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A World of News and Perspective

■ EDUCATION AND HOTELS SPECIAL SECTIONS INSIDE

EDUCATION Q A Special Section of The Washington Diplomat

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■ VOLUME 18, NUMBER 10 WORLD DEMOGRAPHICS

EUROPE

Population Growth Redefines Life for World’s 7 Billion

As Somalis Starve, Horn Famine Crosses Borders Into Kenya Famine has returned to the Horn of Africa and although it has been most acute in lawless Somalia, the drought that precipitated the crisis has not been restrained by national borders, as neighboring Kenya struggles to handle the influx of starving Somalis. PAGE 16

The Katzen Arts Center regularly rounds up bits of bold ideas for art exhibits that fit together in a cutting-edge jigsaw. PAGE 50

PEOPLE OF WORLD INFLUENCE

To clarify the complexities of the Middle East, influential people from President Obama to “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart to late diplomat Richard Holbrooke have turned to Vali Nasr, an Iranian-born scholar and author who says that to understand the region, factbased analysis has to trump superficial conjecture. PAGE 6

AFRICA

Katzen Captures Potpourri of Art

■ OCTOBER 2011

Vali Nasr: Hard Truths Must Inform U.S. Mideast Policy

This month the world’s population hits 7 billion, and more people on the planet inevitably means more problems, although demographic changes will redefine life for nations in vastly different ways, with some places growing grayer while others burst at the seams. PAGE 11

culture

Q October 2011

DIPLOMACY

Envoy Becomes Unlikely American Voice in Damascus

GERMANY TO THE RESCUE? That’s the big question as the world looks to Europe’s economic engine to save the euro, and quite possibly the entire project of European integration itself. Berlin’s new ambassador, Peter Ammon, admits there are no easy answers to Europe’s debt crisis, but he is adamant that Germany will “stick to the euro.” PAGE 19

U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford’s handling of the Syrian uprising has become an unexpected exercise in boldness, earning him the respect of Syrian protesters and the ire of their government, while reigniting the long-standing debate over whether the U.S. should maintain a diplomatic presence in hostile nations. PAGE 8


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October 2011


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October 2011

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A World of News & Perspective

October 2011


CONTENTS THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT

October 2011

11 World population

[ news ] 6

Synetic Theater

26

52

DIPLOMACY

27

[ education ]

As the planet’s population reaches 7 billion, the world is going to look very different in the coming years from what it was just over a decade ago, when there were 6 billion of us.

15

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS The famine in Somalia has attracted worldwide attention while next door, far from the global spotlight, Kenya has been bombarded with waves of starving refugees.

19

COVER PROFILE: GERMANY Peter Ammon says his life’s dream came true when he became Germany’s ambassador to the U.S., but back home Berlin is facing a nightmare as it tries to rescue the euro.

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COVER: Photo taken at the German Residence by Lawrence Ruggeri.

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ART

[ culture ]

From subterranean homes in the Australian outback to bygone streets in Washington, D.C., the Katzen Arts Center has found its niche with boundless exhibitions.

FILM REVIEWS Polish writer-director Lech Majewski’s visually dazzling “The Mill and the Cross” is a divinely inspired film about Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel’s masterwork that places the tale of Christ’s Passion in Spanish-occupied Flanders.

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FILM Area college students recently joined Vice President Joe Biden at the White House for a screening of the 9/11 documentary “Rebirth.”

ANNIVERSARIES The Willard is marking the 25th anniversary of its reopening — and 150 years of history.

50

60

TOURISM As a global destination, D.C. locals rely on a $5 billion tourism industry whose economic outlook looks bright heading into 2012, with some patchy clouds.

THEATER By reducing “The Hollow” to a love story, and sidelining its famed headless horseman, Signature Theatre forgot the fear in its adaption of the classic horror tale.

It’s one thing to say bad teachers should be fired, but what’s bad? How do educators define the metrics of success?

[ travel & hotels ]

THEATER The Shakespeare Theatre’s silly but satisfying production of “The Heir Apparent” is pure unadulterated fluff — of the French farce variety.

TEACHER EVALUATION

POLITICS Liberia’s presidential election this month will test whether Africa’s famed “iron lady” has indeed used her steely determination to revive her nation after decades of war.

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SPORTS EXCHANGES The great equalizer, sports have taken center field in the State Department’s global outreach.

GLOBAL VANTAGE POINT Dani Rodrik, author of “The Globalization Paradox,” argues that democracies are notoriously bad at creating the kind of political commitments necessary for economic growth.

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THEATER GALA and Synetic theater companies have emerged as crowd-pleasers that often fly under the radar but soar when it comes to creativity.

With today’s cancer survivors living longer and longer, many of them wonder when it’s time to move on from cancer specialists back to primary care doctors.

DIPLOMACY

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

53

MEDICAL

DANCE Two D.C.-based dance companies have moved beyond their mirror-rimmed studios for Ottoman castles, Mongolian schools, and the black sands of Mexico.

To counter the Palestinian bid for U.N. recognition, one group launched its own bid to woo small voting nations by taking nearly 20 D.C.-based envoys to Israel.

U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford has eschewed traditional diplomacy to become an unlikely American voice amid the violence raging in Syria.

11

53

Sports exchanges

PEOPLE OF WORLD INFLUENCE Iranian-born author Vali Nasr says there’s been “a deliberate lack of sophistication in trying to understand and analyze the Muslim world,” a void he’s trying to fill.

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CINEMA LISTING

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EVENTS LISTING

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DIPLOMATIC SPOTLIGHT

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WORLD HOLIDAYS / APPOINTMENTS

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CLASSIFIEDS

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REAL ESTATE CLASSIFIEDS

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October 2011

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PEOPLE OF WORLD INFLUENCE

Vali Nasr

Scholar Says Analysis, Not Assumptions Will Help Americans Grasp Middle East by Michael Coleman

I

t’s no secret that Middle Eastern politics are complex, but when Vali Nasr speaks and writes, the tumultuous region suddenly makes more sense. That’s why influential people ranging from President Barack Obama to “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart are listening to what the Iranian-born scholar and author has to say. Whether briefing State Department officials on Middle East politics, penning an op-ed in the New York Times to warn of dangers lurking in the Arab Spring, or appearing on “The Charlie Rose Show” to discuss the Iranian nuclear threat, Nasr encourages people to base their perceptions of the Middle East on facts instead of often erroneous assumptions. “My job is to bring the right facts and perspective to the overall policy discussion,” said Nasr, a former State Department official who now teaches international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. “We are dealing with a very complex area of the world and our engagement has been increasing. Particularly after 9/11, we found out as a nation that we need to understand the Mideast a lot more. That [education] is ongoing with the Arab Spring.” Fact-based decision-making is something that Nasr said he has always strived for, and he learned its importance firsthand working for legendary U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke, who died in December 2010 from a torn aorta. Nasr’s very first assignment under Holbrooke, who was the State Department’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, was to write a memo on the Taliban’s operations in Pakistan. The next day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered Nasr’s memo to Obama, who reportedly agreed with Nasr’s assessment of the threat. It was a heady, validating experience. “Holbrooke was unique in that he had an enormous respect for facts,” Nasr said. “He really believed you could not solve a problem unless you became an expert at it. He would make a point of traveling to the region once a month. He read everything he could on the countries that were assigned to him. “He brought experts in because he believed you could not make policy unless it was informed by real knowledge,” Nasr continued. “If you were going to have a stint working in government, I would say he was the best person to work with because he appreciated positive input that was informed by on-the-ground reality.” Perhaps Nasr’s single-greatest contribution to the ongoing dialogue on the Middle East is his understanding and explanation of the importance of sectarian

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rivalries. His 2006 book “The Shia Revival,” which explained how religious sectarian rivalries in Islamic countries could shape the future of the world, became required reading in the American diplomatic community and led to an invitation to brief President George W. Bush on the subject. More recently, in late August, Nasr penned an op-ed in the New York Times that warned of the dangers lurking in the Arab Spring — specifically the notion that power vacuums could incite sectarian violence much like that in Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s fall. “The Arab Spring is a hopeful chapter in Middle Eastern politics, but the region’s history points to darker outcomes,” Nasr wrote. “There are no recent examples of extended power-sharing or peaceful transitions to democracy in the Arab world. When dictatorships crack, budding democracies are more than likely to be greeted by violence and paralysis. Sectarian divisions — the bane of many Middle Eastern societies — will then emerge, as competing groups settle old scores and vie for power.” Nasr told The Diplomat that he wants to

If you depend on the region as much as we do and if you’re spending trillions of dollars on it, why is it that you are completely surprised by major developments? — VALI NASR professor at Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

make clear he thinks the Arab Spring is a positive development. But he also wants to tamp down expectations. “There may be things that are right,” he said. “It’s the first time we’ve seen people in the region embrace values of peaceful protest and demand accountable, clean, representative government, rule of law, economic justice, and civil society engagement. All of these are positive things. “We used to think that the only thing that moved people in the Middle East was religious fanaticism, anti-Americanism and jihad,” he added. “Now we’re seeing jihad lost to peaceful protest — for now. These are good things. “The problem, I think, is that we’ve

come to expect that the process of democracy is in a straight line and pretty quick,” Nasr continued. “Maybe when [Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak fell from power it sort of redoubled our expectation. “The road to democracy may not be quick and it may be meandering,” Nasr cautioned. “There may be many conflicts. Some countries are going to have a tougher time than others. For example, Egypt is a homogenous country. Syria isn’t. Syria has to deal with this legacy of minority rule and being repressed like Iraq.” Nasr said most Americans are at least vaguely aware of the differences between Shiites and Sunnis because of sectarian fallout after the Iraq war, when minority

Sunnis who controlled most of the Iraqi government were ousted from power. “In a lot of the Middle East, particularly the eastern part of the Middle East, you have societies that are divided along ethnic lines or particularly along sectarian lines,” Nasr explained.“Most Americans are familiar with the shifts in the divide because of Iraq. The problem we encountered in Iraq is actually present in many other countries. You had a minority of say, 10 to 20 percent of the population that has dominated political power and economic resources and is not willing to give up power easily.” Nasr suggested that U.S. policymakers would be wise to make themselves aware of the inherent complexities of the Middle East, and not repeat the mistakes of democracy promotion and instantaneous regime change in Iraq. “When the decision was made to go into Iraq, our assumption was that in the immediate aftermath of the war the whole discussion was going to be about democracy,” Nasr recalled. “It ended up being about settling scores between the differ-

October 2011


ent sects.We obviously didn’t know enough about the shape of Iraq’s society and therefore we were completely surprised by the way things developed.” Nasr said a myopic “inside the Beltway” view of the Middle East also blinded U.S. policymakers to the realities on the ground in advance of the burgeoning Arab Spring. He said Americans were so focused on religious extremism that they missed the long-simmering economic and social grievances that sparked uprisings across the region. “When Tunisia erupted and then Egypt erupted, we were taken by surprise largely because that was not our focus,” he said. “We thought the region was under threat only by al-Qaeda and people in the region were only listening to antiAmerican fundamentalists.We thought the people in the region only cared about the Arab-Israeli issue.” Nasr said he has consistently found the American government’s lack of insight into such a critical region perplexing, given the resources it has devoted to it, including the launching of two exorbitantly expensive wars. “If you depend on the region as much as we do and if you’re spending trillions of dollars on it, why is it that you are completely surprised by major developments?” he questioned. However, Nasr said he’s been encouraged by what he’s seen within the halls of the State Department more recently. He said it seems that the United States is, indeed, learning from its mistakes. Part of that is recruiting people like himself — first- or second-generation Americans — who have backgrounds in the places the government is aiming to understand better. “Now, we have a lot more people with regional backgrounds, many of them are Afghan, Pakistani,

October 2011

Arab, Iranian Americans who have grown up in this country but have a better understanding of issues on the ground,” he said. “They speak the native languages and they are entering government like every other American kid and they are making a big contribution.” As an Iranian-American born in Tehran, Nasr, 50, is not only an academic expert on Iran, but also a practical one. He said the notion that Iran could be a major threat to the United States is misguided. “Iran is a problem — I don’t believe it’s an imminent threat to us,” he contends. “Iran is not the Soviet Union in terms of economic or military capabilities or international or diplomatic resources. It is not China. Its economy is maybe the size of Massachusetts and has probably shrunk in the past year or so,” said Nasr, whose family immigrated to the United States following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. “Its military capabilities — other than using some extremists — is limited and even its nuclear capabilities are limited to the future. It’s a regional menace and a regional threat. But it is not a global threat that would impact the global position of the United States. It is a problem we have to deal with, but it is not the existential threat it is made out to be.” Nasr said that although Obama pledged to engage Iran diplomatically, potentially without preconditions (and was ridiculed in some quarters for making the suggestion), he hasn’t followed through. “I actually believe the Bush administration engaged Iran far more than the Obama administration,” he said. “They engaged them on Iraq whereas the Obama administration has not engaged them on Iran, Iraq or Afghanistan. The Obama administration did not fundamentally

change what we would talk to Iran about, how we would talk to Iran, or what we would expect of Iran.” That’s not to say the Obama administration has failed with respect to the Middle Eastern powerhouse, he added. “The expectation the media makes of the process is probably outsized, but this is a very complicated process that is not going to go away with a single meeting,” Nasr said.“If there is a failure in how we have conceptualized this process, that failure was built on the previous administration.” And what about Iran’s nuclear ambitions? “Iran is without a doubt pursuing its nuclear program rather aggressively,” Nasr said.“Its strategy is probably to get to some kind of point of no return and establish realities that would become permanent before either the sanctions or international pressures succeed or before there is any kind of conceptual negotiation over capping their program.” He added: “Their strategy is probably very much that of North Korea, in that once you get to a particular plateau you are home free.” Yet Nasr suggested that Iran’s nuclear ambitions are defensive rather than offensive. “First and foremost, it is a deterrent against outside intervention [like] Iraq,” he said.“The lesson of Iraq and Libya for the Iranian government is that if you do not have a means to deter outside intervention, outside intervention could very well happen.” Iran also wants the prestige that membership in the nuclear club would confer, he says. “Iran would like to use a nuclear status in the way that India or Pakistan or China have used it, which is to confirm that it is a regional, great power,” he explained. “They’d be able to assert

prerogatives in the neighborhood and demand that smaller countries in the region agree to its leadership, etc.” But Nasr said he doesn’t think Iran has a suicidal wish to destroy anyone (although Israel may beg to differ). “It’s not about hard power ambition, but ambitions of grandeur.” Understanding the real motivations behind Iran’s behavior is key to addressing that behavior, and again, Nasr stresses that U.S. policymakers need to adopt an analytical approach to the region — one based on deeply researched facts and not superficial assumptions. “I think we’ve come in the past years to try to explain everything through Islam,” Nasr argues in a recent video blog, saying that there’s “a deliberate lack of sophistication in trying to understand and analyze the Muslim world, trying to reduce everything into the language of religion. “And I think that’s an imbalance that hurts us because then it’s very easy to gloss over real issues, and then end up in these cultural explanations that appear to be unbridgeable…. As an American and as a Muslim, as somebody with an origin in the Middle East, I see it as an important duty to help create that bridge in the public discourse.”

Michael Coleman is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

YOUR SOURCE FOR DIPLOMATIC NEWS. www.washdiplomat.com

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DIPLOMACY

Middle East

U.S. Envoy in Syria Embodies Debate Over Engagement Versus Isolation by Jordan Michael Smith

W

hen U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford ventured to the restive city of Hama on July 7 and 8, he received a response that was unusual for American officials visiting the region in recent years. Ford’s car, driving slowly through a cheering crowd, was pelted with flowers and olive branches.

The ambassador was declaring his support, without benefit of security, for the anti-regime protests that had erupted throughout the country since March. Ford’s presence infuriated President Bashar al-Assad’s government but endeared him to embattled Syrians. For Americans, unaccustomed to seeing their government showered with adoration by people in the Middle East, it was a strangely unfamiliar yet undeniably powerful moment. In addition to a stream of statements Ford has issued via Facebook castigating the Syrian government, the event has thrust the low-key career diplomat into the international limelight, transforming his posting into one of the most consequential for Americans grappling with the Arab Spring — especially in a nation such as Syria, where the U.S. government has few connections and little leverage beyond sanctions and rhetoric. For now, Ford’s handling of the Syrian unrest has muffled the debate over whether the United States should have an ambassador in Damascus. Hawks argue that such a move essentially rewards bad behavior, and prior to Ford’s proactive diplomacy, they urged the Obama administration to recall its ambassador — much like President Bush did in 2005 after suspicions that Syria was behind the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Now, however, some of those critics have softened their tone. “Certainly I would say he has risen above expectations,” Robert Zarate, a policy advisor with the Foreign Policy Initiative, a neoconservative think tank, said of Ford’s performance. “So long as he continues to be provocative and an effective public advocate for the Syrian people, we support him being there.” What Ford’s tenure has not done is resolve the longstanding debate over whether the United States should maintain a diplomatic presence in hostile countries and, by extension, engage or isolate their governments.That remains one of the most hotly contested questions in international diplomacy, and it shows no signs of abating anytime soon. On the one hand, critics of engagement say diplomatic recognition is a vital tool in bilateral relations that can grant legitimacy to authoritarian governments and thus should not be given away lightly. They also argue that dialogue with certain recalcitrant regimes has its limits and can easily backfire, making the U.S. appear weak. Supporters counter that engagement does not equal appeasement, and having eyes and ears on the ground in adversarial nations helps the United States better understand what it’s up against, allowing it to communicate not only with the authorities but with political opponents, NGOs and human rights groups as well. Moreover, they say diplomatic isolation can actually reduce leverage — case in point, decades of U.S. sanctions against Syria, Iran, North Korea and Burma have failed to dislodge those regimes and left them dependent on other nations. If anything, Ford’s behavior in Syria, and the response it

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WHITE HOUSE PHOTO BY PETE SOUZA

U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford meets with President Barack Obama at the Oval Office on Aug. 1, 2011. While other nations have pulled their ambassadors from Damascus in response to the Syrian government’s crackdown on protesters, Obama has said Ford will stay in place so he can communicate with opposition leaders and members of the nation’s various sects and religious groups — who may play a role if the government falls.

Remember that I am one of the few international observers here on the ground; if only the Syrian government would allow international media to move around the country freely like we did in Iraq! — ROBERT FORD

U.S. ambassador to Syria

provoked, has sharpened this divide and illustrated the highstakes game of official diplomatic recognition. It’s also a reminder that ambassadors (as well as embassies themselves) remain powerful national symbols whose mere presence or absence sends unequivocal diplomatic messages — as evidenced by the Turkish government’s recent recall of its envoy to Israel to vent its rage over the Gaza flotilla confrontation, for example, or the switch in allegiance at embassies around the world as nations began recognizing Libyan rebels over the diplomats loyal to Col. Muammar Qaddafi. The irony is that if the Senate had had its way, Robert Ford would never have set foot inside Syria. “He’s only there because President Obama issued a recess appointment,” points out John Limbert, who served in the U.S. Foreign Service for 34 years. The U.S. government officially severed ties with Syria in 2005, and many Republicans had no desire to extend a hand to the Assad government. In May 2010, Senate Republicans blocked a unanimous consent motion to appoint Ford. However, President Obama, who campaigned on a policy of engagement with antagonistic regimes, appointed Ford to a temporary one-year posting in December

2010. His appointment soon became an even greater lightening rod for controversy. Ford’s credentials were never in doubt. He had previously served as ambassador to Algeria, deputy chief of mission in Bahrain, and political counselor and DCM during two stints in Baghdad. A senior advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq once said Ford was “regarded as one of the best Arabists in the State Department.” However, once the Syrian government began cracking down on protestors in mid-March, Republicans began calling for Obama to recall Ford. In May, 12 GOP senators sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging a stronger U.S. response to the violence. “Words must be backed by clear, firm actions,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said.“We should now sever ties and recall the ambassador at once.” For its part, the Obama administration made clear it was sticking with its decision.“Having an ambassador in Syria has allowed us to be in Syria,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “I think that has been a useful avenue for us to pursue in terms of communicating our points of view.” Indeed, Ford gave the United States an unlikely voice in Syria when his duties moved beyond traditional dialogue with the government and became an exercise in boldness. Interestingly, after he and other foreign diplomats took a trip to a northern town in late June that was organized by the Syrian government, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) complained that Ford was being used by Assad for “propaganda purposes.”All that changed, however, with Ford’s visit to the flashpoint city of Hama in defiance of a security crackdown that had left hundreds dead. The trip signaled to the Syrian people — more than any formal declarations from Washington ever could — that the United States supported their aspirations for democracy. One activist said he “felt protected” by Ford’s presence because he believed the Syrian military wouldn’t fire on

See SYRIA, page 10 October 2011


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Syria crowds with Western officials in attendance, according to the Wall Street Journal. But President al-Assad was not amused and called the trip an attempt to foment dissent, promptly slapping new travel restrictions on Ford and other foreign diplomats (including the ambassador of France, who had accompanied Ford). Shortly afterward, government-backed mobs also caused significant damage when they attacked the U.S. Embassy in Damascus. It was a critical turning point. Just days later, Secretary Clinton definitively declared that Assad had “lost legitimacy” after months of hedging over whether the president should go — assuaging critics who said the Obama administration wasn’t going far enough to condemn the brutal crackdown. In the meantime, Ford himself hasn’t backed down — even after he was confronted by an angry pro-government mob in Damascus. He’s flouted the Syrian government’s travel restrictions and continued to question its ability to enact “the deep, genuine and credible reforms” demanded by opposition protesters. In a letter posted on the U.S. Embassy Facebook page, the main venue he’s used to convey his messages, Ford voiced his support for what he called the “courage” shown by demonstrators and criticized the killing of unarmed civilians exercising their right to peaceful protest, placing the blame for the violence squarely on the government. Ford has also used Facebook to communicate directly with Syrians, answering and even rebuffing critics, a rarity in diplomatic circles. For instance, after one posting warned that he would be killed if he continued to challenge the government, Ford wrote:“I take his post to be a perfectly good example of the kind of intolerance that has

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The Washington Diplomat

provoked such discontent in Syria. Remember that I am one of the few international observers here on the ground; if only the Syrian government would allow international media to move around the country freely like we did in Iraq!” The verbose ambassador (who has continued to meet with Syrian officials, according to the State Department) also acknowledged that some Syrian security forces have died in the violence, although he added that no one in the international community accepts the government’s rationale “that those security service members’ deaths justify the daily killings, beatings, extrajudicial detentions, torture and harassment of unarmed civilian protesters.” According to news reports, Ford was not specifically directed by Clinton or Obama to act in such a pro-active manner. Rather, he was ordered to simply speak out as he saw fit. “He has been very gutsy and forward leaning,” one State Department hand told CNN. “But it isn’t being pushed by [the department]. It’s his personality. He is a gutsy guy.” At least for now, Ford has managed to satisfy both those in favor of engagement and those who worry it encourages repressive governments. By coming out in support of the protestors, Ford demonstrated that maintaining a diplomatic presence doesn’t mean sacrificing principles. “Certainly I think Ford’s presence is looking differently now, now that he is out there visiting towns,” said Zarate of the Foreign Policy Initiative. However, Zarate still believes that the utility of keeping embassies open in unfriendly countries is questionable. “It is totally conditional,” he said. “If an ambassador is just going to be there and support the status quo, then it’s just unproductive to have him there.” Engagement for engagement’s sake is of little value, he argues. Critics also point out that reaching out to hostile governments can condone their hostile

actions. “If engagement precludes prompt punitive action in response to egregious behavior, such as the transfer of long-range missiles to a terrorist group, then it is not only a concession but also a reward for such behavior,”the 12 Republican senators wrote in their letter urging Ford’s recall. Yet others contend that removing embassies from countries whose policies we don’t agree with yields few, if any, benefits.“Diplomacy would be easy if we only had to talk to our friends,” Secretary Clinton said in April. “And negotiating with your adversaries wasn’t a disservice to people who had died, if by talking you could prevent more violence.” For his part, Ambassador Limbert — who most recently served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran and who was one of the diplomats held captive at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran during the Iran hostage crisis — agrees that “there is no one-size-fits-all” policy for ambassadors.“Recalling ambassadors and closing embassies is one step of showing displeasure, certainly,” he said. However, he leans in favor of engagement, because even if the United States “expresses disapproval doesn’t mean it will get a response.” Limbert points out that the United States did not have an ambassador in Damascus for quite some time, and the Syrian government did not moderate its behavior as a result. Going without an embassy is a “handicap” that limits a country’s options, precluding it from gathering critical, on-the-ground information about adversaries, Limbert says. “After a while the host country shrugs it off, and you’re left without the representation you should have at that level.” But a representative like Ford can convey a forceful message from the inside, Limbert says, praising the ambassador’s “quiet professionalism … bravery, tact and creativity in finding ways to bear witness to the protests and massacres occurring in the country over the course of this year,” he wrote recently in the New Republic.

Unsurprisingly, Ford himself is firmly on the pro-engagement side of the debate. In an August interview with Foreign Policy magazine, he said, “It’s really important now to give Syrians an ear and to amplify their voices especially when the international media is barred from Syria.” Ford said he doesn’t know if the Syrian government will expel him but that he is “not going to stop the things I do. I can’t. The president has issued very clear guidance. It’s morally the right thing to do.” The Senate must still confirm Ford if he is to remain at his post after 2011. Ford made a second attempt at confirmation by appearing in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in August. But after the bruising debt-ceiling debacle, only one of the 18 committee members made it to the hearing before Congress adjourned for the summer recess. In September, the same committee approved Ford. He still has to be confirmed by the entire Senate, though it appears he may have an easier time this time around.Sen.Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who opposed Ford’s confirmation last year, now says he supports it and is urging his colleagues to do the same. But an aide to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has said the senator “continues to stand by his concerns,” suggesting the confirmation is far from assured. In any case, for Limbert, what’s most striking is not how unusual the case of Robert Ford is, but how common it is. “Ford is not an isolated case,” he pointed out.“He is a particularly dramatic one in a particularly sensitive area right now, but he is performing in the same way and with the same high level of quality that so many unsung American diplomats do.” The question remains whether keeping them in their embassies is always the best policy.

Jordan Michael Smith is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C., who has written for the New York Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe.

October 2011


INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Demography

As World Population Hits 7 Billion, More People Means More Problems by Larry Luxner

F

ew Americans have any idea that Bangladesh — roughly the size of Florida — already has more human beings crammed into its watery 55,600 square miles than all of Russia, the largest nation on Earth. As if that’s not crowded enough, by 2050, Bangladesh will grow from today’s 145 million to 226 million citizens, making it the seventh most populated country in the world, even as its land area shrinks due to climate changeinduced rising seas. Bone-dry Yemen, which is rapidly running out of water, saw its youth population (ages 15 to 24) multiply by a frightening 96 percent between 1995 and 2010. In French-speaking Niger, one of the world’s poorest nations, nearly 49 percent of people are younger than 16, while nearly a quarter of the citizens of wealthy Japan are 65 or older. Meanwhile, in the vast Democratic Republic of Congo — Africa’s second-largest country by size — an astonishing 80 percent of its 67.8 million people live on less than $2 a day. In fact, half of the world’s population lives on that meager sum. In addition, one out of every four people on earth is Muslim.And 25.9 percent of inhabitants of tiny Swaziland are HIV-positive, while Zimbabwe has cut its HIV/AIDS rate from 23.7 percent to 14.3 percent over the last decade. These are just a few of the fascinating tidbits of information found in the Population Reference Bureau’s “2011 World Population Data Sheet,” timed for release as the planet’s population reaches the 7 billion mark this month. That in itself would be a momentous occasion — except for the fact that we just reached the 6 billion mark only 12 years ago, in 1999. “Even though the annual population growth rate has declined to 1.2 percent per year, world population grows by about 83 million annually,” said Wendy Baldwin, president of the Washington-based Population Reference Bureau. “If the late 1960s population growth rate of 2.1 percent — the highest in history — had held steady, world population would have grown by 117 million annually, and today’s population would have been 8.6 billion.” Added Carl Haub, the organization’s senior demographer and co-author of this year’s data sheet: “The world added the sixth billion and the seventh billion in a record 12 years for each. The eighth billion may also take about 12 years, but only if birth rates in all developing countries follow projections that assume a smooth decline to two children or fewer.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking July 11 on World Population Day, noted the coming milestone with a mix of optimism and foreboding. “In October, the world’s population is expected to exceed 7 billion.While many people are living longer and healthier lives, this simple fact underscores the critical importance of addressing poverty, inequality, lack of education and poor health care that still impact billions of people,” she said. “With half of the world’s population under the age of 25, we must also harness the positive force of the world’s youth to meet the needs of 7 billion people. When young

October 2011

CREDIT: UN PHOTO / KIBAE PARK

The Population Reference Bureau estimates that by 2050, Bangladesh will grow from 145 million to 226 million people, making it the seventh most populated country on earth, even as low-lying, already-crowded cities such as Dhaka, above, sink under rising waters due to climate change.

In October, the world’s population is expected to exceed 7 billion. While many people are living longer and healthier lives, this simple fact underscores the critical importance of addressing poverty, inequality, lack of education and poor health care that still impact billions of people. — HILLARY CLINTON U.S. secretary of state

people claim their right to education and health — including sexual and reproductive health — they increase their opportunities to become a powerful force for economic development and positive change.” Population and demographic changes will indeed redefine life for most people on the planet, but in vastly different ways. Despite the youth bulge in certain areas of the world, other parts will be rapidly aging and not producing enough children to support the elderly. And although much is made of dwindling fertility rates in the developed world, growth in the United States is expected to remain relatively stable (although a rise in minorities will significantly alter the country’s ethnic makeup) and birth rates in some European nations have been gradually ticking upward. Looking ahead, other

nations will be going gray that you might not expect: 35 years from now, for example, both Mexico and Iran will have a larger percentage of their population over the age of 60 than France does today. Russia’s population, meanwhile, is expected to continue plummeting, a result of declining birth rates and low life expectancy. On the flip side,Africa’s population could possibly swell to three times its current size over the next 90 years. Although the shifting demographics spell different outcomes for different nations, what’s certain is that the planet’s resources are finite — and more people will be competing for them (all while climate change is expected to exacerbate these resources). So feeding people in nations experiencing explosive population growth could turn a daily struggle into an epic one. One critical fact is undeniable: By 2050, China will no longer be the world’s most populous nation.That title will go to India, which the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) projects will have 1.69 billion people by then. Thanks to strict Communist Party enforcement of its onechild policy over the years, China is actually expected to see a net population decline, settling at 1.31 billion by 2050. What’s even more surprising is that oil-rich but corruption-plagued Nigeria — already the most populated country in Africa — will pull ahead of the United States to become the world’s third largest country, with 433 million citizens. Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia and the Philippines will round out the top 10 list, bumping Russia and Japan off the index for the first time. At the other extreme are the world’s smallest countries — Liechtenstein, Monaco,Andorra, San Marino, Nauru, Palau,

Continued on next page The Washington Diplomat Page 11


Continued from previous page Tuvalu and the Vatican — which have a combined population of 250,000 (less than that of Virginia’s Loudoun County, the fifth fastest-growing county in the United States between 2000 and 2010). Yet unlike Loudoun County, none of these European or Pacific microstates will add a single person in the next 40 years, making it highly likely they’ll remain microstates forever. Akramul Qader, Bangladesh’s ambassador in Washington, readily admits his predominantly Muslim country has way too many people, and that his government is doing everything it can to bring growth under control. “There was a time when our growth was 3.4 percent a year. We have brought it down to 1.6 percent, but it’s still too high.This has been a long, drawn-out process,” he told The Diplomat in a recent interview. “Even during the 1960s, when our country was known as East Pakistan, we had a program to try to bring down the population growth rate. Since then, we’ve instituted family planning programs, even using religious people to explain to our citizens what Islam says about controlling family size. We thought this was necessary, because most of the illiterate people will believe whatever their imams say. It was one of the most powerful instruments we had to control population growth, even today.” In fact, most experts say that the best way to curb rampant growth is focusing on women — improving their rights and access to family planning programs, which have stagnated in some nations due to religious and political backlash. More than 215 million women in developing countries want to avoid or space out pregnancies but are not using modern methods of contracep-

PHOTO: LARRY LUXNER

Haitian schoolchildren attend a rally in the capital of Port-au-Prince. Haiti, with nearly 9 million people, is the Western Hemisphere’s poorest and most densely populated country.

tion, according to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), which also notes that 1,000 women around the world die every day due to complications from pregnancy and childbirth. On that front, despite its extreme poverty, Bangladesh — often called the “ground zero” of climate change catastrophe scenarios — is doing far better than neighboring India in some very specific areas, namely infant mortality and gender

parity, according to Qader. In addition, the ambassador said, health clinics have been set up in every single village of Bangladesh. “From there, people are fanning out to every house to explain to them about how to control family size. Hopefully, our efforts will have the desired result.” In Africa — home to the world’s 10 poorest countries — population will grow to 2.3 billion

by 2050, more than double the current population of 1.05 billion for a continent that can barely feed itself today. Yet the Washington ambassadors of two of Africa’s fastest-growing countries say they could use the added people. Portuguese-speaking Mozambique, with an annual per-capita GDP of only $880, will more than double its numbers from 23.1 million inhabitants today to 59.3 million by 2050, according to the PRB. “It’s true that our population is growing, but it’s not a population explosion,” said the East African nation’s ambassador here, Amelia Matos Sumbana. “Maybe there are countries where this is a major concern because they’re overpopulated, but Mozambique is not overpopulated,” she pointed out.“We have 11 provinces, and some of them are almost empty. Mozambique is a new country and we need people to develop these provinces.” A similar attitude was expressed by Ambassador Mwanaidi Sinare Maajar of Tanzania, which the PRB says will see its current population of 46.2 million triple to an unthinkable 138.3 million by 2050. Maajar disputes that number, noting that Tanzania’s most recent census puts the country’s current population at only 41 million. “We are struggling with social services delivery and trying to improve the lives of our people, but even though growth hasn’t been as low as the government would have wanted it to be, I’m not overly worried,” she told us. “We have adequate land. If we were to utilize all the lands we have, we could accommodate population growth. We have a lot of land that has yet to be cultivated, and we could feed ourselves and our neighbors without any problems. But the land has to be put

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to use to produce food.” The world does possess the means to feed everyone — but unequal distribution has left 1 billion people hungry even today. So what will happen if the global population hits 10.1 billion by the year 2100, as the United Nations predicted in a report released in May? In that same report, the U.N.’s population division raised its forecast for 2050, estimating that the world would most likely have 9.3 billion people by then — an increase of 156 million over the previous estimate for that year, published in 2008. “Every billion more people makes life more difficult for everybody. It’s as simple as that,” John Bongaarts, a demographer at the Population Council, told the New York Times.“Is it the end of the world? No. Can we feed 10 billion people? Probably. But we obviously would be better off with a smaller population.” Some nations though won’t be better off with a shrinking citizenry. Indeed, while world population could reach 9.3 billion by 2050, several countries are losing people faster than ever before. Over the next 40 years, says the PRB, Japan will see its numbers contract from 127 million to around 95 million — a stunning drop of 25.3 percent. The remaining population will also be even grayer. In 2005, Japan had a median age of 43.5 — giving it the world’s oldest population. That will climb to 55.5 by 2050. South Korea will be a close second at 54.9 years; in at least 10 more countries, 40 percent of citizens will be 60 or older. Other countries likely to see dramatic reductions in their populations include Georgia (22.6 percent), Bulgaria (21.9 percent), Poland (16.6 percent) and Russia (10.7 percent). In particular, experts say that Russia, whose population has been steadily declining since the

CREDIT: UN PHOTO / MARTINE PERRET

Many experts say the key to curbing explosive population growth is improving women’s rights and access to family planning programs, which have stalled in recent years over political and religious opposition to contraception and abortions, though research widely confirms that higher education levels among women directly correlates to higher standards of living and fewer children.

early 1990s, will struggle to compete on the world stage if current trends hold.All three neighboring Baltic countries — Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia — are also suffering from falling populations, while Lithuania has a net migration rate of 24 per 1,000, the world’s highest. Yet when it comes to shrinking populations,

no place beats Ukraine.According to the PRB, the country’s birth rate is falling by 0.8 percent annually, the fastest such decline in the world. This means that if current trends continue, Ukraine — which had 52 million inhabitants in 1991— is likely to see its current population of 45.7 million fall to only 36.5 million by mid-century.

If Ukraine’s ambassador in Washington, Olexander Motsyk, is worried, he certainly doesn’t show it. “That tendency is temporary. We are now very close to stopping the decrease in population,” he told us several months ago as the country celebrated its 20th anniversary as a sovereign nation. “At the beginning of our independence, many people left Ukraine looking for employment, but now they’re coming back because the situation is improving. I’m sure that by 2050, we will definitely have more than 52 million people.” One of the most important factors in determining population growth is a country’s total fertility rate. But these rates vary wildly — from a low of 0.9 children per woman in Taiwan to a high of 7.0 in Niger, with most countries falling in the 2.0 to 3.0 range. And the fact is that fertility isn’t declining as rapidly as was expected in some poor countries, and has actually increased in many wealthier countries, including the United States, Denmark and Great Britain. Another factor is the death rate. And in Africa, the AIDS epidemic “hasn’t been the demographic disaster that was once predicted,” says the New York Times. “Prevalence estimates and projections for HIV made for Africa in the 1990s turned out to be too high, and in many populations, treatment with new drug regimens has cut the death rate from the disease,” Justin Gillis and Celia W. Dugger reported. “But the survival of millions of people with AIDS who would have died without treatment, and falling rates of infant and child mortality — both heartening trends — also mean that fertility rates for women need to fall faster to curb population growth.”

Continued on next page

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Continued from previous page Case in point: Uganda, which had only 5 million inhabitants at the time of its independence in 1962.Today, this Oregon-size country has 34.5 million people. Left unchecked, says the PRB, Uganda will have 105.6 million mouths to feed by 2050 — a consequence of extremely high fertility rates and a sharp drop in AIDS deaths in recent years. By contrast, throughout the Western Hemisphere, growth has fallen dramatically, to the point that not one single country in South America will come even close to doubling in population between now and 2050. And the region’s largest countries are barely growing at all: Argentina (1.1 percent annually), Brazil (0.9 percent), Mexico (1.4 percent) and Colombia (1.2 percent). As growth plateaus in many places, there simply won’t be enough babies being born to replace the previous generation. According to the United Nations, by 2045 elderly people will outnumber children for the first time in human history. This “gray tsunami” will inundate alreadystrained social systems. Phillip Longman, writing in this month’s issue of Foreign Policy, says a “gray tsunami will be sweeping the planet” — as more than half the world’s population growth over the next 40 years comes from increases in the number of people over 60. (By contrast, only 6 percent of growth will come from people under 30). “Because of the phenomenon of hyper-aging in the developing world, another great variable is already changing as well: migration. In Mexico, for example, the population of children age 4 and under was 434,000 less in 2010 than it was in 1996,” wrote Longman, author of “The Empty

Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity And What to Do About It” and a fellow at the New America Foundation. “The result? The demographic momentum that fueled huge flows of Mexican migration to the United States has waned, and will wane much more in the future.Already, the net flow of illegal Mexican immigration northward has slowed to a trickle. With fewer children to support and not yet burdened by a huge surge of elders, the Mexican economy is doing much better than in the past, giving people less reason to leave. By 2025, young people on both sides of the border may struggle to understand why their parents’ generation built this huge fence.” Meanwhile, in the Caribbean — another major source of illegal immigration to the United States — the Dominican Republic’s population will hit the 11 million mark sometime in 2019. This means that for the first time in recorded history, Cuba, the Caribbean’s largest nation in size, will no longer be its largest in population. And only three years later, in 2022, if current demographic trends stay on track, impoverished Haiti will also overtake Cuba in population and may eventually surge past the DR — with which it shares the island of Hispaniola — to become the Caribbean’s most inhabited country. “It’s historically significant, because this will be the first time Cuba is surpassed in population, not by one but by two [Caribbean] countries,” said Thomas Boswell, a professor of geography and regional studies at the University of Miami. “That doesn’t surprise me, because they both have much higher fertility rates than Cuba. All Marxist states — with the exception of Albania and maybe North Korea — have tended to have very low fertility rates.” In fact, Cuba’s shrinking population has enor-

mous implications for the communist-ruled island, which last year saw more than 38,000 of its citizens leave the island, the largest exodus of emigrants since 1994. Juan Carlos Alfonso Fraga, director for population and development studies at the country’s Oficina Nacional de Estadísticas, said that by 2030, Cubans age 60 years or more will account for 31 percent of the island’s population, making it one of the world’s grayest countries. “Since 1978, the overall fertility rate, which represents the average number of children per woman, is less than needed to allow for population replacement and therein lies the main cause of aging in Cuban society — without a doubt one of the most significant challenges the nation must face,” he told the official newspaper Granma. It was this trend, in fact, that led the Castro government in 2009 to boost Cuba’s retirement age to 65 for men and 60 for women. If that hadn’t happened, he said, by 2015 more people would be leaving the workforce than entering it. Just as Cuba may never reach the 12 million mark, Puerto Rico’s population is unlikely to ever hit 4 million. The crowded U.S. commonwealth — already one of the most densely populated jurisdictions in the world — reached a population of 3.9 million in 2008 and has since been losing residents to the U.S. mainland.The island’s population now stands at around 3.7 million and is expected to drop another 7.1 percent by 2050. Meanwhile, the picture for America’s mainland itself remains mixed. The U.S. Census Bureau’s International Data Base released growth projections for more than 200 countries earlier this year and found that the United States will remain

fairly level over the next few decades, reaching a population of 423 million (up from 308 million in 2010) by 2050, which corresponds roughly to PRB’s recent findings as well. Those findings also reveal that growth patterns will vary greatly across different pockets of the country. PRB reports that over the last 10 years, people have flocked toward the suburbs of booming metropolitan areas such as Las Vegas, Atlanta, Houston and Washington, D.C., while America’s rural areas continue to shed people. Minorities will also gain significant ground, and the face of the United States will look far different in 2050 than what it was in 1950, leading to unknown political and social reverberations. “While the U.S. appears relatively stable — it’s the only country in the top 10 whose ranking is not expected to change in the next 40 years — previous reports have highlighted dramatic demographic shifts within the country’s borders,” wrote Claire Suddath in Time magazine. “Last week, the Census Bureau announced that more than half of children under age 2 in the U.S. are ethnic minorities.Add to that the non-Hispanic white population’s increasing age … and the U.S. in 2050 will look a lot different than the one we know today.” So, for that matter, will the entire planet.

Larry Luxner is news editor of The Washington Diplomat.

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October 2011


GLOBAL VANTAGE POINT

World Economy

The Worldwide Crisis Of Fiscal Imagination by Dani Rodrik

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reedy banks, bad economic ideas, incompetent politicians: there is no shortage of culprits for the economic crisis in which rich countries are engulfed. But there is also something more fundamental at play, a flaw that lies deeper than the responsibility of individual decision-makers. Democracies are notoriously bad at producing credible bargains that require political commitments over the medium term. In both the United States and Europe, the costs of this constraint on policy has amplified the crisis — and obscured the way out. Consider the U.S., where politicians are debating how to prevent a double-dip recession, reactivate the economy, and bring down an unemployment rate that seems stuck above 9 percent. Everyone agrees that the country’s public debt is too high and needs to be reduced over the longer term. While there is no quick fix to these problems, the fiscal-policy imperative is clear.The U.S. economy needs a second round of fiscal stimulus in the short term to make up for low private demand, together with a credible long-term fiscal-consolidation program. As sensible as this two-pronged approach — spend now, cut later — may be, it is made virtually impossible by the absence of any mechanism whereby President Barack Obama can credibly commit himself or future administrations to fiscal tightening. So any mention of a new stimulus package becomes an open invitation to those on the right to pounce on a Democratic administration for its apparent fiscal irresponsibility.The result is a fiscal policy that aggravates rather than ameliorates America’s economic malaise. The problem is even more extreme in Europe. In a futile attempt to gain financial markets’ confidence, country after country has been forced to follow counter-productive austerity policies as the price of support from the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.Yet requiring deep fiscal cuts, privatization, and other structural reforms of the type that Greece has had to undertake risks greater unemployment and deeper recessions. One reason that interest-rate spreads in financial markets remain high is that distressed euro zone countries’ growth prospects look so weak. Here, too, it is not difficult to discern the broad outlines of a solution. Stronger countries in the euro zone must allow these spreads to narrow by guaranteeing the new debts of countries from Greece to Italy, through the issuance of euro bonds, for example. In return, the highly indebted countries must commit to multi-year programs to restructure fiscal institutions and enhance competitiveness — reforms that can be implemented and bear fruit only over the medium term. But, once again, this requires a credible commitment to an exchange that requires a promise of action later in return for something now. German politicians and their electorates can be excused for doubting whether future Greek, Irish, or Portuguese governments can be counted upon to deliver on current leaders’ commitments. Hence the impasse, with the euro zone becoming mired

October 2011

PHOTO: ALEHNIA / FOTOLIA

Democracies often deal with the problem of extracting commitments from future politicians by delegating decision-making to quasi-independent bodies managed by officials who are insulated from day-to-day politics. in a vicious circle of high debt and economic austerity. Democracies often deal with the problem of extracting commitments from future politicians by delegating decision-making to quasi-independent bodies managed by officials who are insulated from day-to-day politics. Independent central banks are the archetypal example. By placing monetary policy in the hands of central bankers who cannot be told what to do, politicians effectively tie their own hands (and get lower inflation as a result). Unfortunately, U.S. and European politicians have failed to show similar imagination when it comes to fiscal policy. By implementing new mechanisms to render the future path of fiscal balances and public debt more predictable, they could have averted the worst of the crisis. Compared to monetary policy, fiscal policy is infinitely more complex, involving many more trade-offs among competing interests. So an independent fiscal authority modeled along the lines of an independent central bank is neither feasible nor desirable. But certain fiscal decisions, and most critically the level of the fiscal

deficit, can be delegated to an independent board. Such a board would fix the maximum difference between public spending and revenue in light of the economic cycle and debt levels, while leaving the overall size of the public sector, its composition, and tax rates to be resolved through political debate. Establishing such a board in the U.S. would do much to restore sanity to the country’s fiscal-policymaking. Europe, for its part, requires a determined step toward fiscal unification if the euro zone is to survive. Removing national governments’ ability to run large deficits and borrow at will is the necessary counterpart to a joint guarantee of sovereign debts and easy borrowing terms today. Yet this cannot mean that fiscal policy for, say, Greece or Italy would be run from Berlin. A common fiscal policy implies that the elected leaders of Greece and Italy would have some say over German fiscal policies, too. While the need for fiscal unification is increasingly recognized, it is not clear whether European leaders are willing to confront its ultimate political logic head-on. If Germans are unable to stomach the idea of sharing a political community with Greeks, they might as well accept that economic union is as good as dead. Politics, it is said, is the art of the possible. But possibilities are shaped by our decisions as much as they are by our circumstances. As matters currently stand, when future generations place our leaders in historical perspective, they will most likely reproach them, above all, for their lack of institutional imagination.

Dani Rodrik, professor of international political economy at Harvard University, is the author of “The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy.” Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2011. www.project-syndicate.org

The Washington Diplomat Page 15


INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Africa

Horn Famine Knows No Boundaries As Starving Somalis Pour Into Kenya by Patrick Corcoran

F

amine has returned to the Horn of Africa, after two decades of absence. Because of years of low rainfall, the fields that millions relied on to feed themselves, their families and their livestock have dried up, and civil conflict has made parts of the region inaccessible for governments and aid groups alike — a perfect storm for human tragedy. Although drought and conflict are the two driving factors behind the crisis, Africa’s most recent famine can also be traced to a complex web of local, regional and global dynamics. Climate change has made once-in-a-lifetime droughts a regularly occurring event, explosive population growth has strained limited resources, food prices around the world have been steadily climbing, and the worldwide economic downturn has sapped foreign aid budgets, while donor fatigue has already begun to set in. There’s also plenty of individual blame to go around: In Somalia, which has lacked any semblance of authority for 20 years, the al-Shabab expelled Western aid groups including the World Food Program last year and continues to make reaching the vulnerable nearly impossible, with reports that the Islamist militia is pilfering food donations for a profit and preventing starving Somalis from fleeing. Some experts also say that the U.S. government inadvertently contributed to the devastation when it put al-Shabab on its terrorist blacklist, not only withholding food assistance but also withholding funds to any aid workers who paid the tolls that al-Shabab demands for access into Somalia. The United Nations, too, only formally declared a famine in July, eight months after an early warning system set up after the 1985 Ethiopian famine already forecast the impending disaster. Today, a drought appeal issued by the world body is currently 63 percent funded, with a little over $1.5 billion received out of $2.5 billion requested. The collective human cost resulting from all of these forces has been staggering. Some 13 million people across the region — including 4 million in Somalia — need food aid, according to the United Nations, which estimates that as many as 750,000 could die in the coming months if that aid is not delivered.Already, untold

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The Washington Diplomat

CREDIT: UN PHOTO / STUART PRICE

I call upon humanitarian relief agencies to extend similar support to the host community as that provided to the refugees in order to prevent resource conflicts. — MOSES WETANGULA Kenyan Minister of Foreign Affairs

tens of thousands of people have died — it’s believed more than half of them were children — and the drought has sparked a mass exodus along what have been called “roads of death,” with nearly 1 million Somalis now living as refugees in four neighboring countries — Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Yemen — exacerbating these nations’ own woes. Indeed, while the famine is having the most dramatic impact on the people of strife-ridden Somalia, the drought that precipitated the crisis has, of course, not been restrained by national borders. Consequently, its neighbors are suffering as well, particularly Kenya, where severe pressure on the food supply threatens a large swath of this East African nation’s nearly 40 million residents. According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the number of Kenyans younger than 5 years old suffering from severe acute malnutrition — near death — has more than quadrupled since November 2010, to nearly 17,000 in July. The quantity of children of the same age suffering from moderate acute malnutrition is more than three times that figure, at

roughly 63,000. The number of those suffering from food insecurity is also projected to spike, with some 3.75 million farmers and herders pegged to join the ranks of those deemed “extremely food insecure” in the coming months, up from 2.4 million in January. Although expected rains this winter should ease the situation, the “humanitarian response will remain paramount to save lives,” Thandie Mwape, an official with OCHA in Kenya,toldTheWashington Diplomat. While the rain will bring much-needed respite, it could also present a new set of problems. “[T]here may be flooding because rains are expected to be above normal for some regions. At the same time, we are planning to prepare for possible flooding in some areas that have also been hard hit by drought,” Mwape said. “These simultaneous disasters leave little room for recovery — hence the call for need-based responses that also addresses root causes of vulnerability.”

THE KENYAN RESPONSE While Somalia has captured the

A woman holding her malnourished baby waits for food at a displaced persons camp in Somalia, where the United Nations estimates that 3.7 people across the country — half its population — urgently need help. Already, nearly 1 million Somalis have streamed into neighboring countries such as Kenya, which is struggling with both famine and the refugee crisis it’s sparked.

world’s attention, Kenya has for years been quietly grappling with the effects of Somali instability and lawlessness, from rampant piracy (which recently spilled onto Kenya’s shores, where Somali gunmen killed a British tourist at a high-end beach resort and kidnapped his wife) to an ongoing refugee influx. The foremost symbol of Kenya’s role in today’s famine is the Dadaab camp, a sprawling scattering of dwellings that opened 20 years ago to provide temporary relief from the civil war next door but has since become the world’s largest home for refugees. While Dadaab, which is located some 100 miles from the Somalia-Kenya border, was built for just 90,000 residents, more than 400,000 people now live there. A smaller camp known as Kakuma houses another 80,000 refugees. In all, some 515,000 Somalis are scraping by in Kenya (which along with Ethiopia is bearing the brunt of the refugee burden). And this number is only growing; according to U.N. figures, another 1,500 are staggering across the Kenyan border on a daily basis. The situation for Somali refugees in Kenya may be preferable to the risk of starvation in their drought-stricken homeland, but it remains precarious. Life October 2011


CREDIT: UN PHOTO / ESKINDER DEBEBE

Somali refugee children share a tent in a U.N.-administered camp in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia, which along with Kenya have borne the brunt of Somalia’s refugee crisis.

inside the camps is, not surprisingly, characterized by overcrowding and impoverishment. Outbreaks of cholera and measles have been reported. The summer months have brought the emergence of marauding gangs operating along the border, preying on the endless stream of refugees making their way to the camps and often relieving them of what meager possessions they had. Women, who make up the overwhelming majority of adults heading to Kenya, have been the main target of assaults, and stories of rape have become commonplace. Accounts in the Associated Press even reported that the gangs use bizarre scenarios to terrorize their victims, such as ordering men to have sex with their sisters. Unfortunately, Kenyan officials say they simply don’t have the capacity to protect the flood of refugees.As a result, the gangs operate with near impunity. The refugee crisis has provoked conflicted emotions among locals. While many Kenyans living near the Somali border share ethnic ties with the refugees, the wave of hundreds of thousands of starving foreigners places a tremendous strain on local resources. However, Stephanie Hanson, director of policy and outreach at the One Acre Fund, which focuses on agricultural development in East Africa, said the predominant emotion from Kenyans at large is one of sympathy for the famine victims.“For most people, the drought is not a daily reality,” Hanson said. “They have a kind of compassion and concern for the people affected by it, but they themselves are not affected by it.” Still, resentment has been bubbling over among some Kenyans who say they’ve been shouldering a disproportionate share of the “Somalia problem,” as Badu Katelo, Kenya’s acting commissioner for refugees, recently put it. “Just because Somalia is our neighbor, it is not our problem alone. The U.N. should adopt a resolution making it mandatory for everyone to play their role in addressing the situation and resolving conflict in Somalia,” Katelo recently told the Guardian newspaper. Over the summer, however, the Kenyan government came under fire from the United Nations for delaying the opening of a new camp, called Ifo II, to ease congestion in Dadaab. Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga pushed back against the criticism that Kenya should have opened Ifo II earlier, saying that for two decades, the government has been asking the international community for help to deal with the Somali refugee crisis. “They are only now responding when they see people are dying,” he said.“The international community is always very later in acting. So the Kenyan government is a victim, not the accused.” Indeed, for months officials have been urging

October 2011

the donor community to not forget the role Nairobi has been playing in famine relief — and that the country deserves its own relief. “I call upon humanitarian relief agencies to extend similar support to the host community as that provided to the refugees in order to prevent resource conflicts,”Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula said at the opening of a September summit in Nairobi aimed at ending drought emergencies, noting that many Kenyans too are on the brink of starvation. In fact, a 2010 study commissioned by the Kenyan government with Denmark and Norway found that some Kenyan residents near refugee camps have registered as Somali refugees to obtain assistance. The U.N.’s Emergency Humanitarian Response Plan has requested $740 million in emergency funding to deal with the refugee situation; as of August, however, 36 percent of that figure remained uncollected.

AVERTING DISASTER Despite the tensions, the overall response by Kenya has been widely perceived as averting a catastrophe on the scale of what’s sweeping Somalia, where tens of thousands are thought to have died. The fundamental difference between the Kenyan government and its counterparts in Somalia, where Islamist rebels have blocked outside access to the regions where food scarcity is most acute, has been its ability to ensure freedom of operation for international aid groups. Furthermore, years of solid growth — Kenya’s economy expanded by 5.6 percent in 2010 and is expected to grow by 5.3 percent this year, and possibly more than 6 percent in 2012, according to government projections — have also given the Kenyan government more budgetary leeway to deal with the crisis. In an attempt to alleviate rising food costs, for example, the government reduced tariffs on imported food stuffs, in effect sacrificing state revenues in exchange for lower household food bills. The ongoing economic slowdown has complicated the situation, however. Thanks in large part to a weakening currency, the price of basic staples like maize and beans are projected to skyrocket in Kenya, potentially even doubling, in the months to come. The nutritional requirements of the hundreds of thousands of new arrivals in Dadaab and other refugee centers have also increased demand, which has placed further upward pressure on the price of food staples.The small number of producers also drives up prices; according to the World Bank, the price of maize in Kenya is significantly greater than in the United States and other high-

Continued on next page The Washington Diplomat Page 17


Continued from previous page income countries. However, Hanson of the One Acre Fund said that the Kenyan state has proven effective at dealing with past spikes in food prices, and sees little chance of food issues fueling broader political problems, as was the case in much of Africa this year. “Kenya has had food price spikes before, and they’ve managed it,� she said.“I don’t see this as being a different situation that is going to upset the political climate.� Nongovernmental and private-sector initiatives have also helped harness the support of the Kenyan people in responding to the drought. Kenyans for Kenya, a fundraising program set up by the Kenya Commercial Bank and the regional telecom giant Safaricom, has allowed Kenyan cell phone users — a population that has grown from negligible size 10 years ago to more than half the nation today — to send donations via text message. The initiative has thus far raised close to $8 million in aid for the hunger-stricken. On a broader scale, although the famine clearly represents a manmade failure, aid efforts have vastly improved since 1 million people died in the Ethiopian famine of the 1980s. Billions of dollars have boosted agricultural production across the region, improving irrigation, farming techniques and food storage to weather future shortfalls. Special high-protein pastes have minimized malnutrition, and early warning systems and disaster risk management strategies have been put in place — which is why nations such as Kenya and Ethiopia haven’t nearly been as affected by the famine as Somalia has. OCHA’s Mwape said that support from the international community has been “helpful in averting disasters,� though she added that there is “always more that can be done to address drought disasters. Long-term solutions are equally important to ensure that response starts to build resilience against future drought shocks.�

LONG-TERM RESILIENCE Such resilience will likely be necessary again in the future. For the Kenyans in the drought-scarred northern region, the recent

CREDIT: UN PHOTO / STUART PRICE

A mother cradles her dehydrated baby at a Mogadishu hospital. Although aid workers have made some inroads reaching starving Somalis, the al-Shabab Islamist militia continues to make it difficult to reach the most vulnerable.

outbreak is just the latest in a long series of threats to food security. “This was a crisis that was ongoing in northern Kenya for years, and very little has been done to change that,� Hanson said. “This is always a threat. People have very few mechanisms for mitigating risk.� Furthermore, as climate change propels an outbreak of extreme weather patterns around the globe, such anomalies as the recent drought will likely be more frequent. Solutions need to focus on how to limit the impact of extreme climate cycles on those who are especially vulnerable, including the pastoralists crossing dry lands with their livestock looking for pasture and water — an ingrained segment of the local economy in northern Kenya. The recent regional summit in Kenya aimed to do just that.There, leaders adopted the so-called Nairobi Action Plan, pledging to end

future drought emergencies and invest in arid areas to help livestock communities become more resilient. “Modern pastoralism can make a way of life in a challenging environment sustainable instead of lurching from one emergency to the next,� said Catherine Bragg, the U.N. assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs. Hanson says that for people whose livelihood rests with their livestock, nurturing the growth of a burgeoning market for animal insurance is a vital first step.“The ideal is to insure the entire herd, but that’s really just starting to be possible now,� she said. “People aren’t used to the idea of insurance; there’s a process that has to take place.� But, as the Nairobi summit stressed, a much bigger problem also needs to be addressed if future famines are to be curbed: the lack of a functioning state in Somalia. If the Kenyans living near the Somali border can secure a safer future through something as simple as livestock insurance, solutions for the Somalis in refugee camps are far more complicated. Emaciated, destitute Somalis continue to stream into Dadaab each day, while most of the original residents remain “in the overcrowded refugee camps, and only a few get third-country settlement options,� Mwape said. Indeed, in 2011, despite the Horn of Africa famine bringing renewed worldwide attention to the region and its sundry challenges, less than 1,500 Somalis have been granted residency in a third country — roughly the same number that keeps coming to Kenya each day in search of food and survival.

Patrick Corcoran is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C.

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Fighting Hunger Worldwide

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October 2011


COVER PROFILE

Ambassador Peter Ammon

Saving the Euro: Germany’s New Envoy Insists ‘We Will Prevail’ by Larry Luxner

W

hen Peter Ammon was growing up in Frankfurt in the 1960s, Germany was still divided by the Iron Curtain, and the coins jangling in his pocket were deutschmarks, not euros. Back then, the teenage hobby pilot — who befriended American airmen stationed at the U.S. Air Force base in nearby Freiburg — was far more interested in the music of Elvis Presley than the intricacies of European diplomacy.

But after earning a doctorate in economics and joining the ranks of the German Foreign Ministry,Ammon knew he’d one day end up in Washington. “It’s something I always wanted,” he told us.“From 1999 to 2001, I was the economic minister at our embassy here. And now, 10 years later, I see that the dream of my life has come true.” But Germany’s new ambassador to the United States hasn’t had much time to enjoy his dream. Almost immediately, the 59-year-old veteran diplomat has been thrust into Europe’s escalating debt crisis as one nation after another faces a possible domino of default — and looks to Germany, the continent’s strongest economy, to help save the day, and quite possibly the euro and the entire project of European integration itself. For German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Merkel, whose party, the Christian Democratic Union, recently lost several state elections including one in her home state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, has been criticized for not acting more decisively to rescue the euro. But the 57-year-old leader is being torn between domestic politics and international expectations. Without Germany onboard, the European Union’s heavily indebted members would be stranded in economic freefall. But pouring more money into shoring up the euro risks the wrath of German voters tired of bankrolling their less-disciplined neighbors in the currency zone, beginning with Greece — whose economic size within the EU is negligible but whose default would spark a financial panic — and reaching all the way to Italy, a G7 economy that most experts say is simply too big to bail out. “Whenever it comes to taking up the burden from others, people say,‘Why should I help my neighbor? I have already contributed so much,’”Ammon told The Washington Diplomat on Sept. 13, only four days after presenting his credentials to President Obama.“But we have to explain to our people that in the wider context, it is in the interests of all of us to build up Europe.” The euro has certainly been in the interests of Germany’s 81 million citizens, who have enjoyed relative prosperity since the 2008 recession. The common currency has

October 2011

kept German exports ranging from Birkenstock sandals to BMWs relatively affordable for consumers around the world, making the country the world’s secondlargest exporter after being overtaken by China last year. “Let’s not kid ourselves.There is a massive benefit for Germany being in the euro,” said David Bloom, currency chief at HSBC in London, quoted in a Los Angeles Times article. “If Germany were not in the euro, its manufacturing sector would have been crushed.” Ammon readily concedes that integration has been a boon for his country. But it’s also come at the expense of German taxpayers, who one analyst said “feel like they’ve been used as Europe’s piggy bank time and time again, with little to show for their generosity — which explains exactly why Merkel finds herself in such a pickle.” “We have decided to stick to the euro, and the euro is a hallmark of this integration process. Of course we have a dilemma,” Ammon told The Diplomat in a wide-ranging PHOTO: LAWRENCE RUGGERI

On one hand, we want the solidity of the euro, meaning that we must limit borrowing by individual states. And on the other hand, we are ready to show solidarity with states that are in a liquidity crisis. We have to balance these two elements, and this is a difficult political process. — PETER AMMON ambassador of Germany to the United States

interview that marked his first with any American media outlet since taking office. “On one hand, we want the solidity of the euro, meaning that we must limit borrowing by individual states. And on the other hand, we are ready to show solidarity with states that are in a liquidity crisis. We have to balance these two elements, and this is a difficult political process. “As always, if you ask your people for financial sacrifice in order to get a political project going, you have to convince them first. And that’s what is going on right now,” he said.“Germany has put its house in order. We started an austerity program many years

ago, and we’ve been able to reduce our budget deficit this year to 1.5 percent of GDP. As you know, 3 percent is the Maastricht limit, and some countries are way beyond that. And it’s those countries borrowing massively on the financial markets that are in trouble.” Germany has insisted that for these countries to receive bailout funds, they must adopt stringent budget-cutting measures to rein in their soaring debt. Yet many experts warn that the prescription of fiscal austerity won’t immediately revive ailing economies — and just might make them even sicker. Notably, Greece, whose mountain of debt

amounts to 150 percent of its GDP, has piled on austerity measures but looked dangerously close to default as of press time, and some economists have said that defaulting on the country’s debt may be the only way out of its fiscal mess. Raising taxes in a time of high unemployment and slashing budgets during a recession inevitably suppresses growth and recovery, which, in a vicious cycle, further erodes investor confidence. Yet at the same time, the fiscal recklessness that plunged bloated governments such as Greece — where tax evasion is a national pastime — has to fundamentally change as well. A similar dilemma is confronting American policymakers as they seek to curb government debt while simultaneously trying to stimulate the economy and generate jobs. But the European Union’s economic woes are compounded by the fact that it was never a true common currency union like the U.S. federal government, with each EU member essentially free to determine their own debt and spending levels.The result has been highly disciplined, thriving economic

Continued on next page The Washington Diplomat Page 19


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powerhouses such as Germany sharing a common currency — but little else — with mismanaged basket cases such as Greece. And the tab for that awkward monetary union has come due. Germany has already agreed to carry €220 billion (roughly $300 billion) of the guarantees made so far through Merkel’s backing of the Luxembourgbased European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), the bailout fund created last year by the EU that authorized €110 billion in funds for Greece and has another €109 billion pending. “This is an enormous amount of money and therefore an enormous show of solidarity to stabilize these countries at the periphery of the euro,” said Ammon. “Despite public resentment in some quarters, I’m quite sure she will prevail in the end.” That resentment, however, is widespread and growing in Germany, whose own economy is showing signs of a slowdown. As Edmund Sanders of the Los Angeles Times pointed out, so far the country’s pledges to the EFSF have not resulted in any losses. And as long as recipient countries pay their debts, Germany shouldn’t suffer. But Germans are bitter that while they have a retirement age of 67, for instance, Greeks can retire with full pension benefits in their 50s. More important, consumer confidence is falling — as is the likelihood of a planned middle-class tax cut — and the cost of insuring German bonds against default is rising due to investor concern about the country’s liability in future bailouts. “People were angry about Greece, Ireland and Portugal, but they are much more worried about Spain and Italy,” Ferdinand Fichtner, chief economist at the German Institute for Economic Research, told the newspaper.“This brings a completely new dimension to the problem. Greece was a question of principle, not money. Now it’s a question of survival.” To ensure that survival, by late October, the EFSF — which has an effective capacity of €440 billion

PHOTO: BERND LEITNER / FOTOLIA

Germany’s high court ruled that the country’s contributions to euro zone rescue packages were legal, although it said the German parliament, or Bundestag, above, must approve any future bailouts — including a proposed plan to significantly expand the European Financial Stability Facility.

— is set to take over from the European Central Bank the task of buying up distressed euro zone debt. On July 21, euro zone officials, led by Germany and France, agreed to bolster the EFSF to prop up Greece with more emergency loans totaling €109 billion and flexible financing, as well as to extend relief to other troubled nations such as Ireland and Portugal. Under the plan,Greek bonds could be exchanged for new ones that have lower interest rates and longer maturities. The EFSF would also be empowered to buy government bonds on the secondary market and to help recapitalize some European banks — which might be needed when they write down the value of their Greek bonds. “The new powers would effectively turn the facility into a prototype European monetary fund — a move that has long been resisted by Germany, the euro zone’s richest nation, but that has drawn the support of economists and government officials outside Europe,” wrote Landon Thomas Jr. and Stephen Castle in the New York Times. “Together, the various measures are intended to show that the euro zone’s leaders are committed to taking forceful policy measures — just as the United States and Britain did during the 2008 crisis — that will stem the spread of contagion.” But the July plan to expand the EFSF must still be approved by each legislature in the 17-member euro zone, a process that could take until October — reflecting the challenges of a disparate monetary union in which members have been unwilling to cede control over their individual budgets to a central authority. Whether the lumbering EU bureaucracy can muster the unity for bold action that calms jittery markets and trumps domestic self-interests remains to be seen. Already, Finland demanded that Greece post collateral for its loans before it would approve the EFSF proposal, while Slovakia,the Netherlands andAustria have expressed opposition as well. It’s also not clear how the plan will fare in Germany’s legislature. Last month, in a significant victory for Merkel, the German Constitutional Court upheld the legality of the country’s emergency loans to Greece, but ordered that any future bailouts must be approved by parliament.A vote to ratify the EFSF’s new and expanded powers is set for Sept. 29. In the meantime, there’s been a range of other ideas floating around to stanch the debt crisis, which include: breaking up the currency zone into two and separating the stronger states from the weaker ones; introducing collective “euro bonds” that could replace individual government bonds; a controversial restructuring of Greece’s debt, forcing private investors to shoulder some of the losses; or kicking Athens out of the euro zone altogether. Merkel and other EU leaders have firmly ruled that last possibility out. And despite criticism that

she was hesitant in reacting to the crisis, Merkel has made it clear that Germany will do what it takes to ensure the euro’s survival. “If the euro collapses, so does Europe,” she recently declared at a parliamentary budget debate. “Germany’s future is inseparable from Europe’s future.” The origin of the 17-member euro zone itself dates back to talks between then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl and the late French President François Mitterrand. Both men are considered architects of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, which created the EU and led to the establishment of a single European currency less than a decade later. The idea was that having a common currency, the euro, would make EU member states more competitive on an international scale while encouraging economic, and ultimately, political integration. The plan worked and, in a fairly short span of time, turned the EU into a global economic heavyweight, although few economists imagined that the euro zone would find itself in such dire straits seemingly just as quickly. But that’s what has happened in the wake of a possible default by Greece, which could, at least theoretically, force it to withdraw from the euro club — prompting widespread panic throughout the global financial system. The Greek drama began unfolding in late 2009, by which time years of over-borrowing had already pushed the country’s budget deficit to 15.4 percent of GDP. Dramatically higher borrowing costs sparked by Greece’s ballooning debt levels triggered an economic crisis that crippled industrial activity and eventually put nearly 1 million Greeks out of work. In May 2010, the government of Prime Minister George Papandreou proposed a series of desperate austerity measures, clearing the way for a €110 billion EU-International Monetary Fund loan package. But the planned spending cuts and tax hikes were so painful that hundreds of thousands of ordinary Greeks have rallied against the measures for months — themselves pushing for Greece to drop the euro. Papandreou’s government has managed to hang on so far, announcing further measures such as a onetime property tax to convince the EU and IMF that it was doing all it could to close its budget gap, and to receive the next tranche of loans. At the same time, Greek officials have warned that the country’s recession is deepening. Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos recently noted that GDP was expected to contract 5.3 percent in 2011, worse than the 3.8 percent decline forecast in May. However, the German ambassador appears to have little sympathy for Greece, which only a decade ago had a lower standard of living than most of Central Europe. “Over the past 10 years, Greece has seen some

See GERMANY, page 22 October 2011


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of the highest growth rates in the EU, but this extremely high growth was fueled by government taking on debt with no holds,”Ammon said. “Wages went up as GDP went up. But what kind of investment do you have in Greece? There’s very little. They didn’t invest enough money — they borrowed; they consumed too much.” He also suggested that “if you want to readjust the Greek economy to a situation where there is no outside debt flowing into the country, then certainly the GDP will fall. This is inevitable. Nothing can go on forever.We hope that at some point the two curves will meet and you will have stability.” Yet Fareed Zakaria, echoing most observers, argues in the Washington Post that Europe’s real problem isn’t Greece, but Italy. “Greece is a nano-state, representing 2 percent of the European Union’s gross domestic product. Italy is a G7 country,” he pointed out.“Italy’s debt is €1.2 trillion, or 120 percent of its economy and greater than the debts of Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece combined. Italy’s bonds are trading at 4 percent more than those of Germany, unprecedented in the euro’s history and unsustainable. Italy is too big to fail but might also be too big to bail.” Zakaria, in his column titled “How China Can Help Europe Get Out of Debt,” also notes that the German people and government are adamantly opposed to the creation of “euro bonds,” which would allow Germany to guarantee the debt of its less-disciplined neighbors in the euro zone — not to mention the fact that German courts have ruled that the proposed bonds would be unconstitutional. “The minute such bonds are floated, Italy, Greece and the others would lose all incentive to make painful reforms; they could borrow all the money they need at German-subsidized rates, so why go through the dreary work of restructuring?” Zakaria wrote.“The Germans know this — hence their opposition.” In any event, said Ammon, Berlin has behaved far more responsibly than Athens over the years when it comes to finances. “We discovered early on that an economic boom built on debt is not sustainable. So we changed our constitution to isolate the decision making from daily political bickering to make sure we brought down our deficit,” the ambassador explained.“We are now down to 1.5 percent of GDP and in coming years, we will have to bring the debt to 0.3 percent of GDP.That’s in the constitution, [but] there is always political pressure by special interest groups to raise debt for one project or another.” Ammon also said that his government has begun renovating Germany’s social welfare system “so that people who are out of work have a strong interest to enter the workforce again. That’s why we have increased our spending on education and on science and technology.” Ammon, who briefly served as Germany’s ambassador to France and has spent the last 10 years dealing with economic matters in the German Foreign Ministry, spoke to us the day before Merkel, Papandreou and French President Nicolas Sarkozy held a teleconference call, after which all three reiterated that Greece’s future is indeed anchored in the euro zone. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said at a conference in New York that Merkel assured him she won’t allow a financial collapse like the one that followed the 2008 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. Immediately after that, the European Central Bank — acting in concert with the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan and the Swiss National Bank — said it would allow banks to borrow U.S. dollars for up to three months, instead of just for one week as before. The Sept. 15 announcement marked the first such coordinated effort to pump dollars into European banks since May 2010.As the New York Times noted, “the central banks seemed determined to demonstrate that they would not hesitate to deploy their combined weight to keep

PHOTO: SEBASTIAN DERUNGS / WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking above at the 2011 World Economic Forum in Davos, has been criticized for what many perceive as a hesitant response to the euro debt crisis, bowing to pressure from German taxpayers angry about footing the bill for flagrant spenders like Greece.

the European sovereign debt crisis from leading to a collapse of the euro zone.” But in the long run, the EU needs a mechanism that is “lacking” in the current European framework, argues Ammon, so that countries like Greece will be forced to keep their fiscal house in order. “This mechanism must be very strong and must be able to limit the borrowing of individual countries. Until now, each country has been able to go to the markets and borrow as much as they like, and there is no legal recourse against this,” he told us, pointing out that on other, lesser, issues, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has taken harsh action. “Germany has been convicted by the court on many issues where we weren’t quick enough to implement certain rules,” he complained. “You can get a verdict from the court in Luxembourg on relatively unimportant administrative things, but if a country’s deficit is out of control, the court is powerless. I believe that in the long run, there will be an element of regulation that will address this.” Meanwhile, don’t expect much good news to come out of Europe this year — at least not when it comes to the economy. Growth across the EU is now projected at 1.7 percent for 2011, and will have slowed to a “virtual standstill”by year’s end, warned the European Commission in a gloomy report, with growth at only 0.2 percent in the third and fourth quarters of this year. It added that fiscal austerity measures across the continent and beyond could also “weigh more on domestic demand than currently envisaged.” The commission also lowered its growth projection for Germany to 0.4 percent for the third quarter of 2011 and 0.2 percent for the fourth, down from its previous outlook of 0.5 percent for each quarter. “The outlook for the European economy has deteriorated,” EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said in a statement.“The sovereign debt crisis has worsened, and the financial market turmoil is set to dampen the real economy.” Even so, an outright recession appears unlikely, says Ammon, whose own expertise includes a doctorate in economics from Berlin’s Free University. After his first stint in Washington ended in 2001, Ammon became director-general for economics at the German Foreign Office, where he helped prepare the G8 world economic summits for former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and later Merkel. He’s also served as a career diplomat in London, Dakar, New Delhi and Paris. Asked how he plans to allocate his time as ambassador in Washington, Ammon said,“I think we are entering into a new phase of history. New superpowers are emerging, and we see that the United States and Germany have so many common interests that should define their role in the world jointly. I believe my role could be to facilitate this economic liaison further.”

October 2011


A staunch advocate of free trade, Ammon said business transactions between the United States and the EU account for some 40 percent of global commerce, and that the potential for transatlantic growth is enormous — especially when it comes to green technologies like the electric car (Germany is considered a leader in the green movement). “Standards are being set right now by companies, but if we don’t find common transatlantic standards, these standards will be set by others,” he warned. Common interests linking Washington and Berlin aren’t limited to the economic realm, Ammon adds. In his Sept. 9 Oval Office meeting with Obama, the new ambassador stressed not only the fact that German investment in U.S. industry has led to the creation of more than 650,000 American jobs, but also Germany’s declaration of unconditional solidarity with the United States in the days after 9/11. “Germany and the United States are reliable partners in the fight against international terrorism,” he said. “For nearly 10 years now, Germany has been working for a peaceful and democratic development in Afghanistan — as the third-largest troop contributor to the NATO-led ISAF mission, through police training, through the construction of schools, and through massive amounts of aid for the economic development of the country.” Ammon told The Diplomat that “we are also engaged in the political process. On Dec. 6 we have a conference in Bonn by which we hope to take the political reconciliation process in Afghanistan one step further.” Another hotspot is Libya, where NATO partners France and Great Britain clearly took the lead in helping the rebels dislodge the country’s longtime dictator, Col. Muammar Qaddafi, from Tripoli after 42 years in power. “It’s very good that Qaddafi is gone,” said Ammon, “and the chancellor has made it public that we will help the Libyans in their difficult way out of this situation by reconstruction and rebuilding institutions of Libyan civil society.”

Yet unlike their French and British partners in NATO, Germany abstained from the U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the military operation — to the surprise of many. And once the bombing mission was under way, Germany pulled forces out of NATO amid disagreements over who exactly was running the show, further fueling criticism that Berlin was turning inward and losing clout on the world stage. As a result, wrote Deutsche Welle commentator Daniel Scheschkewitz, “German companies might not be the first choice when Libyans begin looking for new investments, but they also won’t be the last. Germany’s know-how is too highly valued in the Arab world to simply dismiss Berlin.” He added: “Germany’s particular experience with the transition from dictatorship to democracy can — certainly in the long run — be of crucial help to post-Gadhafi Libya. And if a united Europe will be helping Libya’s transition towards a free and democratic future, Germany will certainly be part of this.” More immediately on the horizon, Germans will celebrate their own transition to democracy on Oct. 3 as they mark the 21st anniversary of the country’s 1990 reunification. This year, the focus of Unity Day festivities will be Bonn, the former capital of West Germany. For all the current handwringing over Europe’s economic uncertainty and Merkel’s reluctant commitment to save the euro zone from collapse, it seems that Germans miss their old deutschmarks about as much as they miss the Berlin Wall. “In the beginning there was some nostalgia, but this has disappeared over time,” Ammon told us. “Today, anybody who is in his right mind knows there is no technical fix to reintroducing the deutschmark. It would be a nightmare. And no political party that has more than 5 percent support in Germany advocates that anyway.”

Larry Luxner is news editor of The Washington Diplomat.

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The Washington Diplomat Page 23


POLITICS

Africa

Mettle of Liberia’s ‘Iron Lady’ Tested in Presidential Contest by Jon Rosen

W

hen Liberians vote on Oct. 11 in the first round of their country’s presidential election, among the 16 names on the ballot will be a woman considered one of the most highly respected heads of state in Africa.

In her first six years as president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s famed “iron lady,” has indeed used her steely determination to revive the image of this small, war-torn West African nation. Since 1980, when a coup led by Samuel Doe overthrew the long-established government, Liberia had been one of the continent’s perennial basket cases. For a quarter century, the country was ravaged by intermittent civil wars, which left more than 200,000 dead, a million displaced, and its infrastructure in tatters. The faces of power throughout this period were anything but dignified statesmen. Charles Taylor, president from 1997 to 2003, awaits verdict in The Hague on charges of terrorism, murder, rape, sexual slavery, and the use of child soldiers in neighboring Sierra Leone. Prince Johnson, a breakaway rebel from Taylor’s National Patriotic Front, encapsulates the horror of the day in a 1990 video that still sells bootlegged copies in Monrovia, Liberia’s seaside capital. In the film, Johnson is seen sipping a Budweiser as a subordinate slices off the ear of the recently deposed and executed Doe. This was African brutality in its most raw, uncensored form. (Today, the fact that Johnson is a sitting senator who’s also running for president also speaks to the enduring hold of that brutality.) It was into this backdrop that the Harvard-educated Sirleaf was thrust, following her 2005 victory in Liberia’s first post-Taylor election. As Africa’s first female president, the task ahead, in her own words, was “awesome” — rebuilding her government, and her country, from the ground up. Six years later, she can point to some real accomplishments. Monrovia, a city virtually annihilated when she took office, now has paved roads and a rapidly expanding electrical grid. Though ethnic and factional tensions remain, security has improved markedly — thanks to the continued presence of UNMIL, the 9,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping mission. Bent on development — her current pitch to voters — Sirleaf has ushered in a period of slow but steady economic growth, attracting foreign investors like Chevron and steel giant ArcelorMittal and securing $4.6 billion in debt relief from the World Bank, her former employer. At the same time, she’s presided over a gradual awakening of individual liberties. According to an August 19 report by the International Crisis Group, Liberia under Sirleaf has seen “greater transparency, improved human rights, less political persecution, and unprecedented freedom of speech.”

ENDURING SCOURGE OF CORRUPTION These accomplishments have won praise from a host of global leaders, and launched Sirleaf on the international stage like few other heads of state in Africa. Still, the 73-year-old icon is not without her critics. Among her key shortcomings, say analysts, has been her inability to tackle

Page 24

The Washington Diplomat

CREDIT: UN PHOTO / PAULO FILGUEIRAS

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf speaks at a women’s leadership event at the United Nations in New York. The “iron lady” has become an international darling but back home, she faces a tough referendum on her leadership in Liberia’s presidential election on Oct. 11. Whatever the case, Liberia remains a country with a deeply embedded culture of impunity. Though its Truth We are seeing the same crop and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), born out of 2003 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, recomof people contesting the elections…. Liberia’s mended the establishment of a criminal court to try those responsible for human rights violations during the civil Nothing is going to change signifiwar period, no judicial mechanism was ever created, and to date not one individual has been prosecuted. More concantly unless we have a fresh set troversially, the TRC recommended that Sirleaf, along with of people who are reform minded, 48 others, be barred for 30 years from holding public office, due to her fundraising in the 1980s for then warwho want things to change, and lord-turned-president Taylor. Though Sirleaf has admitted initially supported Taylor, she says she backed away who are willing to put the resources she when she realized the degree of his human rights abuses. To an extent, she’s been exonerated by Liberia’s Supreme behind that change. Court, which has declared the 30-year debarment from public office unconstitutional. Still, this hasn’t stopped — TITI AJAYI criticism from her political opponents. West Africa fellow at the International Crisis Group “When the war was raging, she … was legitimizing those atrocities — people who were killing, disembowelcorruption. ing pregnant women, cutting off limbs,” Winston Tubman, Though several anti-corruption initiatives have been a former member of the Doe administration and one of undertaken under her watch, none have resulted in tangiher key election challengers, told Foreign Policy in July. ble action, and Sirleaf herself admits she’s been loath to go “Instead of saying ‘stop that, this is your own country,’ she after crooked lawmakers when she needs them to back supported that.” her pro-growth reforms. Less excusable has been her failure to put a dent in the long-held practice of nepotism. As AN OPEN RACE president, Sirleaf has appointed sons and a stepson to While such hyperbole may make for good media, it’s plush jobs at the Central Bank, National Oil Company and unlikely that Sirleaf’s links to Taylor will feature promiNational Security Agency. One son, Robert, has been nently in the election. According to Titi Ajayi, West Africa accused by some media of improperly using state money fellow at the International Crisis Group, most of the canto fund stadiums and other infrastructure projects in a bid didates running have been in Liberian politics for 20 to gain political support for his mother. He and the presiyears, if not longer, and few can say they have no associadent have both denied such allegations.

October 2011


tions with Taylor. Yet this doesn’t mean Sirleaf won’t be vulnerable in other areas. In particular, Ajayi cites alienation among rural voters who, yet to see the infrastructure that’s come to the capital city, are feeling ignored as their country progresses. “For a very long time there’s been this feeling that everything happens in Monrovia,” Ajayi told The Diplomat.“If you travel outside of the capital there’s some level of resentment and frustration that they’re being left out of the development process.” Sirleaf herself has said she’s only about “eight years into a two-decade process of recovery and development” — and that process has yet to reach the bulk of the country’s impoverished citizens. Roads and basic infrastructure remain sorely lacking, unemployment levels hover around 50 percent, and Liberia is ranked a dismal 162 out of 169 on the U.N. Human Development Index. In short, life for many Liberians remains miserable. And that’s a sentiment likely to be exploited by Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) candidate Tubman and the Liberty Party’s Charles Brumskine, the only two challengers with a legitimate chance of unseating the president. In a campaign that’s more about personality than policy, both have been jockeying for bases of support across the country, attempting to balance their tickets by appealing to Liberia’s 16 distinct ethnic groups. It is here that Liberia’s unique history enters the picture. Established in 1847 by returned American slaves, Africa’s oldest republic was long ruled by an elite class of so-called AmericoLiberians, who today account for just 5 percent of the population.Though Doe’s 1980 coup ushered in an era of rule by “natives,” Americo-Liberians remain a privileged social class. While neither of

his sleeve. George Weah, his CDC running mate and former international soccer star, actually won the first round of voting in 2005 before losing to Sirleaf in the run-off, and still commands respect across the country (admittedly more for his athletic fame than his governance ability). “Weah is the one who actually has the power,” says Lansana Gberie, research analyst for West Africa at the Security Council Report in New York. “He used the money he got from his soccer years to do a lot of philanthropy work with Liberian youth.And he comes from a very poor rural background. Over 90 percent of Liberians are coming from that same background.”

THE ROAD AHEAD

CREDIT: UN PHOTO / STATON WINTER

A Liberian in Monrovia holds up his ink-stained finger as proof of having voted in the war-torn country’s first constitutional referendum in 25 years. Polling went smoothly, a positive sign ahead of Liberia’s presidential election this month.

Sirleaf’s parents were Americo-Liberian by birth, both were raised in Americo-Liberian homes, and Sirleaf grew up among Monrovia’s AmericoLiberian elite. As president, she’s come under fire for including a disproportionate number of Americo-Liberians in her administration, something that Tubman and Brumskine may well use to their advantage.Though both are Americo-Liberian themselves, they have courted wide support among indigenous groups. Tubman, in particular, has a significant ace up

Though both Brumskine and Tubman stand a solid chance, Sirleaf’s advantage of incumbency and her ability to hand out patronage means she may very well win again, says Gberie. Either way, the significance of the October poll — and the subsequent November 8 run-off held if no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in the first round — lies as much in the nature of its conduct as in the identity of its victor. Though security has improved steadily since 2006, Liberia remains flush with unemployed youths and ex-combatants, as well as hundreds of local fighters who have returned from neighboring Côte d’Ivoire, where they were allegedly employed as mercenaries by both sides in that country’s recent violent post-election crisis. While a similar tragedy in Liberia is not expected, the Crisis Group notes, “violent protests cannot be ruled out, even if the elections are credible.” Unlike the election in Côte d’Ivoire, where massive rigging was reported across the country,

experts say the Liberian poll is likely to be well run. The country’s 2005 election was given a clean bill of health by international monitors, and Liberia’s National Elections Commission, generally well respected, recently staged a successful constitutional referendum, the country’s first in 25 years. Whoever is declared the winner will have little time for celebration. Though Liberia has made great strides under Sirleaf’s leadership, it could be decades before the country can stand on its own feet.With U.N. peacekeepers still primarily responsible for security, Liberia’s police force remains corrupt and ineffective, and its army numbers fewer than 2,000 troops. Though foreign assistance has been critical to Liberia’s revival, its annual flow easily dwarfs the entire government budget, which suggests a state that will long be at the mercy of its donors. While Sirleaf, equipped with international goodwill, may be the best candidate to continue leading her country’s rebirth, she must eventually hand the reins to a new set of leaders. Even though she has drastically altered Liberia’s trajectory, she remains, like her challengers, part of the old order, and must operate within the confines of its established personalities and systems. According to the Crisis Group’s Ajayi, a true transformation will only be possible with a new generation. “We are seeing the same crop of people contesting the elections,” she said. “Nothing is going to change significantly unless we have a fresh set of people who are reform minded, who want things to change, and who are willing to put the resources behind that change.”

Jon Rosen is an independent journalist writing on sub-Saharan Africa.

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October 2011

The Washington Diplomat Page 25


DIPLOMACY

Middle East

D.C. Ambassadors Visit Israel Ahead of U.N. Vote on Palestine by Larry Luxner

T

he Washington-based ambassadors of 19 countries — some of them so obscure that most Americans probably never heard of them — recently took a whirlwind, five-day tour of Israel that also included a side trip to Ramallah, provisional capital of the Palestinian Authority.

The unprecedented “fact-finding mission” was organized by the Israel Project, a nonprofit organization opposed to the Palestinian bid for member state recognition at the United Nations. In response, the group launched its own bid to woo small nations ahead of widely anticipated vote at the 193-member U.N. General Assembly, where each country, regardless of size, has an equal voice — and where the numbers generally tend to favor Palestinians over Israel, which is often isolated in the world body. Participating in the trip were ambassadors from small Caribbean, Eastern European and African nations that, with a few exceptions, don’t have embassies in Israel.The jam-packed itinerary was intended to familiarize the envoys with the country as well as the debate over U.N. recognition, and included everything from a helicopter ride over Israel’s border areas to meetings with venture capitalists and a visit to Jerusalem’s Old City. During the visit, the diplomats met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon and opposition leader Tzipi Livni. They were also received by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and joined a discussion on economic development with West Bank businessmen. “Some people think that such a trip is against the Palestinians,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of the Israel Project. “However, nothing could be further from the truth. We believe strongly that a unilateral move by the Palestinians at the United Nations would deeply harm the interests of the Palestinians and the creation of a Palestinian state.The only way to achieve lasting peace and a two-state solution for two peoples is through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.” But the Palestinian Authority countered that after decades of failed negotiations — and more recently, even more dismal prospects under Prime Minister Netanyahu — they had little choice but to turn to the United Nations in light of unabated settlement expansion that is making a two-state solution increasingly unrealistic. A number of European Union nations — frustrated with the Israeli government’s recalcitrance over settlements and other divisions that have ground peace talks to a halt — agreed. The United States, however, steadfastly maintained that it would veto any statehood moves at the U.N. Security Council, which alone has the legal power to recognize new nations. The Palestinian Authority bucked that veto threat and went ahead with its statehood appeal at the Security Council, although it said it would give the group “some time” to consider the request before taking its case to the U.N. General Assembly. There, the Palestinians can seek an upgrade in status to a “non-member state” with observer status similar to the

Page 26

The Washington Diplomat

PHOTO: THE ISRAEL PROJECT

We believe strongly that a unilateral move by the Palestinians at the United Nations would deeply harm the interests of the Palestinians and the creation of a Palestinian state. The only way to achieve lasting peace and a two-state solution for two peoples is through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. — JENNIFER LASZLO MIZRAHI

founder and president of the Israel Project

Vatican if they secure a two-thirds majority, a threshold most experts think can be achieved. As of press time on Sept. 22, a vote had not yet taken place but regardless, it’s clear the Palestinian Authority has already scored a diplomatic coup by forcing the issue of moribund peace talks back into the limelight — and forcing all sides to scramble and lobby their case in the court of public opinion. What exactly comes next in this high-stakes diplomatic showdown though is anyone’s guess. Non-member states cannot vote at the General Assembly but they can join dozens of U.N. agencies and sign certain international treaties, such as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, although in the Palestinians’ case, the legality of such a move would probably be contested by the United States. Still, U.N. recognition could in theory pave the way for the Palestinian Authority to pursue claims against Israel at human rights bodies and the

Timor-Leste Ambassador Constancio Pinto examines a drip-irrigation system at a training center run by Mashav, Israel’s international development program, during a trip that brought the Washingtonbased ambassadors of 19 nations to Israel ahead of the Palestinian bid for state recognition at the United Nations, a diplomatic maneuver that was fiercely opposed by Israel and the United States.

International Court of Justice. It’s a roundabout but effective strategy to ratchet up international pressure — and boycotts — on Israel, sideline the United States, and open up new legal avenues for challenging settlement construction. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said his government was seeking recognition not in place of negotiations with Israel, but in addition to them — and most observers say the U.N. maneuver could ultimately strengthen the PA’s hand in any talks. Conversely, however, it could have the opposite effect and alienate Israeli officials from even returning to the table. Moreover, the immediate “day-after” impact will be far less dramatic for average, disenchanted Palestinians who struggle with widespread unemployment — fueling fears that a symbolic victory at the United Nations could spark a violent uprising in the West Bank or Gaza.And at the end of the day, Palestinians still lack a functioning, independent state and remain under Israeli control. Which is why Mizrahi of the Israel Project told The Diplomat that “even if 192 countries in the U.N. supported the resolution, if Israel opposed it you would not see any progress for Palestinians on the ground. Indeed, you could see a loss of key U.S. financial support for the Palestinians.” U.S. lawmakers of both parties are not only threatening to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, but some would also like to target any bilateral assistance provided to nations who sided with the Palestinians at the U.N. General Assembly. Incidentally, U.S. aid is also a crucial fac-

See ISRAEL, page 28 October 2011


MEDICAL

Oncology

As Survival Rates Climb, When Is A Cancer Patient Just a Patient? by Gina Shaw

T

wo years ago, I “graduated” from my oncologist’s care. Five years after successfully undergoing treatment for stage IIB breast cancer — chemotherapy, a lumpectomy and lymph node removal, six weeks of radiation and then a year of the drug Herceptin — my doctors at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York deemed me ready for a less intensive approach to managing my health. Early on in my post-cancer days, I’d visited the oncologist every six months for a checkup.Then, it became once a year. Now, I still return to Sloan-Kettering annually, but instead of seeing an oncologist, I meet with a nurse practitioner who heads up the cancer center’s survivorship program. It honestly doesn’t feel that much different to me. I still get my mammogram, they still check my blood for unusual levels of different proteins and hormones, and a highly trained expert — albeit not one with an M.D. degree — still examines me and discusses my health concerns. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to get into Manhattan for these appointments, and I could probably schedule something with a primary care doctor much closer to my home in New Jersey and save over an hour in round-trip travel time (not to mention parking fees). But I can’t bring myself to do it. I can’t “break up” with the experts who saw me safely through the nightmare of a highly aggressive breast cancer diagnosed when I was just 36 years old. This is the dilemma facing many cancer survivors today, as early diagnosis and new treatment options mean that we are living longer and longer, and often with no evidence of disease whatsoever. Although doctors may be cautious about using the term, many of us are “cured,” and we’ll probably go on to live long, healthy lives and die many years from now of something other than cancer. But are we really comfortable having our health concerns, our long-term side effects from treatment — everything from nerve pain, numbness and swelling to infertility and impotence, depression, secPHOTO: FOTOLIA ondary cancers and “chemo brain” — managed by doctors and doctor’s purview? How can we learn to trust nurses who aren’t specialists in our disease? the “non-specialist” with our special concerns? Many of us aren’t. According to a 2005 article The reality is that as more and more of us There are a number of programs designed to in the British Journal of General Practice, “the cancer survivors take the sometimesmajority of breast cancer patients prefer routine live longer and longer, it just doesn’t make help intimidating steps beyond the“treatment world” tests and periodic routine visits for 10 years or and into the “survivor world.” One is Journey longer by specialists.That is, patients prefer a patsense for us to be treated as cancer Forward (www.journeyforward.org), a survitern of follow-up care that reflects the practice they are accustomed to rather than evidence of patients, by cancer doctors, years and years vorship care planning resource that offers a range of tools for both the oncologist and the what is effective.” after our last dose of chemotherapy or radi- cancer patient. The doctor can use the free And a new study published in the Journal of online “survivorship plan builder” and “medical General Internal Medicine in July suggests that ation, with the cancer long since silent. history builder” to develop a detailed history of our oncologists don’t feel comfortable handing the patient’s treatments and plan for care going our care over to primary care docs, either — and forward that the patient can take with them to all future medical appointments. those primary care docs might feel rather unsure about their own capabilities as Patients can download their own toolkits, which explain the importance of a surviwell. In a survey of medical oncologists and primary providers conducted by Arnold L. vorship plan, recommend questions to ask doctors, and provide a list of resources. Or survivors can generate their own “Livestrong Care Plan” using the detailed Potosky, director of health services research at Georgetown University’s Lombardi questionnaire available online from the Lance Armstrong Foundation (www.livesComprehensive Cancer Center, less than 60 percent of primary care providers trongcareplan.org). It lacks some of the personal detail that a care plan from your agreed that they possessed the skills needed to care for treatment effects in breast oncologist provides, but it’s pretty comprehensive. and colon cancer survivors. Only 23 percent of them felt very confident in their In an interview with Medscape Medical News, Potosky suggested that the broadability to care for the late physical effects of cancer or its treatments. er use of these survivorship plans could help break down the barriers between Oncologists took an even dimmer view. Only 38 percent of oncologists thought oncologists and primary care providers — perhaps making it easier for cancer surprimary care providers could appropriately initiate screening or diagnostic testing vivors to get follow-up care closer to home. “I think the key message that comes to detect recurrent breast cancer, for example. most directly from the paper is the need for doctor-to-doctor communication,” he But the reality is that as more and more of us live longer and longer, it just doesn’t said. make sense for us to be treated as cancer patients, by cancer doctors, years and years after our last dose of chemotherapy or radiation, with the cancer long since silent. Gina Shaw is the medical writer for The Washington Diplomat. So how can we make that transition from the oncologist’s care to the primary care

October 2011

The Washington Diplomat Page 27


from page 26

Israel tor for many of the countries represented on the Israel junket. Last year, for example, Uganda received $458 million in non-military U.S. assistance, while Burkina Faso got $421.7 million, Haiti got $368 million, and Liberia $235 million. Other countries that sent their U.S.-based ambassadors on the Israel mission range from tiny Grenada (population 100,000) to mountainous Mongolia, which is twice the size of Texas but has only about 3 million inhabitants. Many Eastern European countries also sent their top diplomats from Washington, as did the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic and English-speaking Belize. “This was an excellent trip, very well-organized from all points of view,” said Gilbert Galanxhi, the Washington-based ambassador of Albania — 70 percent of whose 3 million people are Muslim. It’s also one of the few countries participating on the trip that maintains an embassy in Tel Aviv. “Albania has always been friendly to Israel. It’s the only country in the world that had more Jews after the Holocaust than before. Not a single Jew was handed over to the Nazis,” Galanxhi said proudly. “So I think the vote will be carefully discussed in my capital and will be in favor of Israel.” Galanxhi said that while he was impressed with Israel’s prosperity and technological innovation, he was “astonished” at the attitudes of the Palestinian businessmen he met with in Ramallah. “They seem to be living 10 years in the past,” said the ambassador, whose Balkan country suffered under half a century of communist dictatorship and remains one of Europe’s poorest nations. “I directly asked them about the possibility of sitting at the table and talking with the Israelis and they said no.That was striking to me.They should have been much more interested [in improving relations with Israel] than the prime minister [Fayyad], who was far more forward-looking and

PHOTO: THE ISRAEL PROJECT

D.C.-based ambassadors stand in front of the “Intellicopters” that took them across Israel’s narrow waistline and then up north to the Golan Heights close to the Syrian and Lebanese borders, during a trip hosted by the Israel Project.

constructive in his thinking.” During the trip, delegates visited the headquarters of Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation (Mashav) at Kibbutz Shefayim just north of Tel Aviv, where they were briefed about programs in agriculture, education, medicine, emergency response and gender equality offered by Israel around the world. They also visited drip-irrigation operations as well as a factory that makes batteries for electric cars, and met with Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, who happened to be visiting Israel on a congressional delegation. During the August recess, in fact, a record number of 81 House lawmakers made the trip, which was sponsored by an arm of the lobby group the America Israel Public Affairs

Committee, or AIPAC. (Hoyer also met with President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad during his trip to warn them that they were risking the restriction of aid from Congress if they went ahead with the vote.) But Maen Areikat, chief representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington — the PLO’s equivalent of an ambassador here — was angered by the junket, which he called a one-sided effort by Israel’s supporters to sway foreign diplomats to oppose the cause of Palestine at the United Nations. “This is unprecedented diplomatic behavior, for a country, Israel, to invite the ambassador of other countries based in a third country, the United States, to discuss with them an issue related to a

fourth party, Palestine. You don’t do that,” he said. “And for a congressional leader like Steny Hoyer to try to convince these ambassadors not to support the Palestinians is very strange behavior.” Yet Neil Parsan, ambassador of the twin-island Caribbean republic of Trinidad and Tobago — which has a sizeable Muslim minority and has traditionally supported Arab causes or abstained — said the trip was meant to be a fact-finding mission, and on that front it certainly lived up to his expectations. “It was my first time to the region,” he said. “I thought the trip allowed us to ask questions freely and openly to both sides, and there was no interference by the organizers. It will certainly help inform the decision-making process when it comes to deciding on any resolution put forward at the U.N. General Assembly.” Constancio Pinto, ambassador of Timor-Leste, one of the world’s newest nations, made it clear that his Portuguese-speaking country in Southeast Asia, agreed with Parsan that the trip was informative. “As ambassadors, our job is to report whatever we see and hear. I think all of those countries including mine want to see a peaceful settlement of the conflict,” he said. “Of course I will relay all of this to my government, and hopefully they will make the right decision.” Pinto told The Diplomat that one memory from his trip stood out above the rest. It happened when his Israeli guides took the group of diplomats to Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. “We lost one-third of our population during the Indonesian occupation, but today, our border guards play basketball with the Indonesian guards. They have lunch on one side one day, and dinner the next day on the other side,” he said. “I asked our guide, a general, whether there’s that same kind of interaction between Israel and Lebanon. He said no.That means peace is still a long way to go.”

Larry Luxner is news editor of The Washington Diplomat.

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October 2011


EDUCATION ■ A Special Section of The Washington Diplomat

■ October 2011

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, flanked by Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. to her left and Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki to her right, meets with 16 Japanese baseball and softball players at the State Department. PHOTO: STATE DEPARTMENT

Game, Set, Match by Jacob Comenetz

October 2011

EDUCATION

U.S. Plays Up Power of Sports In Win-Win Approach to Diplomacy The use of sports to foster peace can be traced to ancient Greece, when the kings of the dominant city-states signed a truce, or ekecheiria (literally, a “holding of hands”), guaranteeing the safety of athletes, their families and pilgrims traveling to and from the Olympic Games. “During the truce, wars were suspended, armies were prohibited from entering Elis [the site of the ancient Olympics] or threatening the Games, and legal disputes and the carrying out of death

Continued on next page

The Washington Diplomat Page29


Continued from previous page penalties were forbidden,� according to the Perseus Digital Library of Tufts University. Today, sports have again taken center field as an instrument for promoting international harmony as the U.S. Department of State, led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has rapidly expanded the range and geographical reach of its sports-related engagement programs. During the summer of 2011, the “high season� of sports exchanges, State Department-sponsored programs included a 10-day basketball exchange with Saudi Arabia, the first of its kind, that brought eight women players and two coaches to the United States; the third Iraq youth basketball exchange, in which 10 Iraqi athletes played ball and participated in team-building exercises with their American counterparts in the D.C. area; a Women’s World Cup Initiative that worked with female sports administrators from Bolivia, Malaysia, Pakistan and the Palestinian territories to enhance women and girl’s soccer programs; a sports exchange for athPHOTO: STATE DEPARTMENT

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letes with disabilities; and a mission by NBA superstars Bo A Vietnamese player goes Outlaw and Dee Brown and WNBA legends Edna Campbell up for a spike in a scrimmage and Tamika Raymond to Africa. with the University of Missouri While Brown and Raymond led basketball clinics with primary and secondary school students in Tanzania, Outlaw in Kansas City. The State and Campbell met with over 100 youth in Congo who par- Department’s SportsUnited office ticipate in a U.S. Embassy English-speaking initiative. They recently brought 12 young joined a roster of 42 NBA and WNBA players and coaches Vietnamese volleyball players who have conducted similar programs in 19 countries on and two coaches to Missouri for a 10-day Sports Visitor program. behalf of the State Department since 2004. These basketball exchanges represent a mere fraction of the sports diplomacy programs run by the SportsUnited office, part of the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, often in cooperation with embassies around the world. Since 2003, SportsUnited has organized initiatives with most countries spanning the globe, in specialized sports such as archery, volleyball, wrestling, table tennis and water polo, as well as more mainstream activities such as baseball, basketball and, of course, the worldwide phenomenon of soccer. In addition, it has run disability sports programs and offered instruction on managing sports community centers. This unique form of educational and cross-cultural exchange taps the universal power of sports to unite different people. For Secretary Clinton, sports is an effective vehicle for advancing multiple, often overlapping diplomatic aims: promoting women’s rights, giving voice to minorities, improving relations with the Muslim

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EDUCATION

October 2011


world, helping peoples stricken by disaster. Sports can also offer hope to those living in poverty. The heightened prominence given to sports as a tool of American diplomacy is one facet of Clinton’s focus on “smart power” diplomacy, placing greater emphasis on nontraditional forms of statecraft.This “21stcentury” approach highlights people-to-people exchanges, digital engagement, and sports diplomacy as a means for connecting with youth and empowering women and minority populations in countries of strategic importance to U.S. foreign policy. “For me, sports is, in and of itself, terrific, but it’s also a symbol for so much of what we want to see in the world,” Clinton said at a June 6 reception launching the Women’s World Cup Initiative to promote women in sports, held in the State Department’s Benjamin Franklin Room.“As long as human beings are on this planet, we’re going to compete. But let’s compete with rules. Let’s compete in a way that doesn’t kill people. Let’s compete to determine who is the best soccer player or the best basketball player or the best long-distance runner.” Victor Cha, a Georgetown professor and author of the 2009 book “Beyond the Final Score: The Politics of Sport in Asia,” said that overall, sports has been a very good tool of diplomacy, “in the sense that it’s a way for people from different political spheres to interact.” “Sports quietly espouse liberal ideals,” Cha told The Diplomat. “Everybody plays by the same rules; we all know the rules; it’s transparent; there’s no favoritism.These are classic liberal values.” Sports, with its widespread appeal, is also a no-brainer when it comes to promoting a positive image of the United States abroad. Over the summer though, the State Department got a black eye, and a lot of bad press, when it denied the visas of several Ugandan little leaguers due to a dispute over their real ages — thereby denying the Ugandan team the chance to play in the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania. Incidents like that tend to attract the most attention, but under the radar, SportsUnited has worked with hundreds of athletes around the world and the experiences have been low profile but highly positive. As a recent example, the State Department organized its first sports exchange with Japan, a baseball program that brought 16 Japanese youth and four coaches from areas ravaged by the natural disasters that took place in March of this year to the United States for a two-week series of clinics, including one with baseball icon Cal Ripken Jr., at the Ripken Youth Baseball Academy in Aberdeen, Md. Ripken, who began serving as a sports diplomat in 2007 and has already gone on missions to China and Nicaragua, will travel to Japan in November to engage more youth through baseball. Sports diplomacy works, he told The Diplomat,“because it is a common language. You don’t necessarily need to communicate through words to play a sport together and to compete or just have fun.” Ripken said he saw this camaraderie during his trip to China, where “it was a challenge at first because of the language barrier and because most of the kids never played baseball and didn’t understand the game. But what struck me was how quickly sports brought us together. We were laughing and having fun just hitting the balls and throwing them around. It was remarkable how adaptable kids are in general and how willing they are to try new things and just play.” On a more serious note, sports can also play a vital role in helping ease life’s hardships and tragedies. Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki described how he became involved in the baseball exchange through the family of Taylor Anderson, a 24-year-old native of Richmond, Va., who had been teaching English in Japan when the tsunami struck, taking her life. For her family, meeting with the Japanese baseball players, who had also lost loved ones from the disasters, enabled healing. Fujisaki met with Clinton, Ripken and the young baseball players at the State Department on Aug. 9, after which he invited the family members, players and State officials to his residence on Nebraska Avenue for a get-together. Though the ambassador agreed that baseball could serve as an effective medium for connecting the United States and Japan, he acknowledged that for him personally, it

PHOTOS: STATE DEPARTMENT

Above, Ugandan soccer coaches throw their balls in the air, while at left, Ian Barker, head men’s soccer coach at Macalester College, talks to a group of Ugandan athletes. In recent years, the State Department has significantly expanded sports engagement programs such as the International Sports Connection (ISC), which in May partnered with the University of Minnesota to conduct a sports exchange with Ugandan athletes and coaches.

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SIDEBAR

UAE Embassy Scores With Women’s Soccer International sports exchanges, a popular way of bridging cultural divides and creating long-lasting friendships, are not only the prerogative of the U.S. government. rom late June to mid-July, the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Washington, D.C., in partnership with the Philadelphia Independence, a team of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), hosted a three-week program for more than 20 members of the UAE Women’s Soccer Team to visit the United States. The UAE soccer players, ages 14 to 27, had the chance to scrimmage with the Independence players and participated in clinics with local teams in Philadelphia and Washington. There was also time for visiting the Liberty Bell and a sightseeing excursion to New York. In addition, they were welcomed by officials during a ceremony at City Hall in Philadelphia, had the chance to visit the State Department, and participated in a closing dinner at the UAE Embassy. In highlighting the empowerment of women through sports, the UAE-sponsored exchange had much in common with the Women’s World Cup Initiative launched by the State Department this summer (see main story). Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE ambassador to the U.S., said he was delighted to provide the opportunity for the players to

F

better get to know the United States. “Sport is a wonderful tool to promote greater understanding between U.S. and Emirati culture,” he said. “By interacting with U.S. players during training sessions and scrimmages, as well as meeting with other community leaders, the UAE team will hone their soccer skills while also educating Americans about the Emirates.” Dana Al Marashi, head of the UAE Embassy’s Heritage and Social Affairs Department, said the idea for the exchange began with Sheikha Lubna al Qasimi, the UAE minister of foreign trade, over a year ago. Ambassador Al Otaiba saw its public diplomacy potential and “challenged his team to organize a meaningful exchange that highlighted the growing popularity of soccer in the UAE,” she said. “The team’s trip to the U.S. marks a significant step forward in the development of women’s soccer in the UAE,” Al Marashi told The Diplomat. “The members of the team are becoming true role models for girls throughout the UAE, encouraging greater participation in soccer and all sports. Outside the UAE, they represent the country proudly as athletes, as women, and as Emiratis. They are breaking down barriers on many levels and showing the true character and position of Emirati women.” David Halstead, owner of the Philadelphia Independence, said that his team’s interactions with the UAE women helped each side break down stereotypes about the other. Prior to hosting the Emirati women players, the

Independence received a briefing from a member of the embassy on what to expect in terms of cultural differences. “There was the question, ‘How is this going to go?’ We thought we were going to have to make adjustments due to lifestyle, dietary restrictions for example. We just didn’t know,” he said. But the reservations proved to be unfounded. “I can tell you, these kids were like any kids, just like American teenagers. For us it was so much fun watching them. We got a lot out of it soccer-wise and we’ll stay friends,” he told The Diplomat. Created in 2005 to enhance the opportunities for Emirati women to play and compete nationally and internationally, the UAE Women’s Soccer Team has competed in more than 78 matches in the region since 2008 and participated in training camps in Europe and the Middle East. It is coached by the former head coach of the Football Federation of Australia, Connie Selby, and managed by Ambassador Hafsa Al Ulama, chairwoman of the UAE Women’s Football Committee. Overall, Al Marashi said, the program has been a great success and shown the Emirates as a country that respects women’s equality. “From fighter pilots and judges, business executives and cabinet ministers, UAE women are fully empowered to pursue any career and pursue any interest.” — Jacob Comenetz

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UAE Helps Joplin Students After an F5 tornado ripped apart onethird of Joplin, Missouri, on May 22, killing 160 people, the city’s high school lay in twisted ruins. On the school’s battered sign, only the letters “O” and “P” remained — but shortly after the historic twister, the letters “H” and “E” were scrawled in, and Joplin High School became Hope High. The wreckage still stands behind the sign, but the 2,200 high school students are moving on. Three months after the tornado that damaged or destroyed nine of the system’s schools, including its only high school, Joplin officials kept their ambitious promise that the school year would start on time and students have been relocated to makeshift buildings while the massive reconstruction effort gets under way. The district has tapped $30 million in state and federal financing to reopen buildings that survived or rent new space and bring in special modular classrooms. Donations have also poured into Joplin — even from places as far removed from Missouri as the United Arab Emirates. On Aug. 9, the UAE Embassy in Washington announced that the government was donating $500,000 to provide each Joplin high schooler with a personal laptop computer, part of a “One-to-One” initiative with Joplin Public School (JPS). In addition, the embassy has issued a challenge grant in which it will match, dollar for dollar, any funds donated to its One-to-One initiative, up to an additional $500,000, which would bring the total UAE contribution to $1 million. The idea for the gift emerged after UAE officials read about the school system’s challenges in an Associated Press news

EDUCATION

article. (After Hurricane Katrina, the UAE donated $100 million toward U.S. relief efforts.) “The entire world was touched by the devastation caused in Joplin by the May 22 tornado. Given the scale of the disaster, including the destruction of the community’s only high school, we felt it was important to provide assistance,” said UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba. “The One-to-One initiative is a truly innovative idea that will not only give current students the tools they need to start the school year, but position future JPS students on the cutting-edge of learning.” Students will be enjoying their sleek new Apple notebooks in an unlikely setting: a shopping mall. That’s because Joplin High School has reopened in the local mall, right by Macy’s and Sears, in a former big-box store that was refitted over the summer and will serve as their base for the next three years while construction for a new school — on the same plot of land as the old one — breaks ground next summer. Despite the temporary lack of permanent classrooms, the One-to-One initiative aims to give students all the tools they’ll need to succeed. “We are so fortunate to have the support from the UAE Embassy. This donation will help us reach our One-to-One Laptop Initiative goal and provide a truly interactive learning experience for our high school students,” said C.J. Huff, superintendent of Joplin Schools. “This contribution will not only provide technology to Joplin High School, but also help prepare our students for 21st-century jobs.” — Anna Gawel

October 2011


from page 31

Sports was not as consuming a passion as it was for his predecessor, Ryozo Kato, ambassador in Washington from 2001 to 2008. Kato, who Fujisaki said had a “photographic memory” of the sport, is today commissioner of Japanese professional baseball. For Fujisaki, sports also highlighted civility in Japanese-U.S. relations. After the earthquake hit in March, many Americans told him they were impressed by the lack of rioting and chaos, and praised the civil discipline of the Japanese.The tables were turned, Fujisaki said, when the Americans took on the Japanese in the final game of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in July, a match he compared to David fighting Goliath. “After our girls miraculously won, the Americans were so gracious in congratulating us, saying they wanted to win, but would only have wanted to lose to the Japanese,” Fujisaki recalled.“The Japanese were really impressed with Americans’ civility too.” Secretary Clinton, in addition to using sports to foster post-trauma recovery, has adeptly adopted it as a powerful tool for advancing women’s rights and boosting relations with the Muslim world. In her remarks on June 6, Clinton linked the Women’s World Cup to the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark legislation that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs. The secretary of state shared some personal reflections from a memorable soccer game she played in junior high school. “These girls were from a different environment than I was from, they were from a different kind of background, they had it a lot harder, a lot tougher than I and my teammates did, and they threw themselves into that game. For them it really, really mattered whether they won or not; it wasn’t just some nice way to spend an afternoon. Because they were seeing it as a part of their own lives and their own ambitions and their own goals, to keep striving and striving.” This experience taught her the power of sports to empower women,“to discharge that incredible energy that they want to put into being the best they can be,” and showed her why it’s “the most popular exchanges we do.” “And when I go to other countries around the world and we talk about what kind of exchanges that people are looking for, very often a leader will say, how about a sports exchange? And we want to do more and more of that.” So that’s exactly what Clinton has been doing, especially in her outreach to Muslim nations. During a Sept. 7 reception, also in the Franklin Room, to mark Eid ul-Fitr, the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Clinton took the opportunity to honor Muslim

“As long as human beings are on this planet, we’re going to compete. But let’s compete with rules. Let’s compete in a way that doesn’t kill people. Let’s compete to determine who is the best soccer player or the best basketball player or the best longdistance runner.” — HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. secretary of state

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engaged the Chinese army team, the Bayi Rockets, in what was supposed to be a “goodathletes, professional and amateur, from across will match.” The YouTube video of the “Great America. In her remarks, she adroitly tied the U.S. Brawl of China”, showing chairs and bottles ideal of respecting religious freedom to the univerbeing thrown during the exhibition game in sally celebrated “human drive to run faster and climb Beijing, has been viewed well over a million higher.” times. “And that’s part of the reason the State Department Media voices differed over whether the sponsors sports exchange programs and sends incident was indicative of souring relations sports ambassadors around the world.And for all the between two great powers, as well as over athletes joining us this evening, you may never have what it said about the effectiveness of sports thought of yourself exactly as a role model, but you as diplomacy. Brook Larmer, author of a book are,” she said. on Chinese NBA player Yao Ming, reflected in Clinton introduced two Muslim-American athletes the Washington Post on the days of “ping-pong to the guests. Towering above her, NFL football playdiplomacy,”when Chinese banners proclaimed er Ephraim Salaam of the Detroit Lions described the “Friendship First, Competition Second.” The challenge of fasting for Ramadan while going through order of this old slogan had now been training camp (“tough, but doable”), while the comreversed, Larmer concluded. paratively diminutive Kulsoom Abdullah, a PakistaniPost opinion writer Charles Lane, listing PHOTO: STATE DEPARTMENT American computer engineer and competitive multiple failed sports diplomacy efforts, took weightlifter, discussed how she was blocked from At a State Department reception marking Eid ul-Fitr, the end of the Muslim holy month of the “basketbrawl” as further evidence of their major competitions because she chooses to wear Ramadan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, center, met with Muslim athletes from across impossibility.“Actually, I can’t believe that anytraditional clothing covering her arms, legs and the United States, ranging from professional football players to female weightlifters. one still takes the idea of international-friendhead. ship-through-sports seriously,” he wrote. After her appeal to the International Weightlifting Federation generated international supBut Cha, who traveled with the Hoyas throughout the trip to Beijing and Shanghai, offered port and led to the organization approving new regulations allowing Muslim women to wear a more sanguine view in an article he wrote for the PacNet Newsletter of the Center for clothing compatible with their religion, Abdullah said she had learned to believe in the power Strategic and International Studies titled “What Really Happened to the Hoyas in Beijing.” The of the individual to bring about change. fight, he said, was an unfortunate exception in what had overall been a very positive trip to “Culture and society define my choices as a women, and moreso as a Muslim woman, as not China. It had occurred because “competetive juices got flowing, emotions got high, and things fitting a stereotype. But religiously, woman have the capacity and are meant to be strong and got out of hand.” should seek education,” Abdullah said. She added that in a society that focuses greatly on But thanks to mutual reconcilliation that followed, including “very senior levels of the women’s appearance,“one of the advantages of sports is that it builds confidence.” Chinese government,” it could still serve as a learning experience. Still, as with any powerful tool, there are pitfalls. “As long as both sides reconcile and learn from these incidents, they will be for the better“What makes sports unique is it’s very high profile,” said Cha of Georgetown University.“It’s ment of relations between the two people and countries,” Cha wrote. “That was certainly the not like a démarche behind closed doors; everyone sees it. It’s a huge platform in which to send experience that these young ballplayers and their Chinese counterparts took away from that both positive and negative messages.” game.” Sadly, one such negative message seemed to emerge from the much-publicized fourthquarter melee that broke out on Aug. 18 as the Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball team Jacob Comenetz is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

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he heated debate over how to improve America’s education system has in recent years centered largely on teachers — how they perform and what to do if they’re not up to the task. But to judge that performance requires evaluating it — a concept that’s often thrown around in the debate but given little penetrating thought. It’s one thing to simply say bad teachers should be fired, but what’s bad? How exactly do you define the metrics of success? How much weight should factors ranging from career experience to test scores to student surroundings be given? Those gritty details of evaluation criteria have a tremendous impact, determining how to implement reforms aimed at boosting the quality of the country’s teaching workforce — not to mention determining who gets to hang onto their jobs and which schools receive precious funds.And even though the contentious debate over “good” versus “bad” teachers is far from over, educators have made significant headway on an issue that’s critical to moving that debate forward. “U.S. public schools are in the early stages of a revolution in how they go about evaluating teachers,” according to a report by the Brookings Institution published in April. “It really is an 180-degree turn,” said Russ Whitehurst, a key author of the report and director of Brookings Brown Center on Education Policy. Yet it also has a revolution’s hallmarks: confusion, controversy, internal battles and an uncertain future. Proposed new evaluation methods through-

October 2011

out the country have been attacked by teachers, parents, students and education experts alike. It even brought Hollywood star Matt Damon to a rally near the White House this summer where he condemned the evaluation changes to cheers of approval. So why all the revulsion to the evaluation revolution? Traditional teacher evaluations in the United States combine a “pass-fail” rating by a school principal with points for an educators’ degrees and years of experience. Studies show that almost all teachers evaluated this way get high scores and assured employment, leading U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to point out that “in our country, 99 percent of our teachers are above average.” But empirical studies and common sense show that all educators are not equal — as any parent trying to get their child into a “good” teacher’s classroom can tell you. So states and school districts are increasingly trying more evidencebased, rigorous teacher assessments. They typically rely on mathematical formulas and incorporate student scores on standardized tests — the socalled “high-stakes testing” scores ushered in a decade ago by the No Child Left Behind Act (also see “Are the Rigors of Testing Producing Generation of Students Under Strain?” in the August 2011 issue of The Washington Diplomat).

EDUCATION

Continued on next page

The Washington Diplomat Page35


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Continued from previous page “A new generation of teacher evaluation systems seeks to make performance measurement and feedback more rigorous and useful,” said the Brookings Institution report, titled “Passing Muster: Evaluating Teacher Evaluation Systems.” “These systems incorporate multiple sources of information, including such metrics as systematic classroom observations, student and parent surveys, measures of professionalism and commitment to the school community, more differentiated principal ratings, and test score gains for students in each teacher’s classrooms. The latter indicator, test score gains, typically incorporates a variety of statistical controls for differences among teachers in the circumstances in which they teach. Such a measure is called teacher value-added because it estimates the value that individual teachers add to the academic growth of their students.” The resulting “value-added” assessments have been both widely criticized and widely misunderstood. Most such assessments subtract the test score of the student at the beginning of the school year from the student’s score at the end and make statistical adjustments to account for factors outside a teacher’s control, such as the income level of the student’s family. Locally, the Washington area has been

an epicenter of the new evaluation push.This July, the largest teacher union in the country, the National Education Association, reversed policy and approved, with restrictions, teacher evaluations based on student progress, including the qualified use of test scores. Last April, Virginia’s Board of Education approved new teacher evaluation guidelines for its school districts that included “academic progress” yardsticks and the use of standardized test scores. The model recommended that 40 percent of a teacher’s score be based on student academic progress. Then in June, Maryland approved a similar system that tied 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation to student progress. The state will now test drive the system in seven school districts. In 2009, D.C. Public Schools adopted a so-called “IMPACT” evaluation system that uses value-added assessments where it has the data to do so — which currently only applies to about 20 percent of teachers in the District. Pressure to change these evaluations had come largely from the federal government as concerns have grown over America’s declining rankings in international student testing, and the difficulty many states are having meeting student proficiency standards set by the No Child Left Behind Act. The Department of Education is using a carrot-stick approach with funding to get schools to

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Page 36

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EDUCATION

October 2011


adopt more rigorous assessments. For example, the Obama administration’s Race to the Top Fund, a competitive grant program designed to encourage and reward states that show educational improvement, requires value-added teacher ratings. The billions of dollars at play is a “golden leash,� Whitehurst of the Brookings Institution told The Diplomat. Some states are reluctantly applying for Race to the Top funds, while others are using the money as an excuse to do what they’ve wanted to do for a while but didn’t for fear of local backlash. That backlash can be powerful. Criticism of Michelle Rhee’s tenure as D.C. schools chief and the IMPACT sys— RUSS WHITEHURST tem she introduced triggered a fierce nationwide debate over firing teachers that affected the outcome of the last director of the Brookings Institution Brown Center on Education Policy D.C. mayoral race and contributed to Rhee’s departure. However, her replacement, current D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, has pledged to keep IMPACT and that needs to be changed, she told The Diplomat. but improve it — and school officials around the country have been keeping “You have third-grade kids taking this huge test, four mornings for a week,� an eye on D.C. to see how the system affects its teachers. she said.“They get exhausted. What if they’re having a bad day? Some give up One of those teachers, Ellie (she did not want her real name to be used), in discouragement. And I don’t think one multiple-choice test is indicative of who’s been evaluated under D.C.’s IMPACT system since it was introduced in what a child can do.� 2009, doesn’t mind the scrutiny. She added that teachers are told to “differentiate� among students, to adapt Passionate about teaching and “getting kids excited� about learning, she said to varied learning styles and strengths, but “then the system turns around and “all school staff members should be accountable for student progress. Some uses a one-size-fits-all testing protocol� to determine the teachers’ fate. teachers don’t put effort into their jobs,� and unlike the old ways of evaluating Concerns such as Ellie’s are largely valid, says Whitehurst, formerly an influthose teachers, Ellie said the newer models such as IMPACT can weed them ential player at the Department of Education who encouraged scientific rigor out.“And good teachers need to be acknowledged and rewarded.� across the board. But while Ellie, 28, supports rigorous teacher assessment and praises parts “We don’t know yet how to do these new evaluation systems well and we of IMPACT — its classroom observation system, its carefully laid-out standards need to be aware of the amount of error in them. And even the best systems for good teaching — she is critical of its drawbacks even though she’s person- can’t capture most of what a good teacher can do.� ally gained from it, earning high teacher ratings and a salary bonus that she Whitehurst recommends using a variety of measures to rate teacher effecreceived by giving up tenure-track teaching for the chance to make more tiveness. However, he adds that few measures currently approach the validity money. of standardized tests. IMPACT is hard on both students and teachers, she admits, because 50 perHe also cautions against discounting the new evaluation methods right off cent of a teacher’s evaluation score comes from the District’s standardized Continued on next page testing system. One round of testing can make or break a student or a teacher,

“We don’t know yet how to do these new evaluation systems well and we need to be aware of the amount of error in them. And even the best systems can’t capture most of what a good teacher can do‌. [But] we need to fix the problems rather than throw the whole effort out.â€?

 

  

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the bat.“It would be hard to imagine a system that would do a worse job than what we had before. We need to fix the problems rather than throw the whole effort out.” Value-added systems are often misunderstood, Whitehurst also argues. First, they are always set up to “wring out” things that teachers can’t control, such as the number of free or reduced-cost lunches consumed in a student cafeteria. Every value-added evaluation model, including IMPACT, adjusts for things such as student poverty, neighborhood blight, attendance, and students for whom English is a second language, all of which can benefit educators dedicated to at-risk kids in poor environments. Ellie was one of them. She first taught at a school in one of the District’s most challenging neighborhoods in Ward 8’s

Anacostia. The school’s proficiency scores in English and math started out “in the single digits,” she recalled, but an innovative principal who hired enthusiastic educators turned things around and the team raised proficiency scores to “around 17 percent.” Ellie said she wanted to stay at that school but did not because of a “last-hired” scenario, whereby the last people hired are the first to be fired in budget cutbacks. She now teaches in a Northwest D.C. elementary school where most of the students are middle class. PHOTO: LISA THORNBERG / ISTOCK In both situations she’s been rated “highly effective” and is proud of that. But some things in the evaluation system make her and her colleagues uneasy, she carefully said. Actor Matt Damon, whose mother is a teacher, was much more than uneasy about the new rules at the “Save Our Schools” rally. He was vehement in his opposition.“None of the qualities that I prize or that made me a success — love of learning, curiosity, imagination — can be tested,” he told the crowd. That’s another common misunderstanding, according to Whitehurst, who says concerns such as Damon’s are “overblown.” There’s “not a lot of evidence that a testing focus narrows the curriculum. Increases in reading and math time are typically stripped from recess.” Under value-added systems, Whitehurst admits that effective teachers can sometimes get low ratings and poor ones may slide by. But he says that studies show these systems are still

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WASHINGTON EPISCOPAL SCHOOL our most reliable yardsticks and can predict — fairly accurately — how a particular teacher is likely to perform over time. However, Whitehurst believes it’s also important to continue to develop as many reliable, valid measures of teacher performance as we can and reduce dependence on standardized tests. Ellie agrees, and adds that there are things that can be done right away: More emphasis on student portfolios would be a place to start, along with a reduction in the high percentages that evaluation systems give over to the standardized tests. “I don’t do well on standardized tests myself,” she said. “My SAT scores weren’t great but I had a 4.0 [grade point average] in graduate school.” Whitehurst likes this kind of feedback, he says, because it’s important to have teachers and parents at the table when evaluation systems are being set up. Administrators “can benefit from humbleness and willingness to learn.” Additionally, the “rush to get a system in place” can create so many inequities and problems that they could fuel further opposition. One local teacher evaluation system

CORRECTION In the September 2011 Education article “LearnServe Egypt Exchange Seizes Moment of Opportunity,” Nada Hamada

officially admired by Education Secretary Duncan has already developed an effective approach that doesn’t emphasize test scores: Montgomery County, the largest school system in Maryland. Highly diverse, with about 30 percent of its residents foreign-born, the county is also one of the best educated and wealthiest in the United States. Montgomery County Public Schools provides all teachers with an extensive system of training, mentoring, tracking and required coursework. New teachers are offered intensive guidance and help, and any instructor who gets a belowstandard evaluation is assisted through an elaborate Peer Assistance and Review program over several years. It’s not clear whether a less affluent school district could offer such an extensive web of resources for its teachers, but Ellie would like to see more support for all struggling but potentially good teachers. Meanwhile, she sees value-added assessment systems such as IMPACT as far from perfect, but also cheerfully calls them “a step in the right direction.”

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■ A Special Section of The Washington Diplomat

■ October 2011

A DC Ducks tour mobile passes by the U.S. Capitol. PHOTO: BLACKDOG ADVERTISING / DESTINATION DC

Vital Visitors

Convention Business Mixed, But Overall Tourism Outlook for D.C. Looks Bright

by Martin Austermuhle

As the seat of the U.S. government and heart of American democracy, Washington, D.C., is a city that relies heavily on the tourism industry — so much so that visitors regularly generate more than half of the city’s annual sales taxes. So it should come as something of a relief to city officials, especially after a year in which they were forced to close a $322 million budget gap, that the $5 billion tourism industry grew strongly in 2010 and is expected to close out 2011 on a high note.

Continued on next page

■ INSIDE: The Willard is toasting the 25th anniversary of its reopening, on top of 150 years of history. PAGE 45 ■

October 2011

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Regardless, a weaker forecast for conventions means the city will have to continue drawing in leisure travelers, with more and more of them coming from abroad, while picking up the convention pace in the coming years. “In 2012 we won’t realize as many citywide [conventions] as we did in 2011, however we’re optimistic as we’re going to focus our efforts and initiatives on going after the domestic market and the international visitors market,� said Elliott Ferguson,president and CEO of Destination DC, the city’s tourism marketing agency. In 2010, according to the agency, 15.54 million domestic visitors flocked to the nation’s capital, a 5.1 percent increase over the prior year. They spent $5.68 billion, up 8.2 percent from 2009, with lodging and food accounting for a large portion of that total. Things seem to be looking up for 2011, too. Comparing July 2010 to the same month a year later, occupancy is roughly holding steady, while average daily rates ticked up 1.5 percent, according to Smith Travel Research. At the same time, though, large-scale conventions are set to drop between 2011 and 2012, falling from 22 to 13. Ferguson attributes that drop to a number of factors, including the arms race-like nature of the convention business, in which cities across the United States are constantly building new convention facilities and renovating old ones. “Every single year there’s either a new convention center that’s coming online or there’s a convention center that’s expanding in the marketplace, and so you’ve got increased competition,� said Ferguson, who cited San Antonio, Denver, Boston and Philadelphia as cities that Washington was losing out to.

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Additionally, he noted, the Washington Convention Center, which was completed in 2003, lacked the nearby hotel capacity that would attract convention planners, especially with existing competition in other cities. “We lost market share as we continued to sell the city predicated on [a] hotel’s existence, and when the hotel did not materialize we lost market share, specifically in 2010 and 2012,� he explained. To his relief, the 1,167-room Washington Marriott Marquis Hotel, which will be built across from the convention center, broke ground in November 2010 after years of trouble finding financing, a backand-forth lawsuit between developers, and debates over how much the city would kick in. (The hotel is estimated to cost $550 million; the city will be paying $160 million toward that.) “So you’ve got increased competition; we had a hotel that had not materialized,

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though it will be done by 2014, and those are all variables that really hurt us,” said Ferguson. In the meantime, city officials are keeping their eyes on tourism, notably the market for international travelers, to keep bringing money into the city and providing much-needed jobs. According to Destination DC, the number of international visitors to Washington grew from 1.4 million in 2009 to 1.74 million in 2010, an increase of 13 percent. A U.S. Department of Commerce report found that in 2010, Washington ranked seventh in the country in international visits, and its biggest feeder markets were the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, China, France, India, Japan, the Benelux countries, Brazil and Italy. Most importantly for the city, though, is the money that those tourists spend — more than $880 million in 2010, a record high.Additionally, spending by international visitors grew more aggressively than it did for domestic visitors, growing by more than twice the rate of U.S.-based tourists. (In 2009, despite representing only 10 percent of all visitors to Washington, international visitors accounted for more than 20 percent of all spending.) According to Hector Torres, vice president of Capital Hotels, which runs the Beacon Hotel and the St. Gregory Luxury Hotel and Suites, the reason why so many international visitors, primarily from Europe, come to the United States is a matter of simple economics. “We’ve become a bargain,” he said. “The devaluation of the dollar has become a blessing in disguise because Washington, or the United States as a whole, has become a far more affordable destination for the international traveler.The reason they’re encouraged to spend more here is, ‘Why not?’ It really is well worth it for them to travel here.” To better attract the international market, Ferguson said, the city is working to promote its “uniqueness” while planning internationally themed events. From May to July, he noted, the event “La Dolce DC” highlighted Italian arts, architecture, culture, and cuisine in Washington (also see the Culture section of the April 2011 issue of The

October 2011

With 9,000 square feet of event and conference space, the Beacon Hotel on Rhode Island Avenue specializes in business meetings and social events. With many companies holding back on spending though, corporate travel to Washington is down, although the number of leisure travelers from abroad is up.

Washington Diplomat). Timed to honor the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, it also coincided with the signing of a sistercity agreement between Washington and Rome in June. Looking toward 2012, Washington has planned a number of events and campaigns to keep tourists — both domestic and international — flowing into the city. Destination DC will be marketing the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s Centennial Celebration, which will start on March 20 and expand from 16 days to five weeks. Additionally, the agency will promote Passport DC, the popular annual showcase of embassies throughout the city, and continue the second year of the “Civil War to Civil Rights” promotional campaign, which has tied the 150th anniversary of the war to the opening of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall. After being postponed due to Hurricane Irene, the new memorial will be formally dedicated on Oct. 16. And despite the diminished expectations for 2012 conventions, Ferguson isn’t abandoning hope altogether. Just as he does with international visitors, he says marketing Washington’s unique global status to convention organizers and corporate travelers is key to regaining their business. Additionally, the city is marketing itself to smaller customers. “The good thing about being in and representing Washington, D.C., is that we’ve got well over 5,000 associations in our backyard, so we look at ways in which we can entice those groups to keep their conventions here in Washington, which is in effect a cost savings for them because they don’t have to send 50 or more people to another destination,” he said. Moreover, he touted an advantage only available in Washington: the capacity to interface with and lobby Congress and gov-

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Continued from previous page ernment agencies. In July 2012, for example, Washington will play host to the XIX International AIDS Conference, which is expected to bring 20,000 delegates from all over the world to Washington. Grant Dipman, general manager of the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown hotel, expressed optimism for the coming year, primarily in terms of corporate events. The demand has been such that the hotel is transforming the current Fahrenheit restaurant into a banquet space, which will be able to accommodate meetings for up to 75 guests and receptions and dinners for up to 120. Stylistically, it will feature the design elements that make the Georgetown property stand out, including exposed steel beams and original red brick walls reminiscent of the hotel’s history as a turn-of-the-century brick factory structure that later served as the Georgetown incinerator. The conversion is part of what Dipman called a “re-concepting” of the Ritz-Carlton’s offerings. “We’ve seen greater demand this year for corporate events and for catering events, and we’re already seeing greater demand for that next year. There’s such a great market in D.C. for corporate business and for those events that we’ve been looking to want to create additional space to be able to capture that business,” he said. Torres, though, remains more somber about the immediate future for conventions and corporate travel, noting that not only are many companies holding back on spending, but a congressional calendar that has legislators back in their home districts more often means that fewer corporate travelers are coming to Washington to lobby — for now. After the 2012 election, however, there will be renewed attention on reaching whatever administration takes

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TRAVEL & HOTELS The Washington Diplomat

PHOTO: RITZ-CARLTON

The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown hotel is converting its Fahrenheit restaurant into a banquet space to meet a growing demand for corporate events.

shape. In the meantime, Destination DC aims to continue marketing Washington to tourists and convention-goers alike. In 2011, the agency spent $14 million on marketing efforts; the agency’s budget for 2012 is currently being finalized for the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1. That spending will be particularly important to the city’s fortunes — according to the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue, in 2010, every $1 spent on marketing yielded $36 in visitor spending. Martin Austermuhle is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C., and associate editor of DCist.com.

October 2011


[ anniversaries ]

Momentous Occasions Willard Marks 25th Anniversary, And 150 Years of Illustrious History

PHOTOS: WILLARD INTERCONTINENTAL WASHINGTON

O

by Rachael Bade

n Sept. 20, a few skips from the White House, guests of the Willard InterContinental Washington toasted with scotches and mint juleps in the hotel’s stately lobby. They were celebrating the 25th anniversary of the reopening of this landmark 12-story, Beaux-Arts property. Don’t let that wee number — 25 — confuse you:With a history that began less than three decades after the birth of the United States itself, the Willard is practically an American institution. From the mid-1800s to 2011, the Willard had kept watch on life in the nation’s capital from its vantage point on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street, NW. From the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln to the crafting of an inspirational speech by a man who “had a dream,” the hotel has witnessed some of U.S. history’s most monumental events. “This corner has watched America and Washington grow,” said Willard general manager Jim Veil as he gazed up at the blue roof of the antique-filled lobby (from where the term lobbying famously originated).“Everything took place a few blocks from here.” Since President Zachary Taylor’s 1849-50 administration, the Willard has hosted almost every U.S. president in some way. The hotel even served as the presidential residency in 1923 for almost a month while President Calvin Coolidge waited for President Warren Harding’s widow to move from the White House following his sudden death. The original structures of the hotel included six adjacent two-story row

October 2011

The nearly-3,000-square-foot George Washington Suite, whose parlor is above, is the latest addition to the Willard InterContinental Washington, which strives to balance preserving its historical character while offering the latest in amenities and luxury.

houses that overlooked the distant Potomac River. The homestead passed through the hands of several owners until 1850 when Henry Willard, a steamboat steward, bought the property and combined and enlarged the buildings — christening the inn with his surname. Around that time, the “Great Compromiser” Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky introduced his favorite bourbon-based mint julep to Washington in the Willard’s Round Robin bar, which still exists today. But Clay was only one in a long line of famous historical figures to pass through the Willard’s regal halls. During the late 1800s, statesmen, businessmen, ambassadors and anyone with a stake in the fledgling project that was America would visit the nation’s capital.And because the Willard sat in the heart of the city, just blocks from the White House and most government offices, many lodged at the hotel. Samuel Morse, for example, stayed there while awaiting a federal patent for his new invention, the telegraph. But the hotel is perhaps best known for its links to key moments in the Civil War.The Willard graciously hosted the Napier Ball of 1859 to celebrate the departure of then-British Ambassador Lord Napier. More than 1,800 people attended and, according to hotel spokeswoman Barbara Bahny-David, it was the last time the North and South met on friendly terms before the Civil War broke out.

TRAVEL & HOTELS

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Continued from previous page In February 1861, on the eve of war, delegates from 21 of the 34 states met at the Willard for one last desperate attempt at finding a compromise between the already-seceding Southern states and the North. Negotiations failed. During the conflict, the Willard acted as a rendezvous spot for many various influential players. Famed American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, while covering the Civil War for the Atlantic Monthly, wrote that “the hotel, in fact, may be much more justly called the center of Washington and the Union than either the Capitol, the White House or the State Department.” “You exchange nods with governors of sovereign States; you elbow illustrious men, and tread on the toes of generals; you hear statesmen and orators speaking in their familiar tones,” he wrote. “You are mixed up with office seekers, wire pullers, inventors, artists, poets, prosers.” That same month, after intercepting several assassination threats, one of Abraham Lincoln’s detectives stowed the president-elect in the Willard. Even though every room was packed to the brim with out-of-towners anticipating his inauguration, Lincoln and his family managed to stay hidden in the hotel until he was sworn in March 4. A few weeks later, Lincoln paid his Willard bill, $773.75, with his first presidential paycheck. Civil War veteran Ulysses S. Grant would also frequent the Willard after he became president a few years later. According to hotel lore, Grant would escape the White House to enjoy a cigar and brandy in the Willard lobby (coining the term lobbyist for the political wheelers and dealers who would approach him there). It was also at the Willard where Julia Ward Howe penned “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. worked long into the

Page 46

marrying Colorado Senator Horace Tabor, who left his wife for the young bride and married her at the Willard. The community cast out the scandalous couple, and many, with the exception of then-President Chester Arthur, skipped their wedding. Today, the Willard is a modern luxury hotel with all the latest technological trappings and upscale amenities to compete in a demanding hospitality market like Washington, D.C. It’s also at the forefront of environmental sustainability, incorporating wind power, recycling and other eco-friendly initiatives into its operations. As it’s moved forward though, it’s also sought to preserve the past on which its legacy was built. The property has undergone multiple physical transformations and today’s hotel is not the original structure that was popularized in the late 1800s. It was actually rebuilt as Washington’s first skyscraper in 1901, expanded in the 1920s, and closed and PHOTO: WILLARD INTERCONTINENTAL WASHINGTON nearly demolished in 1968. But thanks to the Nowhere is the Willard’s history epitomized more than its foresight of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corp grand lobby, where legend says that President Ulysses S. and its partners, including the InterContinental Hotels Grant coined the term lobbyist for the pesky politicos who Group, this architectural and historic gem was restored would disturb him while he was enjoying a brandy and cigar. to its turn-of the-century splendor and reopened in 1986, which is why the hotel is toasting the 25th anninight of Aug. 27, 1963, on his “I Have a Dream” speech versary of that reopening. before delivering his call for racial equality on the Despite the many changes throughout its 335 guestNational Mall the next day. rooms and 41 suites, the original design of the grand The Willard even has a place in contemporary lobby is still there. You may not see a U.S. president sitAmerican pop culture. It’s been featured in scenes with ting around casually sipping a brandy anymore, but you Tom Cruise in the film “Minority Report” and Kevin are still likely to run into diplomats from all over the Bacon in “Hollow Man.” world and hear the tongues of various foreign languages One wedding that took place at the Willard in the floating through that lobby. 1880s even inspired an opera,“The Ballad of Baby Doe.” Likewise, the Willard’s Round Robin bar is still known The rags-to-riches true story of Elizabeth McCourt,“Baby for serving Clay’s strong mint julep that made the eleDoe,” follows her life from working in a silver mine to gant watering hole famous years ago. It’s served on the

TRAVEL & HOTELS The Washington Diplomat

October 2011


During the late 1800s, statesmen, businessmen, ambassadors and anyone with a stake in the fledgling project that was America would visit the nation’s capital. And many lodged at the Willard. rocks with a lemon peel and sugar bits for $15, and, according to one waiter, it’s a bestseller. The Willard also regularly stages reenactments, including readings of Lincoln’s inaugural address and costume parties, such as a Kentucky Derby evening where guests don bowties and bonnets. And the hotel still serves afternoon tea in the long hallway on the first floor, Peacock Alley, named for the women who paraded around in lace and frilly attire to show off the latest fashions of the early 1900s while the men hobnobbed below. After more than 150 years, the Willard still exudes a grandeur that echoes the history it’s worked to preserve. Even today, standing in the opulent lobby amid its commanding marble pillars, you can imagine where Grant puffed his cigar. Standing at the entrance of Peacock Ally, now draped in reds and golds, you can picture the bejeweled ladies in hoop dresses fanning

INTERCONTINENTAL CLEVELAND. WORLD-CLASS HOSPITALITY ON CLEVELAND CLINIC’S MAIN CAMPUS.

PHOTO: WILLARD INTERCONTINENTAL WASHINGTON

Afternoon tea is still served in the Willard’s Peacock Alley, named for the women who used to parade their 1900s fashions down the long alleyway.

themselves with feathers as they sauntered down the long hallway.The only thing you can’t picture is what the Willard will witness in the next 25 years, though it’s also sure to be memorable. Rachael Bade is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

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October 2011

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TRAVEL & HOTELS The Washington Diplomat

October 2011


culture & ■ WWW.WASHDIPLOMAT.COM

arts

entertainment

■ OCTOBER 2011

DANCE

Moving Visits Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Co. and the Washington Ballet have each stepped up their work by taking their dance troupes to nations such as Turkey and Mongolia, a global footprint that inspires their choreography back home. PAGE 52 PHOTO: MARY NOBLE OURS

THEATER

Staging Innovation D.C.’s theater scene has become one of the most respected in the nation, and while big-name Bard and hit Broadway productions often garner top billing, the city’s international character has produced two of its most innovative theater companies. PAGE 53

THEATER

PHOTOS: ABOVE, COLLECTION OF HEATHER AND TONY PODESTA; BELOW, COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

Works by Julie Roberts, above, and Wayne Barrar, below, are featured in the fall exhibitions at the Katzen Arts Center.

ART

Ambition Rings ‘Hollow’ Signature Theatre is swinging for the fences by staging two musicals in rotating repertory, but falls short with its ho-hum take on “The Sleepy Hollow.” PAGE 58

FILM REVIEWS “The Mill and the Cross” divinely translates an iconic painting into a cinematic masterpiece. PAGE 60

ROOM TO

EXPLORE The American University’s Katzen Arts Center has stood out by wrangling together disparate exhibitions under one roof that don’t readily connect to one another, but together make up some of the most cutting-edge shows in town, a potpourri of offerings that range from subterranean spaces to bygone places above ground. PAGE 50


[ art ]

Katzen’s Canopy Hodgepodge of Life, from Subterra Australia to 1940s D.C. PHOTO: COLLECTION OF HEATHER AND TONY PODESTA

by Gary Tischler

T

[ Page 50

here are times when you go to the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center and what you find are scattered little leaflets containing a bold smattering of ideas for art exhibitions that seemed to have dropped out of the sky and were picked up at random by museum director and curator Jack Rasmussen. Ever since the Katzen Arts Center arose by Ward Circle, Rasmussen seems to have plunged himself into an almost subversive process of creating and assembling a panoply of exhibitions that don’t readily connect to one another, but together make up some of the most fascinating, cutting-edge shows in town. The museum space, three floors plus an outdoor sculpture garden, is readymade for this kind of eclectic approach, aided with a flood of natural light and an expansive curatorial vision. That vision consistently produces plenty to see — and the current grouping of shows is no exception, with offerings ranging from mysterious videos, flamenco dancing and gospel music to enormous photographs of the world’s man-made underground spaces, documentary images of a bygone Southwest D.C. and Depression-era workers, and selections from one of the city’s most forward-looking collections. That collection belongs to two noted contemporary art connoisseurs who also happen to dabble in Washington’s favorite pastime, politics. Actually, Tony and Heather Podesta are far more known as political players than art collectors, each heading up high-profile lobbying shops, with Tony’s brother John Podesta having served as President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff. But in “Inner Piece: Works from the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection,” we see another side to this politico powerhouse. The films, paintings and photographs that they’ve collected from around the world is at the forefront of the Katzen fall lineup, as works by four celebrated contemporary artists offer clues about what’s happening on the international modern art scene. Julie Roberts is a British painter whose Inner Piece: Works from the Heather work suggests vaguely unnerving social and Tony Podesta Collection connotations. Some of her pieces depict medically related images — including a Wayne Barrar: An Expanding Subterra dismembered wax statue — against solid Re-viewing Documentary: color backgrounds. Even more eerie The Photographic Life of Louise Rosskam though are her paintings that look like morbid children’s book illustrations, through Dec. 14 always slightly askew and thick with loud American University Museum colors offset by a dream-like, ghostly qualat the Katzen Arts Center ity. They have a lost-child quality to them, 4400 Massachusetts Ave., NW which may stem from Roberts’s own For more information, please call (202) 885-1300 background as a foster child. or visit www.american.edu/cas/museum/. Laurel Nakadate is a photographer, performance artist and video artist who dismembers herself in a metaphysical way — exploring herself and the landscape of her body as an agent provocateur. In “365 Days: A Catalogue of Tears,” where the stated aim is to find, evoke and show sadness for every day of 2010, we see her with and without tears — or clothes — in hotel rooms, kitchens, hallways, airplane bathrooms, trains, cars and other backdrops. Often disheveled, entangled in emotional situations and bed sheets in her pursuit of the melancholy, she provokes not only sadness but other strange emotions, depending on the viewer’s interpretations. In noted Irish filmmaker Clare Langan, we find an artist trying to place humans in epic landscapes in three short films that comprise her critically acclaimed “A Film Trilogy”: “Forty Below,” “Too Dark for Night” and “Glass Hour.” Here, lonely beings are

]

The Washington Diplomat

PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

From top photo, Laurel Nakadate’s self-portrait series “365 Days: A Catalogue of Tears” is part of the exhibition “Inner Piece: Works from the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection” at the Katzen Arts Center; “Caution empty pass, Mount Isa, Australia” is among the images in “Wayne Barrar: An Expanding Subterra”; and “Country Musicians. Near Toa Alta, Puerto Rico” is featured in the show “Re-viewing Documentary: The Photographic Life of Louise Rosskam.” PHOTO: NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION

placed in the vast spaces of deserts, icy tundra and fire, where they flitter and flow, yet seem to fade away into the expanse of their surroundings. Finally, Spanish filmmaker Pilar Albarracín turns his lens on women and the injustice done to them, though her brief flamenco film is less overt about its gender messages as some of her other works are. The Podesta collection — selections of which were also recently on display at the Phillips Collection — is only one of six new exhibitions at the Katzen.Two of the photographic highlights include “Wayne Barrar: An Expanding Subterra” and “Re-viewing Documentary:The Photographic Life of Louise Rosskam.” New Zealand photographer Barrar captures a subterranean world that is nothing less than otherworldly. His large photographs of underground, man-made spaces — leftover mines, a restaurant, office space and tunnels created in New Zealand, Australia and the United States — echo science fiction films but are completely real, a hollowed-out series of domiciles and enterprises by people making the most of their surroundings or escaping the harsh conditions above ground. Thus we see the subterranean homes in Coober Pedy, an opal mining town in south Australia where residents shield themselves from the scorching heat of the Australian outback by living down under, quite literally. We also unearth a hodgepodge of hidden mines, power stations, universities, storage facilities and offices — an entire bustling life

See KATZEN, page 54

October 2011


If one were to make a quick list

even after he became world-famous.

of the world’s favorite composers,

Setbacks like these could have

despite his relatively recent vintage

finished a lesser man. Instead, they

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky would be

informed his work, which remains

on it. After all, he did compose

some of the best loved in history.

Swan Lake, which is perhaps the

Yet some kids will still confuse Tchaikovsky with a nasal spasm.

most famous ballet of all time. And

Why? Because the arts are slowly

there can’t be more

but surely being eliminated from

than just a handful of

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky endured many setbacks, not the least of which was a blind barber.

today’s schools, even though a

Fig.1 Pollen Causes watery eyes. Much like Tchaikovsky’s composition “Romeo and Juliet.”

ballet companies that don’t perform

majority of the parents believe

The Nutcracker every Christmas.

music and drama and dance and

Indeed, this great Romantic composer should be so immortalized. As a young man, he pursued a career in music at enormous personal risk and against his own

READIN’ ART

art make their children better students and better people.

’RITING ’RITHMETIC

To help reverse this disturbing

Someone isn’t getting their recommended daily allowance of art.

father’s advice. His mild temperament combined with

trend, or for more information

his tendency to work too hard left him with insomnia,

about all the many benefits of arts education, visit us at

debilitating headaches and hallucinations. On top of that,

AmericansForTheArts.org. Or else Tchaikovsky could

Tchaikovsky’s composition teacher never liked his work,

seem like just another casualty of allergy season.

A R T.

ASK

FOR

M O R E.

For more information about the importance of arts education, contact www.AmericansForTheArts.org.

October 2011

The Washington Diplomat Page 51


[ dance ]

Moving Beyond Borders All the World’s a Stage for Burgess and Washington Ballet Dancers by Rachael Bade

T

wo D.C.-based dance companies have ditched their square, mirrorrimmed studios for Ottoman castles, Mongolian schools for the deaf, and vacated apartment buildings in Pakistan. Dana Tai Soon Burgess, founder and director of the modern Asianinspired dance group Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Co., and Septime Webre, artistic director of the Washington Ballet, have each actively taken their troupes abroad, touring internationally while incorporating their global experiences into their productions back home. And although the choreographers differ drastically in their styles of dance, both believe the artistic inspirations gained from overseas tours is well worth the months of meticulous planning and thousands of miles traveled. “It’s one of the things artists do: share our art with the world and perform,” said Webre, who’s led the classical ballet company for more than a decade. Accepting an invitation from Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Webre flew 17 of his Washington Ballet dancers to the county’s southwest Aegean shores in August to perform in the Bodrum International Ballet Festival. They danced for more than 2,000 Turks on an open-air stage adjacent to the 15th-century Bodrum Castle. But instead of performing an expected classic such as “Swan Lake” or “Giselle,” Webre chose a cutting-edge ballet that would knock the socks off his audience. His ballerinas grooved to the Rolling Stones in pointe shoes and street clothes in a contemporary piece called “Rock & Roll.” Webre’s choreography — which he described as an “aggressive physical work about sexual persona” — included dancers stripping from cocktail attire to bustiers. For Webre, sharing the bold movements with Turkey was exciting.“The U.S. has been at the forefront of extending the ballet repertoire and vocabulary in interesting new ways, and we enjoy sharing these ideas with the people in other countries,” he told us. Although it was the Washington Ballet’s first professional visit to Turkey, the company has a tradition of touring and cultural exchange. During 1980s andd 1990 1990s, iit trekked to China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, h D i the h 1980 Russia, Spain and South America; and in October 2000, Webre led the company on a historic tour of Havana, making it the first American ballet company to perform in Cuba since 1960. Burgess, a New Mexico native of Korean descent, has also taken his dance company on tours around the world. “I try to learn what a culture needs in terms of dance, what I can do to help, and what I can learn from them in return,” said Burgess, who’s choreographed, performed and completed workshops in more than 40 countries, including Germany, Bulgaria, Colombia, Latvia, Venezuela, South Korea and Russia. Burgess said that besides folkloric and ethnic dance, many areas of the developing

Pangs of ‘Becoming American’ Good dance choreographers often tailor pieces to their dancers’ strengths and specialties. Dana Tai Soon Burgess, founder of the modern troupe Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Co., has taken that approach one step further: He’s creating a work based entirely on one of his dancer’s personal experiences. “Becoming American” highlights company dancer Katia Chupashko’s past of coming to the United States from South Korea through an adoption agency. The impeccably moving modern work details Chupashko’s journey as she leaves her native country, meets her new parents in a bustling airport, and settles into her strange new home. Expressions and hand gestures in the ballet articulate

Page 52

The Washington Diplomat

PHOT PHOTOS: DANA TAI SOON BURGESS & CO. O: CREDIT

Dana Tai Soon Burgess, a New Mexico native of Korean descent, center, has taken his company dancers on tours to more than 40 countries, including Germany, Russia, Colombia, Latvia, Venezuela, South Korea and — most recently — Mongolia.

world have never heard of modern dance or the likes of Lester Horton or Martha Graham, and access to training in this athletic form of dance doesn’t exist in many countries. In recent workshops in Mongolia and Peru, for instance, locals drove four or five hours every day just to take Burgess’s class. That’s one of the reasons why Burgess prioritizes international tours for his company. They’ve performed in India, Egypt, Mexico, Peru and Ecuador and completed workshops in small studios and sometimes makeshift dance rooms in a handful of other nations such as Pakistan and Mongolia. His multicultural cadre of dancers boasts Japanese,Taiwanese, Egyptian, Peruvian, Irish and Scottish heritage — as well as a reputation for cultural insight and sensitivity. Works such as “Island,” depicting the turn-of-the-century mistreatment of Chinese immigrants in Angel Island off the coast of San Francisco, for example, have earned the company critical acclaim. Burgess often conducts his own research into the history, cultural norms and dynamics

See DANCE, page 59

Dancer Katia Chupashko’s past of coming to the United States is explored in “Becoming American.”

the struggles that a young ically different than the rest of the children in Chupashko underwent as she grapher small New Jersey-based primary school. pled with feelings of displacement. She despised her dark eyes and long black hair The dancers who portray her new and told her mother that she wanted plastic surparents often mingle and move gery to change her eye color and a perm to together in dance as if they are one. make her hair curly. But Chupashko often finds herself “I had an overwhelming sense of wanting to dancing on her own, never quite in PHOTO: ZAIN SHAH fit in,” she explained. In high school, however, sync with the parental duo. she eventually embraced her ethnicity. “Now I just The work is not an exact recollection of Chupashko’s laugh,” she said. memory. She doesn’t remember the day her parents Burgess specializes in personal stories of immigrapicked her up from Philadelphia International Airport tion and acculturation, and this notion of “self-identity” when she was just 2 years old and her brother was 4. But she does recall the “mixed emotions” of being phys- is a constant theme in his work. Past productions

include “Charlie Chan and the Mysteries of Love,” a biographical work based on Burgess’s own fascination with the “Chinese” Hollywood detective as a child in New Mexico. “Artists are often driven by a single theme that interests them, and throughout their careers they explore that one theme from many angles,” Burgess said. “My question was always how to find the self within a community. How do we fit into our communities? How does the community perceive us? We try to find a sense of home and cultural belonging.” “Becoming American” runs Oct. 14 to 16 at Dance Place, 3225 8th St., NE. Tickets are $22. For more information, please call (202) 269-1600 or visit www.dtsbco.com. — Rachael Bade

October 2011


[ theater ]

Dramatic Presence Synetic, GALA Speak Different Language But Both Are Quiet Pioneers by Lisa Troshinsky

T

he D.C. theater scene has evolved into one of the most respected in the nation, and while big-name Bard thespians at the Shakespeare Theatre and hit Broadway productions at Arena Stage often garner top billing, the city’s thriving international character has helped produced some of the most individual, innovative theater companies around — crowd-pleasers that often fly under the critical and mainstream radar but soar when it comes to creativity. The Washington area’s Latino population has exploded in the last decade, as has GALA Hispanic Theatre, the city’s only major Latino performing arts company, although this gem in the heart of the nation’s capital remains relatively unknown to the masses. From its humble beginnings in 1976 — as a small collective of theater, visual, musical and writing artists that migrated from one rented space to the next — to its wellestablished current status as a premier venue in the historic and renovated Tivoli Square complex in Columbia Heights — GALA has continued to make good on its original mission of groundbreaking theater “with a different accent.” “While preserving Latino culture in adaptations and translations, we also add to that vitality of work by commissioning new scripts,” said Abel López, GALA’s associate producing director, from his office in the majestic old Tivoli Theater, GALA’s home since 2005. “We’ve continued our mission, with more space, and space we can control, and have added new dimensions to our offerings.” At the time of GALA’s inception, there was a large influx of immigrants who left Latin America for political and economic reasons, Lopez explained. Many of these individuals had a long history of being engaged in the performing arts of their home countries. GALA founders Hugo Medrano, an Argentinean-born director-actor, and his wife Rebecca Read Medrano, an American dancer, decided to fill that artistic void for the Spanish-speaking community, as well as to make the English-speaking public aware of the richness and variety of Hispanic theater. Having always offered four main stage productions, GALA (which stands for Grupo de Artistas Latino Americanos, or Group of Latin American Artists) has grown to encompass works from a multitude of nations throughout Latin America, the Caribbean and the U.S. Latin community, as well as Spain. “GALA is not Spanish, nor Argentine, nor Puerto Rican,” Hugo Medrano has said. “It is Latino in the fullest sense.” This coming season fulfills that promise, López said. On the main stage, which accommodates a 261-seat audience, GALA’s first production is the modern classic “¡Ay, Carmela!” by José Sanchis Sinisterra, one of Spain’s leading contemporary playwrights.A collaboration with a theater in Madrid, the story tracks a vaudeville comedy duo who are forced by Franco’s fascists troops to put on a performance during the Spanish Civil War, where this black comedy on conflict plays out. The second main production will be a Spanish version of “Anna in the Tropics,” penned by Cuban-American playwright Nila Cruz.The Pulitzer-winning play follows Cuban immigrant workers in a 1929 cigar factory in Florida, where emotions are unleashed and traditions upended after the lector reads the novel “Anna Karenina.” GALA’s springtime production is a U.S. premiere that deals with the current hotbutton politics of the U.S.-Mexican border. “I Put the Fear of Mexico in ‘Em,” by Matthew Paul Olmos, a young Chicano writer from Los Angeles, chronicles an American couple who visit Mexico and, after stumbling off the beaten path, are accosted by a Mexican couple.The fourth production will be “Puerto Rico…¡fuá!” — a cabaret-style musical that looks at defining moments in Puerto Rico’s history. Over the years, GALA has also added various series to its repertoire, such as ArteAméricA, which showcases the diversity of Latino arts — from flamenco dancers to comedians to musicians — to a broader audience, as well as GALita children’s theater, film festivals, and Paso Nuevo (New Step), a free educational program for at-risk youth. One of GALA’s most impressive achievements though is its accessibility. It’s decid-

October 2011

PHOTO: GRAEME B. SHAW

From left, Irina Tsikurishvili, Philip Fletcher and Alex Mills star in Synetic Theater’s production of “Othello,” which runs Oct. 19 to Nov. 6 as part of the group’s 2011-12 season. The current season of GALA Hispanic Theatre, its 36th, features “I Put the Fear of Mexico in ‘Em” in the springtime.

PHOTO: GALA HISPANIC THEATRE

edly but not exclusively Latin. Most of its productions are in Spanish, but with English surtitles, while one main stage production a year is in English with Spanish surtitles, with this year’s English offering being “I Put the Fear of Mexico in ‘Em.” Before it used surtitles, GALA would produce each main stage play in both languages, which became costly when the company couldn’t find bilingual actors, López said.They migrated to using headsets for translations, which became problematic when audience members differed over whether their translations should be delivered flat or with inflection. Today, GALA has their main stage scripts adapted for surtitles, which allows audiences to be completely immersed in the play with only slight visual distraction. This format has helped to attract Washington’s diverse Latino residents, the diplomatic community, and a growing audience of non-Latinos. And after 35 years and more than 165 productions that have won it numerous Helen Hayes Awards, GALA is still proud to have a different — but accessible — accent.

SILENCE IS GOLDEN FOR SYNETIC Meanwhile, just over the 14th Street Bridge is a company that believes less is more when it comes to words. Synetic Theater, which has become a critical darling for transforming literary classics into silent productions of extreme physical theater — a moving tapestry of dance, music, kinetic motion and visceral imagery — has hit its stride

See THEATER, page 54 The Washington Diplomat Page 53


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Theater

Katzen below our feet that Barrar deftly brings to the surface. “Re-viewing Documentary” shifts gears back to the more familiar though no less engrossing images of life in particular places at very particular times.The series of large, expansive and almost exhausting photographs examines the previously unexamined career of Louise Rosskam, described as “an elusive pioneer of the golden age of American documentary photography” in the 1930s and 1940s. Rosskam documented migrant workers during the Great Depression and chronicled the changes that swept the hazy territory of Puerto Rico, as it evolved from an impoverished U.S. possession to an industrialized commonwealth. She also took rare photographs of Southwest Washington, D.C., in the 1940s before neighborhoods were lost to urban riots and renewal. More than 150 vibrant images of bygone grocery stores and oldfashioned Coca-Cola signs record and resurrect an important part of the nation’s capital that today only lingers in pictures and memory. Rosskam’s own critical work hop scotching from D.C. to Puerto Rico is emblematic of the roaming nature of the American University Museum itself, populated this fall with subterranean dwellings, flamenco feminism and bodies in transition — a potpourri of art that’s found a home under the Katzen’s creative canopy. Gary Tischler is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

in its new Crystal City home. Like GALA, Synetic was a roving theater company searching for its niche. Founded in 2001 by Paata Tsikurishvili and his wife Irina, Georgian artists who moved to the United States in the 1990s, Synetic began as an artistic subgroup within the now-defunct Stanislavsky Theater Studio, which performed at the Church Street Theater in Washington, D.C. Synetic made its debut in 2002 with a wordless adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” known as PHOTO: RAYMOND GNIEWEK “Hamlet…the rest is silence,” and the rest was Irakli Kavsadze as Friar Lawrence, left, and Courtney indeed silent when it came to winning over the crit- Pauroso as Juliet star in Synetic Theatre’s “Romeo and ics. The production was remounted the following Juliet,” part of its Speak No More: The Silent season and received the Helen Hayes Award for Shakespeare Festival this season. Outstanding Resident Play. Synetic has since been showered with more than 20 Helen Hayes Awards to create something that makes you think, become a and nearly 80 nominations. Paata directs the produc- part of it, to make you really find out something.” tions and Irina, who graduated from a ballet acadeTsikurishvili said he feels this dynamic is what my, choreographs and performs. The ambitious duo makes his theater so unique and viable in a comhas their sights set on becoming the premier petitive market like Washington, D.C. “We, in the American company specializing in theater, are competing with movphysical theater. ies and computer games,” he told For more Synetic takes its avant-garde us. “People [today] are so visual. information reputation seriously. Its last proThat’s where my theater really is. on GALA duction was a wordless adaptation I’m lucky because that makes us Hispanic of “King Arthur,” in which the singular, pioneers.There is no such Theatre, visit www.galatheatre. entire stage was filled with water thing [as physical theater] in org. For more information and the first few rows of the audiWashington, D.C.” on Synetic Theater, visit ence were designated the “splashA force of theatrical nature himwww.synetictheater.org. ing zone;” audience members self, Tsikurishvili comes from a enjoyed the performance wearing cinema and acting background, complimentary rain ponchos. For its 2011-12 sea- where he began his creation of wordless works.The son, dubbed “Emotion in Motion,” Synetic is fully Georgian native studied film and wrote and procapitalizing on its speechless success with its Speak duced three films without texts. As an actor, he was No More: The Silent Shakespeare Festival, featuring drilled in experimental forms of pantomime, mime wordless productions of “Macbeth,” “Othello” and and other forms of physical theater. “Romeo and Juliet” that are being reprised from past “Our storytelling relies on symbolism, archetypes, seasons. visual storytelling, physicality and musicality.We fuse “I like extremes,” explained founding artistic dynamic art forms — text, drama, movement, acrodirector Paata Tsikurishvili.“I like action and passion, batics, dance and music,” he explained.

to learn

more

Tsikurishvili says he tends to be drawn to tragedies, the supernatural and scary plays, and when first attempting to produce plays in America, he discovered that while humor is often culture specific, tragedy is universal. He has tried his hand at a few comedies, however, though he hasn’t strayed far from his Shakespearean inspiration. Later this season, for example, Synetic will tackle the “Taming of the Shrew.” But the Bard’s plays only make up one part of Synetic’s varied repertoire. Past productions have included “Don Quixote,”“Dracula,”“Host and Guest,” “Carmen,”“Faust,”“Antony and Cleopatra,”“Frankenstein,” and “The Master and Margarita,” most of which received raves from the local press.“They are masters of sensation, this uniquely disciplined troupe,” as one review in the Washington Post put it, calling the Tsikurishvilis “mesmerizing, melding intensity and craft.” The couple’s determination really paid off in September 2010, when Synetic moved into its own theater space in Arlington, Va. Productions are now housed in the Crystal City location and at the Lansburgh Theatre in Washington, D.C. The move to Crystal City has also allowed the group to expand its offerings. This spring, Synetic launches “New Movements,” works created and directed by company member Ben Cunis and Czech physical theater artist Mirenka Cechova. Synetic will also continue offering its acclaimed family theater performances for children. This year, it will produce “The RoughFaced Girl: A Native American Cinderella Story” and, true to form, a “Teen Romeo and Juliet” performed by a teenage ensemble. Despite the economic downturn and generally inhospitable climate for eclectic, fledging art groups, Synetic, like GALA, has found its home. After a decade, the Tsikurishvilis’ vision now boasts 45 company members and is still growing. “Now it is time for more directors and choreographers,”Paata mused. “When we leave [this Earth], we don’t want to take everything with us.” Lisa Troshinsky is the theater reviewer for The Washington Diplomat.

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October 2011


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Celebrating American Composers

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India.Arie and Idan Raichel Open Door OCT 22, 8PM Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter India.Arie and triple-platinum Israeli artist Idan Raichel perform songs from their just-released recording, Open Door. Tickets $35–$55 (Stars Price $31.50–$49.50)

Charles Ives c. 1947 in New York City

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[ theater ]

Readily Apparent Shakespeare Company’s ‘Heir Apparent’ is Hilarious Fluff by Lisa Troshinsky

T

[ Page 56

he Shakespeare Theatre Company’s silly but clever production of “The Heir Apparent,” which opens its 25th anniversary season, is unadulterated, enjoyable fluff — best absorbed with a concentrated focus or you risk getting lost in the assault of fastmoving, rhyming one-liners. An adaptation of a 1708 comedy by French playwright Jean-François Regnard by Broadway’s David Ives (Ives also adapted the “The Liar” for the Shakespeare Theatre in 2010), no one can argue that this work is ingenious or the labor of a real pro. The play’s intentional motif is hammered home on overload, as is synonymous with French farces — and this script’s heavily worded wit is like candy for the brain. One word of caution, however: there’s a slight risk of sugar overdose. The production could have done with some text pauses and more wordless comedy to tease the audience and give its brain a breather. Nevertheless, Ives is an expert at charming audiences with language, even when resorting to persistent “potty” humor, which strikes the right comedic chords when the dexterous Floyd King (who plays the lead, Geronte) delivers the lines. Modern-day political references, seemingly custom-written for D.C., also help to pull the audience along through the play’s intricate rhyming verses. The play’s plot is simplistic. Geronte, a rich old miser on his never-ending deathbed, is prone to seizures and aggressive bowl movements. On top of that, the poor soul is also subjected to the unsolicited company of opportunistic relatives and servants who want nothing more than for him to keel over after he’s written his will in their favors. Eraste, his good-looking but poor nephew, schemes with Geronte’s zany servants to secure his uncle’s money before he dies. The plot never gets any heavier or more involved than this, except for a few other details. Geronte spends most of his time coveting his greedy nephew’s girlfriend Isabelle even as he’s kicking the bucket, while Eraste and his gang engage in character impersonations and a dwarf-like lawyer gets pulled into the money feeding frenzy. Not too different than your usual day in the world of French farce fantasy. Floyd King has shined in numerous roles as a regular Shakespeare Theatre cast member, but here, the outlandish, stingy, decrepit Geronte could be his best performance yet. His innate ability to infuse the dialogue with physical comedy through merely a stare is laudable. King has a self-deprecating aura where he deliciously melts into “foolish” roles, extracting the light-hearted mockery The Heir Apparent the playwright intended. through Oct. 23 The rest of the cast, all under the Shakespeare Theatre tutelage of Artistic Director Michael Kahn, is undeniably adroit in comple450 7th St., NW menting King’s absurdity. Tickets are $39 to $95. Eraste is given a boost by the handFor more information, please call (202) 547-1122 someness and fluidity of Andrew or visit www.shakespearetheatre.org. Veenstra, whose character’s vulturelike actions toward his uncle are forgiven by his boyish charm and opaque naiveté. Scene-stealer and quick-change artist Carson Elrod plays Geronte’s crafty servant Crispin, who will stop at nothing before securing a healthy chunk of francs for himself, while the old geezer’s humorously inappropriate maid Lisette is played by the energetic Kelly Hutchinson. To round out the dysfunctional bunch is none other than veteran Nancy

The Washington Diplomat

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PHOTOS: SCOTT SUCHMAN / SHAKESPEARE THEATRE CO.

Above, the curmudgeon Geronte (Floyd King) lectures his humorously inappropriate maid Lisette (Kelly Hutchinson), while at left, he spars with Madame Argante (Nancy Robinette) in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of “The Heir Apparent.”

Robinette, whose standard yet always refreshing take on old madams — in this case, Madame Argante, the mother of Eraste’s love object Isabelle — is delicious. Costume designer Murell Horton and set designer Alexander Dodge clearly delighted in this production’s over-the-top requirements. Ornate clothing and set decorations give the elaborate script a run for its money. Horton’s lavish costumes in particular showcase her inventive imagination. She did Robinette proud by donning her in an absurdly huge, bright green, fan-like headpiece to match her flamboyant ballroom gown and personality. Eraste looks both dapper and artistic in a multicolored royal gentleman’s suit and tails. Meanwhile, Geronte’s distant relative pig-farm heiress actually wears a portly getup, complete with curly tail. Likewise, Geronte’s cluttered, country lodge is a banquet for the eyes but must be a nightmare for the maid. Animal antlers, globes, books and hunting gear are shoved atop colossal furniture, while a mammoth grandfather clock wheezes out the time and frightens servants. Crammed onto the stage of the Lansburgh Theatre, the set works well to create the feel of intricately managed chaos. “The Heir Apparent” may not be the Shakespeare Theatre’s most memorable play of its 25th anniversary season. Those to follow include more recognized fare —Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,”“The Two Gentlemen of Verona” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” as well as Eugene O’Neill’s controversial “Strange Interlude.”Who ever heard of Jean-François Regnard, after all? But if a break from the serious is something you need, this convoluted and obscure comedy is good for some seriously hard laughs. Lisa Troshinsky is the theater reviewer for The Washington Diplomat.

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October 2011

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[ theater ]

‘Sleepy’ Reinterpretation Not Grounded in Headless Horseman’s Terror, ‘Hollow’ Falls Flat by Michael Coleman

S

ignature Theatre is swinging for the fences in its 22nd season by staging two musicals in a concurrent, eight-week run. One of the two plays reviewed by The Diplomat,“The Hollow,” fell far short of a home run, but still managed to score with a mostly appreciative Signature Theatre audience. According to Signature, its ambitious effort marks the first time in the history of American theater that two full production, world premiere musicals are being presented in rotating repertory.“The Hollow” is based on a book by Hunter Foster that is an adaptation of Washington Irving’s classic short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” The other play,“The Boy Detective Fails,” based on a book by Joe Meno, follows “boy detective” Billy Argo whose childhood full of wonder comes to an abrupt end with the shocking death of his young sister and crime-solving partner Caroline.Ten years later, Billy returns to his quiet New Jersey town after an extended stay at a mental hospital to solve the mystery of Caroline’s death, but in the process of righting old wrongs finds beauty and love instead. The premise seems more tantalizing than “The Hollow.” On a recent Friday night, Signature’s cast worked as hard as possible to enliven Foster’s somewhat dull adaptation of “Sleepy Hollow.” Despite the ho-hum storyline, the production succeeds on the strength of its solid cast, an excellent score performed by a talented orchestra, and some standout singing. The biggest problem with the “The Hollow,” directed by PHOTOS: SCOTT SUCHMAN / SIGNATURE THEATRE Signature vet Matthew Gardiner, is that the legendary horror Virginia’s Signature Theatre is ambitale of a murderous headless horseman is reinterpreted and reduced tiously staging two full production, world to a tepid love story. The romantic angle was central in Irving’s premiere musicals in rotating repertory original short story, but it was the fearsome horseman that captithis fall: “The Hollow,” starring Whiney vated most people’s imaginations. Here the headless horseman is, if Bashor in the classic horror story of a not an afterthought, certainly not a front-and-center terror. headless horseman, above, and “The The play, which sets a fitting autumnal mood at the start of the Boy Detective Fails,” featuring Thomas fall season, opens with the townsfolk of Sleepy Hollow lamenting Adrian Simpson and Stephen Gregory the recurring appearance of a sinister horseman in the night and Smith as the “boy detective” Billy Argo. cheering the arrival of a new schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane (Sam Ludwig), to their quiet town off the banks of the Hudson River in “Is it really that blue?” she asks. 18th-century New York. “It’s as blue as you want it to Crane’s arrival is perhaps most closely noted by Katrina Van be,” Crane replies. Tassel (Whitney Bashor), the pretty daughter of the town’s wealthy That’s a nice and heartfelt scene banker Baltus Van Tassel, played with conviction by Harry A. Winter. — and it inspires a song about The attraction between Crane and Van Tassel is immediately palpaBoston that’s well-sung by Bashor ble upon Crane’s arrival in town, but an obstacle looms. Van Tassel — but isn’t this supposed to be a is betrothed to Brom Van Brunt, a character delivered with convincstory about a sinister horseman ing smarminess and menace by Evan Casey. killing innocent townsfolk? Soon, Crane’s penchant for bringing big-city ideas Oh, yes. The equine menace does appear on and books to the small devout hamlet begins causing The Hollow occasion, evidenced by the loud clattering of all sorts of problems — and not only within Van in rotating repertory with hoofs and theater wings that glow bright red, Tassel’s conflicted heart. His introduction of “Gulliver’s The Boy Detective Fails but the simple fact is that the play about a Travels” to Van Tassel and then Noah Chiet, a young frightening ghoul simply doesn’t inspire much through Oct. 16 schoolboy, creates a mini-panic in the strictly religious dread — or much of any other emotion. community, while his proffering of subsequent secular Signature Theatre Staging the two musicals in rotating reperbooks generates suspicion that God is using the spec4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, Va. tory is indeed an ambitious, laudable effort, ter of the headless horseman to punish the townsfolk For more information, please call (703) 820-9771 part of the theater’s American Musical Voices for reading materials other than the Bible. or visit www.signature-theatre.org. Project. And it’s clear that Signature’s talented Crane, played with confidence and a touch of cast is working hard to make that effort worthknowing humor by Ludwig, is especially sharp as he urges Van Tassel to cast aside her prim convictions about secular reading and while, but at least with “The Hollow,” their ambitions were thwarted from the opens her imagination. In the rather pedestrian play’s closest proximity to pro- get-go with a ho-hum reimagining of a classic tale that usually lets our imaginafundity, Crane has her imagine leaving the Hollow and flying over the forests to tions run wild with anticipation. the ocean and eventually to Boston, where boats’“white sails float on a blanket Michael Coleman is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat. of sapphire.”

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October 2011


PHOTO: THEO KOSSENAS

As part of its international touring, the Washington Ballet has traveled throughout Asia, South America and Europe. In 2000, it became the first American ballet company to perform in Cuba since 1960. This past summer, it trekked to Turkey to perform in the Bodrum International Ballet Festival.

from page 52

Dance of a country before starting a new dance residency abroad. In total, his group can speak conversationally in almost half a dozen languages and are often sought out by the State Department and various ministries of culture for their expertise — which was most recently on display in a State-sponsored tour to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, earlier this year. Burgess & Co.’s touring repertoire focuses on “personal stories … and universal emotional journeys retold with abstraction through modern dance,” he explained. It’s based on the premise that people everywhere empathize with certain expressions: a crooked smile as flirtation, a furrowed brow representing confusion, hunched shoulders signaling defeat. While both Burgess and Webre agree that sharing their art is the main reason they tour, they also both draw inspiration abroad as well. Webre’s imagination went wild as he watched a whirling dervish’s ceremony in Turkey. The Sufis inspired him, and he hinted that traditional Ottoman music might manifest itself in an upcoming ballet season. Burgess has had similar encounters.“My mind is filled with images of ancient dancers and postures which cover all the walls,” Burgess wrote in a company travel blog after visiting Egypt’s Valley of the Kings during a 2007 tour. “I look forward to getting back to the studio to choreograph!” Burgess said he could not have developed his unique blend of modern dance without absorbing other cultures: “Without outer-world experience with different people, you can’t grow.” Connie Fink, associate artistic director and

dancer for Burgess & Co., said international tours are a perfect way to learn new styles of dance. “It’s more of an exchange rather than going and performing,” she explained. “It’s creating a community within another community, exchanging with strangers the value of dance and embracing their art as well.” For instance, the Burgess dancers were blown away by the Colima Folkloric Ballet of Mexico and the hip-swinging dancers of Peru’s El Ballet de San Marcos, who invited them to a house party for some late-night salsa dancing. Kelly Southall, a Burgess modern dancer of Irish descent, wrote in a company blog post about the irony of watching a version of “The Man in the Iron Mask” performed in Chennai, India, in the Bharatanatyam classical style of Indian dance. And, of course, the mysticism of venturing to a foreign country also ignites a spark of creativity in the ballerinas and modern dancers — whether it’s hiking Machu Picchu, wriggling toes in Mexico’s black volcanic sands, ogling at wild moneys, or sensing echoes of the Roman Empire amid the ruins of Ephesus. Katia Chupashko, a Burgess dancer, recalls performing in a garden courtyard in Cairo. Stagehands had swept the stage on an hourly basis, but the Egyptian wind had a way of blowing the desert sand past their brooms. She said she’ll never forget the small bits of sand crunching beneath her feat when the music started, reminding her that she was far from D.C. “For a company, touring is very special and exciting,” Webre said, “and those tours often become the most special performances of any dancer’s career.” Rachael Bade is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

power | play

China’s Empress Dowager Opens September 24

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery 1050 Independence Ave SW Washington DC 20560 asia.si.edu/PowerPlay

Smithsonian Institution

October 2011

The Washington Diplomat Page 59


[ film reviews ]

Filming a Masterpiece ‘Mill and the Cross’ Recreates Bruegel’s Painting of Christ’s Passion by Ky N. Nguyen

P

M [

olish writer-director Lech Majewski’s visually dazzling “The Mill and the Cross” folPHOTO: OSCILLOSCOPE LABORATORIES lowed up its world premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival with its French Tanya Villanueva Tepper is pictured with her premiere at the Louvre. The world’s most pr husband Ray Tepper and newborn baby in the famous art museum was a fitting venue for the famo 9/11 documentary “Rebirth.” audaciously ambitious film about Flemish masauda and is unable to do anything without her famiter Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s iconic 1564 painting, ly’s assistance, except sitting around the house “The Way to Calvary” (also known as “Jesus Carrying watching television. As she regains some functhe Cross”), which is currently housed in the tionality, her spirit resumes — as well as her Kunsthistorisches Museum of Vienna. Bruegel’s masacceptance of how lucky she is in life. terpiece transplants the tale of Christ’s Passion to Tanya Villanueva Tepper lost her fiancé, a 16th-century Flanders, which is suffering under a firefighter who died serving as a first responder. ruthless Spanish occupation in the name of the She copes with her devastating grief by moving Inquisition, filling the sweeping canvas with more to Florida, where she gradually resumes dating, than 500 characters. eventually marrying and having children. She “The Mill and the Cross” successfully translates incorporates her new family into her visits with Bruegel’s piece into a mesmerizing cinematic painther ex-fiance’s family as that’s the only way she PHOTO: KINO LORBER, INC. ing, in which live actors actually play their scenes can stay in their life. against a two-dimensional background, painted by Rutger Hauer portrays Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder in “The Mill and the Cross,” Firefighter Tim Brown directs his energy Majewski himself, as well as landscapes shot on locawhich translates Bruegel’s masterpiece depicting the Passion of Christ onto the big screen. toward increasing the safety of the United States tion in Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria and New from future terrorist attacks. As a founding memZealand. The stunning cinematography by Majewski and Adam Sikora captures Stanislaw Porczyk’s well-conceived art direction, while the arresting images are complemented by a stir- ber of the Department of Homeland Security, he realizes he doesn’t miss his friends in New York ring original musical score by Majewski and Józef Skrzek. The intelligent script, adapted by — because they’re all dead. After returning to Manhattan for a spell, he joins Rudy Giuliani’s Majewski (the screenwriter of “Basquiat”) and art critic Michael Francis Gibson from Gibson’s presidential campaign to promote the former New York mayor’s national security credentials. book, pointedly comments on the universal themes of human rights and religious freedom. Rebirth Construction worker Bryan Lyons honors his own fireThe cumulative result distills Bruegel’s expansive (English; 75 min.) vision into a digestible story with about a dozen char- fighter brother’s death by rebuilding the World Trade Center. The Mill and the Cross West End Cinema acters, taking the audience into the world in which And cinematographer Tom Lappin’s gripping time-lapse pho(English; 95 min.) the villagers live, interrupted by the intrusions of the tography of the reconstruction of the World Trade Center (also Showtime and DVD) red-coated Spanish soldiers as they try to stamp out provides powerful evidence of the physical rebuilding Landmark’s E Street Cinema ★★★★✩ Protestant Reformation with casual brutality. The accompanying the survivors’ emotional recovery. Opens Fri., Oct. 14 painter’s friend and patron Nicolaes Jonghelinck (English ★★★★✩ ‘Skin’ Reunion for Almodóvar, Banderas actor Michael York) has commisWith “The Skin I Live In,” Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar resumes worksioned the “The Way to Calvary” to mark the Spanish Army’s impending ing with Spanish actor Antonio Banderas (Almodóvar’s 1990 “Tie Me Up! Tie public execution of Christ.The film opens with Bruegel (Dutch movie star Me Down!” and 1988’s “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”) Rutger Hauer) himself meandering around inside his own work-in-progress. after a 21-year absence. The long-awaited reunion enables the movie star to He explains,“I will work like the spider this morning, building its web.” return to top form with a distinguished subtle performance in his native Bruegel discusses his creative process in discussions with Jonghelinck. language, after a Hollywood career of mixed critical success. Serving as a narrator, the painter further elaborates on his creation as other Almodóvar (“Volver,”“Bad Education,”“Talk to Her,”“All About My Mother”), characters inhabit the screen, notably the Virgin Mary (English actress with assistance from Agustín Almodóvar, adapted the script of “The Skin I Charlotte Rampling). Dialogue is sparse, as is character development, but Live In” from Thierry Jonquet’s novel “Mygale.”The lively result deploys frisky the lush visual effect tells a story of religious persecution and artistic genius elements reminiscent of the mad sex comedies that captured the world’s in a way that speaks for itself. attention when Almodóvar was working with Banderas in the late 1980s. PHOTO: JOSÉ HARO / EL DESEO / SONY PICTURES CLASSICS Besides solid acting and writing,“The Skin I Live In” succeeds as a visual feast Antonio Banderas, left, is a plastic with José Luis Alcaine’s haunting cinematography, Antxón Gómez’s stunning ‘Rebirth’ After 9/11 surgeon and Elena Anaya is his human production design, and Carlos Bodelón’s beautiful art direction. Filmmaker Jim Whitaker’s poignant documentary “Rebirth” carefully guinea pig in Pedro Almodóvar’s Born into a rich family, Brazilian-born plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard looks at the impact of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, on the “The Skin I Live In.” (Banderas) commands respect with a successful practice in Toledo, Spain.Yet lives of five people directly affected in huge ways. Whitaker started he cannot avoid tragedy. His unstable daughter Norma (Blanca Suárez) is shooting interviews in the spring of 2002, returning each year since The Skin I Live In raped at a garden party.When his wife is badly burned in an auto accident then to revisit the individuals and track their recovery from the trauma. escaping with her lover, Dr. Ledgard attempts to save her with an experi(La Piel Que Habito) The exhaustiveness and rigor of Whitaker’s approach provides a richmental pig skin graft.After both his wife and daughter take their own lives (Spanish with subtitles; 117 min.) ness in detail that’s unlikely to be duplicated by other 9/11 documenby jumping out a window, Ledgard seeks revenge. taries. Landmark’s E Street Cinema For years, he locks up young Vera (Elena Anaya), whose identity is a After losing his mother, an investment banker who worked in the Opens Fri., Oct. 21 mystery, using her as a human guinea pig to perfect his invention, a type World Trade Center, high school student Nick Chirls wants to follow in of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. Befitting a proper ★★★★✩ her footsteps. He starts out with nearly uncontrollable rage at her killAlmodóvar story though, Ledgard has plenty of secrets as he methodiers and his father. As the anger fades over time, he reconciles his feelcally wields his scalpel to carve out his obsessive vision. ings and forges his own path. After suffering crippling burns, accountant Ling Young struggles to resume a semblance of a normal life, undergoing forty reconstructive surgeries. Initially, she suffers from major depression Ky N. Nguyen is the film reviewer for The Washington Diplomat.

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The 9 /11 Generation Vice President Biden Hosts White House Screening of ‘Rebirth’ by Ky N. Nguyen

O

“When I was at your age, I lived through the second half of the Cold War, the Vietnam War, before that the assassination of the beloved president,” he recalled.“I was n Sept. 7, Washington-area colat your age, remember hearing the news lege students joined Vice exactly when I was in the University of President Joe Biden at the Delaware, standing on the steps of Hullihen South Court Auditorium of Hall, when I heard that John Kennedy had the White House to watch a been assassinated. Like the 9/11 generation, screening of the 9/11 docuthose events fundamentally changed mentary, “Rebirth,” in comAmerica.They shaped our history and now memoration of the 10th anniverthey are part of our permanent national sary of the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. identity.” Director Jim Whitaker began shooting his Noting the huge sacrifices made by the film in March 2002. He told the audience college students’ generation, with many that he invited his subjects “to be become providing extended military service to their involved in what I called ‘human time lapse,’ country, Biden observed, “In many ways interviewing them once a year, every year, to your generation has changed more than really explore what they were going through any other generation that witnessed what — kinds of thoughts they had in a shower, happened on the 11th.Your generation has when they were waking up in the morning more grit and determination, and your gen— and that became, as it grew together, inteeration has contributed already as much as grated. That became the project of ‘Rebirth’ most generations have who are twice your … the blending of the physical and emoPHOTO: WHITE HOUSE age, when they were twice your age.” tional healing of the site.” During a special White House screening, Vice President Joe Biden greets accountant and Biden said that Whitaker “collapsed 10 After editing, the film ends up tracking burn victim Ling Young and other victims of 9/11 whose stories were followed for nearly a years of history into the lives of five incredthe suffering and recovery of five people decade in the documentary “Rebirth.” ible people. Through this movie, he tells impacted by the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Angry teenager Nick Chirls mourns his mother, who died working at their stories. But really, in a way, he tells us all America’s story. It’s the story of a nation of Merrill Lynch, by taking an internship with her employer.Accountant Ling Young struggles people who can … because we are a nation about possibilities. I would argue it’s the to regain functionality after severe burns, undergoing 40 reconstructive surgeries. Tanya single most defining feature of America. It’s always about possibilities. It ultimately always Villanueva Tepper, the grieving fiancée of a firefighter who sacrificed his life, moves on is about tomorrow. It’s always about hope.” Whitaker also founded Project Rebirth, which develops strategic partnerships with with her own life by eventually marrying and having children. Construction worker Bryan Lyons honors his firefighter brother’s death by rebuilding the World Trade Center. experts to better train first responders to serve others in times of mass trauma and natural Firefighter Tim Brown, who lost many of his best friends, channels his energy as a found- disasters. Collaborating organizations include the Arlington County Fire Department, Georgetown University in D.C., Columbia University and the New York Police ing member of the Department of Homeland Security. At the screening, Vice President Biden noted how 9/11 was a pivotal moment for Department. Americans, similar to how the assassination of John F. Kennedy defined his generation’s place in history. Ky N. Nguyen is the film reviewer for The Washington Diplomat.

Repertory Notes

by Washington Diplomat film reviewer Ky N. Nguyen

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

FREER GALLERY OF ART “Taiwanese Cinema: Two Pivotal Films” highlights Tsai Ming-liang’s “Rebels of the Neon God” (Fri., Oct. 21, 7 p.m.) and Hou Hsiaohsien’s “A Time to Live and a Time to Die” (Sun., Oct. 23, 2 p.m.). Complementing the Sackler exhibition “Power|Play: China’s Empress Dowager,” the film series “Power Moves: The Empress Dowager Onscreen” (Oct. 2-14), guest-curated by Chinese director Cheng-sim Lim, showcases Hong Kong director Li Hanxiang’s “The Last Tempest” (Sun., Oct. 2, 2 p.m.), American Nicholas Ray’s “55 Days at Peking” (Fri., Oct. 7, 7 p.m.), Lim’s own “Shadow Magic” (Sun., Oct. 9, 2 p.m.), and Italian auteur Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Last Emperor” (Fri., Oct. 14, 7 p.m.).

pulp-fictional arch-villain Fantômas, a character developed by authors Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre and made famous by Louis Feuillade’s silent movie serials shot for the Gaumont Company. Presented in conjunction with the Embassy of France, “Le Cinéma Fantastique” (Oct. 23-Dec. 31) “shows the occurrence of the uncanny and the ‘not rational,’” according to French writer Pierre Gripari, who says it “finds a way into fairytale, horror, melodrama, even detective films.” “American Originals Now: Lynne Sachs” (Oct. 16-23) allows audiences a chance to discuss Sachs’s essay films that draw on her interests in sound design, collage and personal recollection with the filmmaker herself. Sachs investigates war-torn regions such as Israel, Bosnia, and Vietnam, striving to work in the space between a community’s collective memory and her own subjective perceptions. (202) 842-6799, www.nga.gov/programs/film

(202) 357-2700, www.asia.si.edu/events/films.asp

GOETHE-INSTITUT

NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART

“Divided Germany – Fifty Years Construction of the Berlin Wall” (through Oct. 28) includes films, discussions and an exhibition about the Berlin Wall’s historic separation of West Berlin not only from East Berlin, but also from East Germany. The screening of “Face the Wall”

“Fantômas” (Oct. 2-8) celebrates the 100th birthday of the popular

October 2011

(Tue., Oct. 18, 6 p.m.), a documentary on victims of the Berlin Wall, is followed by a panel talk with director Stefan Weinert and Hope M. Harrison of the George Washington University. (202) 289-1200, www.goethe.de/ins/us/was/kue/flm/enindex.htm

AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE (AFI) SILVER THEATRE The perennial favorite “AFI Latin American Film Festival 2011” (through Oct. 12) continues its showcase of top cinema picks by cultural attachés from Washington embassies. “Halloween on Screen” (Oct. 14-31) spotlights classic horror films, notably a selection in honor of iconic actor Vincent Price’s centennial. The Alloy Orchestra provides musical accompaniment for AFI Silver’s annual screening of German expressionist F.W. Murnau’s silent classic “Nosferatu” (Fri., Oct. 28, 9:30 p.m.) as well as for 1925’s “Phantom of the Opera” (Fri., Oct. 28, 7 p.m.) with Lon Chaney. Two returning festivals include the “DC Labor Film Fest” (Oct. 14-17) and “Noir City DC: The 2011 Film Noir Festival” (Oct. 15-Nov. 12). The fall 2011 season of Harlan Jacobson’s “Talk Cinema” continues each Sunday at 10 a.m. with a sneak preview and talk of major specialty films, many times with distinguished guests. (301) 495-6700, www.afi.com/silver

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

Czech Havel’s Leaving (Odcházení) Directed by Václav Havel (Czech Republic, 2011, 95 min.)

This absurdist film is based on a certain symmetrical composition of scenes mapping the last two days of an ex-politician’s stay in a villa, before he is finally evicted. The Avalon Theatre Wed., Oct. 12, 8 p.m.

English

The Last Emperor Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci (Italy/U.K./China, 1987, 163 min.)

At once sprawling and intimate, visually rapturous and psychologically brooding, “The Last Emperor” is famed Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci’s biopic of the last monarch of China’s final imperial dynasty. Freer Gallery of Art Fri., Oct. 14, 7 p.m.

Machine Gun Preacher Directed by Marc Forster (U.S., 2011, 123 min.)

THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT René Clair’s send-up of a George Méliès fantasy is a quirky madcap fable with outlandish décor and three naïve office workers who all in love with their typist. [Preceded by “Paris Qui Dort (Crazy Ray)” (France, 1924, 35 min.)] National Gallery of Art Sun., Oct. 23, 4:30 p.m.

Love Crime (Crime d’Amour) Directed by Alain Corneau (France, 2010, 106 min.)

Sam Childers is a former drug-dealing biker tough guy who find God and becomes a crusader for hundreds of Sudanese children who’ve been forced to become soldiers.

Ruthless executive Christine brings on Isabelle as her assistant and she takes delight in toying with the young woman’s innocence, but she underestimates the protégé’s own ambition and cunning. (French and English)

Landmark’s E Street Cinema

Landmark’s E Street Cinema

Paraiso for Sale

The Testament of Doctor Cordelier (Le Testament du Docteur Cordelier)

October 2011

(Germany, 2002, 98 min.)

The Raiffeisenbank in a small village in Franconia is the last bank in Germany to be run without a computer. Since 1967, its mission has been to make profit for the customer — a noble ideal or an outdated business model? Goethe-Institut Mon., Oct. 17, 6:30 p.m.

From Morning to Midnight (Von Morgens bis Mitternacht) Directed by Karlheinz Martin (Germany, 1920, 75 min.)

The rarely seen cinema version of Georg Kaiser’s infamous German expressionist drama is performed in live concert with the Alloy Orchestra. National Gallery of Art Sat., Oct. 15, 3 p.m.

55 Days at Peking Directed by Nicholas Ray (U.S., 1963, 154 min.)

In this epic telling of the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 — packing in Hollywood wattage as Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner and David Niven — a Chinese secret society claiming invincibility against enemy swords and bullets sets siege to the foreign diplomatic quarters in Beijing. Freer Gallery of Art Fri., Oct. 7, 7 p.m.

Directed by Anayansi Prado (Panama/U.S., 2011, 75 min.)

With low property values and crystal-clear waters, it’s no wonder that Bocas Del Toro, Panama, is the newest Caribbean hotspot for American retirees. But every paradise has its price, and the rapidly expanding town is being torn apart by corporate greed. (English and Spanish)

Directed by Jean Renoir (France, 1959, 95 min.)

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Victorian tale of a divided psyche gets a modern Parisian guise as legendary actor Jean-Louis Barrault, aided only by a wig and false teeth, plays both the demonic Opale (Mr. Hyde) and Cordelier (Dr. Jekyll). National Gallery of Art Sat., Oct. 29, 4:30 p.m.

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

AFI Silver Theatre Sun., Oct. 2, 2:45 p.m., Tue., Oct. 4, 5:20 p.m., Thu., Oct. 6, 5:30 p.m.

Directed by Göran Olsson (Sweden, 2011, 92 min.)

Plug and Pray

Auf den Spuren von Franz Liszt in Helvetien

A treasure trove of material shot by Swedish journalists who came to the U.S. drawn by stories of urban unrest and revolution offers an inside look at many of the leaders of the Black Power Movement. Landmark’s E Street Cinema

Blackthorn Directed by Mateo Gil (Spain/France/Bolivia/U.S., 2011, 98 min.)

Picking up where “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” left off, director Mateo Gil imagines that the duo managed to escape their standoff with the Bolivian army in 1908 and live into old age, with Sundance returning to the U.S. and Butch staying in Bolivia. (English and Spanish)

Directed by Jens Schanze (Germany, 2010, 91 min.)

One of the pioneers of artificial intelligence, former MIT professor Joseph Weizenbaum questions the belief that nature can be captured by scientific formulas by taking us on a fascinating trip to the laboratories of artificial intelligence in the U.S., Japan, Germany and Italy. Goethe-Institut Mon., Oct. 31, 6:30 p.m.

German

Directed by André Vallana (Switzerland, 2003, 43 min.)

In 1835, Franz Liszt and his lover, Countess Marie d’Agoult, embark on a journey together through Switzerland, traveling by train incognito in separate carriages, since Marie, who came from Parisian nobility, had just abandoned her husband and daughter. (No English subtitles) Goethe-Institut Wed., Oct. 19, 6:30 p.m.

Toast Directed by S.J. Clarkson (U.K., 2010, 96 min.)

In this nostalgia trip through 1960s Britain, food writer Nigel Slater’s childhood is filled with his mom’s bad cooking, but he loves her dearly and is devastated by her early death — and horrified when a new woman’s lemon meringue pies bewitch his father.

French

An adulterous woman’s life is torn apart when her husband and infant son are killed in a suicide bombing at a London soccer match.

Duelle

Landmark’s E Street Cinema

The Interrupters Directed by Steve James (U.S., 2011, 125 min.)

This documentary explores violence in America through the story of three “violence interrupters” in Chicago who, with bravado, humility and even humor, try to protect their communities from the violence they once employed. Landmark’s E Street Cinema

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Directed by Jacques Rivette (France, 1976, 120 min.)

The Queen of the Sun and the Queen of the Moon fight for control of a magic gem, a huge diamond that allows the possessor to remain on earth for a long period of time. (Preceded by “Voyage à Travers l’Impossible” (France, 1904, 20 min.)) National Gallery of Art Sun., Oct. 30, 4:30 p.m.

The Imaginary Voyage (Le Voyage Imaginaire) Directed by René Clair (France, 1925, 60 min.)

Mahler on the Couch (Mahler auf der Couch) Directed by Percy Adlon (Austria/Germany, 2010, 98 min.)

Turn-of-the-century composer Gustav Mahler desperately turns to Sigmund Freud for help, tracking the psychologist down in Holland after discovering that his beloved wife has had an affair with the young architect Walter Gropius. Goethe-Institut Tue., Oct. 4, 6:30 p.m.

Money Go Round (Schotter wie Heu) Directed by Wiltrud Baier and Sigrun Köhler

His dream of rock ‘n’ roll fame in Taipei having collapsed, Aga returns to his hometown, a beautiful but quiet location on the southern coast of Taiwan. There he meets the beautiful Tomoko, who is trying to organize a group of local musicians to perform as the warm-up act for real-life Japanese pop star Kousuke Atari. (Mandarin, Japanese and English; screens with “The Fourth Portrait”) Landmark’s E Street Cinema Thu., Oct. 13, 7 p.m.

A bizarre murder mystery brings together the most powerful woman in China, the soon-to-be-Empress Wu, and a formerly exiled detective at the infamous Imperial Palace.

Goethe-Institut Mon., Oct. 24, 6:30 p.m.

Italian The Assassin (L’Assassino) Directed by Elio Petri (Italy/France, 1961, 98 min.)

An antiques dealer (Marcello Mastroianni), renowned for his deceptive practices, is caught by the police, but the reason for his arrest is far from what he supposes in this pointed critique of politics and police power in 1960s Italy.

Portuguese

Directed by Sharon Maguire (U.K., 2008, 96 min.)

Directed by Te-Sheng Wei (Taiwan, 2008, 129 min.)

Corruption, insolvency fraud, insider deals – by depicting anonymous places of work and invisible capital, this film reveals the illegal networks of the economy that can easily elude our understanding. (Screens with “Homeland Stories (Geschichten aus der Heimat)” (Germany, 2009, 24 min.))

Directed by Stefan Weinert (Germany, 2010, 84 min.)

Goethe-Institut Wed., Oct. 18, 6 p.m.

Incendiary

Cape No. 7 (Hái-kak chhit-ho)

Directed by Gerhard Friedl (Germany/Austria, 2004, 73 min.)

National Gallery of Art Sun., Oct. 9, 4 p.m.

Landmark’s E Street Cinema Opens Fri., Oct. 7

Mandarin

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (Di Renjie)

Gesicht zur Wand (Face the Wall) After the wall that divided Berlin and Germany went up, tens of thousands tried to flee the GDR to seek freedom. This film lets five victims tell the stories of their failed attempts to escape and of their consequent incarcerations. (Followed by reception and discussion)

AFI Silver Theatre Sat., Oct. 8, 8 p.m., Tue., Oct. 11, 9:45 p.m. Landmark’s E Street Cinema Opens Fri., Oct. 14

Wolff von Amerongen – Did He Commit Bankruptcy Offences? (Hat Wolff von Amerongen Konkursdelikte begangen?)

AFI Silver Theatre Sun., Oct. 2, 9:20 p.m., Tue., Oct. 4, 9:20 p.m.

The Best Things in the World (Las Melhores Coisas do Mundo) Directed by Laís Bodanzky (Brazil, 2010, 100 min.)

Mano and his brother Pedro lead fun-loving lives until they learn, in quick succession, that their parents are divorcing, their father is gay, Pedro’s girlfriend wants to spend some time apart, and the high school’s gossip blogger comes snooping around. AFI Silver Theatre Sat., Oct. 1, 4:45 p.m., Thu., Oct. 6, 9:30 p.m.

The Tenants (Os Inquilinos) Directed by Sérgio Bianchi (Brazil, 2009, 103 min.)

Valter lives a quiet life in working-class São Paulo with his wife and two kids, but his perfectly normal life begins to crumble when three delinquents move in next door and he becomes increasingly gripped by paranoia that his neighbors are guilty of every crime announced on the news.

Directed by Hark Tsui (China/Hong Kong, 2010, 122 min.)

Landmark’s E Street Cinema

The Fourth Portrait Directed by Mong-Hong Chung (Taiwan, 2010)

Alone after his father’s death, 10-year-old Xiang survives with help from an elderly school janitor who tries to guide him through the dangers of life. But just as Xiang has settled into his new life, his estranged mother returns to take him away to live with her and his imposing stepfather. (Mandarin and Hokkien; screens with “Cape No. 7”) Landmark’s E Street Cinema Thu., Oct. 13, 9:30 p.m.

The Last Tempest (Ying tai qi xue) Directed by Li Hanxiang (Hong Kong, 1976, 112 min.)

In 1898, Emperor Guangxu issues a call to modernize the imperial government, angering palace conservatives led by the Empress Dowager and stoking generational warfare in the Qing court. Freer Gallery of Art Sun., Oct. 2, 2 p.m.

Rebels of the Neon God (Qing shao nian nuo zha) Directed by Tsai Ming-liang (Taiwan, 1993, 106 min.)

Lee Kang-sheng stars as a young student fascinated with a street hoodlum life, an awkward misfit whose obsession ultimately goes too far in this richly atmospheric evocation of Taipei after dark. Freer Gallery of Art Fri., Oct. 21, 7 p.m.

Shadow Magic Directed by Ann Hu (U.S./Germany, 2000, 115 min.)

“Shadow Magic” pays charming homage to the arrival of motion pictures in China

October 2011


at the twilight of the Qing dynasty, as a young photographer is beguiled by strange new inventions from the West. Freer Gallery of Art Sun., Oct. 9, 2 p.m.

A Time to Live and a Time to Die (Tong nien wang shi)

National Gallery of Art Sat., Oct. 29, 2:30 p.m.

Spanish Abel

Directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien (Taiwan, 1985, 138 min.)

Directed by Diego Luna (Mexico, 2010, 82 min.)

Exile affects three generations of a mainland family trapped in Taiwan by the Communist takeover of China, as parents and grandparents pine for their homeland, while the younger generation comes to terms with a country that both is and isn’t their own.

Nine-year-old Abel refuses to speak since his father walked out on the family until, years later, after spending time in a psychiatric hospital, he suddenly begins speaking again, but in the voice of a much older man — as the man of the house.

Freer Gallery of Art Sun., Oct. 23, 2 p.m.

(Argentina/Spain, 2010, 104 min.)

Extraordinaires” (Canada/France, 1965, 25 min.))

AFI Silver Theatre Mon., Oct. 3, 5:30 p.m., Thu., Oct. 6, 7:40 p.m.

October Film Events The Initiative for Russian Culture The Initiative for Russian Culture (IRC) at American University aims to expand the awareness of Russian culture among Americans and strengthen ties between Russian and American youth. October film screenings held at the Russian Embassy include “The Cranes Are Flying” (Oct. 6), “Ballad of A Soldier” (Oct. 20) and “My Name Is Ivan” (Oct. 27). www.american.edu/cas/history/initiativerussian-culture/

Norwegian

Bad Intentions (Las Malas Intenciones)

12th Annual DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival

Happy, Happy (Sykt lykkelig)

Directed by Rosario García-Montero (Peru/Germany/Argentina, 2011, 107 min.)

The DC APA Film Festival (Oct. 6-15)

Directed by Anne Sewitsky (Norway, 2010, 85 min.)

Cayetana, a precocious 9-year-old girl with a vivid imagination, spends most of her time tormenting her parents and taking advice from the ghosts of famed Peruvian military heroes. Everything changes though when she becomes convinced that she’s going to die the day her baby brother is born.

Kaja is an eternal optimist in spite of living with a man who would rather go hunting with the boys and who no longer wants to have sex with her. But when “the perfect couple” moves in next door, Kaja struggles to keep her emotions in check.

Russian

AFI Silver Theatre Sat., Oct. 8, 5:45 p.m., Sun., Oct. 9, 3:45 p.m., Mon., Oct. 10, 5:30 p.m.

Ballad of a Soldier (Ballada o soldate)

Chico and Rita (Chico y Rita)

Landmark’s E Street Cinema

Directed by Grigori Chukhrai (Soviet Union, 1959, 88 min.)

In World War II, 19-year-old Alyosha asks for a few days leave as reward for singlehandedly destroying two German tanks. Along his journey, he falls in love with a fellow traveler, but their time together is brief. Embassy of Russia Thu., Oct. 20, 7 p.m.

The Cranes are Flying (Letyat zhuravli) Directed by Mikhail Kalatozov (Soviet Union, 1957, 97 min.)

With her boyfriend fighting in World War II, Veronika awaits his return amid terrible circumstances: losing her parents, her home, and being forced into marrying the man who assaulted her. Yet through the turmoil of an evacuation and resettlement, she begins to rebuild her life.

Directed by Fernando Trueba (Spain/U.K., 2010, 95 min.)

This animated tribute to the golden age of Cuban jazz begins in 1948 as it follows pianist Chico and singer Rita, whose personal and musical relationship takes them from Havana to New York to Paris to Hollywood to Las Vegas, across six decades. (Spanish and English) AFI Silver Theatre Sat., Oct. 1, 5 p.m., Sun., Oct. 2, 5:15 p.m.

Clubbing (De Caravana) Directed by Rosendo Ruíz (Argentina, 2011, 95 min.)

Embassy of Russia Thu., Oct. 6, 7 p.m.

Sent to a barrio club to photograph a Cordoba music icon, uptown guy Juan meets downtown girl Sara and sparks fly. But when Sara shows up the next day with her knife-wielding friend Maxtor to force him to work for their gang, it will put his love to the test.

My Name is Ivan (Ivanovo detstvo)

AFI Silver Theatre Mon., Oct. 10, 9:45 p.m., Wed., Oct. 12, 9:40 p.m.

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky (Soviet Union, 1962, 84 min.)

After losing his family to the invading Nazis, 12-year-old Ivan is determined to aid the Soviet Army in any way he can, although the soldiers want to send Ivan away to school (and to safety). Embassy of Russia Thu., Oct. 27, 7 p.m.

Silent La Chute de la Maison Usher Directed by Jean Epstein (France/U.S., 1928, 63 min.)

A stranger arrives at a country inn looking for the house of his old friend Roderick, a painter who is delirious as he tries to finish his wife’s portrait before her looming death. (Preceded by “Edgar Allan Poe: Histoires

October 2011

The Colors of the Mountai (Los Colores de la Montaña) Directed by Carlos César Arbeláez (Colombia/Panama, 2010, 90 min.)

In the mountainous region of Colombia, paramilitaries and guerillas can’t stop a ragtag gang of boys from living and breathing soccer, but when their prized ball gets kicked into a minefield, three friends will risk everything to get it back. AFI Silver Theatre Sun., Oct. 2, 3:30 p.m., Wed., Oct. 5, 4:30 p.m., Thu., Oct. 6, 5:30 p.m.

Hermano Directed by Marcel Rasquin (Venezuela, 2010, 97 min.)

Julio and Daniel get the opportunity of a

presents more than 50 features and short films in theaters throughout Washington. On Oct. 8., the documentaries “Anna May Wong: In Her Own Words” (1 p.m.) and “Big in Bollywood” (3:30 p.m.) screen at the Freer Gallery of Art. On Oct. 13, commemorating the Centennial of the Republic of China, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO) presents contemporary films “Cape No. 7” (7 p.m.) followed by “The Fourth Portrait” (9:30 p.m.) at Landmark’s E Street Cinema. www.apafilm.org

— Ky N. Nguyen

A box-office hit in Argentina, this slowburning thriller follows three lives that change forever when a man is killed in a hit-and-run accident and the driver’s parents aid him in the cover-up. AFI Silver Theatre Fri., Oct. 7, 10:30 p.m., Sat., Oct. 8, 10:15 p.m.

The Open Sky (El Cielo Abierto) Directed by Everardo González (Mexico, 2011, 103 min.)

Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero was assassinated in El Salvador on March 24, 1980, for speaking out against poverty, social injustice and the terrible violence in his country, but his work lives on in this moving documentary. AFI Silver Theatre Mon., Oct. 10, 7:45 p.m., Tue., Oct. 11, 5:30 p.m.

Post Mortem lifetime when a scout from Caracas Football Club attends their soccer match on the dirt fields of their slum. but the two brothers begin to drift apart when tragedy strikes at the most inopportune time.

30 years ago he lived a very different life as a Sandinista commander. AFI Silver Theatre Sat., Oct. 8, 12 p.m., Sun., Oct. 9, 8 p.m.

AFI Silver Theatre Sat., Oct. 1, 9:30 p.m., Tue., Oct. 4, 7:20 p.m.

Marimbas from Hell (Las Marimbas del Infierno)

Jean Gentil

Directed by Julio Hernández Cordon (Guatemala/France/Mexico, 2010, 72 min.)

Directed by Israel Cárdenas (Dominican Republic/Mexico/Germany, 2010, 84 min.)

Jean is an educated and devout man, forced like many others to leave Haiti to look for work in the Dominican Republic. When he fails, he sets out into the incredibly lush countryside, only to find himself pushed further into loneliness and desperation. (Spanish and Haitian Creole) AFI Silver Theatre Sat., Oct. 8, 2 p.m., Tue., Oct. 11, 7:40 p.m.

Karen Cries on the Bus (Karen Llora en un Bus) Directed by Gabriel Rojas Vera (Colombia, 2011, 97 min.) After suffering through 10 loveless years of marriage, Karen leaves her macho husband and takes to the streets of Bogota in hopes of starting a new life, but without friends or family to lean on, she quickly finds herself marginalized by society. AFI Silver Theatre Fri., Oct. 7, 5:30 p.m., Sun., Oct. 9, 6 p.m., Wed., Oct. 12, 5:30 p.m.

Karla’s Arrival Directed by Koen Suidgeest (U.S./Spain/Netherlands/Belgium/Nicaragua, 2010, 90 min.)

Pregnant teen Sujelyin has a deadbeat drug dealer for a boyfriend and struggles to kick her own addictions, but once Karla is born, Sujelyin is driven to create the family life she never had in this gut-wrenching documentary. AFI Silver Theatre Mon., Oct. 3, 7:15 p.m., Wed., Oct. 5, 9:20 p.m.

The Last Commandant (El Último Comandante) Directed by Isabel Martínez (Costa Rica/Brazil, 2010, 96 min.)

In a Costa Rican border town, a middle-age dance instructor struggles to make ends meet and ventures into Nicaragua, where

A down-on-his-luck marimba player turns to his delinquent godson to help him start his own band and together they track down a heavy metal legend in this award-winning film that blends documentary and fiction. AFI Silver Theatre Sat., Oct. 8, 4 p.m., Sun., Oct. 9, 10 p.m.

The Milk of Sorrow (La teta asustada) Directed by Claudia Llosa (Spain/Peru, 2009, 94 min.)

Fausta suffers from a rare disease called the Milk of Sorrow, which is transmitted through the breast milk of pregnant women who were abused or raped during or soon after pregnancy. Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema Sun., Oct. 23, 10 a.m.

Miss Bala Directed by Gerardo Naranjo (Mexico, 2011, 113 min.)

Gerardo Naranjo’s riveting thriller about a Baja California beauty queen caught up in a maddening cycle of drug cartel violence is the AFI alum’s most innovative and unforgettable film yet. AFI Silver Theatre Fri., Oct. 7, 7:45 p.m., Wed., Oct. 12, 7:30 p.m.

Miss Tacuarembo Directed by Martín Sastre (Uruguay/Argentina/Spain, 2010, 98 min.)

Natalia has dreamt of winning the Miss Tacuarembo beauty pageant since childhood, though she’s pushing 30 and performing at a tacky Biblical-themed park. But when a reality TV host comes calling, Natalia hopes it will be her big break. AFI Silver Theatre Tue., Oct. 4, 7:15 p.m.

No Return (Sin Retorno) Directed by Miguel Cohan

Directed by Pablo Larrain (Chile/Mexico/Germany, 2010, 96 min.)

As Chilean society descends into surreal depravity in the final stages of Pinochet’s bloody coup and increasingly brutalized bodies begin to stack up in his workplace, apolitical morgue worker Mario doesn’t notice because he only has eyes for his neighbor, lazy showgirl Nancy. AFI Silver Theatre Sat., Oct. 1, 9:20 p.m., Wed., Oct. 5, 9 p.m.

A Useful Life (La Vida Útil) Directed by Federico Veiroj (Uruguay, 2010, 67 min.)

In his beloved art-house cinema in Montevideo, Jorge takes the utmost pride in his work, repairing projectors with the same vigor as when he began his career 25 years ago. But as the theater falls on hard times, he’s forced to discover the world outside. AFI Silver Theatre Wed., Oct. 5, 7:20 p.m.

The Water at the End of the World (El Agua del Fin del Mundo) Directed by Paula Siero (Argentina, 2010, 85 min.)

Sisters Adri and Laura live in a cramped apartment in a poor neighborhood of Buenos Aires. When Adri is diagnosed with a terminal illness, Laura saves every penny from her meager salary to fulfill Adri’s last wish to spend her remaining days at the southernmost point of South America. AFI Silver Theatre Sun., Oct. 2, 9:30 p.m., Tue., Oct. 4, 5:30 p.m., Wed., Oct. 5, 5:30 p.m.

Write Me – Postcards to Copacabana (Escríbeme – Postales a Copacabana) Directed by Thomas Kronthaler (Germany/Bolivia, 2010, 96 min.)

Fourteen-year-old Alfonsina, who longs to travel and escape her hometown of Copacabana, strikes up a friendship and a tentative romance with a German exchange student in this heartwarming coming-of-age story. AFI Silver Theatre Sun., Oct. 2, 5:30 p.m., Thu., Oct. 6, 7:30 p.m.

The Washington Diplomat Page 63


[ around town ]

EVENTS LISTING

THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT

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

a language of over 200 patterns. “Weaving Abstraction is the most comprehensive exploration of this art form to date in the U.S., with 150 objects ranging from small, exquisite baskets to monumental skirts.

objects — some aesthetic, some absurd — discarded by human civilization.

The Textile Museum

Building Bridges, Not Fences

ART

Through Oct. 21

Oct. 1 to Feb. 12

30 Americans Provocative and confrontational, this exhibition showcases works by many of the most important African American artists of the last three decades, focusing on issues of racial, sexual and historical identity and exploring the powerful influence of artistic legacy across generations.

Latin American Artists of Italian Descent This selection of artwork by Latin artists of Italian descent offers a symbolic yet significant exploration of the Italian cultural influence in Latin America, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification. Inter-American Development Bank Cultural Center

The Goethe-Institut Through Nov. 5

From traditional to digital media, the technical, conceptual and cultural journey of photography is explored through the work of photographers Shay Aloni and Ammar Younis, who depict daily life in Israel and the relationships between Arabs and Jews, as well as several Cuban artists who portray what life is really like on the communist island. Music Center at Strathmore Through Nov. 6

Corcoran Gallery of Art

Through Oct. 22

Perspectives: Hale Tiger

Oct. 1 to Jan. 8

Mexico Through the Lens of National Geographic

Multimedia artist Hale Tenger, born in Izmir, Turkey, creates videos and installations that examine the tangible and intangible traces of events, filming the façade of the St. George Hotel in Beirut — the site of the assassination of Rafik Hariri, former prime minister of Lebanon — while it was being renovated from 2005 to 2007.

Degas’s Dancers at the Barre: Point and Counterpoint Bringing together about 30 works from some of the world’s finest collections, this exhibition traces ballet in Edgar Degas’s art from the 1870s to 1900, while also celebrating “Dancers at the Barre” as a crowning achievement in the artist’s four-decade career — prompted by discoveries from a recent conservation treatment of the masterpiece, which took 16 years to create. The Phillips Collection Through Oct. 14

Swiss Style Fashion designs for men and women created by graduates of the Geneva University of Art and Design reflect the diverse range of talent in Switzerland, with items ranging from gowns to casual wear, footwear and jewelry. Alex Gallery Through Oct. 15

Microcosm This exhibition — part of a series of events recognizing Aruba’s 25 years of “status aparte” within the Netherlands — features site-specific installations, sculpture, mixedmedia creations, video, paintings, collage, photography and drawings by an array of noted Caribbean artists representing the eclectic reality of the Aruban “microcosm” within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Open by public appointment from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., reservations must be made by emailing was-gma@minbuza.nl with the date and time requested. Dutch Residence

With more than 150 articles, no country has seen more coverage in National Geographic magazine than Mexico, generating a stunning archive of visual imagery documenting the country’s culture, history and physical beauty — a slice of which can be seen in this selection of 132 photographs drawn from the National Geographic’s archives. Mexican Cultural Institute

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Through Nov. 11

Waterline Oct. 22 to Jan. 29

Eye to Eye: Joseph Marioni at the Phillips Fifteen recent glowing monochrome paintings by modernist Joseph Marioni are displayed with the artist’s selection of 30 works from the Phillips Collection in the first D.C. exhibition of his paintings. The Phillips Collection Through Oct. 23

Chris Martin: Painting Big Chris Martin’s large-scale abstract paintings are tactile and stitched-together, incorporating found objects and collage into their abstract geometries and rhythmic patterns and relating as much to the physical world as to his own memories and experiences. Corcoran Gallery of Art Through Oct. 28

An American in Deutschland: Photographs by Leonard Freed Several photographs by late Magnum photographer Leonard Freed during the early years of the Berlin Wall are showcased as part of “Divided Germany: Fifty Years Construction of the Berlin Wall,” as well as an exhibition covering five decades of Freed’s work in Germany on display at the German Historical Institute through Nov. 15.

Taking inspiration from the traditions of the Waanyi culture, Judy Watson, one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists, mixes her poetically abstract stained canvases with Aboriginal history, elements of her family’s past, government documents and everyday objects to provide a glimpse of how Aboriginal people lived and were perceived in the first half of the 20th century. Embassy of Australia Through Nov. 27

The Gothic Spirit of John Taylor Arms John Taylor Arms (1887–1953), an American printmaker, believed in the uplifting quality of Gothic art and the power of close observation, skillfully transcribed. This exhibition presents selected examples from the artist’s entire career, from his early New York works to his finest images of European cathedrals. National Gallery of Art Through Nov. 27

Italian Master Drawings from the Wolfgang Ratjen Collection: 1525-1835

Spanish architecture has become a global point of reference over the last quarter of the 20th century, but this exhibition shows that architectural excellence can also be found in the unknown work carried out in the studios of a new generation of inspirational architects under 40.

Through Oct. 31

The splendors of Italian draftsmanship from the late Renaissance to the height of the neoclassical movement are showcased in an exhibition of 65 superb drawings assembled by the European private collector Wolfgang Ratjen (1943–97).

Argentine Fall Salon 2011

National Gallery of Art

American Institute of Architects (AIA)

Embassy of Argentina

Through Oct. 15

YAS: Young Architects of Spain, a Window to the Unknown

The Goethe-Institut

The Embassy of Argentina presents its Fall Salon, an art exhibition featuring artists working in different styles and techniques who were selected from different regions around the world to be part of this show.

Oct. 15 to Feb. 12

Through Nov. 4

Weaving Abstraction: Kuba Textiles and the Woven Art of Central Africa

Left Behind (Zurückgelassen)

Ingeniously woven from palm fiber, Central African textiles distinguished the wealthy and powerful. Woven art from the Kuba kingdom in particular makes playful use of

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The Washington Diplomat

Photographer Friederike Brandenburg visualizes the paradoxical relationship between beauty and decay as he ventures into isolated places of nature otherwise presumed to be untouched by man, where he finds

October 2011

the sensational side of contemporary news media, and his source materials for his artwork — headlines from the tabloid news — will be presented for comparison, revealing Warhol’s role as both editor and author. National Gallery of Art Through Jan. 15

Andy Warhol: Shadows Created in the last decade of Andy Warhol’s life, “Shadows” comprises 102 silkscreened and hand-painted canvases featuring distorted photographs of shadows generated in the artist’s studio — forms that at once suggest and mock the bravura brushwork of the abstract expressionists. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Through Jan. 15

CHINA Town: Contemporary Ceramic Painting from Jingdezhen This unprecedented exhibition of porcelain art — the sixth in a series of exhibits organized over the last decade by the Meridian Center’s Art for Cultural Diplomacy program with Chinese partners — highlights objects from Jingdezhen, a city of 1.6 million people that has produced the finest Chinese porcelain for more than 1,000 years, especially the world-renowned blue and white decorative motifs. Meridian International Center

Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible Marking its 400th anniversary this year, the 1611 King James Bible still echoes in books, movies, songs, speeches and sermons today. But who translated it? The Folger Shakespeare Library and University of Oxford draw on their deep resources to uncover the little-known story of one of the most widely read books in the history of the English language. Folger Shakespeare Library Through Jan. 29

Power/Play: China’s Empress Dowager Following China’s disastrous Boxer Rebellion, the Grand Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) used photographic portraiture to rehabilitate her public image, allowing a young aristocratic photographer to take elaborately staged shots of her and her court. As the only photographic series taken of the supreme leader of China for more than 45 years, these images represents a unique convergence of Qing court pictorial traditions, modern photography and Western standards of artistic portraiture. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Urban_Landscapes

Through March 4

Art from Europe and the United States imagines urban areas with great potential for diversification and transformation, playing with known architecture and structures and how the ideas behind them are often obscured by the viewer’s angle.

Central Nigeria Unmasked: Arts of the Benue River Valley

Warhol: Headlines

This international exhibit features more than 148 objects used in a range of ritual contexts, with genres as varied and complex as the vast region of Central Nigeria, that demonstrate how the history of the area can be “unmasked” through the dynamic interrelationships of its peoples and their arts.

Andy Warhol had a lifelong obsession with

National Museum of African Art

Through Jan. 2

Oct. 12 to 16

The Suzanne Farrell Ballet The Kennedy Center’s own Suzanne Farrell Ballet celebrates its 10th anniversary with two George Balanchine programs, each featuring his “Diamonds” in an artistic partnership with the Sarasota Ballet. Tickets are $29 to $84. Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater Oct. 26 and 27

Beijing Dance Theater China’s contemporary troupe fuses ballet and modern dance with traditional dance in “Haze,” performed on a modified stage where the dancers fight to stay afoot, a metaphor linking pollution with spiritual confusion. Tickets are $22 to $60. Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater Fri., Oct. 28, 8 p.m.

Ballet Hispanico This vibrant company blends Latin dance, ballet and modern dance, grounded in the rich heritage it represents. Please call for ticket information. Music Center at Strathmore

DISCUSSIONS Tue., Oct. 4, 7 p.m.

Frontera Sin Frontera Through Jan. 15

Through Dec. 30

Embassy of Austria

DANCE

This panel discussion focuses on the poetry traditions of the United States and Mexico and the ways in which they interrelate and reflect upon the other. Library of Congress James Madison Building Thu., Oct. 13, 6:30 p.m.

Mexican Table: The Cacao Route After its summer hiatus, the Mexican Table Cooking Series is back with a session on the “Cacao Route,” as guest chef José Ramón Castillo, considered one of the top chocolatiers in Mexico, and Patricia Jinich design a menu of locally sourced ingredients that features cacao in different and surprising ways, while discussing its importance in Mexico since the pre-Hispanic era. Tickets are $70. Mexican Cultural Institute Tue., Oct. 18, 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Legal Research for Embassy Personnel The Law Library of Congress — founded in 1832 — is offering a series of legal research seminars designed specifically for relevant staff at embassies in the United States to facilitate their legal research needs. The seminars include information on how to access U.S. federal laws, administrative regulations, court cases, treaties, and a host of other print and electronic sources and databases. To register, call (202) 707-3812 or visit www.loc.gov/law/ opportunities/embassy-form.php. Library of Congress Madison Building Tue., Oct. 18, 7 p.m.

Le Studio: Wine Tasting 101 The French Embassy’s monthly “Wine Tasting 101” soirées — with veteran wine journalist Claire Morin-Gibourg — explore the regions and vineyards in France, as well as tasting techniques. This month’s tasting highlights Puligny-Montrachet (Burgundy).

October 2011


Tickets are $75.

$25 to $60.

and inspiration. Tickets are $25 to $60.

La Maison Française

Round House Theatre Bethesda

Round House Theatre Bethesda

Through Oct. 9

Oct. 19 to Nov. 6

FELA!

Othello

Winner of three Tony Awards, “FELA!” is the true story of the legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, whose soulful Afrobeat rhythms ignited a generation and whose civil rights struggle defied a corrupt and oppressive military regime. Tickets are $25 to $130.

Synetic Theater’s “Speak No More” – The Silent Shakespeare Festival continues with “Othello,” exploring the Bard’s tale of love, jealousy, race and perception through onstage projections, a shifting geometric set, and the swirling choreography and physical expression of Synetic’s performers. Tickets are $45 to $55.

FESTIVALS Sat., Oct. 1, 12 p.m., Sun., Oct. 2, 12 p.m.

Russian Bazaar The Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist presents two days of Russian culture, food, folk music, handicrafts and children’s activities. For information, visit www.russianbazaar.org. Russian Orthodox Cathedral Sun., Oct. 2, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

9th Annual Turkish Festival This annual Turkish Festival brings together a wide range of artists and more than 25,000 Washingtonians for a day of free activities that range from lively folk dancing and musical performances to arts and crafts activities for children and adults, as well as native cuisine, traditional coffee fortune reading, and a bustling bazaar. For information, visit www.turkishfestival.org. Pennsylvania Avenue between 12th and 14th Streets, NW

Kings of Salsa Heats Up Virginia Oct. 2 at 4 p.m. Salsa spices up Virginia in October The Hylton also welcomes the with an array of Latin-themed perforCompañia Flamenco José Porcel on mances at George Mason University’s Oct. 30 at 4 p.m. Spain’s premier flaCenter for the Arts in Fairfax, Va., as menco dancer and choreographer, well as its Hylton Performing Arts José Porcel and his troupe will present Center in Manassas. a new show, “Gypsy Fire,” highlighting Kings of Salsa, the music and some of the oldest, purest dance sensation from Havana, and most fiery forms of flablends Afro-Caribbean moves, menco. Cuban street salsa and hip Other October hop with classic Latin Visit www.gmu.edu/cfa or performances at the dances such as the www.hyltonperformingartscenter.com. Center for the Arts mambo, rumba and include the Mariinsky Orchestra, one cha-cha-cha. Complemented by the of Russia’s most respected musical sounds of the nine-piece brass band Cuba Ashire and vibrant costumes, the organizations, on Oct. 8 and the acclaimed British-American touring group offers a rare glimpse inside company Aquila Theatre in a perforcontemporary Havana culture. Kings mance of Oscar Wilde’s “The of Salsa performs at the GMU Center Importance of Being Earnest” on for the Arts on Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. and at Oct. 9. the Hylton Performing Arts Center on

to learn

more

Kids Euro Festival

Sun., Oct. 23, 1 p.m.

The Kids Euro Festival, the largest performing arts festival of its kind in the United States, once again brings together the European Union embassy community to transform the Washington area into an EU adventure for children and their families, with more than 200 free events around town, from the Kennedy Center and Natural History Museum to the embassies of Austria and Sweden. For information, visit www. kidseurofestival.org

Taste of Haiti

Through Oct. 28

Mutual Inspirations To honor the 170th birthday of Czech composer Antonín Dvorák, the Czech Embassy in Washington spearheads a citywide musical festival featuring more than 500 local and international artists performing in 30 concerts and events, many American or world premieres, at venues across town — paying tribute to how Dvorák influenced U.S. music and vice versa. For information, visit www.mutualinspirations.org. Various locations

GALAS Fri., Oct. 14

43rd Annual Meridian Ball One of Washington’s most noted social events that is widely attended by key members of the government, international, business and cultural communities, the Meridian Ball is preceded by intimate dinners hosted by ambassadors around town, after which guests gather at the Meridian’s historic houses for dancing, conversation and dessert. For ticket information, call Olivia Dorieux at (202) 450-5899 or email Olivia@355Lex.com. Meridian International Center

Under the patronage of Haitian Ambassador Louis Harold Joseph, this lunch features Haitian music and crafts to benefit the Hopital Sacre Coueur, a major referralteaching hospital in Milot, Haiti. Donation of $80 is suggested; for information, email mlfleury@aol.com. Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School

MUSIC Fri., Oct. 7, 7 p.m.

La Catrina String Quartet One of the most sought-after ensembles on tour today, La Catrina String Quartet performs its unique blend of Latin American and standard repertoire. Admission is free but RSVP is recommended and can be made by emailing rsvp@instituteofmexicodc.org. Mexican Cultural Institute Wed., Oct. 12, 7:30 p.m.

From Austria With Love Baritone Mathias Hausmann is joined by distinguished pianist Craig Rutenberg in a program featuring music by Austrian composers who lived and worked in the U.S., including Mahler, Korngold, Zeisl, Krenek, Stolz and Kálmán. Tickets are $45. Kennedy Center Terrace Theater Wed., Oct. 19, 8 p.m.

Creole Choir of Cuba This voice-and-percussion choir is made up of Cuban descendents of Haitians who blend ancient traditions with gospel and folk music, eye-popping African-patterned costumes and hip-grinding dance moves. Tickets are $18 to $38. Music Center at Strathmore

Mon., Oct. 17

Wed., Oct. 19, 7:30 p.m.

Harman Center for the Arts Annual Gala

Riccardo Minasi, Violin

The Shakespeare Theatre Company fêtes its Artistic Director Michael Kahn and celebrates its 25 season in its annual gala, which will feature many notable actors who’ve been inspired by Kahn, including Patrick Stewart, Bradley Whitford, Harry Hamlin, Stacy Keach and Richard Thomas. Guests will also be entertained with appearances by Chelsea Clinton and Donald Graham, as well as performances from the musical “Show Boat,” the “Poison Aria” from Gounod’s “Romeo et Juliette” and the Joffrey Ballet dancing Lubovitch’s “Othello.” Tickets start at $750; for information, call Joanne Coutts at (202) 547-3230 ext. 2330. Sidney Harman Hall

October 2011

Synetic Theater at Crystal City Through Oct. 16

The Habit of Art

Oct. 20 to 22

Deep in the bowels of London’s National Theatre, Benjamin Britten is having trouble with his latest opera and seeks out his collaborator, poet W. H. Auden, after a 25-year separation — as both aging artists wrestle with their desires, jealousies, the ephemeral connection between creativity and inspiration, and all the reasons their friendship fell apart. Tickets are $35 to $69.

Mabou Mines DollHouse

The Studio Theatre

Trouble in Mind

Through Oct. 16

Oct. 14 to Nov. 10

Various locations

The Shakespeare Theatre Harman Hall

Riccardo Minasi — whose specialty is the musical repertoire from the Renaissance to the Classical period — is a frequent performer at the most prestigious concert halls throughout the world. He’s joined by acclaimed cellist Beiliang Zhu and Kenneth Weiss on the harpsichord. Tickets are $25. La Maison Française

Embassy of the Czech Republic Oct. 28 to 30

Beethoven Complete Sonatas for Piano and Violin In 2009, the artistic project of presenting Beethoven’s complete piano sonatas to Washington audiences was launched when piano virtuoso François-Frédéric Guy performed all 32 sonatas during nine acclaimed concerts at the French Embassy. In 2010, the second step of this audacious cycle took place as he returned to Washington with one of the world’s leading cellists, Marc Coppey. And in 2011, François-Frédéric Guy performs with violinist Tédi Papavrami in this concert. Tickets are $25. La Maison Française Sat., Oct. 29, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Django Reinhardt Festival All-Stars Showcasing the intricacies of the authentic Django Reinhardt style, this All-Stars Festival returns featuring guitar virtuoso Dorado Schmitt, with special guest clarinetist, Anat Cohen. Tickets are $45. Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

THEATER Oct. 6 to 8

Lungs A couple negotiates sex, parenthood, and responsibilities large and small in Duncan Macmillan’s intimate drama about chance, change and consequence. Tickets are $20.

The Boy Detective Fails In the twilight of a childhood full of wonder, a Billy the “boy detective” faces a mystery he can’t comprehend: the shocking death of his young sister and crime-solving partner Caroline. Ten years later, a 30-year-old Billy returns to his quiet New Jersey town after an extended stay at St. Vitus’ Hospital for the mentally ill determined to right old wrongs. Call for ticket information. Signature Theatre Oct. 18 to 30

ReEntry Based on hundreds of hours of interviews with returning combat veterans presented without any agenda subtext, “ReEntry” is a tour-de-force of loneliness, fear and anger overlaid with moments of warmth, growth

Arena Stage

Cameron Mackintosh presents a new, fully staged 25th-anniversary production of Boublil and Schönberg’s legendary musical “Les Misérables,” featuring re-imagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo that brings this enduring story about the survival of the human spirit to life. Tickets start at $39. Kennedy Center Opera House Through Oct. 30

Ostracized for his faith and Northern heritage, Jewish factory manager Leo Frank is accused of murdering a teenage factory girl in this Tony-winning musical drama based on the true story of Frank’s trial and lynching in early 20th-century Atlanta. Please call for ticket information. Ford’s Theatre

CULTURE GUIDE Learn English in a friendly and supportive environment. Beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels available. Information about American culture is also included during classes. Convenient location for Embassy personnel. Only $40 for a 10 week course.

When a vaudeville comedy duo accidentally fall into the hands of Franco’s fascists troops during the Spanish Civil War, they witness an execution and are forced to perform for other captives in this heartbreaking portrayal of love, loss and the inhumanity of war by José Sanchis Sinisterra, one of Spain’s most acclaimed contemporary playwrights. Tickets are $34 or $38.

Battle lines are drawn within a newly integrated theater company on Broadway in 1957 as it prepares to open a misguided race play on the Great White Way. Please call for ticket details.

Parade

English Conversation Classes

¡Ay, Carmela!

Through Oct. 23

Les Misérables

Through Oct. 16

Montreal-based company Lemieux Pilon 4D Art presents “Norman,” a tribute to pioneer filmmaker Norman McLaren in which film and theater collide as projected holograms inhabit the stage with live actors. Tickets are $30 to $50. Through Oct. 9

Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater

Through Oct. 30

The Studio Theatre

Norman

Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater

Director Lee Breuer adapted Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” to deconstruct the mythic feminist anthem by physicalizing power and scale with little men dominating and commanding women one and a half times their size. Tickets are $30 to $50.

Sponsored by The Global Neighborhood Center. 3855 Massachusetts Avenue, NW (Christ Church) Washington, DC 20016

202-363-4090

Plan Your Entire Weekend.

www.washdiplomat.com

GALA Hispanic Theatre Fri., Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m.

Josef Spacek, Violin

Through Oct. 9

Josef Spacek, 24, represents the best of today’s new generation of violinists, having already performed throughout Europe, Asia and the United States. Tickets are $80, including Czech buffet. For information, visit www.embassyseries.org.

Fahreinheit Ray Bradbury’s masterpiece about a futuristic world where firemen burn books and hunt down anyone who risks reading them comes chillingly to life in an adaptation by the legendary author himself. Tickets are

TO ADVERTISE IN THIS SECTION Contact Dave Garber at: email: dgarber@washdiplomat.com phone: (301) 933-3552, ext. 30 fax: (301) 949-0065

The Washington Diplomat Page 65


DIPLOMATIC SPOTLIGHT

The Washington Diplomat

October 2011

33rd Annual Ambassadors Ball At this year’s Ambassadors Ball, CBS Chief White House Correspondent Norah O’Donnell, the mistress of ceremonies, left, joins Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), one of the evening’s four honorees for his work to fight Multiple Sclerosis through his involvement in the congressional MS Caucus.

From left, Ambassador of Canada Gary Doer, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), ball cochairs Lisa Collis and Amey Upton, and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) toast the Washington diplomatic corps at the 33rd annual Ambassadors Ball held at the Ritz-Carlton Washington hotel.

PHOTO: GAIL SCOTT PHOTO: THOMAS COLEMAN

From left, Ambassador of Iceland and Mrs. Hjálmar Hannesson join Mrs. and Ambassador of Iraq Samir Sumaida’ie at the VIP reception in the Ritz-Carlton art gallery at the 33rd annual Ambassadors Ball hosted by the National Capital Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

PHOTO: BETTY ADLER PHOTOGRAPHY

Below, from left, Mrs. and Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago Neil Parsan join Ambassador of Barbados and Mrs. John Beale at the 33rd annual Ambassadors Ball held at the Ritz-Carlton.

PHOTO: BETTY ADLER PHOTOGRAPHY

Mrs. and Ambassador of Egypt Sameh Shoukry attend the Ambassadors Ball spearheaded by the National Capital Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. In 2010 alone, the MS Society devoted $159 million to programs and services that assisted more than 1 million people.

Below, Ambassador of Cyprus and Mrs. Pavlos Anastasiades kick off the fall social season at the 33rd annual Ambassadors Ball, which over the years has raised more than $15 million for the National MS Society’s movement toward a world free of multiple sclerosis.

PHOTO: THOMAS COLEMAN

PHOTO: THOMAS COLEMAN

PHOTO: THOMAS COLEMAN

From left, Tony Podesta of the Podesta Group joins Ambassador of St. Vincent and the Grenadines La Celia A. Prince and Harold Doley of the Lugano Group at the VIP reception of the Ambassadors Ball.

PHOTO: GAIL SCOTT

Below, from left, Ibrahima Diagne, Ambassador of Botswana Tebelelo Seretse, Ambassador of Senegal Fatou Danielle Diagne, and Ambassador of St. Lucia Michael Louis attend the VIP reception of the Ambassadors Ball.

PHOTO: THOMAS COLEMAN

Ambassador of Nepal and Mrs. Shankar Prasad Sharma were among the 900 guests who attended this year’s Ambassadors Ball.

PHOTO: THOMAS COLEMAN

PHOTO: GAIL SCOTT

From left, Mrs. and Ambassador of Israel Michael Oren join Mrs. and Ambassador of Serbia Vladimir Petrovic on the dance floor at the conclusion of the Ambassadors Ball.

Ambassador of Japan and Mrs. Ichiro Fujisaki attend the 33rd annual Ambassador’s Ball, which featured a silent auction, dinner and dancing.

Below, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), center left, with his wife Elizabeth to his left, greets Jeff Boden, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National MS Society’s National Capital Chapter, and his wife Clay at the 33rd annual Ambassadors Ball.

PHOTO: QUENTIN O. MILES

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The Washington Diplomat

Ambassador of Fiji and Mrs. Winston Thompson attend the VIP reception of the Ambassadors Ball, which honors the Washington diplomatic corps.

PHOTO: THOMAS COLEMAN

From left, Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Committee of Energy and Commerce Andy Duberstein, Katie Byerly, and Vice President of Verizon Ed Senn attend the 33rd annual Ambassadors Ball.

PHOTO: BETTY ADLER PHOTOGRAPHY

PHOTO: QUENTIN O. MILES

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is honored for his work to advance the Multiple Sclerosis movement in Congress at the 33rd annual Ambassadors Ball.

A dancer from the Arpan Dance Academy performs a traditional Indian dance at the 33rd annual Ambassadors Ball.

PHOTO: GAIL SCOTT

October 2011


Baltic Triumphs From left, Leila Beale, Ambassador of Bahrain Houda Nonoo, and Ambassador of Barbados John Beale attend the Brazilian Independence Day reception.

Brazilian Independence Day

From left, Ambassador of Brazil Mauro Luiz Iecker Vieira greets Ambassador of Chile and Mrs. Arturo Fermandois Vöhringer at the Brazilian Independence Day reception.

Ambassador of Brazil Mauro Luiz Iecker Vieira, left, talks with Ambassador of Djibouti Roble Olhaye, the dean of the diplomatic corps, at the Brazilian Independence Day reception held at the residence. Recently departed Ambassador of the Dominican Republic and Mrs. Roberto B. Saladin attend the Brazilian Independence Day reception.

From left, Ambassador of Latvia Andrejs Pildegovics, Ambassador of Estonia Marina Kaljurand, former President of Latvia Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Maria Yovanovitch, and Ambassador of Lithuania Zygimantas Pavilionis attend a State Department reception marking the 20th anniversary of the re-establishment of full diplomatic relations between the United States and the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, featuring a photo exhibit on the struggles and triumphs of the Baltic peoples during their struggle for independence.

PHOTOS: PETERIS ALUNANS

Deputy Chief of Mission at the Nicaraguan Embassy Alcides Montiel, left, shares a laugh with Ambassador of Luxembourg Jean-Paul Senninger at the Brazilian Independence Day reception.

Ambassador of Brazil Mauro Luiz Iecker Vieira, left, talks with Ambassador of France François Delattre at the Brazilian Independence Day reception.

From left, Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation Lee Edwards, former U.S. Ambassador to Estonia Aldona Wos, and TrumanReagan Medal of Freedom recipient Vaira Vike-Freiberga attend an awards ceremony at the Latvian Embassy to honor Vike-Freiberga, the former president of Latvia and first woman to head a post-communist Eastern European country.

Institute for Education

PHOTO: MORRIS SIMON, THE SIMON FIRM FOR THE EMBASSY SERIES

Embassy Series Lithuanian Concert

PHOTOS: INSTITUTE FOR EDUCATION

From left, Ambassador of Norway and Mrs. Wegger Strommen, Ambassador of Japan Ichiro Fujisaki, Institute for Education (IFE) founder Kathy Kemper, Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats, Yoriko Fujisaki, NPR’s Greg Myre, Director of International Cyber Security for the National Security Council R. David Edelman, IFE fellow Mae Joo, and Jennifer Griffin of FOX News attend a Japanese dinner honoring Kemper and the work of IFE.

From left, pianist Edvinas Minkstimas, artist in residence with the Embassy Series; Embassy Series Director Jerome Barry; Speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament Irena Degutiene; former Lithuanian President Vytautas Landsbergis; Chairman of the Lithuanian Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs Emanuelis Zingeris; Deputy Foreign Minister of Lithuania Asta Skaisgiryte Liauskiene; and Ambassador of Lithuania Zygimantas Pavilionis attend the Embassy Series concert “Songs of the Vilna Ghetto Experience” held at the Lithuanian Embassy.

Ambassador of Japan Ichiro Fujisaki, left, and coach Kathy Kemper, founder of the Institute for Education (IFE), attend a dinner at the Japanese Residence honoring Kemper and IFE’s mission of promoting civility and common ground through its public policy roundtables and youth global citizenship programs for the past 20 years.

PHOTO: IFE FELLOW NICK SEAVER

PHOTO: IFE FELLOW NICK SEAVER

From left, Martha-Ann Alito, coach Kathy Kemper, wife of the Israeli ambassador Sally Oren, holding her “Most Improved” tennis award, wife of the Luxembourg ambassador Louise Akerblom, and wife of the Swedish ambassador Eva Hafstrom attend a policy breakfast roundtable hosted by the Institute for Education at the Supreme Court.

October 2011

From left, wife of the Indonesian ambassador Rosa Djalal, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, and founder of the Institute for Education (IFE) Kathy Kemper attend an IFE INFO breakfast held at the Supreme Court.

Colombian National Day Ambassador of Colombia Gabriel Silva talks to the audience at the Colombian National Day reception held at the embassy.

The Washington Diplomat Page 67


DIPLOMATIC SPOTLIGHT Hungary’s 9/11 Tribute Concert

The Washington Diplomat

Kyrgyz Independence Day From left, Ambassador of Tajikistan Abdujabbor Shirinov, Ambassador of Uzbekistan Ilhomjon Tuychievich Nematov, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake, U.S. Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall, Sofia Blake, and wife of the Uzbek ambassador Gyul Asal Nematova attend the Kyrgyz Independence Day reception.

From left, electric guitar maker Tibor János Soltész, Battalion Chief of the Arlington County Fire Department Matthew P. Herbert, former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary Nancy G. Brinker, Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.), and Ambassador of Hungary György Szapáry attend a concert at the Hungarian Embassy to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and to celebrate the courage of U.S. firefighters.

Hungarian pianist Péter Tóth, winner of the 2010 Los Angeles International Liszt Competition, performs at a memorial concert at the Hungarian Embassy to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

October 2011

From left, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy Philip L. Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer, and Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan Muktar Djumaliev talk at the Kyrgyz Independence Day reception. Ambassador of Singapore Chan Heng Chee, left, and Ambassador of Turkey Namik Tan attend the Kyrgyz Independence Day reception.

Ambassador of Italy Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, left, greets Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan Muktar Djumaliev at the Kyrgyz Independence Day reception.

Ukrainian Independence Day

From left, former Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan and current Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva joins Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan and Mrs. Muktar Djumaliev at the Kyrgyz Independence Day reception held at the Embassy Row Hotel.

Japanese BBQ Ambassador of Japan Ichiro Fujisaki, center, is surrounded by performers and guests of the annual Japanese barbeque at his residence, including Ambassador of Lithuania Zygimantas Pavilionis, bottom, with his two sons.

From left, Mrs. and Air Attaché and Assistant Defense Attaché at the Ukrainian Embassy Lt. Col. Vadym Maletskyi greet Librarian of Congress James Billington at the Ukrainian Independence Day reception held at the Library of Congress.

From left, wife of the Ukrainian ambassador Natalia Terletska, wife of the Czech ambassador, Ambassador of Ukraine Olexander Motsyk, and Ambassador of the Czech Republic Petr Gandalovic attend the Ukrainian Independence Day reception.

Yoriko Fujisaki, wife of the Japanese ambassador, welcomed guests to the annual barbeque for neighbors, media and members of Congress at the Japanese Residence.

PHOTOS: GAIL SCOTT

From left, Ambassador of Chile Arturo Fermandois Vöhringer, Ambassador of Macedonia Zoran Jolevski, and Ambassador of Montenegro Srdjan Darmanovic attend the Ukrainian National Day reception.

Page 68

The Washington Diplomat

From left, Ambassador of Latvia Andrejs Pildegovics joins Mrs. and Ambassador of Uzbekistan Ilhomjon Tuychievich Nematov at the Ukrainian National Day reception.

Ambassador of Russia Sergey Kislyak, left, and Ambassador of Tajikistan Abdujabbor Shirinov attend the Ukrainian National Day reception at the Library of Congress.

From left, Social Secretary at the Japanese Embassy Kiyomi Buker joins Anita McBride, former chief of staff to Laura Bush, and her husband Tim McBride and son Andrew at the annual Japanese summer barbeque.

October 2011


AROUNDTHEWORLD

THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT

October 2011

HOLIDAYS AUSTRALIA Oct. 3: Labor Day AUSTRIA Oct. 26: National Day AZERBAIJAN Oct. 18: Independence Day BAHAMAS Oct. 10: Discovery Day BELIZE Oct. 10: Columbus Day BENIN Oct. 26: Armed Forces Day BOTSWANA Oct. 1: Public Holiday

BRAZIL Oct. 12: St. Aparecida’s Day BURUNDI Oct. 13: Rwagasore Day Oct. 21: Ndadaye Day CAMBODIA Oct. 23: Paris Peace Agreement Day Oct. 30-Nov. 1: Birthday of the King

COLOMBIA Oct. 10: Dia de la Raza COSTA RICA Oct. 10: Dia de la Raza CROATIA Oct. 8: Independence Day CUBA Oct. 10: Beginning of the Independence War

Send Us Your Holidays and Appointments Fax to: The Washington Diplomat at: (301) 949-0065 E-mail to: news@washdiplomat.com Mail to: P.O. Box 1345, Silver Spring, MD 20915-1345

of Guayaquil

CANADA Oct. 10: Thanksgiving Day

CYPRUS Oct. 1: Independence Day Oct. 28: Greek National Day (Ochi Day)

CHILE Oct. 10: Dia de la Raza

CZECH REPUBLIC Oct. 28: Founding Day

FIJI Oct. 10: Fiji Day Oct. 26: Diwali

CHINA Oct. 1: National Day

ECUADOR Oct. 9: Independence

GEORGIA Oct. 14: Svetitskhovloba

EQUATORIAL GUINEA Oct. 12: Independence Day

APPOINTMENTS Finland Ritva Koukku-Ronde became ambassador of Finland to the United States on Sept. 9, the first female ambassador to hold the post. Ambassador Koukku-Ronde has worked in various positions in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs for almost three decades, most recently serving as undersecretary of state (2009-11), director-general of the Department for Development Policy (2005-09), and deputy director-general of the Department for European Affairs (2003-05). Other postings in the ministry include special advisor to the director-general of the Political Department (1995) and director of U.N. development issues in the Department of International Development Cooperation (1996-98), where she was also an attaché in 1987. In addition, she was minister, deputy chief of mission at the Finnish Ambassador Ritva Embassy in Germany (19982003), counselor, deputy chief of Koukku-Ronde mission at The Hague (1990-94), and second secretary, first secretary and deputy chief of mission at the Finnish Embassy in Kenya, as well as focal point to UNEP and U.N. Habitat (1987-90). Ambassador Koukku-Ronde also served as an attaché in the Press and Culture Section of the Foreign Affairs Ministry in 1985, before which she was a freelance journalist. She holds a master’s degree in history from the University of Tampere and is married to Dr. Hidde Ronde and has two daughters, Emma and Elsa.

Gabon Michael Moussa-Adamo became ambassador of Gabon to the United States on Sept. 9. Ambassador Moussa is no stranger to Washington. After completing his master’s degree in international relations and communications at Boston University in 1989, he worked as a consultant to the World Wildlife Fund at its D.C. headquarters. Over the course of a decade, Ambassador Moussa also lived and worked in three American cities: Boston, Washington and Phoenix. He returns to the United States after a twodecade career in public service, which included five years as a deputy in the Gabonese National Assembly, where he served as spokesman for the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and defense. Ambassador Moussa also served as special advisor to the president of Gabon; chief of staff to the minister of national defense; diplomatic counselor in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; head of the

Department of Tourism, Arts, Culture, and Sports; and chief of the information technology division of the Department of Communication in the Office of the President. In addition to his work with the World Wildlife Fund, Ambassador Moussa has also been a teaching assistant in the African Studies Center at Boston University; research assistant at the Center for International Relations at Boston University, studying the economies of the Pacific Rim; a consultant at JSI/World Education, where he evaluated the BAND AID/ LIVE AID philanthropic projects; and a consultant at IFESH (International Foundation for Education and Self-Help) in Phoenix, where he worked on the first African American Summit held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. He is also the founder of two small consulting businesses in Gabon, MS Consulting and LOCAT. Ambassador Moussa is married and the father of six children, including three attending colleges in the United States. His predecessor, Carlos Victor Boungou, was appointed Gabon’s ambassador to South Korea.

India Nirupama Rao became ambassador of India to the United States on Sept. 9, having most recently served as India’s foreign secretary since 2009. Ambassador Rao — who joined the Indian Foreign Service in Ambassador 1973 — also previously served Nirupama Rao in Washington, D.C., as minister in charge of press affairs at the Indian Embassy from 1993 to 1995. In addition, she has had extensive experience in India-China relations, having served in the East Asia Division of the Ministry of External Affairs from 1984 to 1992, including as Joint Secretary of East Asia. Other postings including ambassador to Peru with concurrent accreditation to Bolivia (1995-98), deputy chief of mission at the Indian Embassy in Moscow (1998-99), the first woman spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (2001-02), and head of the Administration and Personnel Division of the Ministry of External Affairs as additional secretary (2002-04). Ambassador Rao was also a fellow at the Centre for International Affairs (now the Weatherhead Centre) of Harvard University from 1992 to 1993, and a distinguished international executive in residence at the University of Maryland in College Park from 1999 to 2000. She is married to Shri Sudhakar Rao, a former member of the Indian Administrative Service who retired as chief secretary of the government of Karnataka, and they have two sons, Nikhilesh and Kartikeya.

SINGAPORE Oct. 26: Deepavali SLOVENIA Oct. 31: Reformation Day SOUTH KOREA Oct. 3: National Foundation Day

LESOTHO Oct. 4: Independence Day

SPAIN Oct. 12: National Day

GREECE Oct. 28: Ochi Day

MACEDONIA Oct. 11: Anti-Fascist Uprising Day

SRI LANKA Oct. 26: Deepavali

GRENADA Oct. 25: Thanksgiving Day

MALAWI Oct. 12: Mother’s Day

SYRIA Oct. 6: October War Remembrance

GUATEMALA Oct. 20: Revolution Day

MALAYSIA Oct. 26: Deepavali

TAIWAN Oct. 10: National Day

GUINEA Oct. 2: Republic Day

MEXICO Oct. 10: Columbus Day

HONDURAS Oct. 3: Francisco Morazan Day Oct. 10: Columbus Day Oct. 21: Armed Forces Day

MICRONESIA Oct. 24: United Nations Day

TANZANIA Oct. 14: Mwalimu Nyerere Day

HUNGARY Oct. 23: National Day

MOZAMBIQUE Oct. 4: Peace and Reconciliation Day

GERMANY Oct. 3: Day of German Unification

INDIA Oct. 2: Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday Oct. 26: Diwali (Deepavali) IRELAND Oct. 31: Halloween ISRAEL Oct. 7-8: Yom Kippur Oct. 12-19: Sukkot Oct. 19: Hoshanah Rabbah Oct. 20: Shemini Atzeret Oct. 21: Simchat Torah JAMAICA Oct. 18: National Heroes Day JAPAN Oct. 10: Health and Sports Day (Taiku no hi) KAZAKHSTAN Oct. 25: Republic Day KENYA Oct. 20: Kenyatta Day

MONGOLIA Oct. 1: Veteran’s Day

NEW ZEALAND Oct. 24: Labor Day NIGERIA Oct. 1: National Day PALAU Oct. 1: Independence Day Oct. 24: United Nations Day PANAMA Oct. 10: Columbus Day PERU Oct. 8: Battle of Angamos PORTUGAL Oct. 5: Proclamation of the Republic ST. VINCENT and THE GRENADINES Oct. 27: Independence Day

THAILAND Oct. 23: Chulalongkorn Day TRINIDAD and TOBAGO Oct. 26: Divali TURKEY Oct. 29: Republic Day TURKMENISTAN Oct. 6: Remembrance Day Oct. 27-28: Independence Day UGANDA Oct. 9: Independence Day URUGUAY Oct. 10: Columbus Day VENEZUELA Oct. 10: Columbus Day YEMEN Oct. 14: October Revolution Anniversary ZAMBIA Oct. 24: Independence Day

4 DATA 9

OUR

ARGENTINA Oct. 10: Columbus Day

SPEAKS VOLUMES

What does this mean? It means that, as a publication audited by Circulation Verification Council (CVC), we have a clear understanding of our impact, including the number of households we reach, how much we’re read and our influence on purchasing decisions. When it comes to serving readers and advertisers, CVC is the standard.

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October 2011


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