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A World of News and Perspective





EDUCATION ■ A Special Section of The Washington Diplomat



Sens e of Community Multicultural and Pragmatic, Community Colleges Go Global

■ November 2012


by Carolyn Cosmos


Seen from Abroad, U.S. Elections Are Quite a Spectacle Americans in general are a hospitable people who enjoy helping foreigners understand our culture and traditions. But ask us to explain why our elections cost so much, last so long, and aren’t always won by the candidate who gets the most votes and most of us will be scratching our heads as well. PAGE 8


Egypt’s NExt ChaptEr Cairo’s new envoy,

Mohamed M. Tawfik, is a career diplomat

who wrote two novels, including a crime thriller. Today, a new chapter is being written in Egypt, whose experiment with Islam and democracy could mark a turning point in Arab history. PAGE 15


Libya Attack Sparks Heated Debate Over Protecting Diplomats

Passion for Human Rights Spans Lifetime Continued on next page

■ INSIDE: Qatar has ambitions

November 2012

to become a hub of knowledge

Montgomery College Rockville Science Center

in the Middle East. PAGE 28 ■ D.C.’s International Student

House is a haven for foreign

students. PAGE 32 ■


The Washington Diplomat


From her high school days advocating for Soviet Jews, to a foreign policy career in which she coined the term “smart power,” Suzanne Nossel’s lifelong passion for human rights has led her to the top of Amnesty International, a global movement of more than 3 million supporters in more than 150 countries around the world. PAGE 6

D.C. Diplomats Bid Fond Farewell To Hillary Clinton Hillary Clinton has become a widely admired global figure who enjoys soaring approval ratings back home. But whatever the political future holds for the secretary of state, there’s no question that when her term ends, the D.C. diplomatic corps is going to miss her. PAGE 10


Per Kirkeby’s formal training as a geologist gave him an appreciation for the natural world that comes across on his canvases. PAGE 36



Exposure to danger versus engagement with people — it’s a perpetual quandary for America’s diplomats, one that in many ways was personified by J. Christopher Stevens, who became the first U.S. ambassador killed in a terrorist attack in more than 20 years. PAGE 12

Earth’s Wonders Color Geologist’s Artwork

Pei-Wen Liu, a business undergraduate student from Taiwan who is living and studying near D.C.’s Dupont Circle, says she texts his father in Taiwan every day. “If I’m very busy and forget it, he’ll complain!” she says, with affectionate laughter. Her parents own an iron works company back home, and “I’m planning on going back to Taiwan to run the business with an older brother when they retire,” she said, noting that she and her brother plan to take the company global. A graduate of Howard Community College in Columbia, Md., Liu began her academic journey in the United States at the two-year institution located halfway between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. She transferred this fall to the Dupont Circle campus of Johns Hopkins University’s Carey Business School to obtain her four-year college degree.





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The Washington Diplomat

November 2012

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The Washington Diplomat

November 2012


November 2012


10 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

[ news ] 6


“Women Who Rock”



[ education ] 23



The attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi has revived a longstanding debate over how to keep America’s diplomats safe while letting them do their job.


Inside the International Student House, up to 100 graduate students from across the world share both roof and relationship, living in a community that celebrates the many cultures from which they hail.

COvEr PrOfilE: EgyPT Solving the murder at the heart of the crime thriller he wrote pales in comparison to the real-life challenges Mohamed M. Tawfik now faces as Cairo’s new ambassador in Washington.




As one of Europe’s most celebrated living artists, Denmark’s Per Kirkeby is also one of its most versatile: In addition to painting and sculpture, he dabbles in geology, filmmaking, writing and poetry, all while musing on the meaning of life.

glObal vaNTagE POiNT Syria’s uprising-turned-civil war has flamed sectarian and religious divisions that, if not eventually mended, could destroy the chances of re-establishing a functioning social fabric in the future.

COvEr: Photo taken at the Egyptian Residence by Lawrence Ruggeri.


[ culture ]


hiSTOry Manipulating the media is a time-honored tradition by artists on both sides of the Atlantic — as spelled out by “Shock of the News” at the National Gallery of Art.


PhOTOgraPhy The sunny desert landscape of Almería, Spain, which could morph from the American Southwest to Bedouin Arabia, became a magnet for Hollywood filmmaking.


muSiC “Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power” is a trip down memory lane, from Billie Holiday’s raspy, soulful vocals to Cyndi Lauper’s bubblegum-flavored pop, that will strike a chord with women and men alike.

dOha’S EduCaTiON CiTy With help from U.S. and European universities, Qatar has embarked on an ambitious project to become a regional hub of learning, but will establishing a Western education beachhead in the Middle East enhance the image of the U.S.?



COmmuNiTy COllEgES Community colleges offer international students an affordable yet still-rigorous pathway to a four-year degree in the United States.

From Tripoli to Tbilisi, it’s hard to name a world capital Hillary Clinton hasn’t visited — or a diplomat who doesn’t have words of praise for the “rock-star” secretary of state.


mEdiCal Ellen Noghès, the wife of Monaco’s ambassador in Washington, was diagnosed with cancer during three different postings — an experience that inspired her to reach out to diplomatic spouses in a similar predicament.

POliTiCS For foreigners, America’s presidential election — a lengthy, nasty, no-holds-barred battle littered with money and arcane rules — can seem, well, completely foreign.


Community colleges

PEOPlE Of WOrld iNfluENCE Executive Director Suzanne Nossel is using Twitter and other 21st-century tools to promote Amnesty International’s mission without abandoning the old-fashioned letter-writing and grassroots legwork that have made it one of the world’s foremost human rights groups.



arT Though specific to his homeland of Latvia, Evalds Dajevskis’s artwork also speaks to the universal journey undertaken by immigrants the world over.


diNiNg Chef Mike Isabella has deftly taken advantage of the opportunities that the celebrity spotlight has afforded him — building a growing culinary franchise that’s been to the advantage of D.C. diners.


film rEviEWS There’s surprising authenticity and poignancy to “The Other Son,” an incredible story about babies switched at birth amid the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


CiNEma liSTiNg





diPlOmaTiC SPOTlighT

Embassies have long known that the way to mutual understanding is often through our stomachs, and the State Department is getting in on the act with a new initiative called the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership.


WOrld hOlidayS / aPPOiNTmENTS




rEal ESTaTE ClaSSifiEdS

P.O. Box 1345 • Silver Spring, MD 20915-1345 • Phone: (301) 933-3552 • Fax: (301) 949-0065 • E-mail: • Web: Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Victor Shiblie director of Operations Fuad Shiblie managing Editor Anna Gawel News Editor Larry Luxner Contributing Writers Martin Austermuhle, Talha Aquil, Michael Coleman, Carolyn Cosmos, Rachel Hunt, Stephanie Kanowitz, Ky N. Nguyen, Kate Oczypok, Dave Seminara, Gina Shaw, Stephen Starr, Gail Sullivan, Gary Tischler Photographer Jessica Latos, Lawrence Ruggeri account managers Jerry Grant, Chris Smith, Patrick Thomas graphic designer Cari Bambach The Washington Diplomat is published monthly by The Washington Diplomat, Inc. The newspaper is distributed free of charge at several locations throughout the Washington, D.C. area. We do offer subscriptions for home delivery. Subscription rates are $25 for 12 issues and $45 for 24 issues. Call Fuad Shiblie for past issues. If your organization employs many people from the international community you may qualify for free bulk delivery. To see if you qualify you must contact Fuad Shiblie. The Washington Diplomat assumes no responsibility for the safe keeping or return of unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, artwork or other material. The information contained in this publication is in no way to be construed as a recommendation by the Publisher of any kind or nature whatsoever, nor as a recommendation of any industry standard, nor as an endorsement of any product or service, nor as an opinion or certification regarding the accuracy of any such information.

November 2012

The Washington Diplomat Page 5


Suzanne Nossel

Amnesty Director Continues Lifelong Human Rights Crusade by Michael Coleman


uzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA, was tired but beaming. The New York-based social justice and human rights activist, who assumed Amnesty International’s top job in January, had reason to be happy. Earlier that day, on Sept. 20, Amnesty hosted a boisterous celebration of Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi’s freedom at the Newseum in Washington. The event, which drew hundreds of young activists from up and down the eastern seaboard, was a feel-good, town hall-style celebration that included a surprise visit from a husband of one of the members of Pussy Riot, a Russian punk rock band jailed for an irreverent — some say blasphemous — performance in a Moscow cathedral. As the sun began to fade outside Amnesty’s Capitol Hill office, Nossel, whose organization gave its highest honor, the Ambassador of Conscience Award, to Suu Kyi over the summer, reflected on the day. “We saw this as a really unique opportunity to celebrate [Suu Kyi’s] release and freedom, and to show our activists some of the rewards of this work because they can be few and far between,” Nossel told The Diplomat.“She’s an iconic figure for our activists.” Nossel added: “The champagne moments are rare, so when you can celebrate someone’s freedom and political rise, it’s something not to be missed.” Amnesty International, one of the world’s foremost human rights organizations, was founded in 1961 by a British lawyer who published an appeal in the Observer newspaper urging readers to write letters on behalf of “prisoners of conscience” around the world. It has grown into a global movement of more than 3 million supporters, members and activists in more than 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights. The organization is perhaps best known through its work with rock stars and other artists who are deeply connected to Amnesty’s mission of free speech and basic human rights. Today, Nossel juggles multiple duties, from weighing in on the reported abuse of civilians by the Syrian military or police brutality in the Maldives, to devising strategies to make better use of social media among Amnesty’s activists and volunteers. “One of my goals has been to bring this work even more powerfully to a new generation and liberate them to use all of the tools and devices they are hooked on all day long — their phone and their computers,” Nossel said.“We want to get them to use these tools to do the kinds of advocacy and apply the pressure both on individual cases and wide policy issues.” Nossel has a long history of championing human rights, dating from her childhood when she became interested in the plight of Jews in the former Soviet Union and traveled to Moscow with her family to advocate on their behalf. As an adult, Nossel has worked in both nongovernmental and governmental roles relating to diplomacy and human rights. Most recently, she was deputy assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs at the State Department.

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Photo: Jennifer S. Altman / Amnesty International USA

You have to be very tenacious in your fight to get a fair hearing for these issues and to press the point that human rights can’t be traded away. — Suzanne Nossel

executive director of Amnesty International USA

There she played a leading role in U.S. engagement with the U.N. Human Rights Council, including the initiation of groundbreaking resolutions on Iran, Syria, Libya, Côte d’Ivoire, freedom of expression and the first U.N. resolution on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. Nossel is also the former chief operating officer for Human Rights Watch and vice president of strategy and operations for the Wall Street Journal. She has also served as a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, the Center for American Progress and the Council on Foreign Relations. One of Nossel’s most well-known contributions to international foreign policy dialogue is her coining of the term “Smart Power” in the title of a 2004 Foreign Affairs article. In it, she proposed a policy of “liberal internationalism” whereby the United States could employ its military power as well as other forms of “soft power.” It’s an approach that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made a defining feature of U.S. foreign policy. As the daughter of parents who escaped Nazi Germany in the 1930s, Nossel was keenly aware of the atrocities Jews suffered during the Holocaust, and as a high school student in Scarsdale, N.Y., she formed a Soviet Jewry Club that

marched on the United Nations and otherwise advocated for more humane treatment of Soviet Jews. She also traveled to Moscow to lend help to Jews there. “That was my first cause as a kid,” Nossel recalled. “We marched and mobilized and had speakers and things and I think that kind of shaped my values. It made a big impression on me.” After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, Nossel spent a couple of years working in South Africa during the transition when anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela was released from prison after 27 years of confinement. “It was before the first elections and I got involved in the townships there,” Nossel said. “It was very fluid and all the old order had been upended and nothing had replaced it yet so there was a lot of opportunity to get involved.” Nossel arrived in South Africa at a time of major social unrest and civic disarray and was able to work with different political groups, as well as the police, the army, civic organizations, religious groups and labor unions to try and foster some harmony. “That was formative without question — just having the chance to see such a complex situation from so many different vantage points,” she recalled. Years later, at the State Department, Nossel continued to work in the human rights arena, but from the U.S. government’s perspective. “My portfolio focused heavily on human rights issues so there was a chance to get involved in a whole range of countries’ situations and issues like freedom of assembly, expression of the rights of gay and transgendered individuals, women’s rights,” she said.“It’s helpful to have an understanding of how government policymaking works from the inside — what the levers are, what can stand in the way of the U.S. government doing the right thing, taking a stand on behalf of human rights, and figuring out how to work around those obstacles and how to pull the levers.” Nossel said she learned firsthand how diplomatic goals,

The Washington Diplomat

November 2012

such as economic or political initiatives, can supersede human rights. “Human rights get pitted against so many other issues, whether it’s regional considerations, bilateral relationships, economic considerations or security considerations,” she said. “Those are the pre-eminent issues in the minds of so many policymakers.” And many of those interests, especially economic ones, come to Washington or other countries armed with high-dollar lobbying operations. “You have to be very tenacious in your fight to get a fair hearing for these issues and to press the point that human rights can’t be traded away,” Nossel said.“Doing so very often is not just wrong as a moral matter, but in the long term can also be an impediment to realizing what other objectives are at stake.” Nossel concedes that human rights will never be America’s sole consideration in dealing with countries that don’t place an emphasis on protecting fundamental individual freedoms. “I don’t think we are naïve enough to think that human rights are always, or ever going to be, the only consideration that governs a diplomatic relationship or a policymaking process,” she said.“But I also think the notion that these are one-for-one tradeoffs, and by defending human rights the U.S. would be compromising other interests, is rarely the case. “If you stick to universal human rights principles and are firm in defending them, there is a way to do it that, in the end, isn’t pitted against other types of diplomatic interests and comes across as principled and as a matter of national values,” Nossel added. Nossel called Amnesty International’s reporting on human rights abuses around the globe “essential.” “Part of it is simply putting the facts in front of

policymakers to try to force a response,” she explained. Syria is a case in point. The organization in September issued a scathing report condemning President Bashar al-Assad’s regime for torturing and killing women and children connected to the rebel groups fighting his government. The organization employs skilled — and obviously intrepid — investigators to go to the frontlines of horrific war zones. It’s the kind of firsthand insight that gets the attention of world leaders and can alter their decisions to sit on the sidelines of brutal conflicts. “We are focused on digging out the facts,” Nossel said. “A situation like Syria has been very treacherous for journalists and very few reporters have been able to get in and document the scale and intensity of the brutality. “We have emergency researchers who are trained to go in and investigate and interview witnesses and put together evidence on the ground under the most difficult circumstances, and we’ve continued to do that throughout this crisis,” Nossel said. “This report is the latest evidence we’ve collected over the last months and weeks to document these persistent and devastating attacks on civilians, the terrorizing of civilians, sweeping up women and children who have nothing to do with it.” She said she hoped the report would gain a place at the table at United Nations meetings and beyond. “This is a grinding crisis that has worn on for 19 months while the diplomatic community has been at loggerheads and paralyzed,” she lamented. “It’s our hope that in continuing to bring these facts to life when heads of state meet in New York, they can’t turn a blind eye … that they are forced to face up to these heartbreaking and horrific facts.”

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In the Maldives — a seemingly idyllic vacation paradise in the Indian Ocean — Amnesty International has been doggedly documenting police brutality against those who have peacefully protested the government after the abrupt power transfer of former President Mohamed Nasheed to current President Mohammed Waheed Hassan. Nasheed won the presidency in 2008 after defeating the country’s autocratic ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom but resigned in 2012, saying he was pushed out by a military coup. More recently, in early October, Nasheed was arrested for failing to appear before court on previous charges, though supporters of the longtime opposition leader, who’s been imprisoned multiple times, say the charges are politically motivated. Amnesty’s reporting on the situation garnered the attention of the State Department, whose spokeswoman addressed it at an Oct. 9 news conference. “We’ve seen the reports byAmnesty International about allegations of police brutality. We would take any kinds of allegations of police abuse very seriously,”Victoria Nuland said. Maldivian officials have denied the charges in the Amnesty report, despite the documentation. Nossel says that kind of government pushback is routine. “We get it all the time,” she said. “It’s not a surprise that governments are not happy that we’re out there reporting on human rights violations they are responsible for. It’s not a surprise that they will rebut and criticize our work and try to undermine us. “We stand by our work,” Nossel added. “It’s all based on firsthand documentation. We are very careful about making judgments about what constitutes a violation.” Official reports are one thing, but Amnesty also has a long tradition of grassroots correspondence

from its members to prisoners of conscience and the governments that incarcerate them. Nossel said social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook certainly help spread the word about Amnesty’s mission around the world. The organization now has half a million Twitter followers and the number continues to grow. “It gives us this incredible reach and speed, and it’s also a way of making the work new and fresh to a generation that is not all that accustomed to letter writing,” she said. But letters — those paper, handwritten pieces of correspondence sealed in an envelope and mailed the old-fashioned way — maintain a special relevance. “What I’ve learned over my time here is that letters still really matter,” Nossel said.“When I meet [persecuted dissidents and others], they really talk about it. There are people younger than me who have been imprisoned and they receive these letters and talk about what it means. “I’ve come to realize there may not be a substitute for something tangible in your hand that creates that human connection,” she said. While letters may be especially poignant, Nossel said Amnesty will continue to use every tool at its disposal to raise awareness of injustice around the globe. “At the heart of Amnesty International is really a grassroots movement,” she said. “It’s really about the constituency for human rights in this country. It’s about all of the people who take the time to write letters, send emails, attend vigils, tweet, sign petitions and get others to do the same. “It’s about raising a voice for human rights that gets heard in Washington and other capitals around the world.”

Michael Coleman is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

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November 2012

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United States

Global Perceptions of U.S. Elections: Nasty, Long, Expensive, Bewildering by Dave Seminara


mericans in general are hospitable people who enjoy helping foreigners understand our culture and traditions. Most of us can defend and explain just about everything — why we call our national baseball championship the World Series, how deep-fried Snickers chocolate bars wrapped in bacon are a perfectly acceptable snack, or why 18-year-olds can serve in the military or buy shotguns but can’t order a beer. But ask us to explain why our elections cost so much, last so long, and aren’t always won by the candidate who gets the most votes and most of us will have to admit that we’re not quite sure ourselves. Americans go to the polls to elect a president on Nov. 6 and no matter who wins, many will simply be relieved that the whole ordeal is finally over. No other country spends anywhere near as much time or money in electing its head of state than the United States. Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, formed his exploratory committee on April 11, 2011, and squared off against a host of other Republican candidates in 19 nationally televised debates starting in May 2011, before formally securing his party’s nomination at the GOP convention in August. Most countries spend just weeks or months, rather than years, electing their head of state.According to Stephen Walt, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government who blogs for Foreign Policy, Germany has the longest election period after the United States, with unscheduled elections coming in at a mere 114 days, compared to just a couple of months on average in a host of other countries such as Canada and Australia. “We have a permanent election cycle for head of state and major federal offices,” said Bill Sweeney, the president and chief executive officer of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), a nonprofit that works in more than 135 countries to support citizens’ right to participate in free and fair elections. “It doesn’t stop for a whole variety of reasons: the complexity of our process, the size of the country, the number of interests and voices around nomination politics, and how much it takes to become a national figure in this country.” Sweeney said that most other countries have more defined campaign periods, with some outlining the length in their constitutions, and others establishing it in their election laws. Unlike many other countries, the United States also allows political advertising across every type of media platform, which makes running a campaign staggeringly expensive. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the total cost of this year’s November elections, including the presidential contest plus congressional races, is projected to approach $6 billion. By comparison, the most recent general election in the United Kingdom, two years ago, cost just $49 million, or 23 times less on a per-capita basis, according to the BBC. The cost of U.S. elections has been soaring for years, but the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court Citizens United case, which ruled that political spending by corporations and unions

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Photo: Scout Tufankjian / Obama for America

To many other advanced industrial democracies, America’s election system seems long, inefficient and complicated, but I assure you that if you go to countries that don’t have the right to vote, they’d love to have the American system. — James Lindsay

director of studies and senior vice president at the Council on Foreign Relations

was a protected form of free speech, has opened up the floodgates for unprecedented spending by third-party groups hoping to shape the race (and oftentimes keep bigtime donors anonymous). “The Citizens United ruling enables the candidates to, to a large extent, skirt federal finance limits,” said Stephen Wayne, a professor at Georgetown University and author of “Is This Any Way to Run a Democratic Election?” and “The Road to the White House 2008.” “It allows candidates’ supporters to really form their own super PACs [political action committees].” Sweeney thinks the ruling undermines America’s moral authority to promote transparent elections in other parts of the world. “Citizens United changed the rules of the game, and in many respects, it has adversely affected, in my opinion, the standing of the United States as we try to argue for campaign finance reform, ethics legislation and transparency, particularly in some countries where corruption is very

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, left, and President Barack Obama spar in the second of three national debates that the two candidates had before Americans go to the polls on Nov. 6.

much a real part of doing business,” he said. Wayne said that the unlimited spending by corporations and the huge contributions from wealthy donors like casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has reportedly pledged to spend up to $100 million to defeat President Obama, fuel the international perception that money buys influence and access in Washington. “On balance, the problems that people abroad note about American elections are the tremendous expense and the fact that the wealthy seem to have disproportionate influence in the process,”Wayne said. In the 2010 congressional election, less than three-tenths of 1 percent of the American population contributed more than $200 to candidates, but that tiny sliver provided twothirds of the total purse that politicians used to fund their campaigns, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. A lot of that money goes toward nasty, attack-style ads, which are common in some parts of the world, but anathema in others. “Negative advertising works here because people accept that information and it impacts their decision making,” Sweeney said. “In other societies, negative advertising isn’t trusted by people and doesn’t work, so it isn’t used.” Michael Toner, former chairman of the U.S. Federal Election Commission under President George W. Bush, believes that all of the election-related spending is healthy for American politics. He told the BBC that Americans spend $7 billion a year on potato chips, so there’s no reason why they shouldn’t spend as much to elect the leader of the free world. “I don’t think you can spend too much,” he said. Aside from cost, length and influence considerations,

The Washington Diplomat

November 2012

Your Education Education Advocacy Events Trade Trade Gateway The The International International

A supporter of holds up a voter registration form in a rally for President Barack Obama in Ames, Iowa, a critical battleground state for the presidential contenders. Voter registration ID laws have become a flashpoint in the campaign, with Repub­licans saying more stringent laws are needed to prevent voter fraud, while Democrats argue that’s a tactic to keep poorer, older voters away from the polls. Photo: Scout Tufankjian / Obama for America

foreigners and even some Americans struggle to understand the U.S. system, particularly the Electoral College and the county option system that empowers individual counties around the nation to establish their own ballots, hours and voting procedures. The point of the Electoral College system is to ensure that citizens who live in rural areas or small states aren’t ignored, but the result is that presidential candidates end up devoting nearly all of their time and resources to just a handful of “battleground” states where either candidate could conceivably win, thus capturing all of the electoral votes from that state. Critics say the founding fathers’ fears that larger population centers would dictate the elections are no longer relevant, and that the current winner-take-all system gives disproportionate influence to swing states such as Ohio. Some voters in a state that leans strongly toward one party might also be deterred from casting their ballots in the first place, because a simple majority is all that’s needed to secure the Electoral College votes. But of course the biggest complaint is that a candidate can win the most votes but still lose the presidency. When former Vice President Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000 but lost the election to George W. Bush amidst controversy in Florida and other states, much of the world was puzzled by the distinction between the electoral and popular vote. There was also a public outcry in the United States to rethink the Electoral College system, but after the dust settled, that movement never got off the ground. “There weren’t hearings in Congress after Gore vs. Bush and the Democrats controlled Congress,” recalled Wayne, who believes that Romney might win the popular vote this year but lose the election in the Electoral College. The confusion surrounding the 2000 presidential election was viewed gleefully by some around the world who enjoyed the irony of seeing a country that tends to lecture others about their elections have a messy contest of their own. But the fact that Gore and the American public accepted the result and moved on was also proof that the American system can work, even in the closest possible scenario. Every country has problematic elections at some point, but as the world’s lone superpower, America’s contests come under more intense scrutiny. Nonetheless, Sweeney said that those famous “hanging chads from Florida in 2000 still provoke questions overseas.” Wayne said that just as there is no real movement to get rid of the Electoral College, there’s also little appetite to switch to publicly financed elections, where campaign money comes directly from the U.S. Treasury, despite the fact that Americans dislike the outsize influence that wealthy individuals and corporations wield. “It has to do with cynicism toward government, the perception that government doesn’t spend wisely and that politicians are dishonest and will say and do anything to get elected,” he said, explaining the public’s preference for the status quo.“People just don’t want to give them money.” Wayne noted that in 1978, 28 percent of taxpayers checked a box on their tax returns to contribute $1 (now $3) to the public funding pool for matching campaign funds for the candidates, while today, that percentage is less than 7 November 2012



percent, despite the fact that the contribution does not increase one’s overall tax liability. And while Americans might be ambivalent about our election system and the need to change it, the rest of the world follows U.S. presidential elections closely, often struggling to make sense of them and wondering why there’s often so little discussion of foreign policy issues. IFES has brought election administrators from 40 to 50 countries around the world to observe the last three U.S. presidential elections and the issue that tends to surprise them the most is how autonomous municipalities around the country are in terms of running the election process. “It amazes them that they can be here in the District of Columbia, then get on a bus and go to a county in Maryland or Virginia and see completely different election systems,” said Sweeney, who believes that the country needs more uniformity in how it runs national elections. “In their countries, the way people cast their vote is the same anywhere in the country; here, we have about a half dozen systems within 50 miles of the nation’s capital.” Foreign observers of U.S. presidential elections — including many diplomats in Washington — have also long been puzzled and dismayed by the lack of discussion of global affairs in the debates. Up until just recently, this year’s race featured far less foreign policy debate than any other in recent memory due to Americans’ preoccupation with the stagnant economy (also see “In GOP Race to the White House, Is Foreign Policy Mere Spectator?” in the April 2012 issue of The Washington Diplomat). Despite all the complaints about the U.S. system, though, James Lindsay, director of studies and senior vice president at the Council on Foreign Relations, thinks that it still has its merits, especially compared to other parts of the world. “To many other advanced industrial democracies, America’s election system seems long, inefficient and complicated, but I assure you that if you go to countries that don’t have the right to vote, they’d love to have the American system,” he said. Wayne noted that while the U.S. system comes under fire from abroad, politicians from around the world still want to hire U.S. public relations firms, political consultants and polling operations to get an edge on their opponents back home. Sweeney believes that the United States is behind some European countries in the trend toward e-voting and other technological innovations, but he also thinks that too many Americans fail to appreciate their flawed yet still functional system. “In countries around the world, I’ve seen people standing in line for hours and then when they get to the polling station, they have to dip their finger in indelible ink, and it takes upward of six weeks for that stain to go away, but that’s a badge of honor in that citizens are proud that they voted,” he said. “The vote is so precious to them. Here in the United States, I’ve always felt that we take this very precious right for granted.”

Dave Seminara is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat and a former diplomat based in Northern Virginia.

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D.C. Diplomatic Corps Sad To See Hillary Clinton Go by Larry Luxner


t’s hard to name a world capital Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton hasn’t visited. Since being sworn in the day after President Barack Obama’s Jan. 20, 2009, inauguration, the former first lady and senator has set foot in a record 110 countries and logged more than 900,000 miles on the road and in the air — as of press time. That beat the previous record-holder Madeleine Albright, who served as President Bill Clinton’s secretary of state from 1997 to 2001. From Tripoli to Tbilisi, Hillary Clinton has become a widely admired global figure who enjoys soaring approval ratings back home — far higher than her boss, in fact, the man who bested her for the Democratic nomination four years ago. She’s been dubbed a “rock-star” diplomat by the New York Times Magazine, though she remains controversial in some quarters. But whatever the political future holds for Clinton, who just turned 65 on Oct. 26, there’s no question that when her term ends in January, the D.C. diplomatic corps is sure going to miss her. “The United States has been very fortunate to have such a competent, articulate, hard-working secretary of state,”Philippine Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. told The Washington Diplomat. Clinton visited the Philippines a year ago, though her otherwise enthusiastic welcome in Manila was marred by anti-American protesters who splattered her motorcade with red paint. The activists were reportedly protesting a bilateral military agreement that allows U.S. troops to remain under U.S. jurisdiction while in the Philippines.

She’s a very widely traveled person and she understands and grasps problems very quickly — and she can be very decisive when needed.

— Akramul Qader ambassador of Bangladesh to the United States

Red paint aside, the Philippines is one of several South Asian nations whose ties with the United States have been fortified thanks to the administration’s Asian pivot of military resources to blunt Chinese regional dominance — a policy Clinton has been instrumental in shaping and pro-

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moting. “I can’t claim to know her that well, but the times we’ve met with her, she’s made a very good impression on us,” Cuisia said. “And she’s a very warm person who obviously shows concern for our country.” Temuri Yakobashvili, ambassador of the former Soviet republic of Georgia, calls the 67th secretary of state “one of the best friends Georgia has ever had in the United States,” also noting that she “was an exemplary leader for many Georgian women who saw her as a role model.” Among other things, he says, Clinton has forcefully articulated Washington’s hope that Georgia will regain the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which it lost to Russia after a five-day war in 2008. Georgia’s foreign minister, Grigol Vashadze, has met with Clinton 16 times, both in Washington and at home. “If this were France or Germany, that wouldn’t be surprising, but this shows the level of engagement Hillary Clinton had with a small country like Georgia,” said Yakobashvili. During her most recent visit to Georgia in June, Clinton announced a $16.6 million military aid package and praised the economically struggling nation for being the largest non-NATO contributor to the international mission in Afghanistan. Clinton has butted heads with Georgia’s arch-nemesis, Russia, on plenty of occasions, whether it’s over Russian intransigence on the U.N. Security Council to address the violence in Syria or its shoddy record on democracy. Yet her resolve to stand up to Moscow has never jeopardized America’s long-term strategic interests in the country (such as the New Start nuclear treaty), which fits in with her reputation as a pragmatic, straight-shooting diplomat. She’s also been a highly effective manager of America’s own diplomats, introducing a slew of new programs to help the State Department lumber into the 21st century. Clinton’s “21st-century statecraft” model, for instance, includes an Internet freedom agenda that uses technology such as censorship-blocking software to

Photo: U.S. State Department

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers remarks on the deaths of American personnel in Benghazi, Libya. Some critics said the consulate attack would leave a stain on her legacy, although Libyan Ambassador Ali Aujali dismisses that notion, calling her a “world-class diplomat.”

help democracy activists (also see “Innovating Public Diplomacy for a New Digital World” in the August 2011 issue of The Washington Diplomat). But it also means more basic advances at the State Department, which finally has a decent Flickr photo site, tweets, blogs, and holds live video chats and briefings over the Internet, including Facebook and Twitter. She’s also pursued a vision of “economic statecraft” that seeks to use America’s diplomatic power abroad to reinforce its economic position at home, while the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review aims to streamline civilian power and better coordinate it with the Defense Department. Beyond the direct line of access she maintains with the White House and Pentagon, Clinton’s State Department has not neglected the local diplomatic community, improving outreach with pro-

grams such as the Protocol-led Experience America tours to places like Alaska, New Orleans and, most recently, Arkansas, where ambassadors got a firsthand look at the Clinton Library in Little Rock — with Bill Clinton as their host (Hillary was traveling). In fact, if there’s anything foreign diplomats in Washington don’t like about the Illinois native and Yale Law School graduate, they certainly aren’t making it public. “During her time in office, the relationship between our two countries got stronger,” said Akramul Qader, the Bangladeshi ambassador in Washington, recalling with obvious fondness the secretary of state’s visit to Dhaka in May. “She’s a very widely traveled person and she understands and grasps problems very quickly — and she can be very decisive when needed,” said Qader, noting that Clinton had toured Bangladesh with her

The Washington Diplomat

November 2012

daughter Chelsea back in 1995. But it was during this second visit in May that she hit back at critics who derided her lack of makeup.“I haven’t got time to worry” about such things, the secretary of state told CNN following a joint press conference with the prime minister of Bangladesh, also a woman. (The fact that Clinton’s makeup or coif can generate headlines just shows the double standards she and other high-powered women still contend with. When was Henry Kissinger’s hairdo ever a topic of discussion?) Qader, who was present for the trip, said Clinton’s May 2012 visit was significant because she didn’t limit herself to Dhaka, the capital, but also toured remote Bangladeshi villages where NGOs are working to alleviate poverty and teach young girls how to read and write. Along the dusty road from the airport to the secretary of state’s hotel in central Dhaka, noted Condé Nast Traveler, large signs had been posted with greetings such as “Heartiest Welcome to Our Genuine and Lifelong Friend.” Clinton has certainly scored points throughout the developing world with her support of programs such as the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership to eliminate traditional cookstoves, which emit toxic smoke and lead to nearly 2 million premature deaths each year, many of them women and children. Indeed, when it comes to women, Clinton has shown herself to be a “Genuine and Lifelong Friend.” The grace with which she’s handled herself as first lady, unsuccessful presidential candidate, U.S. senator from New York and now secretary of state has helped to make her America’s most admired woman in the world for 16 consecutive years. But beyond her mere stature, Clinton has fundamentally elevated the role of women in America’s foreign policy as part of her multipronged approach to “smart power.” She’s spoken at countless women’s empowerment conferences, instituted State’s first ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues (Melanne Verveer), and spearheaded small but life-changing initiatives such as sports exchanges. One of these, for instance, recently brought 18 young female soccer players from India and Pakistan to the U.S. for a series of intensive soccer clinics, conflict resolution workshops, and sessions on disability sports (also see “U.S. Plays Up Power of Sports in WinWin Approach to Diplomacy” in the October 2011 issue of The Washington Diplomat). Mwanaidi Sinare Maajar, Tanzania’s ambassador to the United States and one of a growing number of female envoys in Washington, said Clinton has inspired women all over the world. “What is striking for me — coming from a country like Tanzania — is that she’s given women a prominent position in her foreign policy agenda,” Maajar told The Diplomat. “She’s always had women in the forefront.” Maajar said Clinton’s tireless efforts on behalf of women were clearly evident during the secretary’s July 2011 visit to Tanzania, when she traveled 230 kilometers from the capital, Dar es Salaam, to the rural village of Ruvu. There, she witnessed firsthand the fruits of a USAID project that helps women form vegetable-growing cooperatives that raise money to send their children to school. “It was a long trip, but that didn’t deter her,” said the ambassador, who accompanied Clinton to Ruvu. “She wanted to see these women. She would not skip it.” That determination for personal face time — whether it’s taking questions in a town hall with Arab students, meeting with the U.S. embassy staff of every nation she visits, or sitting through hours of tense negotiations with a high-level Chinese delegation — has led to a schedule that 20-yearold college kids on Red Bull could scarcely keep up with. But it’s also left a lasting impression around the world. For instance, earlier this year Clinton became the first U.S. secretary of state in a quarter of a century to visit Côte d’Ivoire — a once-prosperous West African state that was torn apart by civil

war after former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede that he had lost the November 2010 presidential election to Alassane Ouattara. “In January, right after I was transferred here from Brazil as ambassador to the United States, I was informed that Hillary Clinton would be paying a visit to my country,” recalled Côte d’Ivoire’s envoy in Washington, Daouda Diabaté. “That was a big deal not only for me, but for my country. We were personally impressed by her dedication following our post-electoral crisis.” That crisis killed 3,000 people and shattered the economy of this French-speaking former colony that ranks as the world’s largest grower of cocoa.Yet during her two days in Abidjan, Clinton made no secret of her optimism, telling Ouattara “we have no doubt that Côte d’Ivoire can once again be the engine of growth not only for Ivorians, but also for the region.” Said Diabaté: “She took a very strong position on the side of democracy and the right of the Ivorian people to choose who they want for president. That position was followed later on by the strong statement by President Obama, asking former president [Gbagbo] to surrender power to the winner.” Gbagbo was eventually captured and sent to The Hague, where he faces war crimes charges. Ouattara, meanwhile, is trying to rebuild his country and has resumed exports of gold, rubber and oil to the United States and Western Europe. The administration’s support for Côte d’Ivoire’s democratically elected government reflects a calculated approach to democracy promotion that furthers American interests without draining its resources. It’s an approach that’s been tested by the Arab Spring. Despite soaring rhetoric pledging a new relationship with the Muslim world, Obama has eschewed the sweeping vision — and nationbuilding military interventions — of his predecessor, George W. Bush. Libya was held up as a model of this hard-nosed approach. In stark contrast to Iraq, the United States assembled an international coalition (not a coalition of the willing that included Palau and Micronesia) that dislodged the country’s longtime dictator, making Libya one of the more Westernfriendly governments in the Arab Spring. But the attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans has cast a pall over that success story — and Clinton’s own efforts to bring stability to that war-wracked North African country. Ali Aujali, Libya’s ambassador to the U.S. — who once represented but eventually turned against Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi, casting his lot with the rebels — praised Clinton as a “world-class diplomat” on both an official and an unofficial level. “She has been a stalwart supporter of the Libyan people,” he told us.“We are grateful to her leadership, advancement of the cause of freedom and a democratic Libya during the early days of the revolution, as well as her continuing support for a democratic transition.” It was Oct. 21, 2011, when Clinton learned of Qaddafi’s death. She was preparing for interviews in Kabul, Afghanistan, when her top aide, Huma Abedin, handed her a BlackBerry with the first news of Qaddafi’s capture. The secretary of state reacted with a “Wow!” — proving she still had the capacity to be shocked, even in a year that saw the killing of Osama bin Laden by Navy Seals in Pakistan. “I knew her even before she became secretary of state, when she was a senator,” said Aujali. “Of course, my relationship [with Clinton] became very special after the revolution and I resigned. She supported me from the first day. This was really important for me and for the Libyan people. We will never forget that.” Aujali defended the State Department against charges it was unprepared for the brazen Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi. The nighttime assault — which U.S. officials at first incorrectly attributed to anti-American protesters outside the gates of the consulate — left four Americans dead, including J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya (also see “U.S. Debates How to

Keep Envoys Safe Without Smothering Diplomacy” on page 12). “This was nobody’s fault,” said Aujali. “It was a surprise attack and there was nothing we could really do to prevent that. Unfortunately, no one in Libya expected something to happen against a diplomatic mission, especially the U.S. mission. The State Department should not take the blame for that.” Yet questions over the Benghazi attack have intensified, with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina going so far as to accuse Clinton and other Obama administration officials of knowing within 24 hours of the assault that it was a coordinated militia attack — and was not related to anti-U.S. protests across the Middle East. But Aujali brushed off speculation that the incident would tarnish Clinton’s legacy, insisting that “Hillary Clinton is a great diplomat and this is not an issue that will damage her reputation or affect her career.” Clinton laid uncharacteristically low after the controversy over Benghazi erupted, though by Oct. 16, she categorically took “responsibility” for the tragedy and gave a major speech on stability in the Maghreb. Shortly afterward, she was off to Lima, Peru, attending a conference on women’s empowerment in Latin America. And with only two months to go, the secretary of state shows no sign of slowing down. On Oct. 22, Clinton — as well as husband Bill — attended the opening of Caracol Industrial Park, a sprawling free zone along the northern coast of Haiti whose financing she helped negotiate. The 608acre park will create 20,000 garment manufacturing jobs while giving companies that invest there tax exemptions, duty-free access to the U.S. market and abundant cheap labor (also see the cover profile “Haiti’s New Envoy Wants Investment Dollars, Not Pity” in the September 2012 issue of The Washington Diplomat). “There’s a personal relationship between the

Blancpain_WashingtonDiplomat_6664_DDFS.indd 1

November 2012

Clintons and Haiti going back to when they honeymooned in Haiti many years ago,” said Haitian Ambassador Paul Altidor. Before landing his current job, Altidor was vice president of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, a Washington-based nonprofit that has raised $54 million in donations since the country’s devastating 2010 earthquake to help Haiti get back on its feet. “As political figures, they’ve put their weight in the balance to help Haiti develop in recent years,” he said. “And as secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton played a key role in putting Haiti in the limelight. Her efforts and commitment to Haiti have not gone unnoticed, either by the government or by the Haitian people.” Despite the secretary’s love of travel and seemingly boundless energy, there are in fact some countries Hillary Clinton has not set foot in. One of them is Niger, a drought-stricken, landlocked West African nation of 8 million inhabitants that ranks as the second-poorest nation on Earth. “Of course, I would have loved to see her visit my country, given everything that’s going on in the region — poverty, narco-trafficking, Islamic extremism — but that doesn’t take away from the way she performed her job,” said Maman S. Sidikou, Niger’s ambassador in Washington. “One would have thought that somebody who wanted to be president wouldn’t jump in and do this kind of job, but she did,” he said. “When it came to the issues that really matter, like malnutrition and education, she was very smart and knowledgeable. We felt her influence all over.” Sidikou, noting the rise of fundamentalist Muslim groups that have overthrown the central government in neighboring Mali, lamented Niger’s exclusion from Clinton’s many trips to Africa. “A visit by someone of her caliber would have sent a very strong message. But she still has a few months left in office, so maybe she’ll stop by.”

Larry Luxner is news editor of The Washington Diplomat.

12/8/11 3:04 PM

The Washington Diplomat Page 11



U.S. Debates How to Keep Envoys Safe Without Smothering Diplomacy by Talha Aquil and Anna Gawel


he attack on the American consulate in Benghazi and the resulting death of J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, revealed the longstanding tug of war between keeping diplomats safe while letting them do their job.

Though tossed around as political football during the presidential election, the Benghazi attack has raised serious questions about how to limit the vulnerability of diplomats in hotspots where risks can come from all sides (not only terrorism but crime, disease and natural disaster), without hindering their access to the very people they’re supposed to be engaging. Exposure versus engagement — it’s a perpetual quandary for diplomats not only from the United States but also from allied countries such as Britain and Canada. And in a sense, Chris Stevens, who became the first U.S. ambassador killed in a terrorist attack in more than 20 years, personified this dilemma. An Arabic speaker with deep roots in the Middle East, Stevens by all accounts relished returning to Libya, where he had been the administration’s point man with the rebels who overthrew Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi. “All in all, it’s great to be back, especially in the ‘new Libya,’ as people here are saying,” he wrote in letters to friends, as reported by the New York Times. Stevens though was fully aware of the dangers around him. In journals discovered by CNN, the slain ambassador wrote about the constant security threats around him, including the growing presence of Islamic radicals and al-Qaeda. Still, throughout his postings in Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel and elsewhere, Stevens, 52, was passionate about going beyond the confines of embassy walls to meet people and absorb the culture. Nowadays, U.S. diplomats in countries such as Iraq and Lebanon are cloistered behind fortress-like compounds and when they do venture outside — for which they have to submit their travel plans well in advance — they’re escorted by a cavalry of armed bodyguards and security convoys. In stark contrast, Stevens reportedly jogged every day in Benghazi and was eager to personally connect with the officials, academics, activists, tribal elders and business people who would rebuild the war-torn country. In fact, according to the State Department, Stevens had just finished meeting with a Turkish diplomat about an hour before armed gunmen stormed and set fire to the consulate — killing Stevens and three other Americans on the 11th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. “It’s especially tragic that Chris Stevens died in

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Benghazi because it is a city he helped to save,” President Obama said shortly after the killings. Indeed, the fact that the attack happened in Libya only added to the shock and sadness, both in the U.S. and in Libya. “Perhaps it was due to the particularly awful irony of Ambassador Stevens’ death in a place to which he’d committed his heart, soul, and energies to liberating Libya’s people from decades of cruel dictatorship that this tragic episode has generated unprecedented public sympathy for the dangerous environments in which our diplomats often operate,” wrote Wendy Chamberlin, president of the Middle East Institute, in an article that first appeared in the Huffington Post. “It has also aroused public debate regarding acceptable safety standards and circumstances for American diplomats and whether we should, in fact, even be in ‘those places.’” But “those places” are also usually where history is being shaped and America’s vital interests are at stake — and Chamberlin, a 29-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service, answered her own question: “The answer from those of us who have served in the Foreign Service is an unequivocal, ‘Yes!’ We should be there. We must be there.” Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) says the risks are a necessary evil in today’s tumultuous world. “It is time we come to grips with the world we actually live in. We can’t deal with the political upheavals in a single Arab country, the impact of transition in Afghanistan, the internal struggle for the future of Islam, energy and trade security, the various national crises in Latin America and Africa, or the competition for the future of Asia by speeches in the U.S., quick visits by senior U.S. officials, outside radio and TV programs, and empty rhetoric about taking stronger stands or exporting U.S. values,” he wrote in a Oct. 11 CSIS commentary. “We need strong country teams, and teams that are active and take risks. We need men and women on the scene who accept the realities on the ground in the countries they operate in.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed that sentiment. “Our people can’t live in bunkers and do their jobs,” she said in a speech at CSIS on Oct. 12. “But it is our solemn responsibility to constantly

Photo: U.S. State Department

The American flag flies over the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia, where protesters scaled the compound’s wall in mid-September in a melee that killed four people. Since then, the U.S. government has pulled out all nonessential embassy personnel and advised Americans to avoid the country, even though hopes were high that Tunisia was transitioning toward a stable democracy.

improve, to reduce the risks our people face, and make sure they have the resources they need to do their jobs.” Clinton added that despite the Benghazi tragedy, the United States must not lose sight of the bigger picture — “to weigh the violent acts of a small number of extremists against the aspirations and actions of the region’s people and governments.That broader view supports rather than discredits the promise of the Arab revolutions.”

Long Before Libya The movement to have eyes and ears on the ground in global hotspots predates the Arab Spring, gaining traction after the Bush administration undertook its “transformational diplomacy” initiative that deployed U.S. diplomats into war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan and “hardship” locations such as Sudan and Angola (along with critical postings such as China, Egypt, India and Nigeria). Assistant Secretary of State for Diplo­

matic Security Eric Boswell told a Senate Committee in June 2011 that “the department now operates diplomatic missions in places where in the past we likely would have closed the post and evacuated all personnel.” As a result, the pressure on the State Department and American intelligence services to protect diplomatic assets abroad has naturally increased. But Congress and Foggy Bottom have been trying to address the issue for years. Following the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, the 1985 Inman Report set out increased security measures for American missions abroad. The list of recommendations led to the creation of the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security and called for design specifications like situating an embassy a certain distance away from public streets. The push for greater security, however, ramped up after the 1998 terrorist bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and

The Washington Diplomat

November 2012

We need to protect our embassies, consulates and military advisory groups, but we cannot afford to turn them into fortresses that lock our diplomats, aid teams and military on the scene away from events and the people they are trying to influence. — Anthony H. Cordesman

Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies

Kenya that killed more than 200 people and spurred Congress to devote billions of dollars for new embassy and consulate construction (also see “America’s Embassy Building Boom Fortifies Diplomacy, Security Abroad” in the April 2012 issue of The Washington Diplomat). “Everything changed after the bombings in East Africa,” Jane Loeffler, author of “The Architecture of Diplomacy: Building America’s Embassies,” told The Washington Diplomat. “Congress came through with money that they hadn’t come through with after the Inman Report. Security was the number-one reason why Congress came up with the money and that’s what’s still been driving the program.” Since a new mandate was created in 1999 that ordered security precautions such as nine-foot walls, the State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations says it has spent $13 billion to overhaul its security apparatus, hiring some 40,000 to provide protection around the world, completing nearly 90 new buildings, and moving more than 27,000 people into “safe, secure, and functional facilities.” The massive U.S. Embassy complex in Baghdad’s Green Zone perhaps stands as the crowning achievement — or costly blunder, depending on one’s perspective —of this 21stcentury hunkered-down approach to diplomacy.

Benghazi Breakdown? Unlike the walled-off compound in Iraq, however, the temporary facility in Benghazi was only lightly guarded — a flashpoint in the controversy over whether the terrorists who easily overran the complex could have been thwarted. Republicans have grilled administration officials over whether they botched the initial handling of the attack — attributing it to a spontaneous protest when signs clearly pointed to a well-armed, premeditated assault — and whether the State Department refused requests for added security despite an avalanche of documented threats. Last month, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) led a congressional hearing titled “Security Failures of Benghazi” in which he said the State Department was repeatedly warned about instability, but that “Washington officials seemed preoccupied with the concept of normalization” after Qaddafi’s ouster. The State Department has admitted that requests for beefed-up security were denied, namely the extension of a 16-member military team that departed in August, though that team was assigned to protect the embassy in Tripoli, 400 miles away from Benghazi. To that end, State officials pushed back against charges the attack could’ve been prevented.“The ferocity and intensity of the attack was nothing that we had seen in Libya, or that I had seen in my time in the Diplomatic Security Service,”’ said Eric Nordstrom, who up until July was in charge of security for diplomats in Libya. “Having an extra foot of wall, or an extra half dozen guards or agents would not have enabled us to respond to that kind of assault.” Whether that’s true or not, it won’t quell the uproar over security lapses at Benghazi, where, alongside Diplomatic Security Service, only a small force of local, privately hired guards had been stationed.“There were no Marine guards in Benghazi at the time of that attack, which raises questions about whether they could have played a role in limiting the damage,” William Young, a former senior CIA officer who’s now with the November 2012

RAND Corporation, wrote in a blog post. Yet the presence of Marines doesn’t necessarily guarantee complete safety, either, especially given their limited rules of engagement, Young pointed out. “This latest attack points to the need to review both decisions about where to post Marine guards and the protocol governing what they are allowed to do in the event of an attack. Their purpose in an attack is to secure the embassy and its classified paper and electronic storage systems. The Marines do not have the mandate to engage with attackers and are limited to designated areas on the embassy or consulate grounds.” In addition, the Marines — which are costly because the State Department must reimburse the Pentagon for them — are also not assigned to watch over ambassadors or senior officials. That’s the job of the Diplomatic Security Service, which officials say is not well equipped for allout combat. Private guards, too, are not always the answer. The Libyan government was adamantly opposed to armed private security contractors establishing a presence in the country, particularly given the stain that U.S. security firm Blackwater left on the industry after a clash in Baghdad left at least 17 Iraqis dead. But beyond the debate over whether more guards, better weapons or stronger barricades could’ve prevented the killing of four Americans, there’s also been a renewed focus on devising better, not necessarily bigger, tools to shield diplomats from the anti-American tide that’s swept the Arab world. Options that have been discussed include social media to predict likely attacks, providing embassies with non-lethal crowd-control technologies like sound blasters, and outsourcing advocacy to locally based NGOs. Young suggested roving security patrols to not only detect signs of unrest but also to build linkages with the local community to prevent future attacks. Engaging shop owners, who have a vested interest in preventing unrest that often hurts their business, “and others who live and work in these areas is one way of monitoring public sentiment — a low-tech social networking opportunity.” Also overlooked in the current imbroglio is the fact that host governments are responsible for protecting diplomats posted on their soil, though countries such as Pakistan, Serbia and most recently Egypt have in the past been accused of sympathizing with protesters and turning a blind eye to security breaches. So far, though, many of these nuances have been lost in an election year. While the Obama administration came under fire for its shifting response to the Benghazi attack, Republicans too have taken heat for seizing on the tragedy to score political points. Cordesman of CSIS argues that hindsight is always 20-20 when crises erupt, no matter which party is in power. “The Republicans seem to be ‘winning’ in political terms, largely because so few Americans in think tanks and the media realize that virtually all intelligence and security post-mortems on such events uncover the same problems. Once the event is over and clear patterns emerge, there are always warning indicators that could have been heeded in retrospect [and] every such event is always an ‘intelligence’ failure,” wrote

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The Washington Diplomat Page 13

Continued from previous page Cordesman, who previously served as director of intelligence assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and as civilian assistant to the deputy secretary of defense. “Moreover, competent security officers always are asking for more support and coverage in any area where risks exist.There is never enough security even in the best-funded times, and these are not the best-funded times. Almost every aspect of U.S. diplomacy has been subject to budget cuts at a time of upheaval in the Arab world and global economic crisis.”

Part of the Job In a world filled with turmoil, there’s no precise formula for how to protect the 275 posts that America maintains abroad. Part of the problem is the “diffused terrorist threat, the notion that targets can be anywhere, which adds to the uncertainty,” says Stewart Patrick of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). And as national symbols, embassies are natural magnets for all kinds of anti-American anger. The widespread demonstrations in the Arab world fueled by a crudely made video denigrating Islam were just the latest in a long tradition of protests directed at U.S. missions (also see “Embassy Protests Make Noise, But Do They Make a Difference?” in the August 2012 issue of The Washington Diplomat). Protests and violence can be a fact of life for many diplomats — as are more common hardships, such as a lack of schools or health facilities, for instance, high crime rates or natural disasters such as earthquakes. Hence the concept of hardship pay, which increases with risk. But terrorism is a perennial concern. Though relatively rare, diplomats have paid the ultimate price for their service. Stevens was the eighth American ambassador killed in the line of duty — and the sixth to be killed by terrorists.

Photo: U.S. State Department

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honor the victims of the Sept. 11 Benghazi attack at a ceremony held at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. The attack claimed the lives of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Information Management Officer Sean Smith, and security personnel Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty.

The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) maintains a plaque of fallen civilians at the State Department. Since 1950, 165 names have been inscribed on the wall — with more than 20 added since the year 2000, the majority of whom died in terrorist attacks. But for most Foreign Service officers, the risks outweigh the rewards, as AFSA President Susan Johnson, who has served in Iraq, Bosnia and Cuba, recently told WAMU’s Rebecca Sheir. “It’s not a career where you’re going to get rich,” Johnson said. “But you may have a very rich life experience.And most people retire really proud to have served in the Foreign Service, and to have represented their country and lived history.” Interestingly, throughout much of that history, there was little separating diplomats from the

outside world. In the New York Times article “In Praise of What Has Been Lost at U.S. Embassies,” Mort Rosenblum recalled the openness of embassies at the height of the Cold War, when the world was seemingly on the brink of annihilation. “If a U.S. mission needed guarding anywhere, it was Kinshasa after the C.I.A. provided matches to set the Congo ablaze. Soviet spooks worked hard to discomfit America,” he recalled. “I dropped in regularly for updates on a nasty bush war, and a lone Marine waved as I breezed past. Often it was a guy with whom I’d done the clubs the night before along with diplomats and local luminaries. But no one else got stopped either unless something awkward bulged under a raincoat.” Those freewheeling days have given way to X-ray machines and intrusive pat-downs, but many

feel the security pendulum has swung too far. As the Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum pointed out: “American diplomats who bring menacing bodyguards to meetings, or who make their visitors endure humiliating security checks, are unlikely to make many friends.” “It is a constant battle and struggle between the need of diplomats to get out in communities and the security restrictions that make it difficult to have a human touch and get the feel of place,” said the CFR’s Patrick. And many diplomats, past and present, say human interaction is critical to their work. “If we can’t get out, talk to people, travel around, understand the reality of the society and the country where we’re assigned, then we can’t do our job,” John Limbert, a former U.S. ambassador and one of the 52 Americans held hostage when the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was stormed in 1979, told the BBC. “If you sit behind the walls and the barbed wire and the moat, that affects what you know and it affects your usefulness.”

Canada Cuts Back Interestingly, Canada — whose government didn’t leave Tehran after the 1979 revolution and in fact helped rescue six American hostages during the embassy siege — has come under fire for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision in September to close down Ottawa’s embassy in Iran. Harper called the regime a threat to world peace, but critics of the move say Canadian diplomacy will be hobbled by the absence. “Canada’s action reduces our presence on the ground in Iran to zero,” John Mundy, the former Canadian ambassador to Iran who was expelled in 2007, wrote in an op-ed in the Globe and Mail.“We will no longer have the ability to communicate directly with Iran’s government in Iran.We will no longer have Canadian diplomats following political developments within the country and using their local contacts and knowledge to assess how

See security, page 55

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November 2012


Ambassador Mohamed M. Tawfik

New Envoy Says Egypt Has Turned Page on Dictatorship by Larry Luxner


n Mohamed M. Tawfik’s crime thriller “Murder in the Tower of Happiness,” the strangled body of a beautiful young actress named Ahlam is found in the elevator of a luxury high-rise apartment building overlooking the Nile River. Yet for the book’s hero, Sergeant Ashmouni, solving Cairo’s latest gruesome killing without a single witness or trace of blood to guide him is relatively easy compared to the enormous challenges facing author Tawfik in his real-life job as Egypt’s new ambassador to the United States. In a 90-minute interview last month,Tawfik — a modest career diplomat who studied civil engineering and then international law before joining the foreign service — didn’t even mention the fact that he’s written two novels and three volumes of short stories in Arabic (we had to Google him to find out). Or that he translated this satirical thriller into English himself, recently suggesting to an Egyptian journalist that “Murder in the Tower of Happiness” can be read as a whodunit, a ghost story, a political parody or a spiritual work — and that he didn’t want any of it to get lost in translation. “Most people waste most of their lives in completely mundane activities and are only compensated for that by a nagging sense of boredom,” Tawfik told Lisa Kaaki, Cairo correspondent for the Saudi-based Arab News website. “My diplomatic life has afforded me a scope of experience that is beyond what most writers can hope for. On the other hand, my literary background gives strong cultural depth to my diplomatic activities. This can be very effective in carrying through Egypt’s message.” Tawfik, 56, occupies a unique place in Egyptian diplomatic history as his country’s first new ambassador in Washington since the Arab Spring revolution that toppled former dictator Hosni Mubarak and replaced him with Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Along with eight other ambassadors,Tawfik presented his credentials to President Obama in a Sept. 19 ceremony at the White House. His predecessor, Sameh Shoukry — who appeared on the cover of The Washington Diplomat twice during his four years in Washington — has since retired. “We’re completely different people, serving at completely different times,” said Tawfik, interviewed at the ornate Egyptian Residence fronting Sheridan Circle on Massachusetts Avenue.“I’m the first ambassador to serve here after the revolution.Therefore, I come energized by the revolution, so I have a different outlook on things. I’m sure Ambassador Shoukry did his best.” This isn’t Tawfik’s first assignment in Washington; from 1986 to 1990, he was posted here as a junior officer. It was during that time when he first met Mubarak — a frequent visitor to the United States. He only saw the former president on two later occasions, once in Zimbabwe and another time in Geneva. The idea that the Arab world’s most populous country

November 2012

Photo: Lawrence Ruggeri

If you had been in Tahrir Square during those 18 days, you would have no doubt that the Egyptian people risked everything for democracy — and they will not accept anything short of true democracy. — Mohamed M. Tawfik

ambassador of Egypt to the United States

would one day be ruled by a man Mubarak had thrown in prison was unthinkable for millions of Egyptians, though Tawfik said he had long felt the Mubarak regime’s days were numbered. “In the last two years before the revolution, my job at the Foreign Ministry was not a political job. I was, in a sense, glad for that,” he said.“Certainly I took the side of the revolution, within the limits of what was proper for a diplomat. And I think the vast majority of Egyptians supported the revolution.” He added: “It was inevitable that Hosni Mubarak would step down.What was unexpected was the degree of coherence between different strata of Egyptian society. It was not just a revolution of those who were suffering, but also rich people, very well-educated people with fantastic jobs and a good lifestyle, people who had decided that the time for change had come.” Tawfik happened to be in Ireland the day the antiMubarak uprising began in Tahrir Square in January 2011.

“I was able to get back to Cairo as it was going on, which allowed me to witness it firsthand,” he recalled. “The situation in Egypt has been stagnating for a very long time. Problems that Egyptians face in their everyday lives have not been addressed. Issues of democracy and human rights were not respected, and it was, I think, a natural outcome that you’d have revolution.” He argues that Mubarak — now 84 and serving a life sentence at a Cairo prison — would have been overthrown even without the massive street protests that erupted nearly two years ago in Tunisia, ultimately bringing down President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and sparking turmoil across the entire Arab world, where economic decay and political repression have led to legions of frustrated citizens. “All these regimes were promising reforms, and people were hoping they’d fulfill their promises. When it became clear that was not going to happen, they revolted,” said Tawfik. “Within a year, a revolution would have taken place in Egypt in any case. It may be that [events] in Tunisia made it happen sooner rather than later, but it was inevitable that the Mubarak regime was coming to an end.” Tawfik talks with an air of confidence that the uprising was all but inevitable — the insights, perhaps, of an erudite diplomat who served as ambassador to Lebanon before coming to Washington, as well as postings in Australia, Geneva and Harare. Yet while Tawfik’s novels are well known in Egypt, the blogosphere has little to say about Tawfik the diplomat. Cairo’s new man in Washington is for the most part an unknown entity — much like the enigmatic government he represents. Neither an ally nor an enemy — that’s how President Obama has described the Muslim Brotherhood, the powerful Islamic group that under the Mubarak regime was outlawed and whose members,

Continued on next page The Washington Diplomat Page 15

Continued from previous page including Morsi, were regularly thrown in prison. Morsi narrowly won the June 24 presidential election with 51 percent of the 26 million votes cast; Ahmed Shafik, the final prime minister under the Mubarak regime, won 47 percent. Morsi himself, an American-trained engineer, was the Muslim Brotherhood’s second pick after the courts disqualified its leading candidate, Khairat el-Shater. The close result exposed the deep divisions that still fester among religious conservatives (and ultraconservatives like the Salafis), the secular democracy activists who first flooded Tahrir Square, and defenders of the old guard. The vote nevertheless made history by ushering in the first Islamist ever elected to be head of an Arab state, making Egypt the testing ground for whether Islam and modern democracy will clash or coexist. Tawfik insists there’s no reason to fear the Muslim Brotherhood, precisely because the group will be constrained by the very system that brought it to power. “I don’t think Americans should be concerned about different political parties in Egypt. What’s more important is our democratic evolution. In a democracy, nobody stays in power forever. Democratic principles are what really count. Personally, I don’t see anything to fear about the Muslim Brotherhood.They’re a group of Egyptians, just like any other group. The current president belonged to the Brotherhood, but the first thing he did after his inauguration was make very clear that he is president of all Egyptians.” In his emotional victory speech, Morsi told the crowd, “I have no rights, only responsibilities. If I do not deliver, do not obey me.” He also reached out to Egypt’s army, police and intelligence services, thanking them for their support and promising to preserve the country’s armed forces. “The military played a very useful role in Egypt when the Mubarak regime fell,” Tawfik observed. “There was no other option but for the military to

take matters into their control. They promised they’d be there for a limited period of time, that they would hold parliamentary elections and then presidential elections. They adhered to that scrupulously. Until the last moment, we weren’t quite sure who was going to win. But in the end, the democratic process succeeded, and everybody accepted the outcome.” Since Morsi’s initial outreach, however, Egypt’s first-ever civilian president has shrewdly begun to sideline the military, which has long dominated Egyptian national security and foreign policy. In August, he forced the retirement of Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the country’s defense minister, along with other senior generals in a bid to consolidate influence.At the same time, he reinstated the Islamist-dominated Parliament, which had been disbanded in a maneuver many say was engineered by the military. Morsi has also sought to elevate his stature as a regional player, reaching

Photo: Ramy Raoof /

Protesters climb an army truck in Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the 18-day uprising in January 2011 that led to the ouster of longtime Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

out to countries such as Turkey and Iran to resolve the crisis in Syria. At the same time, he’s worked to allay fears of an Islamist takeover, appointing technocrats to his Cabinet and sidestepping conservative touchstone issues such as alcohol and headscarves, for example. But Morsi is also clearly exerting the Brotherhood’s authority to shape the country’s nascent democratic institutions (notably the drafting of the new constitution) — authority he says was granted to him by Egypt’s voters. Tawfik himself hasn’t returned to the country since becoming ambassador, though he does speak with the Foreign Ministry every day. “Whatever is

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expected of me changed hour by hour, minute by minute. It’s a constant give and take.” Asked how well he knows Egypt’s 60-year-old leader, the ambassador responded that he’s “had a few conversations with him” and has met Morsi on a number of occasions. “I found him to be a serious, dedicated man who has the best interests of Egypt at heart.” But precisely because he may have Egypt’s interests at heart — not America’s — Morsi’s hands are tied when it comes to relations with Washington, argues Steven A. Cook, a Middle East expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Americans consistently fail to recognize that Arabs have their own politics and have the ability to calculate their own interests independently of what Washington demands. As a result, whenever a crisis erupts that presents Egyptian leaders with a choice of kowtowing to Washington or protecting their political position at home, domestic politics will win virtually every time.” In fact, says Cook,“there continues to be an odd cognitive dissonance affecting much ofWashington when it comes to Egypt: There is recognition of the major changes that have occurred since February 2011, but there is a desire to do business pretty much as usual.The problem is that business pretty much as usual was based on a deal with authoritarians who agreed to carry Washington’s water in exchange for political support, diplomatic recognition and aid.” On that note, the ambassador says it’s important to consider that the Mubarak regime lasted for 30 years partly because it was propped up with massive American aid. As the second-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid in the world (after Israel), Egypt receives roughly $1.5 billion a year from American taxpayers, the bulk of which goes to the military. “You have to remember that the U.S. supported dictators all around the world for a very long time, so you can’t expect people to sympathize with the United States,” the ambassador pointed out. “However, there’s been a shift in U.S. attitudes

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QFI students from the U.S. in Qatar at Education City during a cultural exchange trip. Page 16

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November 2012

toward opening up to the Arab people.That probably started with Obama’s speech. I will do my best to make it change even more.” Tawfik, in fact, calls Obama’s 2009 “New Beginning” speech to the Muslim world, delivered from the reception hall at Cairo University, a turning point, although the president’s critics said it was another example of his soaring but ultimately empty rhetoric. “The president’s speech was fantastic. It was the best thing to come out from the United States to the Arab world in a long time. It made a very profound impact. The message was well received in Egypt,” Tawfik countered. “However, it’s important to follow these very good words with deeds.” The Obama administration had in fact been tentatively reaching out the Islamists who now control the linchpin Arab country, offering economic and political advice and aid. Roger Cohen of the New York Times says the U.S. really has no choice but to engage not only the Brotherhood but the more hard-line Salafis, noting the theory that, “Every Salafi in Parliament is one less potential jihadist.” “What is the alternative to supporting Morsi and the Brotherhood and urging them to be inclusive in the new Egypt? Well, the United States could cut them off and hope they fail — but I can think of no surer way to guarantee radicalization and aggravate the very tendencies the West wants to avoid as a poverty-stricken Egypt goes into an economic tailspin.The same would be true of any attempt to install the armed forces again, with the difference that there would also be bloodshed,” he argued in the Oct. 22 op-ed “Working With the Muslim Brotherhood.” “The United States tried Middle Eastern repression in the name of stability for decades: What it got was terrorism-breeding societies of frustrated Arabs under tyrants,” he added. “The Brotherhood narrowly won a free and fair election. If they fail, throw them out next time.That’s democracy.” But the tepid rapprochement is being threat-

Photo: U.S. State Department

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in New York on Sept. 24, not long after protesters in Cairo breached the U.S. Embassy over anti-Islam video made in California. Although Morsi has tried to alleviate fears of an Islamist takeover of the linchpin Arab country, U.S. officials remain wary of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which has steadily amassed power since the country’s revolution nearly two years ago.

ened by the violent anti-U.S. demonstrations that erupted across the Muslim world in September after the appearance of a YouTube video trashing the prophet Muhammad.The 14-minute video — a trailer for a movie that may not even exist — was made by an Egyptian Christian who was later arrested in California for violating terms of his probation. In Cairo, hundreds of angry protesters throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails were tear-gassed by police after they tried to storm the U.S. Embassy, some of them screaming,“With our souls, with our blood, we will sacrifice for you, Prophet

Muhammad!” Morsi, in his first crisis since been sworn in only two and half months before, ordered police to arrest protesters and safeguard embassies only after receiving an angry phone call from Obama warning that U.S. relations with Egypt hinged on Morsi’s response. Morsi quickly issued a statement denouncing the embassy attack, though he dismissed criticism that he waited 24 hours to do so (and early on had even called for more protests).At the U.N. General Assembly in September, he was also adamant that free speech can never come at the expense of

insulting Islam. Morsi has said his government is not an enemy of the West, but he’s also said that the old way of doing things — whereby “successive American administrations essentially purchased with American taxpayer money the dislike, if not the hatred, of the peoples of the region” — will no longer fly. While such tough rhetoric may please his hardline constituency, it also puts him in a bind. He desperately needs investment and aid to revive Egypt’s ailing economy, which faces an estimated budget shortfall of $12 billion.The United States is critical to securing a $4.8 billion loan being negotiated with the International Monetary Fund. Separately, the Obama administration has offered the government a $450 million emergency infusion of cash, part of a $1 billion assistance package, mostly in the form of debt relief. But Congress blocked the move in the wake of Morsi’s unapologetic reaction to the embassy protests and general leeriness toward the Brotherhood’s true intentions. Shadi Hamid, research director at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar, told NPR that Morsi isn’t going to be able to have the best of both worlds, appeasing Islamists while winning over Washington. “President Morsi and the Brotherhood are doing a very difficult dance. They’re trying to appeal to two completely different audiences who want to hear two completely different things.They have ultraconservative Salafis who don’t like the U.S., who want to defy Washington, and who are asking Morsi to take a stand against this film. Egypt is becoming more democratic. That means that Morsi has to worry about popular sentiment,” Hamid said. “And the other audience there is obviously the U.S. and the international community, which want to hear something very different from Morsi. And

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The U.S.-Egypt Business Council Congratulates His Excellency Mohamed M. Tawfik on his Appointment as Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the United States of America As the foremost advocacy organization representing America’s leading companies doing business with Egypt for more than 30 years, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-Egypt Business Council looks forward to working with Ambassador Tawfik as it continues to advance the commercial relationship between the United States and Egypt.

To learn more about the U.S.-Egypt Business Council, please visit

November 2012

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this is why anti-Americanism is a problem, because it constrains what elected leaders can do.And this is the new Middle East we’re talking about. We can no longer rely on elected leaders to do exactly what the U.S. wants them to do.” Tawfik, however, played down the anti-American protests, noting that the number of demonstrators at the U.S. Embassy was “in the hundreds” — which by Egyptian standards is very small. “On a normal Friday, you have half a million people in Tahrir Square,” he said. Though that number may be an exaggeration, protesters still routinely swarm the iconic square. The most recent protest in mid-October, pitting Morsi supporters against secular opponents, turned violent and injured more than 100 — a sign of how the struggle to define Egypt’s identity continues to play out every day. But the anti-Islamic video clearly touched a unifying nerve in the Arab world. “There is no doubt that the Egyptian people as a whole, including Muslims and Christians, were offended by the video. And the U.S. is not responsible for the video,”Tawfik said. But who made the YouTube video isn’t even the point, he argues. “The issue is that we need to respect each other’s beliefs and learn how to accept each other,” the ambassador told The Diplomat. “I don’t think cultural diversity is a bad thing; it’s why we have a very rich human civilization. But as the world gets closer through developments in communications, we have to be able to deal with each other’s sensitivities,” he added, sidestepping the larger issue of how to accommodate those “sensitivities” without infringing on freedom of speech. Nor did he comment on whether the obscure, crudely made video justified the level of violence it provoked, though he did say: “You cannot judge Islam as a religion or as a culture based on the actions of a few people. If we were to judge Christianity through the actions of a few Christians, or Judaism through the actions of a few Jews, we’d basically misjudge the whole thing.The principles of Islam are basically those of all religions.” Tawfik, a Muslim, also doesn’t like to use the term “minority” to describe Egypt’s Christians, who comprise about 10 percent of his country’s 83 million inhabitants. “Egyptians — Muslims, Christians and Jews — have lived in this country for thousands of years, and we have traditionally not had differences of any kind. I do not believe that Egyptian Christians were in danger at any time in the past, or that they will be in the future.” He also denies that violent attacks against Egyptian Christians are becoming more frequent. “Over the past few years, we have had conflicts that weren’t related to religion, that suddenly took the appearance of conflicts between Muslims and Christians,” he said.“But if you look deeply, you’ll find these were really problems dealing with the rule of law.You have individuals quarreling, and suddenly things get out of proportion. But with democracy, such problems will become less and less.” He does believe, though, that the West misunderstands Islam and vice versa. “We would like to see a more active American role in achieving peace in the Middle East,” Tawfik told us.“But generally speaking, many of the perceived problems between our two cultures come out of ignorance, and it’s important to educate both peoples. I don’t feel there’s a fundamental problem between the United States and the Islamic world. However, there are practical issues and perception issues that need to be dealt with.” Tawfik’s main objective, as he sees it, is to “widen the scope of the bilateral relationship” beyond governments to include the Egyptian and American peoples. “Government-to-government is no longer enough,” he said.“We must explain to the people in both countries that these relations are vital

for their own interests. Here in America, I need to explain to ordinary people that democracy in Egypt matters — for the U.S. economy, for the world economy, and for stability and security everywhere.” Yet democracy can sometimes conflict with stability and security and is a double-edged sword for its Western proponents, empowering new governments that better represent popular opinion — even if that opinion is decidedly against Western values. Perhaps nowhere is this dissonance more evident than Egypt’s troubled relationship with Israel. Mubarak maintained a chilly peace with the Jewish state, one that was detested by his people. Now, Israel waits to see if the landmark peace treaty that has underpinned security in the region but is deeply unpopular among Egyptians will fray under the Muslim Brotherhood. Like his predecessor Shoukry,Tawfik said the treaty — enshrined in the 1978 Camp David accords — is not a matter of debate. “Our peace treaty with Israel is a fact, and it’s been there for a number of years,” he said, insisting that there’s been no request by either side to renegotiate the treaty, despite campaign threats by Morsi that he would do just that if elected. “Currently, we have a treaty that works and is respected by all parties.” Still, Israeli-Egyptian tensions have been heightened in recent months by a series of terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists that have blown up pipelines and killed soldiers of both countries. The worst clash took place Aug. 5, when gunmen ambushed an Egyptian checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula, commandeered Egyptian armored vehicles, and crashed the border crossing. Despite the volatility,“I wouldn’t say there’s a state of anarchy in Sinai.We do have some problems in the uninhabited part of Sinai, and we are taking care of this,”Tawfik says.“The Sinai is part of Egypt, and Egypt’s role is to enforce the law. Basically, what you have is a flow of illegal immigration — people looking for better opportunities — and Israel is a rich country.These people are transported by criminal gangs; they can’t do it on their own.” Tawfik hasn’t yet met his Israeli counterpart in Washington, Michael Oren. But no conclusions should be drawn from that, because he hasn’t had time to meet the PLO representative here, Maen Areikat, either. Noting Egypt’s efforts to mediate a reconciliation between the PLO’s Fatah party and Hamas — which rules the restive, overcrowded Gaza Strip and is ideologically linked to the Brotherhood — the ambassador said, “We are committed to a just and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian problem. On the other hand, we’re trying to unify the Palestinians. We feel that whenever the Palestinians are divided, it does not serve their interests in any way.” But Egypt is now more embroiled in a more urgent Middle East crisis: the ongoing civil war in Syria, which has taken an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 lives. While his government “is not in a position to supply” weapons or financial help to the rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, Tawfik said, “We’re giving as much support as we can to the Syrian people. We have about 100,000 Syrian refugees in Egypt and we’ve opened our universities to them, free of any tuition fees. We’re actively trying to unify the Syrian opposition so that they’ll have a more coherent political approach. “We feel the Syrian people deserve democracy just as much as the Egyptian people,” he added.“We cannot support a regime that is killing its own people. We feel we should support the cause of democracy in Syria, as a matter of principle.” Despite Egypt’s historic gains, the long shadow of dictatorship and corruption under Mubarak won’t soon be forgotten, says Tawfik. “Obviously, power corrupts, and staying in power for a long time definitely took its toll on

See EGyPT, page 22 November 2012

Global Vantage Point

Middle East

Syria: A Divided Society Comes Apart at the Seams by Stephen Starr


n the non-descript town of Qatana, 15 miles southwest of the capital Damascus, Christian families are cloaked in fear. In late October, Father Fadi Haddad, a Christian Orthodox priest and leading member of a community of around 100 families, was abducted when attempting to pay the 50 million Syrian pound ($700,000) ransom demanded by unknown men for the release of a local Christian dentist who had been kidnapped earlier in the month.

Christians in the town have said “men with beards” — a parochial reference to Islamic jihadis — were responsible. Other Christians in Qatana fear they may be next to disappear. Syria’s uprising-turned-civil war has flamed sectarian and religious animosity that had been tamped down by an iron fist for four decades. The country is home to Sunni, Shiite, Druze, Ismaili, Christian and Alawite faiths, as well as numerous other ethnic minorities.As such, the violence and tenacity of its revolt is, perhaps, unsurprising. Seventy-five percent of the population is Sunni Muslims. Sunnis also account for the majority of the rural poor, and they were the ones who started out protesting against President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite rule and who have taken up weapons to oust the dictator. Syria, the country, was born an artificial state.Almost 100 years ago, European powers pooled Kurds, Christians, Alawites, Druze, Shiites, Sunnis, Armenians, destitute farmers and prosperous merchants all into one country, forcing people to adopt a single “Syrian” identity. Through cunning strategy and brutal violence, both Bashar al-Assad and his father, Hafez, succeeded in holding this largely synthetic identity together until the outbreak of revolt in March last year.

Instilling Fear From the outset of the revolt, the regime’s media arm sought to reel in minority communities by staging interviews and talk shows with leading Christian and Shiite clergymen. The government was to reassure minority groups that their own religious leaders stood with the regime, and so they should, too. At night, civilians in Alawite districts around the country were armed with machine guns by state militias and told to watch out for strangers in their neighborhoods and towns. A heightened sense of both fear and loyalty to Bashar al-Assad was instilled in this community during the early days of the uprising. Furthermore, as Alawites dominate the state’s military and security sectors, non-Alawite Syrians saw those driving government vehicles bearing effigies of the president as Alawites.As such,Alawites were identified in both political and religious terms — as supporters of the regime and loyal subjects of Assad.

The Urban-Rural Divide Increasing religious divisions are not the sole obstruc-

November 2012

credit: UN Photo / David Manyua

Following a heavy attack in June, a shell lays in the middle of a desolate street in Homs, a hotbed of Syria’s uprising, which is now dragging into its 20th month.

Syria, the country, was born an artificial state. Almost 100 years ago, European powers pooled Kurds, Christians, Alawites, Druze, Shiites, Sunnis, Armenians, destitute farmers and prosperous merchants all into one country, forcing people to adopt a single “Syrian” identity. tion to future peace and stability in Syria. People living in Syria’s urban centers — particularly those from notable families in Aleppo and Damascus — see themselves as having little in common with those from the countryside. Living in apartments regularly worth millions of dollars, the urban middle class speak two or more languages, dine in expensive restaurants, travel to Turkey and Europe, and identify little with their fellow country men and women, the protagonists of the ongoing

revolt. These urbanites have not experienced the regime’s brutality because they have not opposed it — they have no reason to; they fear their homes losing market value and the uncertainty that accompanies revolt.They curse the revolutionaries who have brought checkpoints, traffic jams, electricity outages and fear to their streets.They see the protestors as uneducated and uncultivated, and want little to do with the change the rural communities are attempting to enforce. But the rebels and protestors must physically take control of the major cities in order to oust the regime, and one of the main reasons this episode of the Arab Spring has continued for so long is because the urban populations will not assist the revolutionaries. As a result, the violence will only increase.

Divided Opposition Leaders Means Alienated Opposition Syrians supporting the revolt are also divided by the figures and personalities in the Syrian political opposition. Many protestors — risking their lives to march in the streets of Daraa and Homs — are sharply critical of the opposition leaders who appear on satellite television each evening complaining about the lack of international intervention from the safety and comfort of Istanbul, Cairo or Washington, D.C. The few Syrian Christians who have joined the politi-

See syria, page 54 The Washington Diplomat Page 19


Washington, D.C.

Monaco’s Noghès Forms Cancer Support Group for Diplomatic Spouses by Gail Sullivan


hey call cancer “the big C” for a reason. An estimated 1,638,910 people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer this year — 226,870 with breast cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. The numbers are daunting. Researchers are at work trying to improve treatment methods and ultimately find cures, while doctors diagnose and treat symptoms of the disease. But cancer isn’t just a scientific riddle or a physical battle — it is an emotional one. That’s where friends, family and support groups come in. For diplomatic spouses in D.C. who’ve survived, been diagnosed with, or are fighting breast cancer, that’s where Ellen Noghès comes in. Noghès is the American-born wife of Gilles Noghès, Monaco’s ambassador in Washington.As a former public relations and marketing specialist, Noghès is well suited to the task of raising breast cancer awareness. But it was her own experience as a breast cancer survivor — and the diagnosis of two friends, also diplomatic spouses — that propelled her to reach out to women who found themselves in a similar situation. So she started a support group. Since 2009, a group of women from various countries in various stages of cancer, from diagnosis to remission, have gathered regularly to speak freely about their fears, share stories, offer support, and find reasons to laugh together. Cancer isn’t an experience everyone wants to revisit. Some survivors, anxious to put the disease behind them, understandably wouldn’t relish the trips down cancer memory lane that forming a support group entails. But for Noghès, starting a support group after being cancerfree for six years was empowering. Her own 2001 breast cancer diagnosis was bookended by two melanomas, one in 1996 and the other in 2006. “I just broke the cycle,” she said, having finally made it more than five years without a cancer diagnosis. Noghès has traveled to all seven continents and lived abroad with her husband for nearly 19 years, but says that “nowhere was more foreign than where we sat each time I was told I had cancer.” Noghès was in Paris, where her husband was posted at the time, when she found out she had breast cancer. From January through August of 2001, she underwent treatment, including radiation and a lumpectomy, all while doing her best to fulfill her role as a diplomatic spouse, which she describes as a “full-time job.” She appeared at events and was the ever-gracious hostess, but behind the brave face, business conferences and ball gowns was a woman silently battling a lifethreatening illness. “I was all alone,” she said. “I had my husband, but he was at work. I didn’t know anyone who’d been through it. I didn’t have anyone to talk to. It was very lonely.” Little did she know that at the time, her good friend Calliopi Mavroyiannis, wife of Andreas Mavroyiannis, deputy minister for European affairs to the Cypriot president, was going through the same thing.They often ran into each other at diplomatic events, but when one asked how the other was doing, they would both always

Page 20

Photo: Ellen Noghès

Cancer survivor Ellen Noghès, the wife of Monaco’s ambassador in Washington, was given a Special Recognition Award by the Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program of the Prevent Cancer Foundation at the group’s 20th anniversary luncheon for bringing together members of the diplomatic community who are fighting cancer. Supporters who came out for the Capitol Hill luncheon include, from left: wife of the Italian ambassador Laura Denise Bisogniero; wife of the former Afghan ambassador Shamim Jawad (hidden from view); wife of the Chinese ambassador Chen Naiqing; Ambassador of Oman Hunaina Sultan Al-Mughairy; Marie Royce, wife of Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.); honoree Ellen Noghès; Shaista Mahmood; wife of the Israeli ambassador Sally Oren; wife of the Norwegian ambassador Rev. Dr. Cecilie Jorgensen Strommen; wife of the Slovenian ambassador Jovanna Kirn; wife of the Swiss ambassador Christine Sager; wife of the Mexican ambassador Veronica Valencia-Sarukhan; and Bo Aldige, founder and president of the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

We just get together and share experiences…. We laugh a lot. We celebrate life. — Ellen Noghès

wife of the Monaco ambassador and breast cancer survivor

answer,“fine.” Both women had lumpectomies and went through radiation but neither uttered a word about their cancer. When asked about the reason for their silence, Noghès could only speculate. Perhaps it felt too overwhelming to talk about. Perhaps it was just the way things were then. Cancer wasn’t discussed openly in Europe at the time as it is now in the United States. Or perhaps, like politics and religion, cancer just isn’t considered polite dinner table conversation — especially when the table is at a formal diplomatic gathering. Indeed, when faced with the social pressure to keep up appearances as a diplomatic spouse, most women’s first instinct isn’t to divulge their personal struggles. It wasn’t until years later, when both Noghès and Mavroyiannis were living in New York City, that the silence was broken.While flipping through the member bios of a women’s club she planned to join, Noghès spotted her friend’s profile and was shocked to read that Mavroyiannis was a breast cancer survivor. Noghès

picked up the phone and the two women had a long overdue conversation. “We realized how silly we were that we didn’t talk about it,” Noghès said. It was then she decided that nobody should have to endure breast cancer in silence — and decided to do something about it. Her first move was co-hosting a “pink party” with Mavroyiannis. “We didn’t want to do fundraising,” she said,“we wanted to raise awareness … to create an environment where diplomatic spouses from very different cultures could come together and discuss freely and comfortably their concerns, issues and experiences with breast cancer.” The two women invited the oncologist they both saw in New York to speak and answer questions at the event, which attracted 75 women, mostly diplomatic spouses, including Nane Annan, wife of then U.N. SecretaryGeneral Kofi Annan. “It was a huge success,” recalled Noghès. “Women from all the continents were feeling free to ask intimate questions.” Guests wore pink and were served pink champagne. Even Prince Albert of Monaco, whom Noghès had learned a week before the event would be in town, arrived in a pink tie and posed for photos. In 2007, Noghès and her husband moved to D.C. to open Monaco’s first embassy here. When Noghès’s friend and neighbor Shamim Jawad, the wife of the ambassador of Afghanistan, was diagnosed with breast cancer, she reached out to her immediately. Not long

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after that, the wife of the ambassador of Norway, Cecilie Jorgensen Strommen, was diagnosed, and the three women began getting together to talk.Then Jovanna Kirn, wife of the Slovenian ambassador, was diagnosed, then Sally Oren, the Israeli ambassador’s wife, and soon a conversation between three women grew into an informal support group. “We just get together and share experiences,” said Noghès.“We laugh a lot. We celebrate life.” At first blush, a group of women getting together to chat doesn’t seem like much. On closer inspection, it’s clear these gatherings serve a much more significant function. When the wife of a diplomat is diagnosed with breast cancer, chances are she is far from home — and far from a network of friends and family. She hears the news in a foreign tongue from a doctor she probably doesn’t know, and she undergoes treatment in a medical culture that may be unfamiliar to her or even uncomfortable given her cultural beliefs. Having other women to talk to — in particular those who understand the feelings of isolation and rigors of diplomatic life — can be invaluable. Some of the women in Noghès’s group have not told their own mothers about their diagnoses. In many parts of the world, cancer is still taboo. In some cultures, a cancer diagnosis can even jeopardize the social standing of your family or marriage prospects for female relatives. But in Noghès’s group, there is no shame in cancer. As a show of support for one of the women who was concerned about her upcoming surgery and the resulting scar, women who’d had mastectomies or lumpectomies lifted up their shirts, proudly displaying their own scars as a badge of honor. Noghès doesn’t shy away from talking about breast cancer. She described herself as “militant about it.” When she hears someone has been diagnosed, she reaches out right away to lend

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the regime and the whole country,” he said. “The country’s economy was growing, but for the benefit of a small minority. The majority of Egyptians were not feeling the benefits of this growth, and the major problems facing Egypt were not being addressed.” Even so, the country wasn’t that corrupt, he adds. “The Arab world is a very diverse place, and if I were to compare corruption in Egypt with countries of a similar population and GDP, Egypt would not fare that badly. But the difference is that Egyptians have very high expectations of themselves. They belong to one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever known, so they’re not satisfied with situations that may be OK for others.” To that end, besides promoting Egypt’s image in the United States as an emerging democracy,Tawfik’s job is also to push tourism and foreign investment in his country. Tourism understandably plunged in the wake of the Tahrir Square protests, though the numbers are gradually rebounding.And despite the country’s poverty, Egypt’s growing population provides a potentially enormous market for U.S. products. “Millions of people are visiting Egypt as we speak, and they’re having a great time,” Tawfik said. “Investors also find very good opportunities in Egypt today. The business environment is serious. Just a few weeks ago, we had a very large delegation with 50 major U.S. companies visit Egypt, and they

support. And when a female ambassador told her she hadn’t had a mammogram in years, she gave her the name of a doctor and promised to “bug” her until she made an appointment. On Sept. 20, Noghès received special recognition for her work from the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program at its 20th annual Action for Cancer Awareness luncheon, which honors members of Congress and their spouses, as well as journalists and other public figures for outstanding efforts to support cancer awareness and prevention. She invited the diplomatic spouses in her support group to attend and accept the award with her at the Capitol Hill luncheon, where she was also joined by Marie Royce, wife of Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), who nominated Noghès for the award and introduced her at the program. Noghès is the first diplomatic liaison to the Congressional Families program. In that role, she helped to plan the 2011 Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Spring Gala, an annual fundraising event that salutes a different country each year. Founded in 1985, the foundation has provided more than $130 million in support of cancer prevention and early detection research, education, advocacy and community outreach nationwide. Noghès has also served as a bridge between the diplomatic community and the Prevent Cancer Foundation, hosting a tea last year to introduce the group’s founder to her colleagues. That sort of face-to-face interaction makes a critical difference when it comes to getting foreign delegations on board with planning fundraisers, because then you’re “not just asking a country to be there, you’re asking a friend,” Noghès said. And for Noghès, cancer is not about numbers and statistics — it’s all about lending a helping hand to her friends.

Gail Sullivan is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

came back impressed with what they saw.” Yet Egypt also hosted a U.S. business delegation at the height of the anti-American video protests on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks — its government courting American dollars while its people trashed the U.S. Embassy. And in Cairo, as the ancient Pyramids at Giza keep a watchful eye over the bustling, traffic-clogged capital, what they see is history being written, though no one knows what the next chapter holds. Yet one thing’s for sure — the modern pharaoh is gone, Tawfik says, and there’s no turning back now. Egypt, at least, will never again be a dictatorship, he vowed, despite the ongoing protests by liberals, leftists and revolutionaries in Tahrir Square that now target Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood instead of Mubarak. “If you had been in Tahrir Square during those 18 days, you would have no doubt that the Egyptian people risked everything for democracy — and they will not accept anything short of true democracy,” Tawfik said.“I think that’s the best guarantee.”

Larry Luxner is news editor of The Washington Diplomat.

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November 2012

EDUCATION ■ A Special Section of The Washington Diplomat

■ November 2012

Sense of Community Multicultural and Pragmatic, Community Colleges Go Global by Carolyn Cosmos Pei-Wen Liu, a business undergraduate student from Taiwan who is living and studying near D.C.’s Dupont Circle, says she texts his father in Taiwan every day. “If I’m very busy and forget it, he’ll complain!” she says, with affectionate laughter. Her parents own an iron works company back home, and “I’m planning on going back to Taiwan to run the business with an older brother when they retire,” she said, noting that she and her brother plan to take the company global. A graduate of Howard Community College in Columbia, Md., Liu began her academic journey in the United States at the two-year institution located halfway between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. She transferred this fall to the Dupont Circle campus of Johns Hopkins University’s Carey Business School to obtain Montgomery College Rockville Science Center

her four-year college degree. Continued on next page

PHoTo: SAnJAy SUCHAk / MonTgoMery CoLLege

■ INSIDE: Qatar has ambitions to become a hub of knowledge in the Middle East. PAGE 28 ■ D.C.’s International Student House is a haven for foreign students. PAGE 32 ■

EDUCATION November 2012

The Washington Diplomat Page23

Continued from previous page Accepted at a number of major U.S. universities before selecting Hopkins, Liu is one of the thousands of international students who follow a little-noted pathway to an American education: via one of the country’s many community colleges, where students can earn an associate degree or simply come for briefer studies or Englishlanguage classes. In fact, according to the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors data, nearly 90,000 students from other countries were enrolled at community colleges in the United States in 2011. PHoTo: HoWArD CoMMUnITy CoLLege Such schools, known for their NOTE: Although every effort is made to assure your ad is free of mistakes in spelling and Howard Community College regularly holds events such as the smaller classes and far lower costs, offer associate content it is ultimately up to the customer to make the final proof. “Arts Around the World” festival, above, and informal F-1 visa degrees — the first half of a traditional four-year college degree — with many of their students transferring to brunches to welcome its international students. The first two faxed changes will be made at no cost to the advertiser, subsequent changes universities to complete the second half of their underpublicly funded at close-to-home graduate education. Community colleges also non- atput will offer be billed a rate of $75 perhigher faxededucation alteration. Signed ads are considered approved. credit “enrichment” courses to the general public, techni- facilities, beginning 100 years ago,” says the AACC website. “[They check are] inclusive institutions welcome who to your ad. cal and professional training, and standard college courses Please this ad carefully.thatMark any all changes for credit. In short, they not only prepare students for desire to learn, regardless of wealth, heritage, or previous undergraduate degrees, they also prep them for jobs in academic experience.” the ad is correct sign fax to: (301) needs changes Thisand “open-access policy”949-0065 reigns at most of the roughly accounting, biotechnology, multimedia,If health care, com1,600 such institutions across the United States, where puter science and a plethora of other fields. Theare Washington (301) 933-3552 two-year colleges are known for serving a multicultural Nearly half of all U.S. undergraduates enrolled in Diplomat them,according to theAmericanAssociation of Community tapestry of different ethnicities, economic backgrounds Colleges (AACC), and they are increasingly the colleges of and ages. They’re home to 18-year-olds fresh out of high Approved __________________________________________________________ choice for well-prepared high-school students from cash- school, busy working adults, veterans, newly arrived immiChanges ___________________________________________________________ grants, international students and many others. strapped middle-class families. ___________________________________________________________________ And as the economy puts a crimp on college plans “Community colleges are an American invention that

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EDUCATION The Washington Diplomat

November 2012

The first two faxed changes will be made at no cost to the advertiser, subsequent changes will be billed at a rate of $75 per faxed alteration. Signed ads are considered approved. Please check this ad carefully. Mark any changes to your ad. If the ad is correct sign and fax to: (301) 949-0065 across the country — where some of the most elite private universities can run upward of $60,000 a year — community colleges, which typically cost a few thousand dollars a year in tuition, are becoming an increasingly popular option. More than that, they’ve become a national necessity as the United States seeks to build an educated workforce that can compete in a 21st-century globalized world — one where a high school degree just won’t cut it anymore. But community colleges are more than just money-saving blips on the way to “real” college or workshops for basic vocational training. They’re increasingly being recognized for the rigorous caliber of education they provide — which in turn is what attracts students like Liu and others from around the world to them. In the Washington area, the community colleges with the largest international enrollments PHoTo: SAnJAy SUCHAk / MonTgoMery CoLLege are Northern Virginia Community Dr. Wannachai Chayawanno, a Buddhist monk from College (where incidentally Jill Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University in Thailand, Biden teaches), Montgomery receives a demonstration in the writing lab by a student College and Howard Community from Montgomery College’s germantown campus, one College, according to Alice Blayneof three campuses that the well-regarded Maryland Allard, associate vice president of community college has. international programs at AACC. Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is one of the largest community colleges in the country, with six campuses and nearly 80,000 students. Last year, 8,500 of them were international students

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The world comes together at WIS…. WIS challenges students in Grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12 to become responsible and engaged global citizens. Our inquiry-based, learner-centered education encourages creative and critical thinking in all disciplines and is inspired by academic innovators around the world. WIS is multicultural and multilingual, and offers our students the following: • An education which culminates in the rigorous International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, a college preparatory program recognized around the world. • A community of teachers which represents more than 30 nations. • French and Spanish language immersion programs in Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten, instruction by native speakers in all grades and a commitment to learning in more than one language. • Beginning language options in many grades.

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from about 180 different countries, and during the 2012 spring semester, NOVA had 1,460 students with F-1 visas enrolled in its credit courses, according to the school’s Office of Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment. Of the 1,398 students classified as “international” who are enrolled this year at Howard Community College (which has a total student population of 30,000), most are either international U.S. citizens or permanent resiPhoto: Northern Virginia Community College dents with green cards, according to Patricia Bylsma, Home to six campuses and nearly 80,000 students, Howard’s assistant director Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is one of the of international admissions; largest community colleges in the country — and one of the 184 are full-time students most diverse, with 8,500 international students from about from other countries who 180 different countries studying there last year. have F-1 student visas. Montgomery College in Maryland had 845 full-time F-1 visa students from other countries last year. But, as is the case at Howard and NOVA, that’s only part of the picture. According to the school, there were more than 8,000 non-U.S. citizens enrolled in the fall 2011 semester, and they represented 171 different countries. Ethiopia, Cameroon, El Salvador, Peru and China were the top five countries. And of the nearly 27,000 students on Montgomery’s three campuses in Germantown, Rockville and Silver Spring, about 30 percent are black, 15 percent Asian, 13 percent Hispanic, and 10 percent multiracial. This melting pot at American community colleges is, in fact, one of the big draws for foreign students like Thaiza Julião of Brazil. Julião arrived in the United States with a bachelor’s degree in business, but she’s working on an associate degree in accounting at Montgomery College before moving on to get her master’s in business administration.



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EDUCATION The Washington Diplomat

November 2012

“What I love the most about Montgomery College is the opportunity to learn about other countries and cultures as you interact with your classmates,” she said.“And the professors are very supportive.” Julião’s praise of Montgomery’s diversity is echoed by Pei-Wen Liu, who lauded the various connections and student support that Howard Community College (HCC) afforded her. “I feel like HCC has good programs to help international students. I started my studies at HCC’s English Language Institute, got a lot of help and met a lot of people — professors and students, staff. Howard’s a great place to build up your [personal and professional] connections.” Howard is also well connected to major four-year universities, she added,“making it easy to transfer.” “Our classes are small, and we’re good at making ourselves available to students,” said Howard’s Bylsma, American Association who spoke to The Diplomat the day of an “F-1 of Community Colleges: brunch,” an informal drop-in event where tional visa students can socialize. “We do walk-in advising as well as personal one-on-one and social Howard Community College: events,” she noted. There are no dorms on campus — typical of community colleges — but Bylsma said students are Montgomery College: encouraged to take part in school clubs, cultural events, sports and volunteer projects. “We want students to break out of their comfort zone, in part Northern Virginia Community because major universities want to see extracurricuCollege: lar activities and well-rounded applicants.” “I feel this approach opened my mind,” Liu said. “When I came to the U.S., like many Asian students, I was shy. Here you have to speak up in class and come out of your shell so you can show people who you are.” At Howard, where Liu immersed herself in English-language studies for a year, Liu said there are many activities outside of the classroom, such as “first Friday” parties at a professor’s house where faculty mingle with international and American students. She took advantage of such opportunities, worked on campus, and participated in Howard’s “Arts Around the World” festival. It all paid off. Liu said she had initially hesitated to apply to major universities, but a Howard teacher and her international advisor encouraged her to “take a shot. She did and was accepted to the State University of New York, the

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University of Maryland at College Park, the City University of New York, and the George Washington University in the District before choosing Johns Hopkins. Howard graduates with associate degrees go on to graduate from top universities across the country, Bylsma said, mentioning schools in Indiana, California and Minnesota as well as along the eastern seaboard. Students at the English Institute (a school within the school) have done the same, transferring to twoand four-year institutions. “I want to create my own life and do something significant with it,” Liu said of her journey to date — and of her future. She appears well on her way to doing just that as she begins her international business studies at Johns Hopkins. Along the way, she’ll of course stay in touch with her family on a regular basis. “And you know,” she said,“I think my dad is just as excited about my studies at Hopkins as I am.” Carolyn Cosmos is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat. She has taught at Montgomery College, Prince George’s Community College, the Metropolitan School of Professional Studies at the Catholic University of America and the University of Maryland.

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[ qatar ]

Mecca of Learning With Its Sprawling Education City, Qatar Aims to Be Knowledge Hub by Dave Seminara


asser Al Khori knew he wanted an American education, but he didn’t bargain on getting it in his native Qatar. His father was educated at Seattle University and most of his classmates at the elite American School of Doha were planning to study in the United States. Al Khori was admitted to the University of Pennsylvania and was set to pack his bags for Philadelphia until he attended a presentation from Carnegie Mellon University in Doha. “I decided to stay here because the business school at Carnegie is one of the top 10 in the world,” said Al Khori, who graduated in May and now works as a program associate at the Qatar Foundation in Doha. “And I figured I could get the same exact education right here at home as I would in the States.” Al Khori, 21, is at the vanguard of an experiment that could be a model for how countries around the Middle East and the world invest in education. He got his degree in business administration from Carnegie Mellon’s branch campus at Doha’s Education City, a 2,500-acre complex where sixAmerican and two European universities have established branch camPhoto: Qatar Foundation puses. Carnegie Mellon University is one of six major U.S. uniIn 1995, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa versities that have branch campuses at Doha’s Education Al-Thani, then 43, deposed his father in a City, a 2,500-acre complex that seeks to make Qatar a bloodless coup while he was out of the leader in higher education throughout the region. country. That same year, he launched the Qatar Foundation, a nonprofit organization establishment of branch campuses in Qatar is a nochaired by one of his three wives, Sheikha risk investment opportunity for them. Moza bint Nasser, with the goal of “supportThe foundation doesn’t release precise financial ing Qatar on its journey from carbon econonumbers for Education City but the total amount my to knowledge economy by unlocking spent is well into the billions. In helping to establish human potential.” Cornell’s medical school, which graduated its first That plan was laid out in a national stratclass of doctors in 2008, the foundation committed egy called Qatar National Vision 2030, which $750 million for the first 11 years. outlines how the country must transform — Nasser Al Khori Where does all that money come from? Once itself. But is it realistic to believe that Qatar graduate of Carnegie Mellon University in Doha, Qatar desperately poor, Qatar now has nearly 900 trillion will continue to prosper long after its natucubic feet of proven natural gas reserves, making the ral resources are gone? And will establishing an American education beachhead in the Middle East help enhance the image of the country the world’s third biggest supplier, and has an annual per-capita income of more than $100,000, according to the CIA World Factbook (also see the cover profile “Qatar’s United States in the region? A year after taking power from his father, the Emir provided seed money to help Prosperity As High As Its Geopolitical Ambitions” in the October 2012 issue of The launch Al Jazeera, the groundbreaking pan-Arab satellite TV network, and tiny Qatar, Washington Diplomat). University officials insist that everything about the branch campuses is exactly the with a population of just 1.8 million citizens, began to creep out of obscurity. Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, who earned a bachelor’s degree at Qatar University, felt that her coun- same as it would be in the United States, including admissions standards and procedures, curriculum, class work and tuition. There are also the everyday trappings of try needed to invest heavily in education to help it transform into a modern society. The Education City complex has evolved and expanded since Virginia Commonwealth American campus life: Starbucks, co-ed study get-togethers, T-shirts with school masUniversity (VCU) became the first American school to open a branch campus in the cots. But this being Doha, not Detroit, there are some differences.Women are not allowed country in 1998. Now more than 4,000 students, over half of them female, from Qatar and dozens of other countries are working on degrees in medicine from Cornell to enter male dormitories, students have reciprocal privileges to attend classes at any of University, journalism from Northwestern, international relations at Georgetown, design the universities in Education City, and many students don’t pay a dime for their educaat VCU, engineering at Texas A&M, or business and computer science at Carnegie tion. Only about 25 percent of Qatar’s residents have Qatari citizenship, as it’s difficult for Mellon — all right in the Education City complex on the outskirts of Doha. University College London also recently started a graduate program in museum stud- the multitude of guest workers in the country to naturalize, even if they were born in ies at Education City, the French business school HEC Paris just launched a branch Qatar. But this privileged minority has the right to attend any college or university they campus, and there’s also a local institution called the Hamad bin Khalifa University and like, anywhere in the world, free of charge. The government even pays them a stipend the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies. The Qatar Foundation covers all of the operating expenses for these schools, so the See qatar, page 30

“I decided to stay here because the business school at Carnegie is one of the top 10 in the world…. And I figured I could get the same exact education right here at home as I would in the States. ”

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EDUCATION The Washington Diplomat

November 2012

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Qatar to cover their expenses. But even non-citizens of Qatar and foreigners have an opportunity to defray or completely avoid the high tuition costs. Aminah Kandar, a Canadian citizen of Lebanese descent, decided to transfer from Canada’s Carleton University in Ottawa to Georgetown’s campus in Doha in part because of the financial incentives. “The Qatar Foundation offers interest-free loans that we don’t have to pay back until we’re employed,” she said. “You pay 15 percent of your annual salary per year, or if you work for pre-approved Qatari organizations, you can get your debt completely forgiven. And if you get at least a 3.6 GPA, your whole tuition is covered by the foundation.” The huge investments being made in Education City might not make sense if most graduates were fleeing the country for opportunities elsewhere, but that is not the case. Qatar had the highest real GDP growth rate in the world in 2011, at 18.7 percent, and with the country set to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022, job growth and economic development are likely to remain robust.

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Al Khori and Kandar report that their classmates have had no difficulty finding jobs, mostly in Qatar.Al Khori’s brother studied mechanical engineering at Texas A&M’s campus in Doha and now works for Shell, and his sister studied at Cornell’s Education City campus and is now doing a residency in radiology. For some Qataris who return home after long residencies abroad, the country bears little resemblance to the place they left behind. Amal Mohammed Al-Malki, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Education City branch, said that when she left the country for the United Kingdom in 1996, women couldn’t drive and had limited rights. “When I came back in 2003, it was a totally different country,” she said.“Women had many more rights and responsibilities. They were driving. You could see their photos published in newspapers, which was unheard of before.Women’s status had changed drastically and it was mostly thanks to the Emir’s wife, who has singlehandedly changed the way women are perceived in this society.” Al-Malki is in a distinct minority as a Qatari professor at Education City; most instructors are American or European, and the foundation has devoted significant resources to attracting academic talent from around the world. Georgetown’s dean, Gerd Nonneman, a Belgian citizen who taught in Britain, wasn’t initially sold on the Education City concept. “I was a skeptic,” he recalled in a recent telephone interview. “I thought this was likely a white elephant project that would be very expensive and wouldn’t really work.” But Nonneman changed his mind after making several trips to Qatar and seeing the results of the foundation’s efforts firsthand. Then when he was offered the opportunity Photo: Qatar Foundation with Georgetown last year, he didn’t hesitate to accept. Doha’s Education City, which is home to more than Nonneman and other faculty bring a lib- 4,000 students, over half of them female, inaugurates eral arts mentality that promotes critical the newest U.S. branch to join its sprawling campus: thinking and open debate in what is still a Northwestern University. conservative, albeit progressive, Islamic monarchy. So while the establishment of branch campuses modeled on a U.S.-based system may be a no-risk proposition for the six American universities that have invested in Doha, is their presence in the country likely to change how students feel about the United States? Qatar is home to America’s largest airbase in the Middle East but many ordinary citizens have an unfavorable impression of U.S. foreign policy, particularly the American stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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EDUCATION The Washington Diplomat

November 2012

Al Khori says that attending a branch of an American university isn’t likely to alter a student’s perception of how the United States acts on the global stage. “People love America and they would like to visit there, but when it comes to foreign policy, we are so aware of what is going on, especially through Al Jazeera, so I don’t think attending an American university will change our perceptions,” he said. Photo: Qatar Foundation But Kandar thinks that both Westerners and Arabs refine their understanding of Students at Doha’s Education City work toward degrees in each other and the world by interacting engineering from Texas A&M, above, medicine from Cornell, with one another in an academic setting. journalism from Northwestern, international relations at “I know some students who have Georgetown, design at Virginia Commonwealth University, or changed their perceptions through business and computer science at Carnegie Mellon. meeting American professors, when maybe they hadn’t known Americans before,” she said. America’s interests aside, some question whether the massive investments Qatar is making in education will transform the society.Allen Fromherz, an associate professor at Georgia State University and the author of “Qatar: A Modern History,” isn’t convinced that Education City will revolutionize the country. “It’s primarily students from very elite families,” he said.“I don’t want to dismiss the good intentions of the Qatar Foundation, but if you look at the numbers and demographics, I see it as not very likely that it’s going to make the profound impact on society that’s been promised.” He added:“A lot of what is done in Qatar is for an external audience and to increase the prestige of the Emir, and legitimize his claims to monarchical power, which never really existed before.” But Dean Nonneman countered that Georgetown and the other Education City institutions provide need and merit-based scholarships and noted that only about one-third of their students are Qatari citizens. He believes that Qatar’s investment in education is a sound one that will indeed transform the society and serve as a model for the region. “We provide a space to engage on critical issues and develop critical thinking,” he said.“Where that leads around the region, I can’t predict.We’re not interested in telling people how to think — we give people the tools to think for themselves, articulate those positions, and contribute to their societies.”

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[ international exchange ]

Room to Grow International Student House Offers Roof and Relationships

Photo: Kathleen Hill / International Student House


by Martin Austermuhle

housands of international students come to Washington, D.C., to study every year, jumping headfirst into a country and culture that may be completely alien to them. Beyond navigating the rituals of academic and social life in the United States, they’re faced with the task of finding housing in a city that boasts an expensive — and extremely competitive — housing market. In that, the International Student House is a refreshing surprise. Located in the heart of the desirable Dupont Circle neighborhood, the 100-yearold Tudor-style residence rises five stories over R Street, resembling a home that would be better placed in England than the U.S. capital. Inside, up to 100 graduate students from across the globe share both roof and relationship, living in a community that celebrates the many countries and cultures from which they hail. Established in 1934 by the Quakers, the International Student House in D.C. — then located on New Hampshire Avenue and home to only 18 students from Georgetown, George Washington, Catholic, and American universities — sought to ease the transition of international students arriving in Washington for undergraduate and graduate studies. It also served as a refuge for students of color, both local and international, who were effectively shut out of rooming houses throughout large parts of the city due to de facto segregation. In 1946, the organization purchased the house on R Street from the family of Demarest Lloyd. In 1967, a second building was constructed adjacent to the house, and two decades later a third building located behind was purchased to expand

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From left, Ji Hoo Moon, Carole Galliau, Sabrina Viana, Jakub Hlavka, Miriam Maria Sangiorgio, Christoffer Vorre and Lucile Knez, all of whom live in D.C.’s International Student House (ISH), attend ISH’s annual gala in October that honored Chuck Hagel, former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska.

capacity to 100 students at a time, or 300 over the course of a year. (The relationship with the Quakers ended in the 1960s, and the International Student House now operates as a nonprofit organization that’s affiliated with 22 International Houses around the world.) To date, says the organization, it has housed some 10,000 students from 130 different countries. This semester, 40 countries are represented. Notable alumni include a former Norwegian finance minister, a member of Indonesia’s parliament and Geir Haarde, who served as Iceland’s prime minister from 2006 to 2009. Now, international graduate students and interns pay between $1,200 and $1,600 a month — an enviable rate for the neighborhood — for single, double, triple or quad accommodations, with communal breakfast and dinner included. The house used to accommodate undergraduate students, but it transitioned to graduates after the drinking age in the U.S. was raised to 21 in 1984; it’s easier for the house to avoid legal entanglements if everyone is of legal age, said board president Putnam Ebinger. In early October, the International Student House held its annual gala, which honored Chuck Hagel, former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska, with its 2012 Global Leadership Award. The organization’s leaders, board members, students and invited guests mingled in the house’s outdoor garden and dined in the dramatic great hall, modeled after Haddon Hall in Yorkshire, England.

EDUCATION The Washington Diplomat

November 2012

“They’re like family…. We hang out together, we share together. You come home from school, and you’re so tired, so stressed. All of a sudden, you see so many faces in front of you; people make jokes with you. I’m blessed to be here.” — Sayed Ehsan Hosaini Afghan resident of the International Student House

Photo: Kathleen Hill / International Student House

The International Student House is home to some 100 graduate students from across the world who pay between $1,200 and $1,600 a month — an enviable rate for the neighborhood — for accommodations, as well as communal breakfast and dinner.

Facebook during his semester here, and I could see how much he liked it here, how many friends he made, how great it was.” Those friendships, said speakers at the gala, are invaluable. François Delattre, France’s ambassador to the U.S., celebrated the spirit of “hospitality, cultural understanding and global partnership” fostered by the house. Former Sen. Hagel said that it facilitated the person-to-person connections that underpin global engagement.

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Board members and students spoke glowingly of the house, saying that it eased otherwise difficult transitions for international students and facilitated friendships that are the foundation of global cooperation. “It’s a hidden gem in Washington,” said Ebinger, a former dean at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. Herb Schmitz, a retired international businessman and the board’s longest-serving member, called the house “incredibly unique,” even more so because it is the only one of its kind in Washington. Sayed Ehsan Hosaini has been in the house for two months, having traveled from his home in Herat, Afghanistan, to attend the George Washington University on a Fulbright scholarship. Finding the house was a stroke of luck, he said — it was the first thing that came up on Google — but one that he couldn’t be more thankful for. “They’re like family,” he said of his international housemates.“We hang out together, we share together.You come home from school, and you’re so tired, so stressed.All of a sudden, you see so many faces in front of you; people make jokes with you. I’m blessed to be here.” “There’s nothing better,” said Susanne Wagner, who came to Washington from Germany for a semester-long exchange program at George Washington’s Law School. She was tipped off to the house by a friend who had lived there.“I followed him on

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Those principles have run throughout the house’s history. In 1947, an article on the house by the Washington Post cited a student from Sierra Leone attending the school of dentistry at Howard University: “After I became a member, I found it was the best organization for knowing and understanding human relationships. It could be the nucleus for the solution of world problems,” he told the newspaper.A decade later, another article on the house opined:“When strangers become friends, tolerance and understanding follow.” In 1988, the house was called a “United Nations of college students.” It’s easy to see how those principles can travel the globe: Many of the students at the gala said they would return home as soon as they completed their studies. Hosaini said he’d be taking his knowledge back to Afghanistan, where he plans on starting a business. But despite its invaluable mission, the International Student House faces ongoing challenges in maintaining a residence that is a century old and sustaining existing programming for its residents. Thomas O’Coin, the organization’s executive director, admitted that the house — currently valued at $6.5 million — is “terribly expensive to maintain,” and survives off what students pay to live there and a smattering of contributions from private individuals and corporations. “It’s been a struggle,” he said, noting that the house needs an elevator to fill an empty elevator shaft, new electrical wiring, and a more efficient heating and cooling system. The last renovation took place in the late 1980s — it cost $1 million — and the organi-

Photo: Kathleen Hill / International Student House

The International Student House is a 100-year-old Tudor-style residence that rises five stories over R Street in the heart of the desirable Dupont Circle neighborhood.

zation has started planning a capital campaign, though details on fundraising goals have not yet been made public. O’Coin and the board members are optimistic, though, and believe that the mission that has sustained the house for seven decades will sustain it through the future. According to Ebinger, the house is still popular — for every available spot, the organization receives between five and seven applications. As China Jessup, who has served on the board since 1975, put it: “It still amazes me that such a thing is possible.” Martin Austermuhle is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat and editor in chief of

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EDUCATION The Washington Diplomat

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culture & arts




Patriotic Chef Corps A shared meal can unify different countries and cultures — and the State Department is hoping to do just that with its Diplomatic Culinary Partnership, which recruits top culinary names from across the nation to serve as America’s chef corps. PAGE 37






Earth Earthen vitality sprouts up at the Phillips Collection, home to the first major U.S. exhibition showcasing the work of Per Kirkeby, a Danish geologist and poet whose fascination with evolution and the cycle of life threads its way throughout his abstract art. PAGE 36

Spain Goes Hollywood In the 1960s and ’70s, hundreds of movies were filmed in Almería, Spain, from Spaghetti Westerns to Arabian epics — a Hollywood heyday captured through the lens of D.C.-based photographer Mark Parascandola. PAGE 39


Rocking the Boat From “juke-joint mamas” to Joan Jett to Lady Gaga, “Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power” speaks to the barriers women rockers had to shatter in a male-dominated industry. PAGE 40 Photo: ARoS AARhuS KunStmuSeum, AARhuS, DenmARK



Mike Isabella of “Top Chef” fame is a busy man — and, with his latest restaurant, Bandolero, he’s also a growing D.C. franchise. PAGE 42

The Israeli-Palestinian divide is bridged by two babies switched at birth in “The Other Son.” PAGE 44

[ art ]

Abstract Evolution Dane Taps His Inner Geologist to Evolve Artistically by Michael Coleman

Photo: mIChAeL WeRneR GALLeRY


f a visitor to the Phillips Collection was unaware of Per Kirkeby’s formal training as a geologist, they might find clues simply by viewing the gallery’s comprehensive new exhibition of the acclaimed Danish artist’s work. Earthen vitality infuses many of the 26 paintings and 11 sculptures featured in “Per Kirkeby: Paintings and Sculpture,” the first major exhibition of Kirkeby’s art in the United States.The viewing experience at the Phillips is sometimes akin to tripping around an abstract forest splashed with autumnal rusts, icy blues and sunny yellow hues. The artist, who is still creating, seems deeply interested in time, space and the relationship of natural objects to each other and to human beings. The cycle of life is threaded throughout his art, which he says is constantly in flux, like science itself. Born in 1938, Per Kirkeby studied natural history with a specialization in Arctic geology at the University of Copenhagen. As a student in the late 1950s, he traveled to Greenland to work as a research assistant. The desolation and geologic significance of Arctic snow and ice was apparently quite a lure for the young scientist. He returned to the region in 1959, 1960 and 1963. A decade later, after a stint at the modern Experimental Art School in Copenhagen, Kirkeby uprooted again, this time to study the Mayan ruins in the ancient Central American cities of Palenque, Yaxchilan, Uxmal and Copán. This diverse training and geographic exploration obviously informs Kirkeby’s work. The artist and scientist are equally fascinated by the continual evolution of earth itself. “Everything is collapsing and transforming deep inside the picture,” Kirkeby is quoted as saying in one segment of wall text. A canvas comprising “New Shadows V” bursts off the wall in an ecstatic explosion of red, orange and violet, while “Fram” is a muddy and foreboding mix of grays, dark greens and inky black.The latter’s bright yellow center, akin to a pinhole in the center of a dark paper cone, rescues the image from resembling pure pollution. Two of Kirkeby’s chalkboard drawings on display here literally pale by comparison.The faded slates feature skeletal sketching that seems incomplete and leaves the viewer wondering if the artist simply got bored and walked away. Strolling across the gallery, the exhibition takes on a more reprePhoto: the PhILLIPS CoLLeCtIon sentational tone. An arresting bronze sculpture titled simply “Large Head” returns From top, Per Kirkeby’s “Large head,” “new Shadows V,” and “untitled, to an earthen theme. The piece appears as a chunk of black lava, 2009” plus “A Picture of Yucatan” (on culture cover) are part of the first quartz-hard but etched with a seemingly endless array of valleys and major u.S. exhibition of the acclaimed Danish artist’s work, now on creases. Like a less figurative version of the permanent Picasso piece display at the Phillips Collection. “Head of a Woman” across town at the Hirshhorn Museum, “Large Head” morphs into different images as the viewer takes it in from singer Björk as an Eastern European mother suffering from a progressive different angles. It is among the most expressive pieces in the exhiblindness that also threatens her young son. (The Phillips Collection will bition. host a special viewing of the film on Dec. 20 at 6 p.m.) Phillips Director Dorothy Kosinski, a co-curator of In addition to the carefully selected canvases and bronzes, the exhibiPhoto: mIChAeL WeRneR GALLeRY the exhibition, explains that Kirkeby’s art often takes tion helpfully includes a small cache of this prodigious artist’s films and time to reveal itself. writings, including his first essays in English. A prolific author, Kirkeby’s Per Kirkeby: Paintings and Sculpture “Per Kirkeby’s work calls for slow, deep contemplapoetry often reflects on key influences, including Eugène Delacroix, Paul through Jan. 6 tion,” she said.“His paintings and sculpture are so filled Gauguin, El Greco, and Vincent van Gogh. Phillips Collection with color, content, inspiration and history that they A video loop of one of Kirkeby’s naturalistic videos marked the first are sure to spark dialogues with works in our collec1600 21st St., nW time I’ve seen an iPad mounted on a gallery wall. The juxtaposition of tion and among our visitors.” technology and traditional art seemed jarring at first, but I suspect it is For more information, please call (202) 387-2151 Although Kirkeby is in his mid-70s, he remains a probably something arts lovers will begin to see more often. or visit terrifically vital artist. His forays into books and espeLike the Phillips Collection itself, the Kirkeby exhibition represents a cially film are noteworthy. The artist has collaborated with acclaimed indie filmmaker Lars satisfying melding of the traditional and idiosyncratic in art. von Trier on numerous occasions. He also designed the graphics and chapter headings for an offbeat and critically acclaimed 2000 film called “Dancer in the Dark,” which starred Icelandic Michael Coleman is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.


Scandinavian Invasion In addition to the main Per Kirkeby exhibition, the Phillips Collection and the embassy of Denmark are partnering to introduce Washingtonians to the artist’s Scandinavian homeland through two special editions of “Phillips after 5,” the museum’s popular after-hours program held on the first

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The Washington Diplomat


thursday of each month. “Phillips after 5: Winter Fairy tale” (Dec. 6) celebrates the delights of December, Danish style, with stories by hans Christian Andersen and traditional Danish fare. “Phillips after 5: Arctic expedition” (Jan. 3), inspired by Kirkeby’s geological research in Greenland, features an environmental scientist’s perspective on the exhibition and an interactive challenge based on Kirkeby’s

richly layered paintings using Legos, which were invented in Denmark. At the Jan. 3 event, the Kennedy Center will also preview “nordic Cool 2013,” an international festival of theater, dance, music, visual arts, literature, design and film that highlights the diverse cultures of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, norway and Sweden, as well as the territories of Greenland and the Faroe and Åland Islands.

November 2012

[ food ]

Hungry to Serve State Department Dishes Up Smart Power on a Platter by Kate Oczypok


ood is oftentimes seen as the universal connector — a shared meal is a personal experience that transcends countries, cultures and languages to build mutual understanding. And that gets to the heart of public diplomacy. Embassies have long known that showcasing their culinary goodies is a surefire way to promote national culture (also see “Delectable Diplomacy: Embassies Cleverly Offer Taste of Culture With Cuisine” in the September 2011 issue of The Washington Diplomat). Now the State Department is getting in on the act with a new initiative called the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership, which aims to “elevate the role of culinary engagement in America’s formal and public diplomatic efforts,” according to a State fact sheet. Ambassador Michael Moore of New Zealand — whose embassy regularly promotes the country’s well-known wines and lamb — is excited about the effort.“Food is one of the oldest forms of diplomacy and offers insight into cultures,” he told The Washington Diplomat. “We are all more open around a table.” “The connections formed over a shared meal can develop into some of the strongest bonds,” said Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall at a star-studded State Department reception on Sept. 7 that launched the initiative.“Food has the unique ability to unite and energize.” According to the State Department, the new initiative “builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of ‘smart power’ diplomacy, which embraces the use of a full range of diplomatic tools, by utilizing food, hospitality and the dining experience as ways to enhance how formal diplomacy is conducted.” Clinton herself has long been a proponent of using food to build bridges and break the ice. As first lady, she eschewed the dated French-rooted culinary model at the White House in favor of more innovative cuisine specifically tailored to foreign guests (50 of those recipes can be found in her 2000 book “An Invitation to the White House: At Home With History”). She carried this attention to detail over to Foggy Bottom, where she’s enlisted the help of some of America’s top chefs to devise menus for visiting officials. “Factoring in others’ tastes, ceremonies and values is an overlooked and powerful part of diplomacy,” Clinton told the Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema.“The working meals I attend with foreign leaders build stronger bonds between countries and offer an important setting to further the vital diplomatic work we conduct every day.” Marshall, who was Clinton’s social secretary, said she has come to appreciate “the power of ‘people-to-people’ diplomacy and the role that food can play in it.” Prior to this initiative, Marshall’s Protocol Office had already orgathe nized various tastings of cuisine from countries such as China, Washington Mexico, India and New Zealand in advance of state visits or in partDiplomat nership with local schools. profiles the The State Department in fact has a long tradition of recruiting various culinary programs American talent to be the face of its public diplomacy efforts — hosted by the city’s embassy from jazz ambassadors like Louis Armstrong to basketball greats community. like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. For the Culinary Diplomatic Partnership, it’s tapped a cadre of high-profile chefs from around the country to serve as America’s culinary ambassadors, who’ll help with one of two programs: One, the American Chef Corps, is a network of chefs nationwide who will participate in food programs for foreign audiences abroad as well as those visiting the United States.Then there are State Chefs, who’ll be involved with State Department events and create special meals for certain occasions. A partner in the initiative is the illustrious James Beard Foundation, a nonprofit whose stated mission is “to celebrate, nurture and preserve America’s diverse culinary heritage and

next month

November 2012

PhotoS: u.S. StAte DePARtment

Top photo, u.S. Chief of Protocol Capricia Penavic marshall welcomes guests to the State Department, where they were treated to cuisine by some of America’s top chefs at the Sept. 7 launch of the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership, a program to incorporate food into u.S. public diplomacy efforts.

future.” Some of America’s most prestigious chefs also jumped at the chance to join the endeavor. Among the big-name participants: American fusion celebrity chef Ming Tsai; Chip Flanagan, executive chef of Ralph’s on the Park in New Orleans;April Bloomfield of the Spotted Pig in New York; as well as local personalities like Chris Jakubiec of Plume; Robert Wiedmaier of Marcel’s and Brasserie Beck;“Top Chef” finalist Bryan Voltaggio of Volt; and fellow “Top Chef” alum Mike Isabella of Graffiato and Bandolero. Another notable local giant is Jose Andres of Jaleo fame — who is no stranger to the State Department, where he cooked for the 50th anniversary gala dinner of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms as well as this year’s July 4th gathering for Washington ambassadors. “Over the years, I have met many people at the State Department and at embassies around the world — people that I also call friends — and that has really allowed me to engage in issues that I am passionate about,” said the Spanish-born chef, who’s the brainchild behind the widely acclaimed minibar restaurant concept and local favorites such as Zaytinya (where Isabella once worked) and Oyamel. Andres has also worked in Haiti with World Central Kitchen and as a culinary ambassador for the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, an initiative spearheaded by Secretary Clinton. “I always see myself as a representative of the United States trying to do good and make a difference,”Andres told us. He also believes that in the years to come, chefs will play an even bigger role in humanitarian aid or helping after crises. “There is a lot of potential for chefs to become involved in a major way and I think we need to push forward on that end,” he said.“In the beginning, I think the initiative will be

See FOOd, page 43 The Washington Diplomat Page 37

[ history ]

Between the Lines All That’s Fit to Print and Then Some in ‘Shock of the news’ by Gary Tischler


[ Page 38

hock of the News,” the all-over-the-place eye candy and brain food of a show at the National Gallery of Art, is what many might consider a near-perfect museum exhibition. The golden age of newspapers is seen through the prism of collages, paintings, drawings, sculptures, artists’ newspapers, prints and photographs done between 1909 and 2009 by 60 artists from both the United States and Europe. This transatlantic phenomenon literally dissected the news, incorporating, mimicking, undermining, memorializing and rewriting newspapers to suit the artists’ agenda. In that sense, the artists who manipulated the media are not that unlike the muckraking journalists of the past or today’s media moguls who also bend the news to suit their own purposes. On the one hand, curator Judith Brodie satisfies intellectuals and theorists with the exhibition’s conceptual ideas that connect modern art and modernist thinking to newspapers. “Shock of the News,” with an almost improvisational flair, manages to be a history of 20th-century art and all of its major movements — cubism, futurism, Dada, etc. — while touching on many of the major political, social and cultural convulsions of the past century. On a more visceral, immediate level, the exhibit hits home for all the news hounds who could not imagine their lives without a steady stream of headlines and breaking updates, and whose hearts ache for the fading dailies of yesterday (with Newsweek being the latest casualty). “Shock of the News” is a vivid reminder of the importance of the very presence of newspapers, for good and ill — how they confirmed and manipulated history, and how they invaded the daily lives of the masses, including several generations of artists who found excitement, disdain, complexity and inspiration in print. In fact, the exhibition is a veritable all-star parade of modernism and modernist art: Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Man Ray, Hannah Höch, Salvador Dalí, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and many others, not to mention the works of contemporaries such as the wadGuerrilla Girls. To one degree or another, all of these artists wad ded up newspapers, recreated them, cut them to pieces, used headline fragments, played with them and made them their own. It all started with Picasso — what discussion about Photo: bARbARA WIen, beRLIn modern art doesn’t start with him, after all. His 1912 colcol lege “Guitar, Sheet Music, and Glass” included a newspaper fragment and is Shock of the News considered the first self-consciously modthrough Jan. 27 ern work of art to incorporate newspaper. National Gallery of Art But in fact it was F.T. Marinetti, the on the national mall between 3rd and 9th Streets Italian poet and founder of the futurist at Constitution Avenue, nW movement, who scooped Picasso with For more information, please call (202) 737-4215 his 1909 futurist manifesto printed on or visit the front page of the newspaper Le Figaro. According to the National Gallery,“While the aims of Marinetti and Picasso were poles apart, their seminal efforts marked the beginning of a trend: Visual artists began to think about the newspaper more broadly — as a means of political critique, a collection of readymade news to appropriate and manipulate, a source of language and images, a typographical grab bag, and more.” As trends go in art, this was a hot one, and it has never really abated. Though the art world at the time was already bristling with trends, movements, styles and rebellion, newspapers found their way into many salons and studios, in collages and eventually photographs and paintings — and everything in between.


The Washington Diplomat

Photo: the ALFReDo RAmoS mARtInez ReSeARCh PRoJeCt / Photo bY GeRARD VuILLeumIeR

Newspapers served as the inspiration for a wide range of 20th-century artists in both the united States and europe, as seen in works such as, from clockwise top: Alfredo Ramos martinez’s “head of a nun”; Sarah Charlesworth’s “modern history: April 21, 1978”; hans Richter’s “Stalingrad (Victory in the east)”; Dieter Roth’s “Literaturwurst (Daily mirror)”; and John heartfield’s “Wer bürgerblätter liest wird blind und taub. Weg mit den verdummungsbandagen! (Whoever reads bourgeois newspapers goes blind and deaf. Away with bandages that make you dimwitted!).”

Photo: the metRoPoLItAn muSeum oF ARt, FoRD motoR ComPAnY CoLLeCtIon

Photo: (LeFt) Photo: hIRShhoRn muSeum AnD SCuLPtuRe GARDen ; (RIGht) CoLLeCtIon WALKeR ARt CenteR / JuStIn SmIth PuRChASe FunD / SARAh ChARLeSWoRth

Willem de Kooning once used newspapers to dry his canvasses, so much so that he incorporated the leftovers into some of his paintings. Dieter Roth’s Literaturwurst (Daily Mirror)” is made of newspaper, water, gelatin and spices wrapped in sausage casing. But artists did more than use newspaper as material — it was their muse.You want real, meaty content? This exhibition is full of it. There’s the universal content of politics and protest in works such as Sarah Charlesworth’s “Modern History,April 21, 1978,” which weaves together the front pages of 45 international newspapers to examine how they dealt with the kidnapping (and eventual murder) of Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro. Hans Richter’s 16-foot-long scroll-like 1943-44 painting “Stalingrad (Victory in the East)” incorporates actual news articles to trace the Battle of Stalingrad from onset to conclusion. John Heartfield’s 1930 photomontage, reproduced in a Berlin newspaper, shows a man’s head wrapped in a mass-market tabloid — a sly attack on newspapers whose title translates to: “Whoever reads bourgeois newspapers goes blind and deaf. Away with bandages that make you dimwitted!” Of course, today the same charge can be made against the instant age of communications, in which 140-character tweets, vapid blogs, photoshopped imagery, and a constant ticker tape of headlines may not make 21st-century readers deaf and blind, but certainly might give them a bout of attention deficit disorder. But then there’s also the sheer beauty of newspaper print, as seen in Alfredo Ramos Martinez’s “Head of a Nun,” as well as its — appropriately enough for this display — inherent shock value, something Andy Warhol understood and exploited with wild abandon. In some ways though,“Shock of the News” could just as easily be called “Malleability of the News” or “Motivational Power of the News,” because it was all those things for astute 20th-century artists on the both sides of the Atlantic. Gary Tischler is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

November 2012

[ photography ]

Spain’s Movie Set ‘once Upon a Time’ Almería was Home to Cowboys and Cleopatra by Gail Sullivan



n a tiny province on Spain’s southeastern coast, Clint Eastwood rode into town as the “Man with No Name” in Sergio Leone’s “Dollars” trilogy; George C. Scott entered Palermo as General Patton; Peter O’Toole helped to blow up a Turkish train convoy in “Lawrence of Arabia”; and Sean Connery, quoting Charlemagne, thwarted an attack by a Nazi fighter pilot with an umbrella and a flock of seagulls in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” Hundreds of movies have been filmed in Almería, Spain, whose Hollywood heyday lasted though the 1960s and ’70s. An exhibit by D.C.-based photographer Mark Parascandola, now on display at the Embassy of Spain as part of its wide-ranging “Spain arts & culture” series of programs, documents the legacy of filmmaking in Almería.The show features architecture and locations used in classic films, including historic landmarks and entire towns constructed for movie sets that still rise in the desert, like remnants of an extinct civilization. Before it was discovered by Hollywood, poet and playwright Federico Garciá Lorca found inspiration for his play “Bodas de Sangre (Blood Wedding)” in Almería. In a panoramic print, Parascandola captures the Cortijo del Fraile, a oncegrand estate built by Dominican friars in the 18th century and later the scene of a tragic murder that inspired Garciá Lorca’s play. It also played a role in Sergio Leone’s “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” The sunny desert landscape — which could easily morph from the American Southwest to Bedouin Arabia — and cheap labor first attracted filmmakers to Almería in the 1960s. It was the backdrop for Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns, films that redefined the genre. The region soon drew the Oscar-winning casts of “Cleopatra”and then“Lawrence of Arabia” along with millions of film industry dollars. When the film industry arrived in the Once Upon a Time in Almería 1960s in this remote region of Francocontrolled Spain, it brought with it hope for through nov. 16 economic prosperity. Decades later, the movie Embassy of Spain industry has largely abandoned Almería for 2375 Pennsylvania Ave., nW cheaper shooting locations, leaving behind For more information, please call (202) 728-2334 film sets as a reminder of their fleeting, imagior visit nary civilizations. Some have fallen into disrepair, mirroring the decline of Westerns as a popular genre, while others have found new life as tourist attractions. Parascandola’s images of the ramshackle remains of the fort built for the movie “El Condor” and the crumbled façades of Western towns convey a sense of abandonment and decay. The boom-bust cycle of the region is also apparent in Parascandola’s photo of the grandiose, 400-room Algarrobico hotel, which was built overlooking the beach that doubled as the port city of Aqaba in the film set for “Lawrence of Arabia.”The controversial hotel, built during Spain’s construction boom following adoption of the euro, was nearly complete in 2006 when a judge ordered it demolished for violation of environmental laws. Like the Western film sets, it too has become a ghost town. But these images of Almería’s ghost towns also reveal a capacity for reinvention. One image shows the main street of “Mini-Hollywood,” a mock-up of a Western

November 2012



d.C.-based photographer mark Parascandola documents the legacy of filmmaking in Almería, Spain, which served as the backdrop in films such as “Lawrence of Arabia” and Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns but today resembles an eerie hollywood ghost town of abandoned movie sets.

town built for Leone films.These days, it’s a tourist trap, complete with costumed cowboys and saloon girls, where visitors can enjoy staged bank holdups and shootouts, or down a whiskey at the Yellow Rose saloon, formerly the hotel for Clint Eastwood’s character in “For a Few Dollars More.” According to his website, Parascandola, an epidemiologist by training,“uses photography to explore patterns of movement in human populations, focusing on architecture as evidence of often-invisible social, environmental, and economic processes.” “Almería has undergone many changes and repopulations over a couple of millennia,” Parascandola said.“It’s always been a point of transition between North Africa and Europe and so I think it has a fascinating history.” In fact, since it was founded by the Caliph of Córdoba during the Islamic Umayyad dynasty in 955 AD, Almería has been conquered by Catholic monarchs, plundered by Berber pirates, mined by French and British iron companies, bombed by German planes, and finally, as part of Andalusia, granted regional autonomy in 1980. Taken as a whole, Parascandola’s images tell a broader story about the ebbs and flows of civilization that have shaped the architectural, economic and cultural landscape of Almería for more than 2,000 years. In capturing part of this cycle of prosperity and plunder, decay and renewal, they remind viewers of the power of a civilization to re-imagine itself. Gail Sullivan is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

The Washington Diplomat Page 39

[ music ]

Rockin’ History women Musicians Rolled with the Times, and Changed Them by Gary Tischler


onfronting the big, brawling, sprawling exhibition “Women Who Rock:Vision, Passion, Power” is a little overwhelming, not only because of its size, but also because of the personalities, talent and songs that trail you wherever you go, like ghosts that slap you in the face with memories. It’s a lot to absorb on the second level of the National Museum of Women in the Arts — the women, the clothes, the posters, the album covers, the quotes, the lyrics, the constantly changing times. Your reaction to the exhibition — organized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum — depends in large part on who you are and what you remember. It may be Billie Holiday’s raspy, soulful vocals that strike a chord with you, or Fleetwood Mac’s seductive melodies, or Chrissie Hynde’s brash punk rock, or Cyndi Lauper’s bubblegum-flavored pop, or the showmanship of today’s pop divas such as Lady Gaga or Rihanna. The spectrum of talent on display very much reflects the wideranging work of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, which closes its 25th anniversary year with this exhibit. One of rock’s enduring figures will also be on hand in person to celebrate both the show and venue that’s showcasing it. Singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge, among the artists featured in “Women Who Rock,” will be honored at the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ annual fall benefit on Nov. 4. Gender, of course, is at the heart of the museum’s work and PhotoS: RoCK AnD RoLL hALL oF FAme AnD muSeum; (JACKet) CoLLeCtIon oF meLISSA etheRIDGe; (DReSS) mARY WILSon/SuPReme LeGACY CoLLeCtIon; (GuItAR) tInA WeYmouth AnD ChRIS FRAntz naturally plays a role in your reaction to “Women Who Rock.” Listening to pioneers such as Joni Mitchell, Tina Turner, Joan Jett, Donna Summer, Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin is not just about appre“Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power” is a jamming visual parade that documents the ciating their music — it’s about empowerment. Their songs were not rise of women rockers with memorabilia such as instruments and costumes, including melissa only personally inspirational to millions of women (and men), they etheridge’s maxfield-designed blazer worn at the 2005 Grammys, top, the 1968 dress worn for were the stones women used to gradually break down walls in a Diana Ross and the Supremes, left, and the guitar used by tina Weymouth of talking heads, far left. male-dominated industry. And that is at the core of this exhibition, which not only tracks that highlight 70 artists, offering a glimpse inside these women’s journey and their the history of rock ‘n’ roll, but the critical part women played in personalities. broadening and defining the genre. Their achievements are One of the first things you’ll see, for example, is a cutout figure of Joan Jett, the emblematic of the larger gains made by women, from the right classic 1980s in-your-face rocker, with her pitch-black hair and eyes, guitar at the to vote to membership on the Supreme Court. ready (a guitar that, by the way, she gave to Baltimore Orioles legend Cal Ripken Like everything else, making headway in the music industry, let Jr. when he broke the record for consecutive games — a melding of two of alone rising to stardom, was a struggle.Women rockers had to fight America’s biggest infatuations, baseball and rock ‘n’ roll). managers, club owners, record label producers and a fickle There’s also a fashion parade of sorts throughout the exhibit.You see the dress American public, which was more accustomed to Janis Joplin wore at the Fillmore East in 1969 and the glittery seeing them as sidekicks and groupies rather than bits of nothing in which Tina Turner shook and strutted around Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power artists, songwriters and band leaders.All of these roles on stage. There’s Cher’s barely-there, belly-baring riff on tradicame to be occupied by women, but not all at once, tional Native American garb designed by Bob Mackie, as well through Jan. 6 not all at good speed, and not without heartheart as Madonna’s golden bustier designed by Jean Paul Gaultier National Museum of Women in the Arts break or frustration. and worn on her 1990 Blond Ambition Tour — outfits that drift 1250 new York Ave., nW It’s easy to forget now in the age of Lady by like a flashy, ratty issue of Vogue or Rolling Stone. For more information, please call (202) 783-5000 Gaga and heaven help us Taylor Swift that the All of the costumes, concert videos, instruments, biograor visit Wilson sisters and their band Heart caused a phies and other memorabilia evoke a string of greats, from stir in the 1980s because they were bold guitar Madonna striking a confidently sexual pose, to Patti Smith at rippers and screaming songstresses. Not only that, but as more than one male what appears to be a supper club at Carnegie Hall, spitting on the floor to catch her breath, critic noted, they were hot. In the 1920s, about the only female blues voices one to the brassy Pat Benatar in skin-tight black leather letting you know that love is like a battlecould hear came from Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. field. That’s in fact where the exhibit begins, in a section called “Suffragettes to I suspect that for a lot of guys, these women were their first crush, not only because of Juke-Joint Mamas:The Foremothers/Roots of Rock,” which resurrects the growly their looks but for that gift of voice, which, unlike a man’s, enhances beauty where it already voice of Rainey, the booming, dirty blues of Smith, along with fellow trailblazers exists and creates it where it doesn’t. such as Mahalia Jackson and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Those voices endure the cacophony of music trends and fads — siren-like, yet fierce, too. The exhibit is a lyrical arch that includes early blues, gospel, jazz, country, girl groups, There’s Janis belting, “You know you got it if it makes you feel good.” Carly Simon coos, disco, pop and punk. There are a few omissions along the way — Loretta Lynn, a country “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you.” And Pat Benatar challenges you music icon, is here, but where’s Patsy Cline? To leave out the Nashville crooner but include to,“Hit me with your best shot.” the far-less powerful voice of Taylor Swift, who speaks to today’s mildly wounded teenaged Then there’s Joan Jett, summing it all up perfectly:“I love rock ‘n’ roll.” hearts, falls a bit flat. But overall it’s a satisfying trip — helped along by the more than 250 artifacts on display Gary Tischler is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.


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The Washington Diplomat


November 2012

[ art ]

Shared Journey Chapters of Latvian Artist’s Life Tell Universal Story by Kate Oczypok


n one level, the art of Evalds Dajevskis is specific to his native Latvia, a country with a proud past, though it’s not well known to most Americans. But on another level, his work speaks to the larger displacement endured by millions of immigrants in World War II Europe, and to the role these immigrants played in constituting America’s melting pot. This complex journey is embodied by Dajevskis, a theater scene artist uprooted by war who eventually settled in the United States, enjoying a career in film and Broadway while also creating art that captures the rich ancient history of the homeland he left behind. The Embassy of Latvia in Washington chronicles this journey with the appropriately named exhibit “Place, Art and Identity.” Dajevskis went through various reincarnations of his own identity in different places over the years, as seen in his art. A professional scenographer for the Liepaja Opera, Drama and Ballet Theater from 1941 to 1944, he formed a traveling theater troupe that performed throughout Western Germany at displaced persons camps after World War II. Dajevskis then made his way to the United States, where he worked as a scenic artist on Broadway and for Lincoln Center productions. Throughout it all, he painted. His artwork is rooted in the traditions of the ancient Baltic peoples, but it’s also a travelogue of his life — from his childhood days living outside St. Petersburg, Russia, to his home in Latvia, to the refugee camps in Germany where thousands of Latvians were stranded for years, all the way to the lights of Broadway. Dajevskis died in 1990 after a long bout with cancer, leaving his son Peter with a stunning collection of art reflecting the culture of a country with a complicated past. “I inherited over 200 paintings of work,” Peter Dajevskis said. “My father said, ‘See if you can keep these together.’” He’s done more than that — he’s taking the art on its own journey, back to the very place his father was forced to leave. After its D.C. run, the exhibit of 34 pieces from Peter Dajevskis’s personal collection, which spans work painted between 1938 and 1989, will move to Philadelphia in January 2013 and later on to New York. Finally, in May 2014, a major retrospective including 75 works and a personal archive of the artist’s photographs, personal documents and other items will be presented at the Liepaja City Museum as part of a 100th-birthday commemoration. His father’s art shows “what it looked like when the lights were turned to amber and damaged by war,” Dajevskis said.“It interested the general public, this person who witnessed these things — it was a generation of rebirth.” Andris Razans, who this summer became Latvia’s ambassador in Washington, said the exhibition offers something different for every visitor.“First, it is a very personal, a very human story of Evalds Dajevskis,” he told The Diplomat.“Then war-destroyed Germany, the hope of people in Hamburg seeing restored electrical lights turned on. And [then] New York City as a sharp contrast to everything one had seen in Europe.” Razans added that the exhibit very much tells the story of the Latvian people, a

November 2012

PhotoS: embASSY oF LAtVIA

Recently appointed Ambassador of Latvia Andris Razans and his wife Gunta Razane, left, talk with guests at the opening of “Place, Art and Identity,” an exhibition of works by evalds Dajevskis, a professional stage set designer who settled in the united States after World War II.


Place, Art and Identity through nov. 18 Embassy of Latvia Art Space 2304 massachusetts Ave., nW For information, please call (202) 328-2840 or visit


story to which many Europeans and even Americans can relate. Peter Dajevskis praised the embassy for hosting such cultural exchanges, saying that Latvia “has a challenge to make itself known.” “I hope that the future will, through the efforts of this sort, make Americans more aware of a shared history.” He noted that art played an important role in immigrants enriching America’s own multicultural heritage. “It wasn’t just painting, it was performing arts too,” he said.“I think that art helps sustain the human spirit.” The ambassador agrees that culture “surely stands among the most direct and effective means of communication among nations.” “We should share it, because by doing that we nourish a genuine interest in others to come and meet us, to learn and study, and of course enjoy our cultural legacy.” Kate Oczypok is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

The Washington Diplomat Page 41

[ dining ]

Busy Isabella ‘Top Chef’ Vet Adds Bandolero To Growing Local Empire by Rachel G. Hunt


hef Mike Isabella is a busy man — and a growing brand. Not that long ago, the tattooed “Top Chef” contender turned D.C. culinary restaurant phenom was dishing out Mediterranean tapas at Zaytinya under the watchful eye of José Andrés. But since his last appearance on Bravo’s proving ground for aspiring celebrity chefs in 2011, Isabella has opened two unique concept restaurants — Graffiato and Bandolero — and has two more in the works (the Greekthemed Kapnos and a sandwich spot called G). He’s also got a new cookbook and just last month was designated a State Chef as part of the State Department’s Diplomatic Culinary Partnership program (see story on page XX). His new title added a few embassy stops and outreach meetings with restaurant owners and vendors to his recent trip to Greece and Turkey, which he took to conduct research for one of his upcoming projects. With barely a year under his belt as proprietor of his first restaurant Graffiato, Isabella opened up Bandolero in May in the heart of Georgetown on M Street. A chance meeting with Jonathan Umbel, owner of Tackle Box and Hook, the restaurant that occupied the space until a fire in spring 2011 shut it down, gave Isabella the opportunity to realize one of the projects that had been percolating in his evidently fertile imagination. With the financial backing of Pure Hospitality LLC, Isabella was able to bring to life his vision for the prime location. For Graffiato, Isabella tapped his Italian-American heritage and his considerable experience with continental and Mediterranean cuisine (also see Graffiato dining review in the September 2011 issue of The Washington Diplomat). For Bandolero, he turned to another much-loved cuisine that he thought best suited the location — tacos and margaritas — interpreting classic Mexican through his own particular contemporary filter. In putting together the menu for Bandolero, Isabella stuck to his signature small plates, an approach that’s become increasingly popuBandolero lar in the economic downturn. 3241 M St., NW The menu is still divvied up into (202) 625-4488 starters, soups and salads, tacos and enchiladas, raw bar, traditional dishes and sides. But the breakHours: Sun.- Wed., 4 - 10 p.m.; Thu., 4 - 11 p.m.; down seems more a convenience Fri., Sat., 12 - 11 p.m.; Sun., 12 - 10 p.m. for finding things than anything else, as all the dishes are pretty Plates: $5 - $19 much equal in size and potential Desserts: $5 - $7 importance — with treasurers hidden throughout. Reservations: Available Isabella has said Bandolero is his foray Dress: Casual into modern Mexican cuisine, which means diners should not expect typical Mexican flavor profiles.While some of the dishes hone closely to tradition, such as the enchilada rojo, a chicken-based version prepared with cascabel chile and Mexican chocolate, others seem to be a delivery system for something else entirely. The tuna taquito, for example, marries sushi-grade raw tuna with ginger, sesame and sweet potato in crisp malanga shells. Other than the shape, the tiny, refined delicacies bear little resemblance to the otherwise humble taquito. Likewise, the snapper tostada, an intriguing mixture of raw fish, charred mango, jicama, peanuts and mint, is a fusion of tropical influences rather than a pile of beans and other heavy ingredients that make up a typical tostado. Isabella’s taco toppings reflect the same eclecticism. Wild mushrooms are paired with

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Page 42

The Washington Diplomat

Photos: Jessica Latos

Tacos, enchiladas, taquitos and other Mexican fare are reinterpreted by chef Mike Isabella at his new Georgetown restaurant, Bandolero, whose design evokes the Mexican Day of the Dead.

chipotle and marmelada over a small corn tortilla, while on the flour variety, thin slices of skirt steak are nestled atop refried beans, poblano-avocado sauce and salsa. But one of the best choices among the tacos is the suckling pig, featuring crisp strands of pork mixed with apple and habanero mustard. Though Isabella eschews the trendy tableside preparation for his guacamole, it has all the color, taste and texture of a freshly prepared version. Here, the Mexican staple is mild, with a marked note of cilantro and raw onion that’s not overpowering. A more unusual spread alternative is the sikil pak, a thick paste of pumpkin seeds, orange zest and cilantro that’s served with thick masa chips and warm pork rinds. For dipping, the queso fundido is a rich and flavorful choice. Ground chorizo sausage, poblano chile and sunny-side egg adorn a manchego cheese-based sauce.While reminiscent of the traditional version, this one is much more complex and intense. The sides essentially function as sharing plates just as the other dishes do. While the rice and beans are quite ordinary, the yucca is anything but. Fried until crisp and served with citrus salsa and chipotle mayo, it is one of the best things on the menu — perfect in its simplicity.The fried sweet plantains have a similar appeal. Cooked almost until caramelized and served with crema and queso, they are thoroughly satisfying. To round out the meal, Bandolero offers a short list of traditional desserts including flan, tres leches cake, chocolate tort, seasonal ice cream and sorbet, and coconut cookies.The tres leches is as dense and rich as a typical version but is jazzed up with tart mango sorbet. Likewise, the chocolate tort has added dimensions with a dense chocolate mousse and banana gelato.

November 2012

At Bandolero, the drink menu is as varied as the dinner menu, reflecting Isabella’s desire to build a “taco-centric, margarita-laden” hangout spot. To that end, he brought mixologist Sam Babcock over from Graffiato to create some startlingly inventive libations, such as the bitter handshake (fernet blanca, rye syrup, blood orange, Regan’s orange bitters) and Livin’ La Vida Cocoa (Tito’s handmade vodka, Baileys and Patron XO Café Dark Cocoa). Prosecco is on tap at Bandolero as it is at Graffiato, and in a nod to Margaretville, fresh house-made margaritas flow nightly. For more adventurous drinkers, Babcock has concocted a full range of margarita-inspired deviations such as the spicy sweet Casa En Fuego. Made of Patron Citronge, strawberry, lime and habanero-infused tequila, it’s not your house that will be burning with this drink. When it first opened, the music at Bandolero was loud. It’s been toned down recently, but with the Georgetown hotspot’s growing popularity (the restaurant fills up quickly after about 7 on most nights), the combination of background music and chatter may still bother some.The wait staff is agreeable and helpful and service is efficient, with dishes usually arriving quickly. Occasionally there have been staging problems, with dishes coming out all at once or interspersed with long delays; some have also arrived lukewarm. The space itself is as offbeat and unconventional as the Mexican fare on the menu. Bandolero is decidedly edgier than Graffiato and perhaps more in tune with Isabella’s personal tastes. While Graffiato’s design is urban chic, Bandolero can be described as cemetery chic. Mexican Day of the Dead iconography is the central design premise behind the restaurant, which steers completely clear of the clichéd loud colors, primitive art and mariachi music of other Mexican restaurants in the area. In fact, just about the only color here is black, tempered with some gray. Working with streetsense designers to help interpret his vision, Isabella has created a moody, dark interior. The bar is backed with tombstone-shaped arches, and actual cemetery fencing (refurbished to look old) divides the space. Painted black woods, reclaimed metal, animal skulls, murals of bandoleros (Mexican bandits), mismatched chairs and gothiclooking lighting fixtures kept dim give the place

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Mike Isabella of “top Chef” fame has become a force to be reckoned with on the D.C. dining scene, with two recently opened concept restaurants, Graffiato and bandolero, and two more in the works, the Greek-themed Kapnos and a sandwich spot called G.

a grim but whimsical ambience. Though the design conceit is Mexican macabre, Bandolero also feels like an old Western movie set (perhaps even that of the 1968 Western “Bandolero!” starring Jimmy Stewart, Dean Martin and Raquel Welch) as reinterpreted by Tim Burton. Though the décor is decidedly dark, Bandolero is a fun trip — good food, strong spirits and an upbeat atmosphere. It’s casual and not overly pricey by Georgetown standards (but be careful, the plates are not large and the bill quickly adds up), and it’s already attracted a large following — not surprising given Isabella’s popularity as a local boy made good. Isabella has deftly taken advantage of the opportunities that the celebrity spotlight has afforded him — and that burgeoning franchise has fortunately been to the advantage of D.C. diners. Rachel G. Hunt is the restaurant reviewer for The Washington Diplomat.


November 2012

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from page 37

more focused on social diplomatic engagement, but of course I think it has a lot of potential to grow into something even bigger.” David Guas, chef and owner of Bayou Bakery in Arlington, Va., is another hometown favorite picked to be a State Chef.“In all honesty, I was sort of blindsided by the invite,” Guas said, adding that because it was a State Department-led program, he felt compelled to volunteer his time and service. “For me, it’s flattering that they’re turning to chefs,” he said. “I’m keeping an open mind and a willing schedule and will look at things as they come.” Like many of the other chefs who come from an international background, Guas brings to the program his own personal melting pot of cultures and inspirations. He was raised in New Orleans to a Louisianaborn mother and Cuban father, and he recently returned to Havana with his father for a big spread in Food & Wine Magazine on Cuban cooking. Guas said it makes sense to craft a diplomatic team out of America’s diverse culinary tapestry and is “excited to see how it all plays out.”

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He also says the initiative itself just makes sense. “Obviously food is a natural place of comfort and connects us all, no matter what our religious views are or what our government is like,” Guas said.“At the end of the day, we come from all walks of life but we need to feed our souls and kitchens are where we tend to gravitate.” Kate Oczypok is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

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The Washington Diplomat Page 43

[ film reviews ]

Switched at Birth What If Your Adversary’s ‘Other Son’ Was Really Your Own? by Ky N. Nguyen


M [

Page 44

translation of Marianne Fredriksson’s rench writer-director bestselling novel, from which Lorraine Lévy brings Marnie Blok faithfully adapted the a fresh perspective screenplay, likely satisfying fans of to the age-old Israelithe original book. Palestinian conflict in Bringing the stirring coming-ofher poignant family age story to life, the solid thespian drama “The Other Son,” turns by the principals demonstrate filmed on location in Israel and an impressive amount of emotion the West Bank. beyond what one might expect to Her well-structured screenbe stereotypical Scandinavian fare, play, co-written with Nathalie particularly for a period piece. In Saugeon and Noam Fitoussi, creSweden, the film raked in big at the ates fleshed-out scenarios that box office while achieving critical never seem unrealistic. That acclaim, earning a record 13 nomiauthenticity is an especially nations for Guldbagge Awards important asset for an already (Swedish Academy Awards), includincredible story about babies ing Best Picture, Director and switched at birth. The verisimiliCinematography. tude is enhanced by vivid cineIn 1939, young Simon (Jonatan S. matography, steady direction Wächter) lives outside Gothenburg and believable performances Photo: Cohen Media Group in a country house without running from a talented international water and indoor toilet. He’s loved The Al Bezaaz family of the West Bank visits the Silbergs in Tel Aviv after learning that their two sons — one ensemble cast. by his working-class mother Karin In contemporary Tel Aviv, Palestinian, the other Israeli — had been switched at birth in Lorraine Lévy’s family drama “The Other Son.” (Helen Sjöholm) and carpenter 18-year-old Joseph Silberg (Jules Sitruk) lives an apparently well-adjusted existence. The happy family speaks French at father Erik (Stefan Gödicke), but the latter worries that Simon never plays and fights like home as the parents of his doctor mother Orith other boys. Rather, Simon keeps to himself, immersed in books, and talks only to a tree. (French leading lady Emmanuelle Devos) and his When Simon applies on his own to a school in the city, The Other Son Israeli-born colonel father Alon (rising French actor his father hesitates to let him go. Erik relents under presSimon and the Oaks (Le fils de l’autre) Pascal Elbé) were born in France. An aspiring musi- sure from Karin, allowing Simon to attend under two (Simon och ekarna) (French, Hebrew, Arabic and English cian, Joseph’s biggest problem seems to be figuring conditions: He can’t let his new, refined peers make him (Swedish, German and English with out how to earn spending money in the summer forget where he came from. And he has to make real with subtitles; 105 min.) friends, letting go of his imaginary friendship with the English subtitles; 123 min.) before entering the Israeli Air Force for his mandaLandmark’s E Street Cinema tree. tory military service. Landmark’s E Street Cinema The first day, Simon befriends Isak (Karl Martin Orith notices a discrepancy on his pre-enlistment ★★★★✩ blood test, which assigns him a blood type geneti- Eriksson), a German Jewish boy who’s teased by older ★★★★✩ cally impossible given his parents’ blood types, so she thinks the lab made a mistake. students because of his religion. When a bigger boy blocks their path, Simon deftly punches the bully. A repeat blood test leads a medical colleague to hypotheAfter class, Simon is thrilled to discover Isak’s size and confirm that newborn Joseph was accidentally affluent father Ruben (Jan Josef Liefers) owns an swapped with another infant after being evacuated when entire bookshop, above which they live with the hospital was attacked by Scud missiles. The other boy Isak’s mother Olga (Lena Nylén) in a lavish flat. turns out to be Yacine Al Bezaaz (Mehdi Dehbi), who was Simon excitedly relays his amazement when he raised in the West Bank by an adoring Palestinian mother tells his parents about his day, though Erik is far Leïla (Areen Omari) and father Saïd (Khalifa Natour).At the less impressed. doctor’s office, the two sets of parents have an awkward Olga never leaves home because she suffers meeting, after which the fathers continue to act in denial, paranoia about the Nazis, a legacy of the family’s so they hesitate to tell their sons. flight from Germany. The impending Nazi Eventually, Joseph and Yacine both learn the truth. They advance across Europe leads her to a mental and their family members are challenged by conflicting asylum. Isak then goes to live with Simon’s parthoughts about identity, religion, nationality, etc. Yacine’s ents because his father Ruben is gone all day at previously doting older brother Bilal (Mahmood Shalabi) work.There, Erik insists that Isak learn to use his turns against him, viewing him as part of the Jewish enemy Photo: THE FILM ARCADE hands and help with the woodworking, toward that killed their younger brother in a military attack. which Isak is naturally inclined anyway. On the But the families gradually come together. Yacine, Leïla Young Simon (Jonatan S. Wächter), seen with his mother Karin (Helen flip side, Simon is drawn to literature, art and and Saïd cross the border checkpoint to visit the Silberg Sjöholm), is an introverted child who doesn’t fit in with his workingmusic in Ruben’s life, but his parents — especially home in Tel Aviv, where a connection is made in part class Swedish family in “Simon and the Oaks.” Erik — resist his attraction to what they consider because of Yacine’s fluency in French as a student in Paris who aspires to medical school. When Joseph later ventures intrepidly to the Al Bezaaz to be stuck-up affectations. Spurred by the specter of World War II, the two families merge into an extended famresidence in the West Bank, he sings with music-loving Saïd and Bilal around the dinner ily that manages to work despite occasional class and sexual tensions. After the war, Isak table, a blood tie that transcends initial wariness. (played as an adult by Karl Linnertorp) is happy to join the shipyard run by Erik, but adult Simon (played by Bill Skarsgård) rebuffs Erik’s crass eagerness to see Simon get his ‘Simon and the Oaks’ hands dirty. One day, Simon learns a family secret that explains why he never fit into his Swedish helmer Lisa Ohlin’s “Simon and the Oaks” proves to be an accomplished parents’ world — and why his parents always feared him straying too far from the nest.



The Washington Diplomat


November 2012


Mysteries of ‘The Flat’ At the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival,“The Flat” won for Best Editing, a well-deserved tribute to Israeli editor Tali Helter-Shenkar’s skillful organization of the treasure trove of revealing details that fill this fascinating documentary. Unearthed ancient family secrets lie at the heart of “The Flat,” Israeli writer-director Arnon Goldfinger’s (“The Komediant”) unorthodox family portrait documenting the unbelievable truth he discovers after his grandmother Gerda Tuchler passes away at 98.With his mother Hannah, he takes on the duty of emptying the apartment in Tel Aviv where Gerda lived for some 70 years after immigrating with her husband Kurt in 1937 to Palestine from Berlin. Vast collections of knickknacks, clothes and books are assessed as being largely worthless materially. But buried in the endless mounds of papers, pic-

The Flat (Ha-dira) (Hebrew, English and German with subtitles; 98 min.)

Landmark’s E Street Cinema

Opens Fri., Nov. 2



tures and other items are pieces of a puzzle yearning to be solved. One coin shows a Star of David on one side, but turning it over unexpectedly reveals a swastika on the flipside. Another surprising find is “A Nazi Travels to Palestine,” stories printed in a 1930s fascist publication. “What is Nazi propaganda doing in my grandmother’s flat?” asks Goldfinger. Armed with his video cam-

Repertory Notes

era, he seeks to find out the answers, carrying out his investigation in both Israel and Germany. He links his grandparents to SS Officer Leopold von Mildenstein and his wife, a couple with whom the Tuchlers first visited Palestine in the 1930s. Even more startling, their close relationship with the Mildensteins apparently resumed after being interrupted during World War II, enduring at least into the 1950s. It seems that each couple treasured their friendship with the other couple. Why would Goldfinger’s Zionist grandparents keep in contact with a high-ranking Nazi after the war? It’s a question that is at the heart of Goldfinger’s documentary, but even after his exhaustive examination into the past, he still doesn’t found the big answers he desires. Ky N. Nguyen is the film reviewer for The Washington Diplomat.

Photo: Goldfinger / Tuchler Family Archive / Sundance Selects

Gerda and Kurt Tuchler dance in an old photograph, part of their grandson Arnon Goldfinger’s documentary “The Flat.”

by Washington Diplomat film reviewer Ky N. Nguyen

Please see International Film Clips on the next page for detailed listings available at press time.

his parents’ initial meeting and subsequent courtship. A discounted festival pass for all nine screenings except opening night can be purchased for $95. (202) 234-3456,

American Film Institute (AFI) Silver Theatre The ever-popular AFI European Union Film Showcase (Nov. 9-20) returns for its 25th edition, programmed by cultural attachés stationed at EU member embassies in D.C., with support from EU Ambassador João Vale de Almeida and his staff. The opening night film honor goes to American acting legend Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut, the British comedy-drama “Quartet.” The closing night film is French writer-director Gilles Bourdos’s “Renoir,” an account of the famed impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s final years, coinciding with his son Jean’s emerging interest in the young art of cinema.

Photo: Fortissimo Films

For “El Gusto,” director Safinez Bousbia tracked down Muslim and Jewish classmates at the Conservatory of Algiers who in the 1940s studied a musical genre that translates to “the music of the people,” defying class, religion, and ethnicity.

Arabian Sights Complements ‘1001 Inventions’ The Arabian Sights Film Festival (Oct. 25-Nov. 4) returns for its 17th annual appearance with 10 new films from Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and more, all D.C. premieres. “This year Arabian Sights is presenting some of the newest and liveliest films from the Arab world,” said Shirin Ghareeb, festival director and founder. “The themes reflect timely experiences such as the ongoing revolutions, social issues, as well as humorous stories.” Arabian Sights features contemporary cinema, but the 2012 edition explicitly honors the past. This year’s film festival is presented in conjunction with the National Geographic Museum’s current exhibit, “1001 Inventions: Discover the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization,” which surveys Muslim cultural and scientific accomplishments since the seventh century. After the opening night at the Embassy of France (La Maison Française), all screenings unspool at the National Geographic Society’s Grosvenor Auditorium. The following special events are accompanied by the filmmaker in person and/or an embassy-sponsored reception: In a co-presentation with the Embassy of Algeria, director Safinez Bousbia discusses her documentary “El Gusto” (Fri., Nov. 2, 6:30 p.m., followed by reception; Sat., Nov. 3, 6:30 p.m.), which captures a reunion of Muslim and Jewish alumni of a 1940s music class. On the closing night of Arabian Sights 2012, the Egyptian Cultural and Educational Bureau at the Embassy of Egypt sponsors a reception following the Nov. 4 screening of director Amr Salama’s “Asma’a,” in which a 45-year-old woman hides her HIV-positive status in Cairo. Lebanon’s Joe Bou Eid appears in person for both American premiere screenings of his impressive feature directorial debut, “Heels of War” (Sat., Nov. 3, 6:30 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 4, 7:30 p.m.), recalling

“Kids Euro Festival 2012,” a European embassies arts and culture festival, concludes its free screenings with French animator Michel Ocelot’s “Tales Of The Night” (Fri., Nov. 2, 5 p.m.); Czech director Petr Oukropec’s “The Blue Tiger” (Sat., Nov. 3, 11:05 a.m.); and Swedish director Martin Högdahl’s “The Ice Dragon” (Sun., Nov. 4, 11 a.m.). The “Festival of New Spanish Cinema” (Nov. 1-7) is organized by Pragda and AFI Silver with support from the Embassy of Spain in Washington and Spain’s Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. The opening night feature “Sleep Tight” (Thu., Nov. 1, 7 p.m.), with director Jaume Balagueró in person, is followed by a reception. The “Halloween on Screen” series concludes with a new 35-mm print of the director’s cut of Andrzej Zulawski’s 1981 “Possession” (Fri., Nov. 2, 7 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 4, 6:30 p.m.). The ongoing “Opera in Cinema” series spotlights Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata” (Sat., Nov. 3, 10 a.m.; Thu., Nov. 8, 6:30 p.m.), directed by Francesca Zambello from Opera Australia on Sydney Harbour, and Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (Tue., Nov. 6, 6:30 p.m.), directed by Lorenzo Mariani from Teatro Regio di Torino in Turin, Italy. The “Ballet in Cinema” series offers Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” (Sun, Nov 4, 10 a.m.; Mon, Nov 5, 7 p.m.), choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov from the Royal Ballet in London. (301) 495-6700,

National Gallery of Art Organized in conjunction with PostClassical Ensemble’s “Interpreting Shostakovich” festival, the retrospective “Shostakovich and the Cinema” (through Nov. 4) winds down with British director Tony Palmer’s 1988 epic biopic “Testimony” (Sat., Nov. 3, 3:30 p.m.), starring Ben Kingsley as Shostakovich in an adaptation of Solomon Volkov’s 1979 book, “Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich.” Shostakovich’s memorable score propels “Song of the Rivers” (Sun., Nov. 4, 4 p.m.), an ode to the international solidarity movement shot on the Volga, Amazon, Ganges, Mississippi, Nile and Yangtze Rivers. Both screenings are followed by a discussion with Volkov, Palmer, film historian Peter Rollberg and music historian Roy Guenther.

November 2012

The retrospective “Chris Marker: A Tribute” honors the late French auteur (1921-2012), whose following essay films are screened: “À bientôt, j’espère,” “Case of the Grinning Cat” and “Cat Listening to Music” (Sun., Nov. 11, 4:30 p.m.); as well as “La Jetée” and “Sans Soleil” (Sat., Nov. 23, 3 p.m.). In partnership with the Embassy of Switzerland, the series “From Tinguely to Pipilotti Rist – Swiss Artists on Film” (Nov. 23-Dec. 29) showcases contemporary documentaries by Swiss filmmakers. (202) 842-6799,

Werner Schroeter “Werner Schroeter” (Nov. 12-Dec. 17), the first North American retrospective of the eponymous German film, theater, and opera director (1945-2010), moves to the Goethe-Institut in Washington and the National Gallery of Art after debuting in New York. Goethe-Institut screenings include “Mondo Lux” (Mon., Nov. 12, 6:30 p.m.); “Palermo oder Wolfsburg” (Sat., Nov. 24, 4 p.m.); “The Kingdom of Naples” (Sun., Nov. 25, 4:30 p.m.); and “Salome” (Mon., Nov. 26, 6:30 p.m.). With its “Werner Schroeter In Italy” program, the National Gallery contributes “Palermo or Wolfsburg” (Sat., Nov. 24, 4 p.m.) and “The Kingdom of Naples” (Sun., Nov. 25, 4:30 p.m.). (202) 289-1200, (202) 842-6799,

Flowers of the Steppe: A Festival of Kazakh Cinema “Flowers of the Steppe: A Festival of Kazakh Cinema” (Nov. 14-20 in Washington, D.C., and Boston) is presented by the Goethe-Institut; the Freer Gallery of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; the Ballets Russes Cultural Partnership; the Embassy of Kazakhstan; and KazakhFilm Studios. On Sat., Nov. 17, 7 p.m., at the Goethe-Institut, Steven-Charles Jaffe, honorary consul of Kazakhstan in Los Angeles, introduces the screening of Ermek Tursunov’s 2009 “Kelin,” preceding a talk with Jaffe and Kazakh film director Ermek Shinarbaev. On Sun., Nov. 18, 2 p.m., at the Freer, Shinarbaev’s “Letters to An Angel (Pisma k Angelu)” is accompanied in person by its director and sound engineer Gulsara Mukataeva, followed by a discussion and reception featuring traditional Kazakh food. On Tue., Nov. 20, 4 p.m., the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars screens the festival’s closing film, “Akkyz (The White Girl),” before a panel discussion with Shinarbaev; Dastan Yeleukenov, deputy chief of mission of the Embassy of Kazakhstan; and Anna Winestein, executive director of the Ballets Russes Cultural Partnership.

Goethe-Institut On Fri., Nov. 9, 5:30 p.m., the multimedia program “November 9: Today / 1989 / 1938 – Commemorating Lessons of History” kicks off with the discussion panel “‘The Devil in History’: Communism,

See Repertory Notes, page 47

The Washington Diplomat Page 45

[ film ]



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


everything the pair believed about each other and about themselves.


Landmark’s E Street Cinema

Mixed Kabob


A Royal Affair (En kongelig affære) Directed by Nikolaj Arcel (Denmark/Sweden/Czech Republic, 2012, 137 min.)

The Man with the Iron Fists

Directed by Guy Lee Thys (Belgium, 2012, 98 min.)

Asma’a Directed by Amr Salama (Egypt, 2011, 96 min.)

In a society where HIV/AIDS is still stigmatized, 45-year-old Asma’s stays under the radar by avoiding any situation that would reveal her positive status, until she needs a gall-bladder operation and finds that no doctor will operate on her. When an edgy TV talk-show host learns of her plight, he encourages Asma’a to speak out. National Geographic Fri., Nov. 2, 9 p.m., Sun., Nov. 4, 5:15 p.m.

El Gusto Directed by Safinez Bousbia (Algeria/France, 2011, 88 min.)

In the 1940s, Muslims and Jews defied class and religion at the Conservatory of Algiers, where they studied under the legendary master El Hadj M’Hamed El Anka. National Geographic Fri., Nov. 2, 6:30 p.m., Sat., Nov. 3, 9 p.m.

Heels of War Directed by Joe Bou Eid (Lebanon/UAE, 2011, 98 min.)

Clad in high heels and red lipstick, the director’s mother along with her family evacuate Beirut and move to a small Lebanese village after the 1982 Israeli invasion. Among those awaiting their arrival is a local heartthrob, priest-in training and the director’s future father. National Geographic Sat., Nov. 3, 6:30 p.m., Sun., Nov. 4, 7:30 p.m.

How Big Is Your Love Directed by Fatma Zohra Zamoum (Algeria/Morocco, 2011, 98 min.)

When his parents need some time to sort out their marriage, 8-year-old Adel goes to stay with his grandparents, who welcome him in with loving and sympathetic arms. National Geographic Sat., Nov. 3, 4 p.m., Sun., Nov. 4, 3 p.m.

Czech The Blue Tiger Directed by Petr Oukropec (Czech Republic, 2012, 90 min.)

In a city ruled by a diabolical mayor, only one thing can save the old botanical garden from demolition: the magical blue tiger. AFI Silver Theatre Sat., Nov. 3, 11:05 a.m.

Rules of Lies (Pravidla lzi) Directed by Robert Sedlácek (Czech Republic, 2006, 119 min.)

Roman decides to tackle his drug addiction by undergoing group therapy as part of a community holed up on an isolated farm in the Šumava mountains. The Avalon Theatre Wed., Nov. 14, 8 p.m.

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An intriguing love triangle between a young but strong queen, an ever-more insane Danish king, and the idealistic royal physician sparks a revolution that forever changes a nation (Danish, English, German and French). Landmark’s E Street Cinema Opens Fri., Nov. 16

English Anna Karenina Directed by Joe Wright (U.K., 2012, 129 min.)

Set in late-19th-century Russia highsociety, the aristocrat Anna Karenina enters into a life-changing affair with the affluent Count Vronsky.

Directed by RZA (U.S./Hong Kong, 2012, 96 min.)

On the hunt for a fabled treasure of gold, a band of warriors, assassins, and a rogue British soldier descend upon a village in feudal China, where a humble blacksmith looks to defend himself and his fellow villagers.

Skyfall Directed by Sam Mendes (U.K./U.S., 2012, 143 min.)

James Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her and MI6 comes under attack. Area theaters Opens Fri., Nov. 9

“Somewhere Between” tells the intimate stories of four Chinese girls given to orphanages and eventually adopted by American families.

How to Survive a Plague Directed by David France (U.S., 2012, 109 min.)

Faced with their own mortality, an improbable group of mostly HIV-positive young men and women broke the mold as radical warriors taking on Washington and the medical establishment. Landmark’s E Street Cinema

The Island President Directed by Jon Shenk (U.S., 2011, 101 min.)

Filmed at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, this documentary follows former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed on his quest to lobby for higher climate regulations for developed nations and newly industrializing countries. Goethe-Institut Mon., Nov. 19, 6:30 p.m.

Lincoln Directed by Steven Spielberg (U.S./India, 2012, 150 min.)

Steven Spielberg directs two-time Academy Award winner Daniel Day-Lewis in this revealing drama that focuses on the 16th president’s tumultuous final months in office. Landmark’s E Street Cinema Opens Fri., Nov. 9

The Loneliest Planet Directed by Julia Loktev (U.S./Germany, 2011, 113 min.)

An engaged couple’s backpacking trip in the Caucasus Mountains is derailed by a single misstep that threatens to undo


Directed by Isaki Lacuesta (Spain/Switzerland, 2011, 91 min.)

Chasing Ice

Landmark’s E Street Cinema Opens Fri., Nov. 16

Goethe-Institut Sat., Nov. 3, 7 p.m.

The Double Steps (Los pasos dobles)

Somewhere Between

In 2005, acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog headed to the Arctic on a National Geographic assignment to help tell the story of the Earth’s changing climate, a trip that opened the skeptic’s eyes to the biggest story in human history.

A young gay man caught between four worlds: gay, straight, modern and traditional. (Flemish and Turkish).

Area theaters Opens Fri., Nov. 2

Landmark’s E Street Cinema Opens Fri., Nov. 16

Directed by Jeff Orlowski (U.S., 2012, 75 min.)

November 2012

Directed by Linda Goldstein Knowlton (U.S., 2012, 88 min.)

Landmark’s E Street Cinema

Stud Life Directed by Campbell X (U.K., 2012, 80 min.)

JJ, a black lesbian photographer, and Seb, a white gay man who assists at her shoots, are best friends in the grittier neighborhoods of London, until JJ falls for the beautiful Elle and soon must divide her time between her hot new lover and her best mate. Carnegie Institution for Science Sun., Nov. 4, 3 p.m.

Testimony Directed by Tony Palmer (Denmark/Netherlands/Sweden/W. Germany/ U.K., 1988, 157 min.)

Tony Palmer’s epic version of Solomon Volkov’s edition of Shostakovich’s memoirs is a milestone of the biographical film, in part for the way the music illustrates the life. National Gallery of Art Sat., Nov. 3, 3:30 p.m.

This Must Be the Place Directed by Paolo Sorrentino (Italy/France/Ireland, 2011, 118 min.)

Cheyenne, a retired rock star living off his royalties in Dublin, returns to New York City to find the man responsible for a humiliation suffered by his recently deceased father during World War II. Landmark’s E Street Cinema Opens Fri., Nov. 9

Wuthering Heights Directed by Andrea Arnold (U.K., 2011, 129 min.)

This fresh take on Emily Brontë’s epic love story follows the turbulent life of Heathcliff, the poor boy taken in by a benevolent Yorkshire farmer who develops a passionate relationship with the farmer’s teenage daughter. Landmark’s E Street Cinema

The best way to escape without a trace is to walk backwards over your own footprints. This is what French eccentric François Augiéras believed when he painted every inch of a military bunker in the desert of Mali, before burying it deep into the sand. AFI Silver Theatre Fri., Nov. 2, 3 p.m., Sat., Nov. 3, 12:45 p.m.

Holy Motors Directed by Leos Carax (France, 2012, 115 min.)

pre-teen rebel Lebrac leads a “war” between rival kid gangs, but when he falls for a young Jewish girl who is in danger of being exposed by the Nazis, his friends are faced with putting their own conflicts aside to protect her. Landmark’s E Street Cinema

German Mondo Lux: The Visual Worlds of Werner Schroeter Directed by Elfi Mikesch (Germany, 2011, 97 min.)

“Mondo Lux,” an essential portrait of Werner Schroeter during the last four years of his life, offers revelatory insights into his artistry and legacy. Goethe-Institut Mon., Nov. 12, 6:30 p.m.

Salome Directed by Werner Schroeter (W. Germany, 1971, 81 min.)

Werner Schroeter’s virtuosic staging of this Oscar Wilde tragedy is a complex montage of image and sound, filmed on the grand steps of Baalbeck, the ancient Roman temple in Lebanon, and interweaving Lebanese and German folk songs with classical music.

Monsieur Oscar is a shadowy character who journeys with his chauffeur Céline throughout Paris, morphing from one life to the next — captain of industry, assassin, beggar, monster, family man.

Goethe-Institut Mon., Nov. 26, 6:30 p.m.

Landmark’s E Street Cinema Opens Fri., Nov. 9

Directed by Thomas Freudner (Germany, 2011, 59 min.)

The Other Son (Le fils de l’autre) Directed by Lorraine Lévy (France, 2012, 105 min.)

A young Israeli man discovers he is not his parents’ biological son, but that he was inadvertently switched at birth with the son of a Palestinian family from the West Bank. (French, Hebrew, Arabic and English) Landmark’s E Street Cinema

Sans Soleil Directed by Chris Marker (France, 1982, 100 min.)

Chris Marker uses modern Japan as the basis to explore memory as an alternate reality, touching on subjects as varied as poverty in Africa and the open spaces of Iceland (screens with “La Jetée” (1962, 29 min.), a futuristic photonovel about the power of memory). National Gallery of Art Fri., Nov. 23, 3 p.m.

Tales of the Night Directed by Michel Ocelot (France, 2011, 84 min.)

Drawing on the folk and fairytale traditions from every corner of the globe, acclaimed animator Michel Ocelot crafts six heroic quests and allegorical endeavors that will excite and delight audiences of all ages. AFI Silver Theatre Fri., Nov. 2, 5 p.m.

War of the Buttons (La nouvelle guerre des boutons) Directed by Christophe Barratier (France, 2011, 100 min.)

In rural World War II occupied France,

Snow White (Schneewittchen) To escape her murderous evil stepmother, Snow White hides at the home of seven dwarves in this German interpretation of the class fairytale. Old Naval Hospital Hill Center Sun., Nov. 11, 2 p.m.

Song of the Rivers (Das Lied der Ströme) Multiple directors (E. Germany, 1954, 103 min.)

Shot by crews on the Volga, Mississippi, Nile, Yangtze, Amazon, and Ganges, “Song of the Rivers” is a footage compilation that became a classic expression of the international solidarity movement. National Gallery of Art Sun., Nov. 4, 4 p.m.

Tinguely Directed by Thomas Thümena (Switzerland, 2011, 87 min.)

Twenty years after his death, old friends and acquaintances of Jean Tinguely recall the life and personality of this revolutionary artist, who was as daring in his private life as he was in his work (German and French). National Gallery of Art Fri., Nov. 23, 1 p.m.

The Valiant Little Tailor (Das tapfere Schneiderlein) Directed by Christian Theede (Germany, 2008, 59 min.)

A young tailor who can kill seven flies with one blow is summoned to the court of the eccentric king and given permission to marry his beautiful daughter, but first he must survive adventures and save the kingdom.

The Washington Diplomat

November 2012

Old Naval Hospital Hill Center Sun., Nov. 18, 2 p.m.

Greek The Mountain in Front (To vouno brosta) Directed by Vasilis Douros (Greece, 2008, 102 min.)

Pigheadedness and righteous anger pit an atheist foreigner and religious local against one another, with tragic consequences, during a Holy Saturday resurrection ceremony. The Avalon Theatre Wed., Nov. 7, 8 p.m.

Italian The Kingdom of Naples (Neapolitanische Geschichten) Directed by Werner Schroeter (Italy/W. Germany, 1978, 125 min.)

Werner Schroeter took to the streets of Naples to make this unusual chronicle of a poor family, tracing the lives of a brother and sister from the 1940s through the 1970s (Italian and German). National Gallery of Art Sun., Nov. 25, 4:30 p.m.

Palermo or Wolfsburg (Palermo oder Wolfsburg) Directed by Werner Schroeter (Switzerland/W. Germany, 1980 175 min.)

Gobi Desert toil away at the very edge of human endurance and are resigned to death until a woman appears, searching for her husband — inspiring some of them to plot an escape. Freer Gallery of Art Sun., No. 4, 2 p.m.

Double Xposure (Erci puguang) Directed by Li Yu (China, 2012, 105 min.)

Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing stars as a young urbanite whose façade of certainty and comfort—boyfriend, apartment, and car—violently splinters when she succumbs to an act of voyeurism [preceded by “Shanghai Strangers” (China, 2012, 24 min.)]. Freer Gallery of Art Fri., Nov. 2, 7 p.m.

Lust, Caution (Se, jie) Directed by Ang Lee (U.S./China/Taiwan/Hong Kong, 2007, 157 min.)

Sexual passion and political intrigue are a combustible mix in this powerful espionage thriller set in Japaneseoccupied Shanghai in the years leading up to World War II, as a college student is drawn into a daring plot to seduce and assassinate a brutal intelligence agent.

Young Nicola leaves his home in Sicily to seek a fortune in the industrial north, finding employment at a Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, but humiliation and isolation eventually drive him to settle some scores in this far-off, stressful place (Italian and German).

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

National Gallery of Art Sat., Nov. 24, 4 p.m.

The tumultuous Cultural Revolution (1966-76), remembered now as a dark period of political violence in China, also saw the creation of spectacular works of art known as yangbanxi (revolutionary model dramas).

Hebrew Yossi Directed by Eytan Fox (Israel, 2012, 83 min.)

Yossi Hoffman is a workaholic doctor in Tel Aviv who uses his job as a way to escape from dealing with his anguished life, looking for love in all the wrong places while trying to keep his gay lifestyle private. Washington DCJCC Fri., Nov. 2, 9 p.m.

Mandarin The Ditch (Jiabiangou) Directed by Wang Bing (Hong Kong/France/Belgium, 2010, 109 min.)

Prisoners of a forced labor camp in the

The Red Detachment of Women (Hong se niang zi jun) Directed by Fu Jie and Pan Wenzhan (China, 1970, 105 min.)

Freer Gallery of Art Sun., Nov. 11, 2 p.m.

Russian Letters to an Angel Directed by Ermek Shinarbaev (Kazakhstan, 2009, 92 min.)

One winter night, Gulnara meets a young novelist and invites him to her apartment. When he tells her a story he’s written, she responds with a beguiling tale of her own about a woman, perhaps herself, who has simultaneous affairs with two men — a tale with a haunting twist. Freer Gallery of Art Sun., Nov. 18, 2 p.m.

EU Takes Over AFI The European Union, recently days and his son Jean’s awakenawarded the Nobel Peace Prize, is ing passion for the cinema. grappling with a financial crisis Other highlights include the IRA that’s become the biggest test of thriller “Shadow Dancer, starring the bloc’s unity. But at least on Clive Owen, Andrea Riseborough screen, the 27 EU member states and Gillian Anderson; Germany’s come together in stunning fashion Oscar selection, “Barbara,” about for the annual AFI a doctor recently sent European Union down from a desirable to Film Showcase. post in East Berlin to a Now in its 25th rural hospital on the year, the showcase Baltic coast; “Rust and For more information, has screened more Bone” starring Oscarvisit than 800 films for winning actress D.C. audiences, in Marion Cotillard as a cooperation with the EU embaskiller whale trainer and rising sies in Washington, including newcomer Matthias Schoenaerts many now considered classics. as a homeless singer father; This year’s showcase, running Cannes Grand Prix winner Nov. 9 to 20, features more than “Reality” about a man who tries 40 films, including multiple out for the Italian version of “Big award-winners, international festi- Brother”; Cate Shortland’s “Lore,” val favorites, local box-office hits an Australia-Germany co-producand debut works. tion set in post-WWII Germany; The opening night film “Hyde Park on Hudson,” director “Quartet” stars Maggie Smith, Roger Michell’s comedic chronicle Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly and of the king and queen of England’s Pauline Collins in the directorial visit to America in 1939, with Bill debut of legendary actor Dustin Murray as FDR; and Ireland’s Hoffman, while the closing night “Stella Days,” featuring Martin film, “Renoir,” is an insightful Sheen as a free-thinking country biopic of the great painter’s later priest.




among three teens, whose emotions, like an iceberg itself, lie beneath the surface.


AFI Silver Theatre Fri., Nov. 2, 1 p.m., Sat., Nov. 3, 11 a.m.

Directed by Ermek Tursunov (Kazakhstan, 2009, 84 min.)

Set in the Altai mountains of Kazakhstan, in a pre-historic society that does not use language, “Kelin” is a love triangle told without words about a daughter sold to a wealthy suitor whose true love comes looking for her. Goethe-Institut Sat., Nov. 17, 7 p.m.


On one hot summer day in Madrid, an accomplished journalist and a young journalism student are accidentally locked in a bathroom, naked and pitted against one another in an unevenly matched duel of age, intellect, ambition and experience.

Directed by Gabriel Velázquez (Spain, 2011, 84 min.)

Mosquita y Mari Directed by Aurora Guerrero (U.S., 2011, 85 min.)

Reel Affirmations

Repertory Notes

Timed with the release of Taiwanese-born director Ang Lee’s latest work, “Life of Pi,” the Freer and the AFI Silver offer a complete retrospective of his work, cosponsored by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, opening with “Lust, Caution” (Fri., Nov. 16, 7 p.m.), which took home the Golden Lion at the 2007 Venice Film Festival.

Reel Affirmations, D.C.’s International LGBT Film Festival, returns Nov. 1 to 4 for its 21st edition. It’s bookended by opening night and closing day screenings at the Carnegie Institution of Science. Foreign titles include Swedish director Alexandra-Therese’s Keining’s “Kiss Me” (Thu., Nov. 1, 7 p.m.); Israeli director Tomer Heymann’s “The Queen Has No Crown” (Sun., Nov. 4, 11 a.m.); and British director Campbell X’s “Stud Life” (Sun., Nov. 4, 3:30 p.m.).

(202) 357-2700,

A doorman in a Barcelona apartment complex, intent on wreaking havoc on the seemingly perfect life of the perpetually sunny Clara, descends into madness as he sneakily pulls the strings of his target. AFI Silver Theatre Thu., Nov. 1, 7 p.m., Wed., Nov. 7, 9:30 p.m.

Wilaya Directed by Pedro Pérez Rosado (Spain, 2012, 97 min.)

Born in a Sahrawi refugee camp before being sent to live with foster parents in Spain, Fatimetu returns to Algeria for the first time in 16 years after the death of her mother. (Spanish and Arabic). AFI Silver Theatre Sun., Nov. 4, 12:30 p.m., Wed., Nov. 7, 7:30 p.m.

Swedish The Ice Dragon Directed by Martin Högdahl (Sweden, 2012, 80 min.)

Mik lives in Stockholm with his dad and older brother, but when both of them are sent to jail, Mik must move to his aunt’s house in the north, where he quickly makes new friends and finds love. AFI Silver Theatre Sun., Nov. 4, 11 a.m.

Kiss Me Directed by Alexandra-Therese Keining (Sweden, 2011, 105 min.)

Carnegie Institution for Science Thu., Nov. 1, 7 p.m.

Freer Gallery of Art

On Mon., Nov. 5, 6:30 p.m., the retrospective “Berlin: City of Reinvention” closes with a pair of rabbit tales: Izabela Plucińska’s 2005 Silver Bear-winning short “Esterhazy” and Bartosz Konopka’s 2009 “Rabbit à la Berlin (Mauerhase).” (202) 289-1200,

Directed by Jaume Balagueró (Spain, 2011, 102 min.)

Directed by David Trueba (Spain, 2011, 104 min.)


The “First China Onscreen Biennial” continues with Li Yu’s “Double Xposure” (Fri., Nov. 2, 7 p.m.) and Wang Bing’s “The Ditch” (Sun., Nov. 4, 2 p.m.). It concludes with Fu Jie and Pan Wenzhan’s 1970 ballet epic, “The Red Detachment of Women” (Sun., Nov. 11, 2 p.m.), which serves as a signature example of yangbanxi (model operas) produced during the Cultural Revolution; the screening remembers President Nixon’s groundbreaking 1972 visit to China 40 years ago.

Sleep Tight (Mientras duermes)

Madrid, 1987

AFI Silver Theatre Sat., Nov. 3, 2:30 p.m., Sun., Nov. 4, 2:30 p.m.

This atmospherically observed drama tells interwoven stories of impending adulthood

Washington DCJCC Sat., Nov. 3, 3 p.m.

Mia, a 30-something upper middle-class woman, finds her life turned upside down when she unexpectedly falls in love with the free-spirited Frida.

from page 45

Fascism and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century.” At 7:30 p.m., a screening follows of Alain Resnais’s 2005 classic “Night and Fog (Nuit et Brouillard),” shot at concentration camps in Poland. At 8 p.m., Anna Winestein, executive director of the Ballets Russes Cultural Partnership presents Rustem Abdrashev’s 2008 “The Gift to Stalin (Podarok Stalinu),” a sneak peak at “Flowers of the Steppe: A Festival of Kazakh Cinema.”

“Mosquita y Mari” is a coming-of-age story that focuses on a tender friendship between two young Chicanas.

On Nov. 2 and Nov. 3 at 3 p.m., the action takes place at the Washington DC Jewish Community Center (DCJCC), showcasing popular Israeli director Eytan Fox’s “Yossi” (Fri., Nov. 2, 9 p.m.), presented in partnership with the Embassy of Israel, and Canadian director Myriam Fougere’s “Lesbiana,” immediately followed by South African directors Zanele Muholi and Peter Goldsmid’s “Difficult Love” (Sat., Nov. 3, 11 a.m.). Beginning Sat., Nov. 3, 5 p.m., Reel Affirmations moves to the Goethe-Institut for the rest of the night, spot-

November 2012

Swiss-German Urs Fischer Directed by Iwan Schumacher (Switzerland/U.S./U.K./Australia/China, 2010, 98 min.)

Iwan Schumacher examines the life of artist Urs Fischer, whom he says “combines a pop immediacy with a neo-baroque taste for the absurd” (Swiss-German and Italian). National Gallery of Art Sun., Nov. 25, 2 p.m.

lighting Belgian director’s Guy Lee Thys’s “Mixed Kebab” in Flemish and Turkish (Sat., Nov. 3, 7 p.m.).

Family-Friendly Fairy Tale Films The Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital (collaborating with the Goethe-Institut) continues the series “FamilyFriendly Fairy Tale Films” (through Dec. 9), which commemorates the 200th anniversary of the original 1812 printing of “Grimm’s Fairy Tales,” screening new one-hour versions first seen on the German public TV network ARD. On Sundays at 2 p.m., the whole family can enjoy “Rapunzel” (Nov. 4), “Snow White (Schneewittchen)” (Nov. 11) and “The Valiant Little Tailor (Das tapfere Schneiderlein)” (Nov. 18). (202) 549-4172, en9806937v.htm — Ky N. Nguyen The Washington Diplomat Page 47

[ around town ]

EVENTS LISTING **Admission is free unless otherwise noted. All information on event venues can be found on The Diplomat Web site at Times and locations are subject to change. Unless listed, please call venue for specific event times and hours of operation.

ART Through Nov. 2

Parks and Passages: Art and Public Space in Berlin and Washington This summer, Provisions Library sent a team of D.C.-based artists and researchers to Berlin to study urban transformation in repurposed places to spark ideas for the redevelopment of Dupont Underground, an abandoned streetcar tunnel beneath D.C.’s Dupont Circle. Goethe-Institut Nov. 3 to Jan. 27

Ivan Sigal: White Road

From 1998 to 2005, American photographer Ivan Sigal traveled in Central Asia, using his camera to record the unsettled lives of Eurasians in provincial towns and cities. Using images and text, this unconventional narrative reveals a diverse population adapting to extraordinary times. Corcoran Gallery of Art Through Nov. 4

Argentine Fall Salon 2012

This annual salon features cutting-edge artists from Argentina, with this year’s roster spotlighting Delia Cordone, Analía Jaimovich, Carla Nano, Ana Rendich and Marcela Siniego, among others. Embassy of Argentina Nov. 7 to Jan. 30

Big Bang by Franco Lippi

According to chief curator Alfredo Ratinoff, “Franco Lippi’s ‘Big Bang’ is a statement through which he reveals the moment at which everything came to be, in which everything is possible, each suspended in time for us to explore the immensity of his works.” Embassy of Argentina Through Nov. 9

BALGO: Contemporary Australian Art from the Balgo Hills

A riot of color and energy, “BALGO” explores the stories, lives and history of the Kukatja speakers in the small western Australian community of Balgo Hills, whose artists are renowned for their vivid palettes that blend the spiritual with the political, and the abstract with representations of landscapes. Embassy of Australia Nov. 10 to Feb. 10

NOW at the Corcoran – Enoc Perez: Utopia

Enoc Perez’s lushly figured paintings of modernist buildings at once exploit and question the seductions of architecture as well as painting itself. Corcoran Gallery of Art Nov. 10 to Feb. 24

Taryn Simon: A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I-XVIII

Taryn Simon produced this 18-chapter series over a four-year period (2008-11), during which she traveled around the world

Page 48

researching and recording bloodlines and their related stories. Corcoran Gallery of Art Through Nov. 11

Cultural Material

THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT and Mediterranean cultures in the north. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Through Nov. 18

Sarnari: Fragments

Artists Bongsang Cho, Jiyoung Chung and Sang Joon Park, working in metal, paper and ceramics respectively, each derive their vibrant creations from materials and techniques native to Korea, and were selected for inclusion in the prestigious Smithsonian Craft Show in 2012.

Self-taught painter and Rome native Franco Sarnari sets up a close dialogue with the old masters with his contemporary artwork, but always focuses on the tensions, fears and hopes, joyful bliss and terrible anxiety of our times. On view by appointment; reservations can be made by emailing

Korean Cultural Center

Italian Cultural Institute

Through Nov. 12

Through Dec. 2

Nomads and Networks: The Ancient Art and Culture of Kazakhstan

The Image of Strindberg

Recently conducted scientific excavations provide a fascinating look into the nomadic culture of the ancient peoples of Kazakhstan, with more than 150 spectacular finds from this vast Central Asian nation challenging traditional views of the nomadic societies that thrived thousands of years ago. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Through Nov. 13

Evalds Dajevskis: Place, Art and Identity

This retrospective of Evalds Dajevskis — encompassing works painted between 1938 and 1989 in Latvia, Germany and the U.S. — explores the Latvian artist’s roots in the traditions of the ancient Baltic peoples, the 20th-century Latvian experience of displaced persons in both Europe and the United States, as well as Dajevskis’s film and theater career as a scenic artist on Broadway. Embassy of Latvia Through Nov. 15

Rendez-vous in the Gardens

The D.C. opening of the traveling exhibit “Photographing Gardens, 1851 to 1987” (on its way to the French Embassy in Berlin) presents a selection of 50 photographs from 1851 to 1987 from the collections of the Médiatheque de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine (architecture and heritage media center). La Maison Française Through Nov. 16

Once Upon a Time in Almería

During the 1960s and 1970s, the region of Almeria, Spain, was host to dozens of filmmakers who constructed elaborate movie sets, invoking locations from the American Southwest to Bedouin Arabia for films such as “Cleopatra” and “Patton.” D.C.-based photographer Mark Parascandola revisits the architecture and locations used in these classic films over the years. Embassy of Spain Nov. 17 to Feb. 24

Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

An eye-opening look at the largely unknown ancient past of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, this exhibition draws on recently excavated archaeological material from sites throughout the Arabian Peninsula, tracing the impact of ancient trade routes and pilgrimage roads stretching from Yemen in the south to Iraq, Syria

Today, 100 years after the death of Swedish dramatist and author August Strindberg (1849-1912), there are many different images of the man: genius, madman, jealous man, woman hater, anarchist, vain man, vagabond and brazen man. But who was August Strindberg and how do we remember Sweden’s most famous writer and dramatist? House of Sweden

November 2012

reinterpreted in trompe l’oeil paper masterpieces by Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave. Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens Through Dec. 31

Imperial Augsburg: Renaissance Prints and Drawings, 1475–1540

Focusing on drawings, prints, illustrated books and innovative printing techniques, this exhibition — the first of its kind in America — serves as an introduction to Augsburg, which enjoyed a golden age in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. National Gallery of Art Through Dec. 31

The Serial Portrait: Photography and Identity in the Last One Hundred Years

Some 150 works reveal how 20 photographers responded to older portrait conventions and imagined new ones by exploring the same subjects — primarily friends, family, and themselves — over the course of days, months, or decades.

along with a selection of related drawings and sculptures. National Gallery of Art Through Jan. 30


A photographer, writer, filmmaker, book designer, and exhibitions producer, Michael Benson’s work focuses on the intersection of art and science in large-scale exhibitions of planetary landscape, mostly under the title “Beyond.” He takes raw data from NASA and European Space Agency archives and individual spacecraft frames to produce seamless, large-format digital prints of landscapes currently beyond direct human experience. Embassy of Slovenia Through Feb. 10

Shadow Sites: Recent Work by Jananne Al-Ani

Inspired by archival archaeological and aerial photographs, as well as contemporary news, Jananne Al-Ani’s video works examine enduring representations of the Middle Eastern landscape.

National Gallery of Art

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

African Cosmos: Stellar Arts

Through Jan. 6

Through Feb. 24

Dragons, Nagas, and Creatures of the Deep

Enlightened Beings: Buddhism in Chinese Painting

Buddhism arrived in China during the first century and quickly grew in popularity, exerting a profound impact on all aspects of Chinese art and culture.

National Museum of African Art

In the Spirit of the East Asian calendar’s Year of the Dragon, this exhibition highlights objects drawn from cultures as diverse as the ancient Mediterranean world, imperial China and contemporary South America, portraying dragons as everything from fire-breathing beasts to beneficent water gods. The Textile Museum

Lalla Essaydi, a Moroccan-born, New Yorkbased artist, pushes the boundaries of Arab, Muslim and African perceptions of women’s identities with her art, which includes themes of feminism, gender, identity and the private inner lives of women while drawing on Arabic calligraphy for its decorative and communicative potential.

Through Dec. 9

In the first major exhibition to explore the historical legacy of African cultural astronomy and its intersection with traditional and contemporary African arts, some 100 objects consider how the sun, moon and stars and celestial phenomena such as lightning and rainbows serve as sources of inspiration in the creation of African art from ancient times to the present. Through Dec. 16

Revelation: Major Paintings by Jules Olitski

“Revelation” draws together more than 30 monumental canvases by Russian-born artist Jules Olitski, renowned as one of America’s last classic modern painters. American University Katzen Arts Center Through Dec. 29

Dan Steinhilber: Marlin Underground

Dan Steinhilber, known for his ability to transform mundane materials into extraordinary experiences of art, presents a new body of work in response to architect Philip Johnson’s celebrated design for the Kreeger home as a space for art and musical performance. The Kreeger Museum Through Dec. 30

Growing up AFRO: Snapshots of Black Childhood from the Afro-American Newspapers

In honor of the 120th anniversary of the Afro-American Newspapers, this pictorial exhibition features 120 images from the AFRO’s archive collections that demonstrate the vital role young people played in African American history. Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore, Md. Through Dec. 30

Prêt-à-Papier: The Exquisite Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave

A selection of iconic costumes and haute couture dresses — reflecting the rich history of fashion in European paintings and designs of the grand couturiers — are

Through Jan. 13

Dark Matters

“Dark Matters” brings together works from the Hirshhorn’s collection that draw upon the associations and implications of darkness and its notions of mortality, silence, solitude and loss. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Through Jan. 13

Picturing the Sublime: Photographs from the Joseph and Charlotte Lichtenberg Collection Eleven photographs document how artists use the camera to capture the sublime beauty and human destruction of the natural world.

Freer Gallery of Art Through Feb. 24

Lalla Essaydi: Revisions

National Museum of African Art Through February 2013

Ai Weiwei: According to What?

This major survey of Ai Weiwei, one of China’s most prolific and provocative artists, aims to reveal the rich and varied contexts that he has interwoven within the broad spectrum of his work, from sculpture, photography and video to site-specific architectural installations.

The Phillips Collection

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Through Jan. 13

Through March 10

Ripple Effect: Currents of Social Engaged Art

In this collaborative project, artists instigate conversations on broad themes such as environmentalism, social justice and immigration, while providing poetic and often concrete solutions, exploring specific social issues as the environmental blight of illegal dumping, the social stratification of D.C., and the ongoing struggle against violence in Mexico. OAS Art Museum of the Americas Through Jan. 13

Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective

In the first major exhibition since Roy Lichtenstein’s death in 1997, more than 100 of the artist’s greatest paintings from all periods of his career will be presented

The Sultan’s Garden: The Blossoming of Ottoman Art

More than 50 sumptuous textiles and other works of art illustrate the stylized floral designs that became synonymous with the wealth, abundance and influence of one of the world’s greatest empires. The Textile Museum Through March 16

Words Like Sapphires: 100 Years of Hebraica at the Library of Congress A century ago, New York philanthropist Jacob H. Schiff purchased an initial collection of nearly 10,000 Hebrew books and pamphlets for the Library of Congress. This gift formed the nucleus of what is today one of the world’s greatest collections of Hebraic materials, comprising some

The Washington Diplomat

November 2012

200,000 items. Library of Congress Through March 31

Pissarro on Paper

French Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro first tried printmaking in his early thirties, and though he never stopped painting, printing became vital to his artistic enterprise. National Gallery of Art

DANCE Nov. 3 to 4

Bayanihan - The National Folk Dance Company of The Philippines

The Bayanihan Dance Company offers a program titled “Philippinescape,” consisting of five dance suites that portray different aspects of Philippine life, history and culture. Tickets are $25 to $95. Kennedy Center Terrace Theater Through Nov. 4

The Washington Ballet: Dracula

The Washington Ballet presents Michael Pink’s chilling blockbuster “Dracula,” a wildly theatrical and voluptuous ballet that’s also a breathtaking story of passion, yearning, cruelty and sacrifice. Tickets are $25 to $125. Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater Fri., Nov. 9, 8 p.m. Sat., Nov. 10, 8 p.m. Sun., Nov. 11, 4 p.m.

Shaolin Warriors: Voices of the Masters

In a spectacular new production, these dynamic warriors from the Far East bring the exhilarating movement and sparkling imagery of the ancient art of kung fu to the stage. Tickets are 24 to $48. George Mason University Center for the Arts (Nov. 10-11) Hylton Performing Arts Center (Nov. 9) Nov. 24 and 25; Nov. 29 to Dec. 23

The Nutcracker

The Washington Ballet’s adaptation of this beloved ballet tells the story of a little girl named Clara who is given a magical nutcracker at a Christmas Eve in her family’s 1882 Georgetown mansion, leading her on a wondrous journey filled with the Snow Queen and King, Sugar Plum Fairy, cherry blossoms, Anacostia Indians, a frontiersman, cardinals and more. Tickets are $30 to $101. THEARC Theater (Nov. 24-25) Warner Theater (Nov. 29-Dec. 23)

DISCUSSIONS Thu., Nov. 1, 6 p.m.

Enrico Elisi and Alessandra Marc

As part of “A Celebration of Italian Art, Music and Film,” jointly presented by the Italian Cultural Institute and the National Gallery of Art, David Gariff gives a lecture on post-World War II Italian art and the paintings of Franco Sarnari, followed by a concert by Enrico Elisi and Alessandra Marc at 7 p.m. Italian Cultural Institute Wed., Nov. 7, 6 p.m.

Post-Election Transatlantic Relations Following the U.S. election, this off-therecord panel discussions will examine transatlantic relations with Heather Conley of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Charles Kupchan of the Council on Foreign Relations, William Danvers, majority staff director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and other experts. Admission is free but a reservation is required. La Maison Française

Mon., Nov. 12, 7 p.m.

Le Studio: Wine Tasting 101

The Saint-Emilion region — the worldfamous right bank of Bordeaux — is the subject of this monthly Tour de France wine tasting soirée, as veteran wine journalist Claire Morin-Gibourg explores the regions and vineyards in France, as well as tasting techniques. Tickets are $70. La Maison Française

FESTIVALS Nov. 2 to Nov. 5

Ninth Annual Fall Festival of Indian Arts

A diverse and international roster of artists will join Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company for the company’s signature ninth annual Fall Festival of Indian Arts D.C., featuring several dance performances, a peace concert, a poetry performance, a film screening, panel discussions and workshops with the guest artists. For information, visit Various locations Sat., Nov. 3, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Kids Euro Family Day

Bring the family for a day of fun at the Swedish Embassy as part of the Kids Euro Festival 2012, including the play “Max” based on Barbro Lindgren’s books, a kids reading corner, Little Red House on the Potomac, photo booth with Swedish features, craft station and a Swedish fish pond and movie screening for older children. House of Sweden Fri., Nov. 9, 7 p.m.

Champagne Gala

The French Embassy hosts an evening of sophisticated elegance with tastings from a variety of Champagne houses, including Gosset, Perrier-Jouët, Monopole and many others, as well as gourmet food from restaurants such as Bistrop Lepic and Café Dupont, along with a silent auction. Tickets are $165 for VIP admission at 7 p.m., or $85 for after-hours admission at 8:30 p.m. La Maison Française Through Nov. 14

Kids Euro Festival

Kids Euro Festival is the largest children’s performing arts festival in the United States, with more than 200 free, familyfriendly, European-themed events throughout the Washington area. Designed for children ages 2 to 12 and their families, Kids Euro Festival unites the 27 embassies of the European Union and nearly 30 American cultural institutions, all of whom work together to transform the capital region into an action-packed cultural adventure for young people. For a schedule of events, visit Various locations

MUSIC Fri., Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m.

Caroline Calleja, Piano

Caroline Calleja started her musical education at the age of 4 and has gone on to become the first-prize winner of various competitions, including the Bice Mizzi Vassallo Competition (1995 and 1997) and the Tchaikovsky Piano Award (2000). Tickets are $75, including buffet reception; for information, visit Embassy of Slovenia

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

Nov. 2 to Jan. 6

Nov. 14 to Dec. 30

Gerdan-Kaleidoscope of World Music

My Fair Lady


Back by popular demand, the Gerdan ensemble fuses Ukrainian folk traditions with fascinating arrangements of classical, jazz, samba and tango music. Tickets are $80, including buffet reception; for information, visit Embassy of Ukraine Thu., Nov. 8, 7:30 p.m.

Smooth Jazz with Anders Holst

Swedish singer and smooth jazz songwriter Anders Holst performs his show “The man inside the song,” featuring original tracks as well as innovative covers of songs by Michael Jackson, the Beatles and Simply Red. Tickets are $15. House of Sweden Sat., Nov. 10, 8 p.m.

Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil has developed a career that has spanned four decades with more than 30 albums released, multiple Grammy Awards, and 5 million records sold. His latest project, “For All,” reinvents the folkloric, celebratory Baião music of northeast Brazil. Tickets are $35 to $75. GW Lisner Auditorium Sun., Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m.

Between Two Worlds: Jewish Voices in Modern European Music

Pro Musica Hebraica’s fall concert examines the shared experience of a formidable generation of Jewish composers who passed from the vibrant world of fin-desiecle Vienna, Prague, Berlin and Paris into the heart of Europe’s 20th-century terrors. Tickets are $38. Kennedy Center Terrace Theater Wed., Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m.

Jesús Reina, Violin Edvinas Minkstimas, Piano

Jesús Reina has been hailed by critics as a violinist “with a beautiful sound characterized by true musicality, temperament and charisma” (El Pais). Tickets are $160, including dinner buffet; for information, visit European Union Residence Sun., Nov. 18, 7 p.m.

Claude Debussy – Clair de Lune and Beyond

Part of the “Keyboard Conversations” series, Jeffrey Siegel delves into the aural delights of Claude Debussy, the renowned French composer whose dreamy, beautiful music evokes vivid and sensuous imagery. Tickets are $19 to $38. George Mason University Center for the Arts Sat., Nov. 24, 8 p.m. Sun., Nov. 25, 4 p.m.

A Chanticleer Christmas

Thu., Nov. 8, 7 p.m.

Francesca Hurst in Concert


Italian Cultural Institute

This multi-media performance piece directed by Jorge A. Vargas and by members of Teatro Linea de Sombra from Mexico explores issues of migration and its repercussion on the human condition. Tickets are $20. GALA Hispanic Theatre

Olney Theatre Center Through Nov. 17

Through Nov. 3

Trespassing: The Visitor & The Peephole

Ambassador Theater presents two one-act plays written by Egyptian playwright Alfred Farag that unfold into madcap tales of justice, fate, insecurities, deception, social status, power and a murdered body that keeps disappearing. Tickets are $30; for information, visit Mead Theater Lab at Flashpoint Nov. 8 to Dec. 2

Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woodie Guthrie

“Woody Sez” celebrates the legend of American folk legend Woody Guthrie, “America’s greatest ballad maker,” whose music continues to inspire today’s finest storytelling songwriters including Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and the Indigo Girls.Tickets start at $35. Washington DCJCC

15th International Festival of Hispanic Theatre

Teatro de la Luna presents the 15th International Festival of Hispanic Theatre featuring “Otelo… Sniff (Othello… Sniff)” from the Dominican Republic, “Jesucristo (Jesus Christ)” from Argentina, “Cartas de las Golondrinas (Letters from the Swallows)” from Spain and other works from Ecuador, Venezuela and the United States. Tickets are $35; for information, visit Gunston Arts Center – Theater Two Nov. 20 to 25

Jekyll & Hyde

“American Idol” finalist and Tony nominee Constantine Maroulis (“Rock of Ages”) joins with Grammy Award nominee and R&B superstar Deborah Cox in this thrilling revival of Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse’s musical. Tickets are $25 to $115. Kennedy Center Opera House

Through Nov. 11


British playwright Bryony Lavery’s “Dirt” follows five lives as they sprawl and intersect: Harper is about to die. Elle is her waitress. Matt will eventually sleep with them both. May tries to get through a lecture in quantum physics without her cell going off, and Guy is a healer and, well, a guy. Tickets are $20. The Studio Theatre

Through Nov. 25

Conference of the Birds

In this fable based on a 12th-century Persian poem that ponders the search for the divine and the quest for truth, the birds of the world take flight on an extraordinary pilgrimage to find their king. Tickets are $40 to $68. Folger Shakespeare Library Through Nov. 25

Through Nov. 11

Dying City

War Horse

Winner of five Tony Awards, “War Horse” is a powerfully moving and imaginative drama brought to life by astonishing lifesize puppets of horses that are strong enough for men to ride. Tickets are $25 to $175. Kennedy Center Opera House

One year after his identical twin brother’s suspicious death in Iraq, Peter shows up unannounced at his sister-in-law Kelly’s apartment. Having not spoken since the funeral, Peter and Kelly face off in a passive-aggressive battle rooted in half-truths and betrayal. Please call for ticket information.

Nov. 14 to Dec. 9

Signature Theatre

The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart

Nov. 30 to Dec. 30

The Shakespeare Theatre Company brings a second production from the National Theatre of Scotland to D.C. audiences, a play inspired by the Border Ballads of Scotland that follows an academic on her supernatural and affirming Midwinter’s Eve journey through a world of Scottish nostalgia. Tickets are $55. DuPont Circle’s Bier Baron Tavern

A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas Rediscover the vibrancy and joy of this immortal classic as Dickens originally intended — in his own words — and experience his unforgettable characters and imagery in a masterful solo performance by Olney Theatre Center favorite Paul Morella. Tickets are $26. Olney Theatre Center


George Mason University Center for the Arts (Nov. 24) Hylton Performing Arts Center (Nov. 25)


Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical “Cinderella” adds warmth and a touch of hilarity to the enduing fairytale. Tickets are $26 to $54.

Arena Stage

This Grammy-winning kicks off the holidays with a festive program showcasing Gregorian chants, motets, revered sacred works, traditional English and European carols, and American folk hymns. Tickets are $32 to $48.

Fri., Nov. 2, 8 p.m. Sat., Nov. 3, 8 p.m.

From 18th-century Italy to 21st-century America, through Germany, Poland and Hungary, Francesca Hurst performas a rare selection of piano masterpieces marked by poetic depth and shining virtuosity (doors open at 6:15 p.m.).

When Professor Henry Higgins wagers he can transform a Cockney flower girl into an aristocratic lady, he never guesses that Eliza Doolittle will in turn transform him. Tickets are $45 to $94.

Plan Your Entire Weekend.

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November 2012

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The Washington Diplomat

November 2012

44th Annual Meridian Ball

Photo: Joyce N. Boghosian photos: thomas coleman

From left, Ambassador of Ukraine Olexander Motsyk, his wife Natalia Terletska, and Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan Muktar Djumaliev enjoy the gardens of Meridian House, an architectural treasure listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ronald Cook and Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson Cook attend the 44th Annual Meridian Ball.

From left, President and CEO of the Meridian International Center Ambassador Stuart Holliday and his wife Gwen Moore Holliday join Jay L. Johnson and Sydney McNiff Johnson, co-chairs of the 44th Annual Meridian Ball and Global Leadership Summit, for desserts and dancing at the 2012 Meridian Ball, the largest ball in the center’s history.

Ambassador of Switzerland Manuel Sager and his wife Christine Sager attend the 44th Meridian Ball, which was preceded in the daytime by the first-ever Meridian Global Leadership Summit held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

From left, Nuha Shiblie, Publisher of The Washington Diplomat Victor Shiblie, Gladys Boluda of the State Department’s Protocol Office, Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago Neil Parsan, Melissa Beale, wife of the Barbados ambassador Leila Beale, and Ambassador of Morocco Rachad Bouhlal attend the 44th Meridian Ball.

Gabrielle de Kuyper of Austin, Texas, gives her husband, Ambassador of the Netherlands Rudolf Simon Bekink, a warm embrace at the 44th Annual Meridian Ball. Bekink was among the ambassadors who hosted intimate dinners at their residences and embassies throughout Washington, D.C., after which guests headed to the Meridian International Center for desserts and dancing.

Ambassador of Albania Gilbert Galanxhi and his wife Etleva Galanxhi attend the 44th Annual Meridian Ball, which gathered more than 800 top corporate, government and diplomatic leaders, as well as young professionals.

Photo: Joyce N. Boghosian

From left, wife of the former Afghan ambassador Shamim Jawad, U.S. Chief of Protocol Capricia Penavic Marshall, wife of the Monaco ambassador Ellen Noghès, and Marie Therese Royce, a Meridian Trustee and wife of Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), attend the 44th Annual Meridian Ball.

Ambassador of Georgia Temuri Yakobashvil and his wife Yana Fremer attend the 44th Annual Meridian Ball.

Photo: Joyce N. Boghosian

Photo: Joyce N. Boghosian

Loran Aiken, left, and Ashley Taylor Bronczek were the co-chairs of the Meridian Ball’s White Meyer House dinner.

Kristi Rogers and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) were the congressional committee co-chairs of the 44th Annual Meridian Ball.

Gitte Pederson, left, and Ambassador of Denmark Peter Taksoe-Jensen attend the 44th Meridian Ball, preceded by ambassador-hosted dinners throughout the city, as well as Meridian’s dinner inside the White Meyer House.

From left, Grace Bender, interior designer Aniko Gaal Schott, and Lotti Letanóczky, wife of the Hungarian deputy chief of mission, attend the 44th Meridian Ball, sponsored by General Dynamics, FedEx, Turkish Airlines and other corporations.

Photo: Joyce N. Boghosian

Photo: Joyce N. Boghosian

Former Michigan Gov. James J. Blanchard, chairman of Meridian’s Board of Trustees, and his wife Janet Blanchard attend the 44th Annual Meridian Ball.

Page 50

From left, Mandy Ourisman, Meridian Trustee Mary M. Ourisman, Edilia Gutierrez, and former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez attend the 44th Meridian Ball.

From left, Moroccan Embassy Counselor Saida Zaid, The Washington Diplomat Managing Editor Anna Gawel, and wife of the Moroccan ambassador Fatiha Bennani attend the 44th Meridian Ball.

Ambassador of Liechtenstein Claudia Fritsche, left, and Dr. Michael Olding of George Washington University Hospital attend the 44th Annual Meridian Ball.

The gardens of the Meridian International House are illuminated by candlelight for the 44th Meridian Ball, which set a new fundraising record by raising $1 million to support Meridian’s mission of promoting public diplomacy and global leadership through the exchange of ideas, people and culture.

The Washington Diplomat

November 2012

German Unity

From left, Ambassador of Croatia Josip Paro joins Ambassador of Serbia and Mrs. Vladimir Petrovic at the German Unity Day reception held at the German Residence.

Photo: by Zacarias Garcia

Ambassador of Germany Peter Ammon, left, welcomes U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, whose grandfather emigrated from the town of Zeulenroda in Germany in 1908, as the guest of honor at the Day of German Unity reception held at the German Residence.

Carole Geithner, wife of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, left, walks with Marliese Heimann Ammon, wife of the German ambassador, at the reception celebrating the Day of Germany Unity marking the Oct. 3, 1990, reunification of East and West Germany and the fall of Soviet communism in Europe.

From left, Ambassador of Belgium Jan Matthysen, Ambassador of Slovenia Roman Kirn, Ambassador of Lithuania Zygimantas Pavilionis, and Ambassador of France François Delattre attend the German Unity Day reception.

From left, Ambassador of Spain Ramón Gill-Casare, President and CEO of Airbus Military North America Jose M. Morales, Maria Amor, and Spanish Embassy Defense Attaché Rear Adm. Javier Romero attend the German Unity Day reception.

Photo: by Zacarias Garcia

Photos: thomas coleman

Ambassador of Austria Hans Peter Manz, left, and Ambassador of Bulgaria Elena Poptodorova attend the German Unity Day reception commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Photo: by Zacarias Garcia

Hundreds came out for the Day of Germany Unity celebration held on the terraced gardens of the German Residence, which featured German band Höhner, a traditional German biergarten with live music, right, and other favorites such as Nürnberger bratwurst.

Egyptian Art

Ambassador of Egypt Mohamed M. Tawfik and his wife Amani Amin host the reception “Celebrating Egyptian Contemporary Art,” which showcased paintings, sculptures, and other forms of art by modern Egyptian artists at the Egyptian Embassy.

German conductor Christoph Eschenbach, center, talks with Jerome Barry, founder and artistic director of the Embassy Series, and his wife Lisette Barry at the German Unity Day reception.

Norway Bids Japan Farewell

Photos: Kate Oczypok

From left, consul at the Egyptian Embassy Hani M. Nagi, Khaled Ghobashy, and Heba El Koudsy, a visiting journalist with the Woodrow Wilson Center, attend a contemporary art reception at the Egyptian Embassy.

David Painter, left, and Dagmar Painter, curator at the Jerusalem Fund Gallery, attend an exhibition of contemporary Egyptian art at the Egyptian Embassy.

Interior designer Barbara Hawthorn, left, joins art and jewelry promoter Sylvia Ragheb, who helped to organize an exhibition of contemporary Egyptian art at the Egyptian Embassy.

Cairo-born artist Samia Abdel­ wahed, whose work has been featured by the State Department’s Art in Embassies program, left, and Jim Lintott, chairman of Sterling Foundation Management, attend a contemporary Egyptian art exhibition at the Egyptian Embassy.

Former Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), left, and Jean Oberstar attend a contemporary art reception at the Egyptian Embassy, held in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

From left, Ambassador of Norway Wegger Christian Strommen, Ambassador of Liechtenstein Claudia Fritsche, Ambassador of Japan Ichiro Fujisaki, and Ambassador of Sweden Jonas Hafstrom attend an intimate farewell dinner for Ambassador and Mrs. Fujisaki hosted by Ambassador of Norway and Mrs. Strommen at the Norwegian Residence.

Photos: Joanne Ke

From left, Rev. Dr. Cecilie Strommen, wife of the Norwegian ambassador, hosts Yoriko Fujisaki and Ambassador of Japan Ichiro Fujisaki for a six-course farewell dinner in their honor, created by chef Simon Liestøl Idsø that featured confit of egg yolk with trout roe and powdered burned leek, fish soup with mackerel and green kohlrabi, as well as pork tenderloin with a porcini-and-potato gnocchi.

Guests of the farewell dinner for Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki pose for a photo: Top row from left, Linda Sonnenreich; Ambassador of Sweden Jonas Hafstrom; Ambassador of Norway Wegger Christian Strommen; Ambassador of Japan Ichiro Fujisaki; Joanne Ke; and Michael Sonnenreich; and from bottom row left, Rev. Dr. Cecilie Strommen, Yoriko Fujisaki; Eva Hafstrom; and Ambassador of Liechtenstein Claudia Fritsche; and Institute for Education founder Kathy Kemper.

November 2012

The Washington Diplomat Page 51


The Washington Diplomat

November 2012

Maltese National Day From left, Mrs. and Ambassador of Albania Gilbert Galanxhi join Ambassador of Iceland Gudmundur Arni Stefansson at the Maltese National Day reception held at the Maltese Residence.

Ambassador of Cyprus Pavlos Anastasiades, left, joins recently appointed Ambassador of Malta Joseph Cole for a reception celebrating Malta’s National Day at Ambassador Cole’s residence.

From left, wife of the Slovenian ambassador Jovanna Kirn, Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina Jadranka Negodic, Ambassador of Slovenia Roman Kirn, and Attaché at the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina Riad Habul attend the Maltese National Day reception held at the Maltese Residence.

From left, Ambassador of Latvia Andris Razans and his wife Gunta Razane talk with recently appointed Ambassador of Luxembourg Jean-Louis Wolzfeld at the Maltese National Day reception.

U.S. Chief of Protocol Capricia Penavic Marshall, left, and Ambassador of Montenegro Srdjan Darmanovic attend the Maltese National Day reception.

photos: thomas coleman

Chilean National Day

Kazakhstan Farewell

Photos: Zaahira Wyne

From left, Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake, Ambassador of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov, and Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) speak at the farewell reception for Ambassador Idrissov, who is now Kazakhstan’s foreign minister.

Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the United Nations Byrganym Aitimova, left, talks with Ambassador of Kazakhstan and newly appointed Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov at Idrissov’s farewell reception held at the Willard InterContinental Washington hotel.

Photos: Joseph Corcoran

From left, Luis Guillermo Porcile, Paula Ferdinand, the National Gallery of Art’s chair of foreign language docents, and Ambassador of Chile Felipe Bulnes attend the Chilean National Day reception held at the ambassador’s residence.

From left, Jaime García, Col. Eugenio Rojas of Chile, Col. J Lira of Chile, and Alvaro Briones, a former Chilean ambassador who is now director of public security within the Secretariat for Multidimensional Security at the Organization of American States, attend the Chilean National Day reception.

New Zealand Kiwi Feathers

From left, Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan Djumaliev, Andrei Surzhanskiy, and Basharin, both of the ITAR-TASS News attend the farewell reception for the ambassador.

Muktar Leonid Agency, Kazakh

Ambassador of Liechtenstein Claudia Fritsche, left, and Ina Ginsburg attend the farewell reception for the Kazakh ambassador at the Willard InterContinental Washington.

Photos: Karin Zeitvogel

New Zealand Ambassador Mike Moore, left, and Smithsonian National Zoo Director Dennis Kelly, right, bow their heads as Ataahua Papa intones a Maori blessing on a box of kiwi feathers. The feathers were collected at zoos in Europe and the United States and will be shipped to New Zealand to be used in traditional Maori weaving.

New Zealand Ambassador Mike Moore, left, and Smithsonian National Zoo Director Dennis Kelly, right applaud as National Zoo bird keeper Kathy Brader is presented with gifts by Deputy Chief of Mission Jane Coombs. Brader started a program to collect kiwi feathers at zoos around the world and send them to New Zealand for use in traditional Maori weaving.

Malaysian National Day

Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina Jadranka Negodic, left, and Riad Habul, attaché at the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina, attend the 55th Malaysian National Day reception held at the Embassy of Malaysia.

Page 52

Recently appointed Ambassador of Latvia Andris Razans and his wife Gunta Razane attend the 55th Malaysian National Day reception.

Photos: Kate Oczypok

From left, Ambassador of Namibia Martin Andjaba, his wife Caroline Andjaba, and Ambassador of Suriname Subhas Mungra attend the 55th Malaysian National Day reception.

Assistant Defense Attaché at the Royal Netherlands Embassy Col. Arie Ooms, left, and U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Leslie Miller Purser attend the 55th Malaysian National Day reception.

Irina Arimushkina, left, joins Etleva Galanxhi, wife of the Albanian ambassador, at the 55th Malaysian National Day reception.

The Washington Diplomat

November 2012



november 2012

HOLIDAYS AFghANiSTAN nov. 15: islamic new Year nov. 24: ashura ALbANiA nov. 28: independence day nov. 29: Liberation day ALgEriA nov. 1: anniversary of the revolution nov. 15: awal Moharem nov. 24: achoura ANDOrrA nov. 1: all Saints day ANgOLA nov. 2: all Souls day nov. 11: independence day ANTiguA and bArbuDA nov. 1: independence day AuSTriA nov. 1: all Saints day AzErbAiJAN nov. 12: Constitution day nov. 17: national revival day bAhrAiN nov. 15: al-hijrah nov. 24: ashura bANgLADESh nov. 7: national revolution and

Solidarity day bArbADOS nov. 30: independence day bELAruS nov. 7: october revolution day bELgiuM nov. 1: all Saints day nov. 11: armistice day bELizE nov. 19: Garifuna Settlement day bENiN nov. 1: all Saints day bOLiviA nov. 1: all Saints day nov. 2: all Souls day bOSNiA-hErzEgOviNA nov. 25: anti-fascism day brAziL nov. 2: Memorial day nov. 15: Proclamation of the republic bruNEi nov. 15: First day of hijriah buLgAriA nov. 1: day of the national enlighteners

burKiNA FASO nov. 1: all Saints day burMA (MyANMAr) nov. 29: national day buruNDi nov. 1: all Saints day CAMbODiA nov. 1: Birthday of hM the King nov. 9: independence day CANADA nov. 11: remembrance day

CÔTE D’ivOirE nov. 1: all Saints day nov. 15: national Peace day CrOATiA nov. 1: all Saints day CzECh rEpubLiC nov. 17: day of the Struggle for Freedom and democracy DJibOuTi nov. 15: islamic new Year

CApE vErDE nov. 1: all Saints day

DOMiNiCA nov. 3: independence day nov. 4: Community Service day

CENTrAL AFriCAN rEpubLiC nov. 1: all Saints day

DOMiNiCAN rEpubLiC nov. 6: Constitution day

ChAD nov. 1: all Saints day nov. 28: republic day

EAST TiMOr nov. 1: all Saints day nov. 12: Santa Cruz Massacre

ChiLE nov. 1: all Saints day COLOMbiA nov. 1: all Saints day nov. 11: independence of Cartagena COSTA riCA nov. 2: all Souls day

ECuADOr nov. 2: all Souls day nov. 3: independence of Cuenca EL SALvADOr nov. 2: all Souls day nov. 5: Cry of independence day

Chanthavisouk Chanthasane departed the post of second secretary on aug. 29. nanthanakhone Keovongvichith assumed the position of third secretary on July 30. a graduate of Seoul national university in South Korea, Keovongvichith has worked at the Ministry of Foreign affairs in Laos since 2005. viengkham Saenbouttalath departed the post of third secretary on aug. 29. Mai Sayavongs departed the post of minister counselor and deputy chief of mission on Sept. 3. Singhanakhone Syhalath assumed the position of second secretary on aug. 2. a graduate of Massey university in new Zealand, Syhalath previously has worked at the Ministry of Foreign affairs in Laos since 1999, including as deputy director of the Protocol division from 2008 to 2012.

poland ryszard Schnepf was appointed ambassador of Poland to the united States on Sept. 22, having previously served as ambassador to Spain since 2008. ambassador Schnepf was also undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign affairs (200708); ambassador/minister of foreign affairs plenipotentiary for global threats (2006-07); secretary of state Ambassador for foreign relations and security to ryszard Schnepf the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland (2005-06), where he’d previously been deputy director and chief of protocol (1998-2000); and ambassador/minister of foreign affairs plenipotentiary for the organization of 25th anniversary of the Solidarity trade union (2005). in addition, he has served as Poland’s ambas-

November 2012

Fax to: the Washington diplomat at: (301) 949-0065 E-mail to: Mail to: P.o. Box 1345, Silver Spring, Md 20915-1345

ESTONiA nov. 2: all Souls day nov. 16: day of declaration of Sovereignty FiJi nov. 13: diwali FiNLAND nov. 1: all Saints day FrANCE nov. 1: all Saints day nov. 11: armistice day gAbON nov. 1: all Saints day gEOrgiA nov. 23: St. George’s day (Giorgoba)

guyANA nov. 13: diwali sador to Costa rica, with accreditation to Belize, Guatemala, honduras, nicaragua, Panama and el Salvador (2001-04), deputy head of mission at the Polish embassy in Spain (2000-01), and ambassador to uruguay and Paraguay (199196). From 1978 to 1991, ambassador Schnepf was an assistant professor in the iberian Studies department of Warsaw university. he holds a master’s degree in history from Warsaw university and a doctorate from the institute of history at the Polish academy of Sciences. ambassador is married with three children. he speaks english, Spanish, russian and italian.

hAiTi nov. 1: all Saints day nov. 2: all Souls day


iNDONESiA nov. 15: islamic new Year

Peter Kmec became ambassador of the Slovak republic to the united States on Sept. 19, having previously served as ambassador to Sweden since 2007. he was posted to Washington, d.C., on a prior occasion, as deputy chief of mission and counselor from 2003 to 2005. other postings include: chief (2005-07) Ambassador and deputy chief (1999-2000) of the peter Kmec Minister’s Cabinet in the Ministry of Foreign affairs; deputy chief of mission and counselor at the Slovak embassy in israel (2000-02); political counselor to the organization for Security and Cooperation in europe (oSCe) Mission to Georgia (1998-99); deputy director of the department of Security Policy at the Ministry of Foreign affairs (1997-98); and second secretary to the Slovak Permanent Mission to the oSCe (1993-97). he also served in the Chamber of nations of the Federal assembly (Parliament) of the former Czechoslovakia in Prague (1992) and in the department of international economic relations at the Federal Ministry of Foreign affairs of former Czechoslovakia (1990-91). ambassador Kmec studied at the Moscow State institute of international relations from 1985 to 1990 and obtained his doctor of law degree from Comenius university in Bratislava in 1990.

pEru nov. 1: all Saints day phiLippiNES nov. 1: all Saints day nov. 30: andres Bonifacio day pOLAND nov. 11: independence day

guATEMALA nov. 1: all Saints day


Send Us Your Holidays and Appointments

pANAMA nov. 3: independence day nov. 4: Flag day nov. 10: independence of the Los Santos Province nov. 28: emancipation From Spain

huNgAry nov. 1: all Saints day iNDiA nov. 13: diwali (deepavali) nov. 15: Muharram nov. 26: Guru nanak’s Birthday

irAN nov. 15: islamic new Year nov. 24: ashura irAQ nov. 15: islamic new Year nov. 24: ashura iTALy nov. 1: all Saints day JApAN nov. 3: national Culture day (Bunka no hi) nov. 23: Labor thanksgiving day (Kinro Kansha no hi) JOrDAN nov. 14: Late King hussein’s Birthday nov. 15: islamic new Year KuWAiT nov. 15: hijra new Year LATviA nov. 18: independence day in 1918

LEbANON nov. 1: all Saints day nov. 15: islamic new Year nov. 22: independence day nov. 24: ashoura

pOrTugAL nov. 1: all Saints day

LibEriA nov. 5: thanksgiving day nov. 29: Williams v.S. tubman’s Birthday

ruSSiA nov. 4: national unity day

LibyA nov. 15: islamic new Year LiEChTENSTEiN nov. 1: all Saints day LiThuANiA nov. 1: all Saints day LuXEMbOurg nov. 1: all Saints day MADAgASCAr nov. 1: all Saints day MALAySiA nov. 13: deepavali nov. 15: Maal hijrah

QATAr nov. 15: islamic new Year

SENEgAL nov. 1: all Saints day nov. 15: tamxarit SEyChELLES nov. 1: all Saints day SiNgApOrE nov. 13: deepavali SLOvAK rEpubLiC nov. 1: all Saints day nov. 17: day of Fight for Freedom and democracy SLOvENiA nov. 1: remembrance day SpAiN nov. 1: all Saints day

MArShALL iSLANDS nov. 17: President’s day

Sri LANKA nov. 13: deepavali

MAuriTANiA nov. 15: islamic new Year nov. 28: independence day

SuriNAME nov. 25: independence day

MEXiCO nov. 20: Mexican revolution of 1910 MiCrONESiA nov. 3: national day MONgOLiA nov. 26: independence day MOrOCCO nov. 6: Commemoration of the Green March nov. 15: islamic new Year nov. 18: independence day NEpAL nov. 9: Constitution day nov. 13: diwali OMAN nov. 15: islamic new Year nov. 18: national day nov. 19: Birthday of Sultan Qaboos pAKiSTAN nov. 9: Birthday of allama i qbal nov. 15: islamic new Year nov. 24: ashura pALAu nov. 22: thanksgiving day

SWEDEN nov. 1: all Saints day SWiTzErLAND nov. 1: all Saints day SyriA nov. 15: islamic new Year nov. 16: national day TOgO nov. 1: all Saints day TriNiDAD and TObAgO nov. 13: divali TuNiSiA nov. 7: Constitution day nov. 15: islamic new Year uNiTED ArAb EMirATES nov. 15: islamic new Year uruguAy nov. 1: all Saints day uzbEKiSTAN nov. 18: Flag day vENEzuELA nov. 1: all Saints day yEMEN nov. 15: First day of Muharam nov. 30: algala eid (1967)

The Washington Diplomat Page 53

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from page 19

side force may lay claim to political life in the new Syria.


Institutional NEW GENERATION Of RIfTS Development &

cal opposition have been disowned and denounced by their coreligionist civilians. George Sabra, a leading member of the opposition Syrian National Council who is also from the town of Qatana, is hated by Christian families there. The revolt’s fundamental aim has also split opponents of the current regime. Some are divided over whether the uprising should remain peaceful or if arms and weapons should be used to bring down Assad. Some argue over whether help should be sought from the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and perhaps the United States. Others want the revolt to be a strictly Syrian affair — won by Syrians for Syrians — so that when Assad is finally defeated, no out-

Page 54

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Civil trivial Society (Transparency) ~ But it is the seemingly divisions, disagreements between friends who continueEconomic to support and oppose the regime, that stand in the way of achieving long-term stability in Syria. In Qatana last spring, a 14-year-old Christian boy returned from Development (Resource school with a scratched arm after scuffling with another student. The schoolyard fightManagement) took place over each other’s support and ~ Political opposition to the Assad regime. At anti-government protests, chilCivic dren hold flags andParticipation chant support for&the Free Syrian Army, too young to understand their own words. Divisions among aEngagement new generation of(Strategy, Syrians — neighbors, Orga- colleagues and friends — is perhaps most troubling for the country nizing, Elections) ~ Monitoring & Evaluation (Assessment, Metrics, Survey

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going forward. Armed Assad-backed gangs and militias are likely to hang around long after the president and his family are driven from power. These armed Alawite elements are likely to continue to violently oppose any new political authority that has usurped their power and could potentially seek retribution against them. As more Syrians die, divisions will deepen, fraying the chances of re-establishing a functioning social fabric in the future. If and when the Assad regime falls, Syrians will be forced to face one another and confront the differences that have torn them apart head on.Whether they do so constructively or not will color and shape the Middle East for decades to come.

Stephen Starr is a freelance journalist and the author of “Revolt in Syria: Eye-Witness to the Uprising.” He lived in Syria from 2007 until earlier this year. November 2012

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from page 14

Security Iranian policy towards the outside world might evolve.” In severing relations, Harper’s Conservative-led government cited Iran’s covert nuclear program, its human rights record, support for the Syrian government, and repeated threats against Israel. “These are actually reasons why we should stay,” Mundy countered. “When the going gets rough you really need your diplomats. Canada’s tradition is to be one of the last countries to leave in a crisis, not the first.” Mundy speculated that one of the reasons for the embassy shutdown might have been to pull diplomats out of the country ahead of a possible military strike by Israel. Others, including the Iranian government, said the move was a cost-cutting measure. Interestingly, during a recent visit to Canada, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and his Canadian counterpart John Baird announced a plan to share embassy and consular offices in a handful of locations around the world where one of the nations does not have an embassy. Facing austerity back home, the move is a way for both governments to cut spending, but another reason is to pool representation (and security resources) in dangerous areas such as Iraq, where Canada’s envoy has already been working out of a room in the British Embassy. But, like the United States, Canada too finds itself enmeshed in a similar debate over striking the right balance between security and accessibility — especially on the heels of its decision to abandon Iran. Critics say the joint missions are a raw deal for Canada. “Even with an equal partnership, the British, who have a lot more resources in this arena, will dominate the relationship,” Meyer Brownstone, a former Canadian ambassador, told the Globe and Mail, echoing complaints that Ottawa is outsourcing its diplomacy, and influence, November 2012


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to Britain. There may even be an inherent danger in combining diplomatic missions.“Some countries are generally more at risk because of the political positions they take,” Patrick of CFR told The Diplomat. “Co-location increases the prize of a potential attack” — i.e., terrorists look for targets where they can get more “bang for the buck.”

SHORT-CHANGING SECURITY The issue of resources underlies any security arrangement — and the Benghazi attack is no exception. At the highly charged congressional hearings in October, Republicans and Democrats traded accusations of short-changing America’s diplomats. “I believe personally, with more assets, more resources, just meeting the minimum standards, we could have and should have saved the life of Ambassador Stevens and the other people,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). But Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) called the hearings a shameful campaign stunt and blasted House Republicans for slashing nearly half a billion dollars from the Obama administration’s previous requests for diplomatic security funding. Republicans said the cuts were bipartisan and cited budget waste at the State Department. Yet as the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank pointed out, under Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, non-defense discretionary spending, which includes the State Department, would be slashed nearly 20 percent in 2014, which would translate to more than $400 million in additional cuts to embassy security. Cordesman says Congress needs to rise above the “petty partisan feeding frenzies” and get smart about where it can get the most bang for its buck. “The cost of properly funded expeditionary diplomacy — people, military and civil aid funds, and fully funded security efforts — is going to be cheaper even on a global level than losing contact and U.S. influence in a single country like Egypt, or being unprepared to

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deal with the flow of events in a nation like Syria or Iraq,” he argues. “It is also already all too clear that extremist elements throughout the world realize that attacks on U.S. diplomats and military advisors or partners are one of the cheapest and most effective ways to gain immediate visibility, strike at the heart of U.S. public opinion, drive the U.S. out of a country, or limit its influence,” he added. The battle to stop those attacks existed long before Benghazi and will continue long after — no matter which party is in charge. Yet despite the partisan noise, there is also a genuine desire to protect the lives of those who represent the nation abroad. It’s a fine line, however. “Lean too far in the direction of engagement, and you might end up dead in a rocket attack, as Ambassador Stevens’ death sadly reminds us,” Stephen Kelly, a visiting professor at Duke University and a 28-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service, told the Chicago Tribune.“Lean too far the other way, however, and you might as well run diplomacy by email and fax machine from Washington.” And that defeats the purpose of diplomacy, says Cordesman. “We need to protect our embassies, consulates and military advisory groups, but we cannot afford to turn them into fortresses that lock our diplomats, aid teams and military on the scene away from events and the people they are trying to influence,” he said. “If there are any real lessons from Libya — or Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq,Yemen, Somalia, Kenya,Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and all the other nations on the long list of cases where American diplomats, advisors and security teams died to serve their country — it is that projecting any form of smart power is done on the ground, is done by moving throughout the country, is done by taking risks, and will inevitably incur casualties.”

Talha Aquil is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Anna Gawel is managing editor of The Washington Diplomat. The Washington Diplomat Page 55


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November 2012

November 2012  

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