.M.

Dolce Fine Giornata

Directed by Jaceck Borcuch (Poland, 2018, 90 min.) After a terrorist attack in Rome, Maria refuses to succumb to the hysterical fear and anti-immigrant sentiment that quickly emerges, deciding in her acceptance speech of a local honor to boldly decry Europe’s eroding democracy — but she is unprepared for the backlash (Polish, Italian and French; part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival. AFI SILVER THEATRE SAT., MAY 11, 3:40 P.M.

LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA SUN., MAY 19, 5:15 P.M.

SPANISH Everybody Knows

Directed by Asghar Farhadi (Spain/France/Italy, 2019, 132 min.) Laura, a Spanish woman living in Buenos Aires, returns to her hometown outside Madrid with her two children to attend her sister’s wedding. However, the trip is upset by unexpected events that bring secrets into the open (Spanish, English and Catalan). LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA

Leona

Directed by Isaac Cherem (Mexico, 2018, 95 min.) A young Jewish woman from Mexico City finds herself torn between her conservative family and forbidden love with a nonJewish man (part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival). Landmark’s E Street Cinema TUE., MAY 14, 8:30 P.M. AFI SILVER THEATRE WED., MAY 15, 8 P.M.

YIDDISH Brussels Transit

Directed by Samy Szlingerbaum (Belgium, 1980, 80 min.) In 1980, visionary director Samy Szlingerbaum mined the childhood memories of his parents’ immigration to the “promised land” of Belgium to produce the first feature-length Yiddish film in 30 years (part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival). LANDMARK’S E STREET CINEMA TUE., MAY 14, 8:30 P.M. AFI SILVER THEATRE SUN., MAY 19, 12:30 P.M.

Culture

arts & entertainment

Plan Your Entire Weekend. www.washdiplomat.com

MAY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 37


WD | Culture | Events

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

ART WED., MAY 1, 6 P.M.

Benes and Beyond

The Czech Embassy in collaboration with the National Museum of the Czech Republic presents this reception honoring the late Czechoslovak President Edvard Benes and first lady Hana Benesova, during which time the National Museum will receive significant historical items from the first family that will be on the display at the embassy. The program also includes a presentation on the recently released book “Bohemia on Records: Early Czech Sound Recordings in the United States” by Filip Sir. EMBASSY OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC

MAY 3 TO JUNE 21

Korean Craft: Yesterday and Today

This exhibition pairs traditional and modern Korean craft arts to evoke both classical sensibilities and clean, contemporary style. Divided into three parts, “Korean Craft” sheds light on the distinct lines and colors embedded in a variety of Korean handicrafts. Complementary aesthetics emerge from bringing together these diverse forms, such as handmade wooden furniture, vibrant costumes and textiles, and elegant household ceramics. This unique exhibition brings together rare historical artifacts from the collection of the Sookmyung Women’s University Museum, including items used in the daily lives of the Sadaebu, the ruling elite class who dominated Korean political and cultural life during the evocative Joseon Dynasty period from the 15th to the 20th centuries, as well as reconstructed and reimagined works by modern craft artists. KOREAN CULTURAL CENTER

THROUGH MAY 3

On the Move

When people travel, their private and public spaces overlap. Paths cross and people with different destinations and motivations see their lives intertwined in ways clear as well as subtle, for times periods both extensive and brief. This exhibition explores the connective bonds between individual and collective experiences. Photographs by Juana Barreto Yampey, Helena Giestas and Olivia Vivanco invite visitors to reflect on the continuous movement of people from place to place, walking a blurred line where private and public spaces and experiences overlap. OAS ART MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAS

THROUGH MAY 19

PINK Ranchos and Other Ephemeral Zip Codes

Through this series of interconnected works, Colombian-American artist Carolina Mayorga invites the audience to enter a

PINK-mented reality and experience her bicultural interpretations of those living inside ranchos, cambuches, shelters and other ephemeral zip codes. This site-specific multimedia project is the result of a year of artistic investigation on issues of home and homelessness and the artist’s fascination with the color pink. By applying the pigment to women and children (characters typically associated with home), memories of her native Colombia, 14 years of residency in D.C. and AMA’s permanent collection, she has created a pleasing environment to contrast the experiences of those living in exile, displacement, dislocation, relocation and eviction.

OAS ART MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAS

THROUGH MAY 19

Zilia Sánchez: Soy Isla (I Am an Island)

The Phillips presents the first museum retrospective of Cuban artist Zilia Sánchez. This longoverdue exhibition examines the artist’s prolific yet largely unknown career that spans almost 70 years, featuring more than 60 works including paintings, works on paper, shaped canvases and sculptural pieces, alongside illustrations, design sketches and ephemera. Many of Sánchez’s works reference protagonists from ancient mythology (such as Trojans, Amazonians, and Antigone—all warriors and female heroines). Others have reoccurring motifs of lunar shapes, erotic topologies and tattoo drawings that map physical and psychological spaces. THE PHILLIPS COLLECTION

MAY 23 TO JULY 28

Helen Zughaib: Migrations

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

THROUGH MAY 26

Testament of the Spirit: Paintings by Eduardo Carrillo

This expansive exhibition of works by Eduardo Carrillo — a painter, teacher and social activist known for advancing recognition of Chicano art and culture in California — features more than 60 paintings and watercolors spanning nearly four decades of the artist’s production, from the late 1950s through the late 1990s. The work reflects on the artist’s relationship to his native California as well as to his Mexican heritage, his early religious upbringing, and the European tradition of art. AMERICAN UNIVERSITY MUSEUM

38 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MAY 2019

THROUGH MAY 27

In Peak Bloom

Highlighting the fragile beauty and ephemeral nature of the cherry blossoms, “In Peak Bloom” features digital art installations by women artists and female-led art collectives. The works take their inspiration from both the cherry blossoms’ iconic form as well as its traditional symbolism and mythology, calling attention to the passing of time, momentary exchanges and the impermanence that characterizes all life on earth. ARTECHOUSE

THROUGH MAY 29

Underlying Borders

This exhibition brings together the work of five artists and their experiences of migration between Mexico and the United States. They work from perspectives that seek to reconfigure and blur borders and boundaries, in a game of tension between locations and relocations. The artists explore concepts related to institutionalized notions such as identity, gender or nationality. Through their work, they pretend that these limits or boundaries, manifested as geographic distances or through the act of inhabiting the body or memory, are understood as zones of transition. MEXICAN CULTURAL INSTITUTE

THROUGH MAY 31

Close to the Edge

A vehement insistence on leaving the frame and pushing the limits of the canvas runs through the works of Andrea Fried, Guigui Kohon and Luciana Levington. There is no specific plan, sketch or starting point here but rather an idea that courses through the canvas, overflowing at the margins. As a result, “Close to the Edge” leads us to reflect on this playful roaming and exploring of borders that serve as both a locus of beauty and of agitation. EMBASSY OF ARGENTINA

THROUGH JUNE 9

A Gaze through the CINTAS Fellowship Program

This exhibition illustrates the efforts of the CINTAS Foundation in promoting the arts of Cubans and descendants of Cubans beyond the island for more than 55 years. It juxtaposes works from the foundation with those of the Art Museum of the Americas collection, showcases artists of the Cuban vanguard such as Hugo Consuegra and Mario Carreño, as well as artists who emerged later in the 20th century such as Andrés Serrano and Ana Mendieta. OAS ART MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAS

THROUGH JUNE 20

National Geographic Photo Camp

World-class National Geographic photographers and magazine editors provide students with a personalized, immersive learn-

The Washington Diplomat ing experience, inspiring the next generation of photojournalists. Then, through intimate presentations in their own communities and public exhibitions that reach millions of viewers, National Geographic Photo Camp showcases the students’ perspectives on issues that are important to all of us

KENNEDY CENTER HALL OF NATIONS

THROUGH JUNE 30

Siri Berg: Statements

Since the 1960s, Swedish painter and multimedia artist Siri Berg has worked with a geometric abstraction, one both strictly reduced and rich in variation and the visually unexpected. This retrospective provides an exclusive access to a selection of Berg’s vintage and new paintings, offering a different investigative look at the varied interests and aesthetic experimentations of Berg’s career. One exhibition gallery closes on May 12 while the other closes June 30. Part of the Swedish Embassy’s 2019 thematic programming “Smart Societies – Creative & Inclusive”; for information, visit www.swedenabroad.se/en/embassies/usawashington/current/calendar/. HOUSE OF SWEDEN

THROUGH JULY 7

Tintoretto: Artist of Renaissance Venice

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

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

AMERICAN UNIVERSITY MUSEUM

THROUGH SEPT. 15

Oliver Lee Jackson: Recent Paintings

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

THROUGH SEPT. 29

Good as Gold: Fashioning Senegalese Women

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

THROUGH OCT. 20

Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths

More than 225 works of art — including blades and currencies in myriad shapes and sizes, wood sculptures studded with iron, musical instruments and elaborate body adornments — reveal the histories of invention and technical sophistication that led African blacksmiths to transform one of Earth’s most fundamental natural resources into objects of life-changing utility, empowerment, prestige, artistry and spiritual potency.

NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN ART

THROUGH JULY 21

THROUGH NOV. 17

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

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

The American PreRaphaelites: Radical Realists

Portraits of the World: Korea

NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART

NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY

THROUGH AUG. 11

THROUGH 2019

Forward Press: 21st-Century Printmaking

Urban Challenges

According to the U.N., 2.5 billion

|

May 2019

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

THROUGH JAN. 5, 2020

A Monument to Shakespeare

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

DANCE MAY 28 TO JUNE 2

Ballet Across America with Dance Theatre of Harlem and Miami City Ballet

The fifth “Ballet Across America” series returns, featuring full engagements from renowned companies Dance Theatre of Harlem and Miami City Ballet plus a spectacular shared celebration program. Tickets are $29 to $119. KENNEDY CENTER OPERA HOUSE

DISCUSSIONS SAT., MAY 4, 10 A.M. TO 4 P.M.

Art and Architecture in Medieval Siena: Reverence and Rivalry in the City of the Virgin

The Tuscan city of Siena was one of the most important in medieval Europe, as well as the main political, economic, and artistic rival of its neighboring city of Florence. Rocky Ruggiero, a specialist in the Early Renaissance, examines the religious and civic art and architecture in Siena in order to understand the city’s unique beauty and its competitive relationship with Florence. Tickets are $140; for information, visit www.smithsonianassociates.org. S. DILLON RIPLEY CENTER


Events | Culture | WD

MON., MAY 13, 6:45 P.M.

Hiking the Jordan Trail

Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed all walked parts of the same path, a zigzagging trail that meanders the full length of Jordan from Syria to Saudi Arabia. Packed with famous historical sites like the ruins of Petra and the preserved Roman works of Jerash, the path unveils timeless customs and dream-like scenes such as Bedouin herds and distant camel caravans. Explorer and author Andrew Evans is one of the first Americans to hike the complete new Jordan Trail. With video, vivid images and compelling personal stories, Evans shares the experience his 40-day walk across the country. Tickets are $45; for information, visit www.smithsonianassociates.org. HIRSHHORN MUSEUM AND SCULPTURE GARDEN

TUE., MAY 14, 6:45 P.M.

Here It Comes: The Future Is Asian

If the 19th century featured the Europeanization of the world, and the 20th century its Americanization, then the 21st century is the time of Asianization. From investment portfolios to trade wars, Hollywood movies to holiday travels, the influence of Asia on our lives continues to grow. Asian economic and technological self-sufficiency is exploding. Drawing on his new book “The Future Is Asian: Commerce, Conflict and Culture in the 21st Century,” global strategy advisor Parag Khanna examines why the Asian century is a phenomenon larger than we thought. Tickets are $140; for information, visit www.smithsonianassociates.org. LOCATION TBA

GALAS FRI., MAY 10

The Phillips Collection Annual Gala

The 2019 Phillips Collection Annual Gala, “Mexico: A Land of Beauty,” celebrates the art and culture of Mexico. This summer, the Phillips Collection will present “The Warmth of Other Suns: Stories of Global Displacement,” which features the work of 60 artists including many from Mexico. Following dinner at the museum, the Phillips will hosts its Contemporaries Bash, “Maravillas de México,” inspired by Mexico’s vibrancy and beauty. This sensational evening brings together the art and culture of Mexico, stunning in its unique diversity, in one night of creative cocktails, fantastic food, magnetizing music and dazzling dancing. All proceeds go to the Phillips Collection’s education and community engagement programs. For information, visit www.phillipscollection.org/support/annual-gala. THE PHILLIPS COLLECTION

FRI., MAY 10

The Washington Ballet Annual Gala

The Washington Ballet hosts its annual spring gala at The Anthem concert venue at The Wharf with the theme of “Illuminate and Ignite,” which will spotlight the talents of the company’s dancers. For ticket

information, visit www.washingtonballet.org/events/ballet-gala/. THE ANTHEM

SAT., MAY 18, 6 P.M.

Christine Goerke, Soloman Howard & More: 2019 WNO Opera Gala Concert

Grammy-winning Christine Goerke, bass Soloman Howard and soprano Latonia Moore join this year’s grand finale to the Washington National Opera season with a spectacular concert celebrating WNO Trustee John J. Pohanka, hosted by Tony Award-winning actress Christine Ebersole. Tickets are $45 to $250. KENNEDY CENTER OPERA HOUSE

FESTIVALS MAY 1 TO 31

Passport DC

This month-long journey around the world highlights D.C.’s thriving international diplomatic community and its lively and varied culture. Celebrated annually in May, which is International Cultural Awareness Month in Washington, Passport DC is 31 days of programming by 70 embassies and some of D.C.’s very best cultural institutions. In 2018, more than 250,000 people enjoyed the popular embassy open houses, street festivals, performances, exhibitions, workshops and more. Highlights include the Around the World Embassy Tour on May 4, Flower Mart at the Washington National Cathedral on May 3 and 4, and the Fiesta Asia! Street Festival on May 18. For information, visit www.culturaltourismdc.org/ portal/passport-dc1.

drinking water and sanitation a reality for all, bringing together their different experiences in a variety of fields. The program will also focus on the relation between art, the right to water and sustainability issues featuring public installation art, film screenings, video art projections and art workshops. For information, visit www.spainculture.us/ city/washington-dc/fair-water-aright-of-all/. FORMER RESIDENCE OF THE AMBASSADORS OF SPAIN

MUSIC SAT., MAY 4, 8 P.M.

The Philharmonix Golden Rule: Anything Goes, As Long As It’s Fun

The members of the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras will leave their tuxedos and all inhibitions behind when they take the Sixth & I stage as the Philharmonix — a rip-roaring, seriously swinging chamber ensemble with repertoire ranging from Satie to Sting, from Brahms’s “Hungarian Dances” to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” — with plenty of jazz, klezmer, Latin music and more mixed in for good measure. Tickets are $40. SIXTH & I

SUN., MAY 5, 4 P.M.

Silkroad Ensemble: Heroes Take Their Stands

“Heroes Take Their Stands” is an evening-length, multimedia work in five parts — a cycle of stories that spans time, space and human experience. Tickets are $25 to $75.

VARIOUS LOCATIONS

KENNEDY CENTER EISENHOWER THEATER

SAT., MAY 11, 10 A.M. TO 4 P.M.

WED., MAY 8, 7:30 P.M.

European Union Open House

In the popular annual open house, visitors will get a rare glimpse inside the embassies of the 28 EU member states where they can experience European national traditions and interact with diplomats. Visitors can pick up an EU “passport” and make their way across the city, receiving stamps at embassies while enjoying a vast array of European dance, song, culture, food and much more. This annual tradition is in celebration of Europe Day, which marks the founding of the European Union as we know it today. For information, visit www.euopenhouse.org. VARIOUS LOCATIONS

MAY 16 TO SEPT. 9

Fair Water: A Right of All

Inspired by the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Embassy of Spain – in collaboration with the Mexican Cultural Institute, the Water and Sanitation Cooperation Fund from the Spanish Cooperation, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade and other institutions – presents a series of events dedicated to the right to safe drinking water and sanitation in the fields of diplomacy, human rights, sustainable development, and arts and culture. The events will include panels regarding efforts by key partners striving to make the human right to safe

Czech Boys’ Choir Boni Peuri

Founded in 1982, the Czech boys’ choir Boni Pueri is one of Europe’s leading ensembles, carrying on the tradition of a choir that has been active in the Metropolitan Chapter of St. Vitus in Prague since 1252. The present choir, which has 200 members ranging in age from 4 to 19, has performed more than 3,000 concerts throughout the world. This concert includes Czech and Slovak folk songs, works by classical masters such as Antonin Dvorak and a Hollywood medley featuring music from such films as “Star Wars,” “The Mission” and “Skyfall.” Admission is free but registration is required and can be made at https://bonipuerichoir. eventbrite.com. WASHINGTON D.C. TEMPLE VISITOR’S CENTER

THU., MAY 9, 7:30 P.M.

Washington Performing Arts: Weilerstein, Barnatan, Khachatryan & Currie – Transfigured Nights Four transcendent musicians — each an in-demand soloist on the international scene — explore a fascinating program anchored by works that have been “transfigured” through the act of transcription. Tickets are $65 to $75. KENNEDY CENTER TERRACE THEATER

SUN., MAY 12, 7:30 P.M.

Pan American Symphony Orchestra: Eternal Tango

The Pan American Symphony Orchestra presents its signature show, thrilling audiences with the seductive combination of passion and elegance of Argentine tango. Tickets are $55 to $65. KENNEDY CENTER TERRACE THEATER

TUE., MAY 14, 7 P.M.

Hanna Bachmann and Isabel Pfefferkorn

These two musicians from Austria will present “Desert Scream/ Wüstenschrei,” which is Isabel Pfefferkorn’s own composition, and will highlight Austria’s new and contemporary music. The second music piece will be their interpretation of “Winter Journey/Winterreise” from well-known composer Franz Schubert. Admission is free but registration is required and can be made at http://acfdc.org. EMBASSY OF AUSTRIA

SUN., MAY 19, 5 P.M.

The Choral Arts Society of Washington: Gabriel Faure – Requiem Be transported by Fauré’s transcendent Requiem performed alongside Psalm settings by Florent Schmitt and Lili Boulanger. Tickets are $15 to $69.

KENNEDY CENTER CONCERT HALL

TUE., MAY 21, 7:30 P.M.

Unexpected Italy: Mario Bondi

With a trademark deep voice reminiscent of Barry White, Isaac Hayes and Lou Rawls, singer and composer Mario Biondi makes music passionately, while at the same time lighthearted and ironic. Biondi puts a new spin on jazz — his Italian heritage and love of soul music shaping his unique style. Tickets are $25. KENNEDY CENTER TERRACE THEATER

THU., MAY 23, 7:30 P.M.

Fortas Chamber Music: Russian Renaissance

With classic Russian instruments, “Russian Renaissance” dexterously melds traditional folk music with an infusion of modernity. Their program reflects this diversity with its broad range of works by classical composers to jazz favorites. Tickets are $29 KENNEDY CENTER TERRACE THEATER

FRI., MAY 24, 7 P.M.

I-Jung Huang, Violin

Taiwanese violinist I-Jung Huang is the top prizewinner of 2017 Ima Hogg Concerto Competition and 2016 Hudson Valley String Competition; the Laureate of the 2015 Michael Hill International Violin Competition; the top prizewinner of TSO “The Young Talent” competition; and was the youngest musician selected at the Young Artist Taiwan Bank in 2011. She performs a program of Vitali, Schubert and Franck, preceded by a lecture. Tickets are $90, including reception and valet parking; for information, visit www.embassyseries.org. ANDERSON HOUSE

THEATER MAY 1 TO JUNE 2

The Children

In their remote cottage on the British coast, a long-married pair of retired nuclear physicists live a modest life in the aftermath of a natural disaster, giving scrupulous care to energy rationing, their garden and their yoga practice. When former colleague Rose reappears after 38 years, her presence upends the couple’s equilibrium and trust. As the fallout from long-ago decisions comes hurtling into view, Rose unveils a proposal that threatens more than their marriage. Please call for ticket information. STUDIO THEATRE

MAY 7 TO 9, 7:30 P.M.

The Chibok Girls: Our Story

The U.S. premiere of Wole Oguntokun and the Renegade Theatre’s searing work of testimonial theater chronicles the abduction of 276 girls from their school in the Nigerian town of Chibok by the Boko Haram in 2014, and the enduring reverberations of their story. Please visit https://globallab.georgetown. edu/crosscurrentsfestival/ for ticket information. THE DAVIS PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

MAY 9 TO JUNE 9

Fame the Musical

Based on the 1980 musical film of the same name, “Fame the Musical” follows the highs and lows of the final class of New York City’s illustrious High School for the Performing Arts from their freshman year to their graduation. Touching on complex issues such as racial prejudice, drug abuse and sexual exploitation, it tells the story of several of the students, depicting their struggles, triumphs and tempestuous relationships as they explore the realities of striving for a career in showbusiness (in English and Spanish). Tickets are $65. GALA HISPANIC THEATRE

MAY 11 TO 25

Washington National Opera: Tosca

Love gets political in Puccini’s striking drama set against 18thcentury Rome. Passionate singer Tosca takes matters into her own hands when dreaded chief of police Scarpia hunts for her lover. But no one is guaranteed to get out alive. Tickets are $35 to $300. KENNEDY CENTER OPERA HOUSE

THROUGH MAY 15

Richard III

Highlighting the terrifying extremes made possible through the abuse of modern technology, the 14th installment in Paata Tsikurishvili’s Wordless Shakespeare Series will explore King Richard III’s rise to power in an all-new movement-driven, futuristic adaptation. Tickets start at $35. SYNETIC THEATER

THROUGH MAY 19

Grand Hotel

It is 1928 and Berlin is at the center of a razzle-dazzle world between two wars. At the bustling Grand Hotel, a series of

eclectic guests and staff, including a fading ballerina, a destitute baron, a wannabe-starlet typist and an ailing bookkeeper, collide in a non-stop musical toast to the high life. Please call for ticket information. SIGNATURE THEATRE

THROUGH MAY 26

The White Snake

Constellation Theatre presents this radiant retelling of one of China’s oldest and most beloved legends. Forsaking their lonely mountaintop for just one day, enlightened animal spirits White Snake and Green Snake magically transform into beautiful women to experience the human world. There, White Snake meets and falls passionately in love with the humble pharmacist’s assistant Xu Xian, but the secret of her true identity soon comes back to haunt her. Please call for ticket information. CONSTELLATION THEATRE COMPANY

MAY 27 TO JUNE 23

Describe the Night

In 1920, Russian Jewish writer Isaac Babel starts a diary while wandering the countryside with the Red Cavalry. In 2010, after the crash of an aircraft carrying the Polish president, his diary is discovered among the wreckage. What did Babel write, and why does it matter so much to a lowlevel KGB agent who may or may not be Vladimir Putin? Please call for ticket information. WOOLLY MAMMOTH THEATRE COMPANY

THROUGH JUNE 2

Ellen McLaughlin’s The Orchestra

Through 10 years of war, grief and rage, Queen Clytemnestra lies in wait for her husband Agamemnon’s return, determined to avenge one child, only to doom the others. The sole surviving trilogy in Greek tragedy, “The Oresteia” chronicles a deluge of violence that can only be stopped when society peers into its own soul and sees the depths of its complicity. Please call for ticket information.

SHAKESPEARE THEATRE COMPANY

THROUGH JUNE 2

Jubilee

Inspired by the world-renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers, Tazewell Thompson’s inspirational a cappella new work chronicles the bold African American ensemble as they travel the world, captivating kings, queens and audiences with hymns and spiritual songs supported by their rich voices. Tickets are $41 to $95. ARENA STAGE

THROUGH JUNE 9

Love’s Labor Lost

A young king and his three confidants renounce the company of women in favor of scholarly pursuits. Their pact is immediately jeopardized, however, when the Princess of France and her three companions arrive. Will the men stand resolute and keep their monastic vows — or surrender to the charms of the opposite sex? Tickets are $42 to $85. FOLGER THEATRE

MAY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 39


WD | Culture | Spotlight

Diplomatic Spotlight

May 2019

Glamour & Diplomacy at the State Department The Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (AAFSW) presented “Glamour & Diplomacy,” a fashion show on April 9 at the State Department debuting women ambassadors and wives of ambassadors modeling cutting-edge haute couture fashion by contemporary designers from around the world. The program showcased over a dozen countries from five continents. “To create this beautiful moment, the best of the most talented, up-and-coming designers in the world were chosen to represent over 20 countries,” Indira Gumarova, wife of the Czech ambassador and one of the event organizers, told the 350 guests in the audience. “Each costume that these lovely women wore had its own special motif, ethnic in origin and international in style, and each costume recaptures with elegance the modern and sophisticated style of each designer’s respective country.” Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce referenced a remark Benjamin Franklin said in the 1700s that, “Fashion speaks for diplomats.” “I believe fashion has played and will always play an important role in cultural affairs,” Royce said. Jan Du Plain, a fellow organizer, added: “By having such a terrific show, we have given up-and-coming designers from around the world an opportunity to present their styles to one of the most prestigious international and diplomatic communities in the world,” Among the over dozen countries represented in the fashion show were: the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Nepal, Mexico, Canada, Colombia, Malta, Uzbekistan, Australia, Iraq, Botswana, Mozambique, Azerbaijan, Paraguay, Peru, Italy and the United States.

From left: Jane Pennewell; Isabel dos Santos; Lala Abdurahimova; Isin Ludlow; Luisa Kopecka; Barbora Lehká; Annemarie Ochoa Cake; Prabha Bhattarai Deuja; Andrea Vavrova; Hynek Kmoníček; Indira Gumarova; Jan Du Plain; Marie Royce; Arikana Chihombori-Quao; Sheila Switzer; Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen; Dildara Rakhmatullaeva; Ivonn Szeverenyi; Anamaria Maior; Changu Newman; Olga Chebac; Ljiljana Vidovic; Miguelina Ruiz Vera; Raghad Alkhafaji; and Maria A. Morales.

Ambassador of the African Union Arikana ChihomboriQuao.

Indira Gumarova, Jan Du Plain, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce, Czech Ambassador Hynek Kmoníček and Sheila Switzer, AAFSW program chair. Changu Newman, wife of the ambassador of Botswana, wears the fashion designs of Isabel dos Santos, wife of the ambassador of Mozambique, pictured at right.

PHOTO: JOE DAVID

Isin Ludlow (wearing Canadian designer Catherine Regehr); Dildara Rakhmatullaeva (wearing Uzbek designer Markhamatkhon Umarova); Prabha Bhattarai (wearing Nepalese designer Sweta Acharya); and Indira Gumarova (wearing Czech designer Poner).

Indira Gumarova, center, poses with the models. Changu Newman, wife of the ambassador of Botswana, stands with Jane Pennewell, who is wearing a dress by American designer Monique Lhuillier.

PHOTO: JOE DAVID

Barbora Lehká wears Colombian designer Carolina Estefan and Luisa Kopecka wears Italian designer Roberto Cavalli.

PHOTO: JOE DAVID

PHOTO: JOE DAVID

Latoya Kyler of the D.C. Department of Human Services poses with Ambassador of the African Union Arikana ChihomboriQuao, who is wearing a Selma design from Ghana.

Tulip Days The residence of Dutch Ambassador Henne Schuwer was filled with 15,000 flowers and plants for Tulip Days, a slate of events highlighting the Dutch horticulture sector and its ties to the United States. All the flowers and greenery displayed at the residence are either grown in the Netherlands or cultivated in the U.S. The Netherlands sits in a sustainable urban delta, and the Dutch are recognized around the world for their expertise in horticulture and sustainability. In floral production, the Dutch export 450 million tulip bulbs to the United States annually.

PHOTO: GAIL SCOTT

Dutch Ambassador Henne Schuwer and his wife Lena Boman welcome guests.

40 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MAY 2019

Indira Gumarova, wife of the Czech Republic ambassador; Ljiljana Vidovic, wife of the Slovenian ambassador; Anamaria Maior, wife of the Romanian ambassador; and Ivonn Szeverenyi, wife of the Hungarian ambassador.

PHOTOS: EMBASSY OF THE NETHERLANDS

Mrs. D.C. America 2018 Leiah Rocheleau. PHOTO: JOE DAVID

José Alberto Uclés and Annie Totah. PHOTO: JOE DAVID


Spotlight | Culture | WD

Fashion Night Ignites The Embassies of the Czech Republic, Malta and Slovenia presented “Fashion Night Ignites,” an evening runway show featuring designers from Burnett New York; Charles & Ron; Dur Doux; Maja Stamol; and Poner. Over 250 guests attended the event at the historic Perry Belmont House on March 23. “‘Fashion Night Ignites’ showcased cutting-edge fashion designers rarely seen in Washington to rekindle the city’s passion for fashion,” said Indira Gumarova, founder of Diplomacy & Fashion and wife of the Czech ambassador. The post-fashion celebration highlighted each of the countries’ cultures, cocktails and cuisine via “A Night in Prague, Ljubljana and Valletta” with music curated by DJ Enferno. “In diplomacy, fashion is as important as language. It is just as powerful,” said Gumarova. “Moreover, it offers the most bipartisan approach across many layers of society.” The event raised awareness for the National Register of Historic Places, a nonprofit close to the heart of former first lady and style maven Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, as well as the Perry Belmont House Foundation.

“Fashion Night Ignites” co-chairs Zarah Burstein and Indira Gumarova welcome guests.

A dress by Charles & Ron is presented by the Maltese Embassy. PHOTO: MYNOR VENTURA PHOTO: MYNOR VENTURA

The D.C.-based Dur Doux team of Cynthia and Najla Burt.

Dr. Ivonn Szeverényi, her husband Ambassador of Hungary László Szabó and Indira Gumarova.

PHOTO: MYNOR VENTURA

A design by Maja Stamol of Slovenia.

Janet Donovan of The Georgetown Dish, economist Isabel Fezas Vital, Ambassador of Portugal Domingos Fezas Vital and Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce. Chief of Protocol Sean Lawler, realtor Leila Beale and retired U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Heuer.

Dur Doux of Washington, D.C. PHOTO: TINA KROHN

PHOTO: TINA KROHN

PHOTO: MYNOR VENTURA

A look by Poner of the Czech Republic.

Czech Ambassador Hynek Kmoníček and Maltese Ambassador Keith Azzopardi.

Designers Charles Van Maarschalkerweerd Borg and Ron Van Maarschalkerweerd of Malta.

The Burnett New York team of Sterling McDavid and Emily Burnett. PHOTO: MYNOR VENTURA

PHOTO: MYNOR VENTURA

Designer Maja Stamol of Slovenia.

Ambassador of Montenegro Nebojša Kaluđerović and former Ambassador of Serbia Vladimir Petrović.

Zarah Burstein; wife of the Czech ambassador Indira Gumarova; wife of the Maltese ambassador Daoruang Pimpila; and wife of the Slovenian ambassador Ljiljana Vidovič.

PHOTO: MYNOR VENTURA

A design by Charles & Ron.

Akhor Burkhanov, cultural attaché of the Embassy of Uzbekistan; Lawrence J. Von Weigel, headquarters administrative/events coordinator Belmont House; Anna Gawel, managing editor of The Washington Diplomat; Jan Du Plain of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center; Michael Clements of Capitol File; and his wife.

Ambassador of Slovenia Stanislav Vidovič congratulates “Fashion Night Ignites” co-chairs Zarah Burstein and Indira Gumarova.

MAY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 41


WD | Culture | Spotlight

Diplomatic Spotlight

May 2019

UAE Culinary Diplomacy

Japan Fêtes Cherry Blossom Princesses

On Feb. 26, the Meridian International Center and the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates opened a window to the diverse cultures of the UAE through a salon lunch discussion on culinary diplomacy. “The UAE is and always has been a melting pot of cultures,” said Dana Al Marashi, head of cultural diplomacy at the UAE Embassy. “Connecting over food allows us to break down barriers and build bridges between people from many different backgrounds.” “Food and hospitality are powerful tools of diplomacy,” added Natalie Jones of the Meridian International Center. “The simple act of sharing a meal connects people at the most fundamental level and provides a deeper understanding of a culture’s values and traditions.” After the panel discussion, guests enjoyed dishes prepared from the cookbook “Table Tales: The Global Nomad Cuisine of Abu Dhabi,” such as Asian-glazed salmon filets, traditional Moroccan tomato lentil soup and chicken braised in preserved lemon, parsley and mint, among other dishes.

On April 9, Japanese Ambassador Shinsuke J. Sugiyama welcomed 500 guests, including Cherry Blossom Princesses, to his residence to commemorate the 107th anniversary of the gift of cherry blossom trees from Japan to the U.S. and the 92nd anniversary of the National Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C. The Cherry Blossom Princess Program is a cultural, educational and professional development program for women leaders ages 19 to 24 that was started in 1948 and is held each year during the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

Dana Al Marashi, head of cultural diplomacy at the UAE Embassy, welcomes guests.

Ambassador of Japan Shinsuke J. Sugiyama, his wife Yoko Sugiyama and their daughter Reina Sugiyama, a fashion designer.

PHOTOS: EMBASSY OF JAPAN

Japanese Ambassador Shinsuke J. Sugiyama, center, welcomes the 2019 Cherry Blossom Princesses from Japan and across the United States.

PHOTOS: EMBASSY OF THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Above, Mona Zaki of Bechtel; Maureen Khattar; author Hanan Sayed Worrell; and editor Ruth Fowler.

2018 U.S. Cherry Blossom Queen Margaret O’Meara of Virginia.

2018 Japan Cherry Blossom Queen Yuki Tatsumi.

Panelists Natalie Jones of the Meridian International Center; Hanan Sayed Worrell, author of “Table Tales: The Global Nomad Cuisine of Abu Dhabi”; former U.S. Ambassador to the UAE Barbara Leaf; Marjon Ajami, executive chef and founder of Nolu’s Group in Abu Dhabi; and Bill Bragin, executive artistic director of The Arts Center at New York University Abu Dhabi.

Mauritius National Day Ambassador of Suriname Niermala Badrising and wife of the Nicaraguan ambassador Miriam Hooker.

Deputy Chief of Mission of the Philippine Embassy Patrick A. Chuasoto; recently appointed Ambassador of Malaysia Azmil Bin Mohd Zabidi; Ambassador of Bangladesh Mohammad Ziauddin; Ambassador of Luxembourg Sylvie Lucas; and Ambassador of Albania Floreta Faber.

42 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MAY 2019

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) makes a toast.

Japanese Ambassador Shinsuke J. Sugiyama tries some sake. Ambassador of Mauritius Sooroojdev Phokeer and Director of the East Africa Desk at the State Department Vincent Spera celebrate the 51st National Day of Mauritius at a March 12 reception held at the City Club of Washington.

Ambassador of Nigeria Sylvanus Adiewere Nsofor and Melvin Foote, president of the Constituency for Africa.

Women in Diplomacy at Georgetown U.N. Undersecretary-General and Executive Director of U.N. Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; former U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Linda ThomasGreenfield; Ambassador of Afghanistan Roya Rahmani; Ambassador of Libya Wafa Bugaighis; former U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer; and President and CEO of the U.N. Foundation Kathy Calvin attend a discussion on the unique themes, challenges and opportunities for women in diplomacy held at Georgetown University, which also featured former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Ambassador of Albania Floreta Faber, Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security Melanne Verveer, Ambassador of Libya Wafa Bugaighis and Ambassador of Luxembourg Sylvie Lucas attend a discussion on women in diplomacy at Georgetown University.


Spotlight | Culture | WD

International Student House at France

‘Smart Societies – Creative & Inclusive’ at Sweden The Swedish Embassy kicked off its 2019 public diplomacy theme, “Smart Societies – Creative & Inclusive” at the House of Sweden on March 5. The inauguration featured two new exhibits: “Urban Challenges,” featuring some of the social, economic and technological solutions proposed by Sweden to absorb the impact of our rapidly growing urban environment; and “Siri Berg: Statements,” a retrospective of one of the world’s foremost abstractionists, who was on hand for the event.

The International Student House Washington DC (ISH-DC) held a tribute dinner for its supporters hosted by French Ambassador Gérard Araud at his residence on Feb. 25. ISH-DC is a nonprofit that provides a residential experience to a highly diverse international community of graduate students, interns and visiting scholars. Since its founding in 1936, over 15,000 individuals representing more than 140 countries have lived at ISH-DC. Painter and multimedia artist Siri Berg. At left, Head of Public Diplomacy, Media and Communications for the Swedish Embassy Monica Enqvist.

PHOTOS: ISH-DC

French Ambassador Gérard Araud talks with Ray Mahmood.

Rear Adm. Susan Blumenthal, former U.S. assistant surgeon general, welcomes guests.

PHOTOS: HOUSE OF SWEDEN

Event co-chairs Sara Lange, Glenda Harvey, Rachel Firschein and Kim Pyle.

The Washington Ballet Sleeping Beauty Soiree The Washington Ballet held “The Sleeping Ballet Soiree” on Feb. 8 to preview the company’s performance of the classic Disney fairytale at the Kennedy Center. Guests were greeted by royal trumpeters as they were transported to medieval times to experience the magical world of Princess Aurora’s 16th birthday at the castle. Waltzing courtiers, dueling knights, singers from the Washington Revels and costumed dancers from The Washington Ballet filled the Homer Building for the event, which raised $140,000 for the ballet’s artistic programs.

PHOTO: NESHAN NALTCHAYAN PHOTOGRAPHY

Congressman Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), his wife Tiia Karlen, and former Congressman John Tanner (D-Tenn.).

Jim Gale, Lisa Barry, Kay Kendall and Jean-Marie Fernandez. PHOTO: NESHAN NALTCHAYAN PHOTOGRAPHY

PHOTO: NESHAN NALTCHAYAN PHOTOGRAPHY

A sword fight wows the audience.

The Evil Fairy Carabosse (Nicholas Cowden). PHOTO: NESHAN NALTCHAYAN PHOTOGRAPHY

Washington Ballet Artistic Director Julie Kent and Associate Artistic Director Victor Barbee.

PHOTO: NESHAN NALTCHAYAN PHOTOGRAPHY

PHOTO: NESHAN NALTCHAYAN PHOTOGRAPHY

Washington Ballet Studio Company dancers Jessy Dick, Andrea Allmon and Audrey Malek.

Pamela Tripp-Melby, ISH-DC Board President Eric Melby and Bob Abernethy. ISH-DC Resident Scholar Frederike Ahrens talks with NAFSA CEO and Executive Director Esther Brimmer.

MAY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 43


WD | Culture | Spotlight

Diplomatic Spotlight

May 2019

CARE Social Investors Day

Irish Tenor Anthony Kearns

The first-ever “Social Investors Day,” co-hosted by Marcum LLP and CARE Social Ventures, featured a competition among nine gender-focused CARE social enterprises across Asia, Latin America and Africa. Business and nonprofit leaders each voted with $100,000 in virtual currency to pick the top three social ventures. The event also featured a keynote by philanthropist Jean Case, author of “Be Fearless” and the first woman chair of the National Geographic Society. CARE, a global humanitarian agency founded in 1945, works in nearly 100 countries to save lives, defeat poverty and achieve social justice, focusing in particular on women and girls.

Anthony Kearns, an original member of the Irish Tenors, performed an afternoon concert on March 3 at the Perry Belmont House, a stately Beaux Arts mansion that now serves as the headquarters of the Order of the Eastern Star. Brian Cahalane, senior counselor at the Embassy of Ireland, was at the show representing Ambassador Daniel Mulhall. Cahalane said he was “delighted” to attend the event featuring Kearns, whom he described as “such a great interpreter of the Irish songbook.”

Tom Raffa of Marcum’s Nonprofit and Social Sector Group, philanthropist and author Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation, and CARE Social Ventures CEO Mark Muckerheide.

PHOTOS: NESHAN NALTCHAYAN PHOTOGRAPHY

Acclaimed Irish tenor Anthony Kearns performs for the crowd.

a Harper asks a question.

Beth Solomon, managing director of external affairs development for CARE USA, and Emira Woods, trustee of Wallace Global Fund. Khlood Al Hagar of the National Endowment for Democracy listens as Jan Ridgely of United Charitable asks a question.

Ali Happli of the Canadian Embassy and Anna Gawel of The Sara Best of CARE USA, Nichole Palardy Washington Diplomat. of CARE USA and Tony Raffa of Marcum.

WIPAC Winter Interlude The Washington International Piano Arts Council (WIPAC) recently held a Winter Interlude at the Embassy of Kazakhstan featuring pianist Eric Himy performing the classic music of Chopin and Ravel. Kazakh Ambassador Erzhan Kazykhanov and his wife Danara also listened to Himy’s rendition of a historical Kazakhstan folksong. WIPAC President and founder Chateau Gardecki described Himy as one of the best pianists she has ever presented. The private dinner concert was chaired by Count VladimirTolstoy Miloslavsky and Countess Suzanne Vladimir Tolstoy Miloslavsky.

Pianist Eric Himy.

PHOTOS: JOE DAVID

WIPAC President Michael Davidson; WIPAC founder Chateau Gardecki; pianist Eric Himy; wife of the Kazakh ambassador Danara Kazykhanov; John Gardecki; and Lubka Stoytcheva, wife of the Bulgarian ambassador.

Indira Gumarova, wife of the Czech ambassador, welcomes guests.

Brian Cahalane, senior counselor to the Embassy of Ireland, welcomes guests.

Former, Current Envoys Meet with Mike Pompeo

C REDIT: STATE DEPARTMENT PHOTO BY MICHAEL GROSS

Count Vladimir Tolstoy Miloslavsky and Rhoda Septilic.

Interior designer Barry Dixon, tenor Anthony Kearns and former Fox 5 anchor Will Thomas, now of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, the country’s former ambassador in Washington, signs Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s guestbook in Washington, D.C., on March 26.

C REDIT: STATE DEPARTMENT PHOTO BY MICHAEL GROSS

Saudi Arabian Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman, the country’s former ambassador in Washington, meets with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department on March 28.

PHOTO: STATE DEPARTMENT

C REDIT: STATE DEPARTMENT PHOTO BY MICHAEL GROSS

Danara Kazykhanov, WIPAC President Michael Davidson and Portia Davidson.

Princess Marina Poutiatine, Count Vladimir Tolstoy Miloslavsky and Katherine Bergen.

44 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MAY 2019

Countess Suzanne Tolstoy Miloslavsky.

Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates Yousef Al Otaiba meets with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department on March 29.

Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Kimberly Breier; Fabiana Rosales, wife of Interim Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó; U.S.-recognized Ambassador of Venezuela Carlos Alfredo Vecchio; and U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams meet at the State Department on March 27.


Appointments | World | WD

Diplomatic Appointments Denmark

Mozambique

Lone Dencker Wisborg became ambassador of Denmark to the United States on April 8, 2019. Most recently, she served as state secretary and chief operating officer in the Danish Ministry of Ambassador Lone Dencker Foreign Affairs, as well Wisborg as ambassador to Spain (2011-15). Ambassador Wisborg has been with the Danish Foreign Service for more than 25 years and held various positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including: state secretary for foreign policy (2015-17); undersecretary for global security (2009-11); and head of Department for Security Policy (2007-09). Ambassador Wisborg also worked as chief operating officer for the Bikuben Foundation from 2006 to 2007. Prior to that, she served as deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Denmark in Warsaw (2004-06) and as private secretary to the minister for foreign affairs (2001-03). In addition, she was head of section in the International Department of the Danish Parliament (2001-03); first secretary at the Embassy of Denmark in Tallinn; and head of section in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ambassador Wisborg holds a master’s of law degree from Aarhus University and has a teenage son.

Joao Godinho Alves became commercial counselor on Jan. 4, 2019, superseding Ana Maria Alberto, who departed the post on Dec. 20, 2018. Alves previously served as deputy director general of the Mozambique Investment Promotion Centre from 2010 to 2017.

European Union Stavros Lambrinidis became ambassador of the European Union to the United States on April 8, 2019, having Ambassador previously served as the Stavros Lambrinidis EU special representative for human rights from 2012 to February 2019. In 2011, Ambassador Lambrinidis was the foreign affairs minister of Greece, prior to which he was twice elected as a member of the European Parliament (2004-11) with the Greek Social Democratic Party (PASOK). He served as vice president of the European Parliament (2009-11); vice president of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (2004-09); and head of the PASOK Delegation (2005-11). Between 2000 and 2004, he was directorgeneral of the International Olympic Truce Centre, an International Olympic Committee organization. He also served as ambassador ad personam of the Hellenic Republic (1999-2004); secretary-general of the Greek Foreign Ministry, responsible for expatriate Greeks (1996-99); and chief of staff to the Greek Foreign Minister (1996). Between 1988 and 1993, he worked as an attorney at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering in Washington, D.C., specializing in international trade, transactions and arbitration. Ambassador Lambrinidis, who was born in Athens in 1962, studied economics and political science at Amherst College and law at Yale Law School, where he was also managing editor of The Yale Journal of International Law. He is married Phoebe Kapouano and has a daughter, Chloe.

Namibia Monica Ndiliawike Nashandi became ambassador of Namibia to the United States on Jan. 11, 2019. She previously served as Namibian ambassador to Ethiopia, Djibouti and South Sudan, Ambassador Monica Ndiliawike as well as permanent Nashandi representative to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (2016-18). From 2010 to 2016, she worked at the Namibia Power Corp. (NamPower) as divisional manager of strategy corporate communication and electrification in the Office of the Managing Director Business Unit. In addition, Ambassador Nashandi previously served as deputy executive director of the private office of the president (2005-09); deputy permanent secretary of multilateral affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2004-05); high commissioner to the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland (1999-2004); and ambassador to Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland (199599). She was also undersecretary of political and economic affairs (1991-95) and deputy chief of protocol (1990-91) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ambassador Nashandi held various roles in the SWAPO (South West African People’s Organization) party of Namibia, including public relations officer in Windhoek (1989-90); deputy representative to the SWAPO Observer Mission to the United Nations in New York (1987-89); and a member of the Central Committee of the SWAPO Youth League and of the Secretariat in Luanda, Angola (1980-87). She was also a member of the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) from 1978 to 1980. Ambassador Nashandi survived the Battle of Cassinga, a South African airborne attack on a SWAPO camp, in 1978, which was the year she went into exile. She holds a diploma in youth development from the Commonwealth Youth Program in conjunction with the University of Zambia, as well as a master’s degree in diplomatic studies from the University of Westminster in Britain. Born Oct. 12, 1959, Ambassador Nashandi speaks English, Portuguese, Afrikaans and Oshiwambo. She is married with three children ages 34, 28 and 7.

New Zealand Rosemary Banks became ambassador of New Zealand to the United States on Jan. 11, 2019. She has had a 40-year career in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, including six overseas assignments. She was permanent representative to the United Nations in New York and ambassador to France and Portugal, as well as New Zealand’s permanent representative to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development OECD. Ambas-

sador Banks also served as deputy chief of mission of the New Zealand Embassy in Australia and the Solomon Islands. As deputy secretary in New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, she was responsible for Ambassador multilateral, legal and Rosemary Banks consular affairs. She coordinated the emergency responses to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Bali bombings and the Asian tsunami. Drawing on these experiences, she led the development of a new emergency response system and guidance manual. Earlier Wellington-based positions include director of development assistance, director of the North Asia Division, director of public affairs and foreign policy adviser to the foreign affairs minister. Ambassador Banks holds a master’s degree in Russian with firstclass honors from Canterbury University and a master’s of science degree from the London School of Economics.

Pakistan Asad Majeed Khan became ambassador of Pakistan to the United States on Jan. 11, 2019, having previously served as Pakistan’s ambassador to Japan since August Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan 2017. A career diplomat with over 29 years of experience, Ambassador Khan has held various positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including additional foreign secretary of the Americas from August 2016 to July 2017; director general of the Americas from June 2016 to August 2016; and director general of West Asia from September 2015 to February 2016, overseeing Pakistan’s bilateral relations with Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. He was previously posted to the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, D.C., as deputy chief of mission (2012-15) and chargé d’affaires (2013-14). He also served as additional secretary of foreign affairs at the President’s Secretariat in Islamabad, handling a range of peace and security issues for the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Defence and Narcotics. In addition, as director general of the United Nations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2010 to 2011, he worked on a range of issues including terrorism, peacekeeping, U.N. reforms, human rights and sustainable development. From 2004 to 2010, Ambassador Khan served as minister-counselor at the Pakistani Permanent Mission to the U.N. in New York, where he represented Pakistan in the U.N.’s Second Committee and the Economic and Social Council. During this time, he served as the chief coordinator for the Group of 77 during Pakistan’s G77 chairmanship at the U.N. in 2007, as well as vice chair of the Bureau of the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development from 2010 to 2011. Prior postings include director of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in Islamabad, director of economic coordination at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and second secretary at the Pakistani Embassy in Japan. Ambassador Khan earned his doctor-

ate in international economic and business law (LL.D.) from Kyushu University in Japan and has been a resource person at various academic institutions in Pakistan, including International Islamic University in Lahore; University of Management Sciences; Foreign Trade Institute of Pakistan; and Foreign Services Academy on International Trade, Law and WTO Affairs. He is married with two children.

Paraguay Manuel María Cáceres became ambassador of Paraguay to the United States on Jan. 11, 2019, having previously served as ambassador to Brazil Ambassador (2014-18), deputy foreign Manuel María minister of Paraguay Cáceres (2013; 2002-03) and vice minister of economic relations and integration (2010-13). Ambassador Cáceres previously served in Washington, D.C., as minister at the Paraguayan Embassy (1995-96) and alternate representative to the Organization of American States (1993-94). In addition, Ambassador Cáceres has served as permanent representative of Paraguay to the OAS in D.C. (2005-09); ambassador to Argentina (2004); ambassador to the European Union and Belgium (1997-2001); and general director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1990-92). He studied at the School of Law and Diplomacy at the Catholic University “Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion” in Asunción, Paraguay, and holds a master’s in law degree from Harvard Law School. Born Dec. 21, 1960, in Villarica, Paraguay, Ambassador Cáceres is married to Ana María Sisa Cáceres and has two children, Sebastián and María Paz.

Venezuela Carlos Alfredo Vecchio became the U.S.-recognized ambassador of Venezuela to the United States on April 8, 2019. Vecchio was born on June 6, 1969, in Caripe, Venezuela, Ambassador the youngest of three Carlos Alfredo children, to Maria Teresa Vecchio Demari de Vecchio, a teacher, and Rafael Vecchio, a political activist and three-term council person for Caripe. He moved to Caracas in 1987, studied at the Central University of Venezuela and earned his law degree in 1992. He did postgraduate studies in law at Georgetown University and public administration at Harvard University, where he was a Fulbright scholar at the Kennedy School of Government. In 2009, he joined Leopoldo López and Juan Guaidó to found the Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) party to oppose then-Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. In February 2014, after Nicolás Maduro came to power, López called for protests and the opposition leader was arrested shortly afterward. An arrest warrant was also issued for Vecchio, who fled to the United States. In January 2019, Vecchio was named by Interim President Juan Guaidó to serve as chargé d’affaires of the shuttered Venezuelan Embassy in D.C.

MAY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 45


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thing that her mother and five aunts did for a living: sewing. “I started to take a special interest in sewing and designing. Now, they are my passion,” she said. “In Germany I bought a sewing machine and made patterns. My aunt encouraged me to take my sewing seriously…. I even got a job in a little boutique where everything was very expensive.” When the couple moved to Britain for their next posting, “I was able to study dressmaking and design for 18 months,” Isabel said. “In London, I met and interned for Yemi Osunkoya, founder and designer for Kosibah, a well-known bridal couture house based in London and New York. He became my mentor.” In 2017, Isabel went to Rome for three months to intern at Elvira

46 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MAY 2019

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Gramano, another well-known maker of bridal dresses. Now, she is ready to open her own design business, although it will have to wait until her husband finishes his posting here. “As long as I don’t pay taxes in the United States, I can’t work here. In the meantime, I will design and sew for my friends and family,” Isabel said. However, she has already registered her brand, Isabel Matini, back in Mozambique. “I am now choosing fabrics from here, Africa and Holland; it is so easy to get wonderful fabrics from the Netherlands. This month I’m looking into manufacturing in Portugal and China, where fabrics and labor are more affordable,” she explained. “My business will be based in Mozambique

and my fashions will be sold online everywhere. I expect to open my business by the end of this year.” Her collection will range from $100 to $300 per item. “I hope to have a major fashion show of 15 pieces within the year. I have a friend, Alcinda Honwana, who makes contemporary African jewelry and I would like to have her designs shown with my collection. After my clothes take off, I plan to add shoes and bags from Italy.” Isabel, with a ready smile and short, cropped hair that she styles herself, always dreamed of a career in fashion. “I used to tell my mother, ‘This is what I want. Can you do this?’ “When I was growing up, I never thought, even guessed, that I would end up doing this. Now I dream about designs. Sometimes, my imagination

even keeps me awake at night.” Even though Isabel knows what she wants to design, “it is very difficult to sew for yourself, especially when it comes to the fitting. I have to get my daughter or a friend to help me,” she said. “I really enjoy seeing women well dressed,” she added. “I look all the time at how women are dressed, on the street and in the shops. Sometimes I think that they would look better if they only wore this or that. Often a look has already been created but I want to make it better. In Mozambique, it will be a special thrill for me to see women from different parts of the country wearing my designs.” WD Gail Scott is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.


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Islam CONTINUED • PAGE 22

Religion has fueled countless wars throughout history, from the Crusades to the Islamic State’s holy war against the West. And despite America’s bedrock separation of church and state, religion plays a key role in U.S. foreign policy. Evangelicals, for example, are a critical base for the Republican Party and often export their beliefs to countries in Africa and elsewhere. Like-

wise, Russia has leveraged allegiance to the Russian Orthodox Church to build support for its policies in Ukraine and the Balkans. “Our report and our project primarily focus on the Muslim world, but the story of religious soft power is not one that is restricted to the Muslim world,” Mandaville said. This story of religious soft power is also continually evolving in today’s multipolar world, as geopolitical actors rely on the unifying power of religion to fill the vacuum left by a “breakdown in the global consensus around liberalism,” according to “Islam

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as Statecraft.” “It should not be surprising that the competition around Islam has intensified as America’s role in promoting a predictable and constraining liberal order has declined,” Mandaville and Hamid write. In a region where the U.S. is still fighting its longest war in Afghanistan and frequently deploys troops to conflict zones such as Iraq and Syria, religion has proven to be a long-lasting and deadly opponent. The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 scrambled the balance of power in the Middle East, giving Iran a newfound

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Shiite ally. The Arab Spring, less than a decade later, fractured the U.S.-led order in the region, as President Obama embraced the democratic uprisings, leaving countries like Saudi Arabia questioning America’s commitment to its traditional allies. The landscape shifted yet again under President Trump, whose desire to extricate the U.S. from foreign military adventures in the Middle East has left Saudi Arabia and others worried about a security void — and the prospect of Iran filling that void. On the flip side, Trump’s cozying up to Crown Prince Salman and

his attacks on Iran show that the administration will still be heavily involved in the region’s political machinations. Taken together, America’s somewhat contradictory policies have had the effect of strengthening and re-energizing religious elements in both Saudi Arabia and Iran. In Tehran, Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear agreement and re-imposition of economic sanctions have empowered religious hardliners. In Saudi Arabia, reforms to modernize the kingdom are likely to face stiff resistance from the Wahhabi establishment, which will seek to maintain its con-

trol in the wake of changing regional realities and the battle against Iran. Mandaville and Hamid argue that given these complex, interconnected dynamics, countries will turn toward their religious ideologies to secure their regimes, a trend that policymakers need to take into account when considering the increasing role of Islamic soft power around the world. WD Ryan R. Migeed (@Ryan Migeed) is a freelance writer based in Boston. Anna Gawel (@diplomatnews) is managing editor of The Washington Diplomat.

MAY 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 47


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