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  • Author: Lorenza Errighi
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: If 2020 was the year of “mask diplomacy”, as countries raced to tackle the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and acquire the necessary protective gear and equipment, 2021 is likely to be remembered as the year of “vaccine diplomacy”. Growing competition between states to secure the necessary quantities of vaccines to inoculate their population has already become an established feature of the post-COVID international system and such trends are only likely to increase in the near future. It normally takes up to a decade to transition from the development and testing of a vaccine in a laboratory to its large-scale global distribution. Despite current challenges, the speed of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns is unprecedented. To put an end to the current pandemic – which in one year has led to the loss of 2.6 million lives and triggered the worst economic recession since the Second World War – the goal is to ensure the widest immunisation of the world population in a timeframe of 12 to 18 months. In this context, COVID vaccines emerge as instruments of soft power, as they symbolise, on the one hand, scientific and technological supremacy and, on the other, means to support existing and emerging foreign policy partnerships and alliances with relevant geopolitical implications. From their experimentation in laboratories, to their purchase and distribution, the vaccine has emerged as a significant tool for competition between powers, often associated with the promotion of competing developmental and governance models across third countries.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Health, Vaccine, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Alistair D.B. Cook
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: As the confrontation between the protestors and the military in Myanmar continues to deteriorate, now more than ever is the time for regional diplomacy. Countries in the region can be the bridge needed to the people in Myanmar and the wider international community
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Military Affairs, Regional Integration
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: Julius Caesar Trajano
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Despite Duterte’s desire to shift Philippine security policy away from its treaty alliance with the US, Manila remains a close American ally. Key domestic, strategic and humanitarian factors actually make the alliance healthier. The Biden administration might just wait for Duterte to finish his term in a year's time.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Alliance
  • Political Geography: Philippines, North America, Asia-Pacific, United States of America
  • Author: Nobumasa Akiyama
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: On January 20, 2021, a new administration will take office in the United States. This could lead to changes in US-Iran relations. The Trump administration continued to provoke Iran by withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), tightening sanctions, and killing Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani. Meanwhile, the incoming president Joe Biden and key members of his diplomatic team are oriented toward a return to the JCPOA. In the midst of all this, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a nuclear scientist who is believed to have played a central role in Iran's nuclear development, was murdered. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded by saying he would retaliate at an "appropriate" time, and an advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said he would take "decisive" action. Although the US is not believed to have been directly involved in this incident, there are concerns that it will cast a dark shadow on the diplomacy between the US and Iran over the JCPOA. Shortly thereafter, Iran's parliament passed a law that obliges the government to take steps to expand nuclear activities that significantly exceed the JCPOA's limits and to seek the lifting of sanctions. The new US administration will need to be very careful not to overlook either hard or soft signals, to analyze Iran's future course, and to take diplomatic steps to reduce Iran's nuclear and regional security threats.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, JCPOA, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Nawar Samad
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: A Russian business delegation visited Lebanon in late June 2021 to offer support to the country by cultivating projects in the oil sector, development plans for the energy industry as well as the ports in Beirut and Tripoli. For the past two years, Lebanon, which is going through the worst economic and financial crisis in its history, and has been trying to secure international aid to survive, is now facing the attractive Russian economic bailout offer. Although such an offer is welcomed by Lebanon, the Russian initiative raises concerns across the West, and particularly in the United States, which is in control of Lebanon’s banking system and still has significant influence on the state’s politics and financial sector. The United States believes that it is not possible to dissociate this Russian offer from Moscow’s desire to expand its influence in a region, in which it already established military presence and gained access to the Eastern Mediterranean, where a conflict is underway over investment of newly-discovered gas fields.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Financial Crisis, Gas
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Irfan Yar
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: As the US completes its troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, Taliban has seized security vacuum to launch massive assaults. The group has unleashed violent chaos across the country and captured more than two-third of the territory, as per senior EU official estimates. On one hand, the insurgents have tightened their grip on seizing the provinces through military means. On the other hand, the insurgents claim that they want to resolve the issue in peaceful ways. “We are committed to finding a diplomatic solution for Afghanistan; the US-Taliban Doha agreement and the Intra-Afghan dialogue are the proofs that the Taliban want to solve the issue through negotiations,”[ii] said Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the deputy leader of the Taliban, on Wednesday, in Doha. Furthermore, Taliban leaders urge governors, military leaders, and other Jamiat Islami party leaders to surrender and put an end to the 40-years long conflict via negotiations. So, the question is, why have the Taliban fighters intensified violence and, at the same time, stress on making peace?
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Taliban, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, South Asia, Kabul
  • Author: Giorgi Surmava
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: On January 26, 2021, during a phone conversation between the President of the United States, Joseph Biden, and the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, a decision was confirmed by the parties to extend the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START, CHB-3) without any preconditions for five more years from February 5, 2021 to February 5, 2026 after which the sides exchanged diplomatic notes. New START was the last treaty still in force with regard to nuclear armaments as the United States left the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) under the Trump administration. At the same time, the Trump administration was also against extending New START without changes as it was set to expire in February 2021. Russia, on the other hand, was opposed to any kind of changes to this treaty. In a very short while after Biden’s arrival to power, the treaty was extended by five years without any changes. What was the reason for this decision? Why was the prior presidential administration against this and why did the new one make efforts to achieve an agreement in a short period of time? What can we expect to happen next? These are the questions that we will attempt to answer in this publication.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States of America
  • Author: Dustin Walcher, Lindsay M. Chervinsky, James F. Siekmeier, Kathryn C. Statler, Brian Etheridge, Seth Jacobs
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: Seth Jacobs can write. Rogue Diplomats is a book that specialists and educated general readers will enjoy, and the reviewers agree with my assessment. It is, in Kathryn Statler’s words, “an absolute page-turner.” Lindsay Chervinsky writes that it “… is a serious diplomatic history that contributes to our understanding of the field and U.S. history, but is also fun – a quality that isn’t always associated with historical scholarship, but should be welcome.” Brian Etheredge finds that Jacobs’ “vignettes are beautifully told,” and that he “has an eye for the telling quote and writes with a verve and sense of irony that captivates.” He is “a master storyteller at the top of his game.” In sum, Jacobs elucidates important episodes of U.S. diplomacy and entertains in the process. That alone is a substantial accomplishment.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, History, Diplomatic History, Dissent
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Lina Gong
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The Chinese government formed two new bodies in 2018 that have been expected to improve China’s response to natural hazards and humanitarian emergencies in other countries. What are the implications for Southeast Asia, where the risk and threat of different types of disaster persist?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Government, Risk, Disaster Management
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Mely Caballero-Anthony
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Averting the catastrophic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic requires no less than a coordinated and effective global response with the participation of all actors at multiple levels of governance. Asia must seize the opportunity to define its role in this endeavour.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Health, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jonathan Pryke
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In an atmosphere of heightened geostrategic competition, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has raised questions about the risk of debt problems in less-developed countries. Such risks are especially worrying for the small and fragile economies of the Pacific. A close look at the evidence suggests that China has not been engaged in debt-trap diplomacy in the Pacific, at least not so far. Nonetheless, if future Chinese lending continues on a business-as-usual basis, serious problems of debt sustainability will arise, and concerns about quality and corruption are valid.There have been recent signs that both China and Pacific Island governments recognize the need for reform. China needs to adopt formal lending rules similar to those of the multilateral development banks, providing more favorable terms to countries at greater risk of debt distress. Alternative approaches might include replacing or partially replacing EXIM loans with the interest-free loans and grants that the Chinese Ministry of Commerce already provides.
  • Topic: Debt, Development, Diplomacy, Geopolitics, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Louisa Keeler
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The small Gulf state of Oman’s identity is closely—if not inextricably—linked with the person of Sultan Qaboos, who passed away on January 10 after nearly 50 years in power. He singlehandedly transformed the country from a sleepy, closed-off country comprising disparate groups to an interconnected, modern, and unified state that has proven itself an invaluable player on the international scene. Within Oman, his portrait is ubiquitous, and his name is on countless mosques, hospitals, and institutions throughout the Sultanate, a sign of both his revered status and proof of his impact on society. Now that he is gone, he leaves behind an untested successor who is not particularly well known to the international community. Qaboos’ presence will be missed during one of the tensest moments since 1979 between the United States, Iran, and the Arab Gulf states, countries which have relied on Oman as a badly needed messenger and facilitator for negotiations. If there was ever a good time for Sultan Qaboos to die, this was not it.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Domestic politics, Monarchy, Sultan Qaboos
  • Political Geography: Oman, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Adam Garfinkle
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Sadness and tragedy come in many forms. One form consists in knowing how to solve a problem in theory, but realizing at the same time that what that would take in practice is not available. That is the case now with the tragedy unfolding in Idlib. There is a way to turn the crisis into an opportunity, but it would take wise and bold leaderships simultaneously in Washington, Jerusalem, Riyadh, Ankara, and the capitals of Europe. And that is precisely what we lack. What should be done? The U.S. government should privately propose, organize as necessary, and backstop as required a joint Israeli-Saudi intervention, coordinated with an on-going Turkish intervention, to save the million-plus refugees now facing imminent annihilation in Idlib Province, in Syria.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Military Intervention, Conflict, Syrian War, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Felix Chang
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Affronts to Australia by China’s top diplomat in Canberra and the Chinese Communist Party’s Global Times newspaper reached new heights in April 2020. What prompted their verbal barbs was the Australian government’s backing for an independent review into the origins and spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). While Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison may have regarded such a review as a way to avert future pandemics, Beijing saw it as support for finger-pointing at China. Whichever is the case, the affronts shone a light on how Beijing has come to view Australia and what it and other countries in the Indo-Pacific region might expect from China in the future. Still, China’s diplomatic and editorial barbs were surprising. China has long worked to move Australia closer into its orbit and away from that of the United States. And, by and large, those efforts had been paying off. Over the last decade, several Australian foreign policy analysts had come to believe that greater accommodation of China would be needed to ensure Australia’s future prosperity. Indeed, Canberra has already shown more sensitivity on issues, like Taiwan, which Beijing deemed strategic. But rather than being content with Australia’s gradual shift, China has undertaken actions that could undermine it, from cyber-espionage to political influence-buying in Australia. China’s most recent affronts are likely to deepen Australian concerns over what Chinese power means for the region.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Economy, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Australia
  • Author: Kyoko Kuwahara
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: China has seen its image in the US and other countries worsen due to its slow initial responses to the novel coronavirus and its failure to disclose sufficient information. Meanwhile, China has been trumpeting its success in containing the coronavirus and pursuing "mask diplomacy" by sending medical supplies and teams of doctors to countries around the world in a frantic effort to rehabilitate its image. A glimpse of the desperation with which China is seeking to comport itself as a world leader can be seen in the facts that a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman has used her own account on Twitter, inaccessible to the Chinese public at large, to appeal to public opinion in other countries, and that President Xi Jinping himself has engaged in a telephone offensive with the leaders of other countries.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Public Opinion, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Yuko Ido
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: On September 15, 2020, a joint statement was issued in Washington concerning Israeli peace agreements with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain (The Abraham Accords Declaration). These agreements brought to four the number of Arab nations that have official diplomatic relations with Israel, the first two being Egypt (since 1979) and Jordan (since 1994)1. US President Trump himself praised these as "historic agreements"; however, there was no Palestinian representative at this celebration. These agreements mainly focus on strengthening economic and security relations among the participating countries, and they have encountered both supporting and opposing views within the international community. In particular, Iran and Turkey, which are at odds with Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the region, have strongly criticized the agreements, saying they run counter to resolving the Palestinian Question. Many readers might recall the Camp David Accords of about 40 years ago that led to the first peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Let us now compare the two peace efforts and consider what the meaning of the 'Arab Cause' has been.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, United States of America
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Israel resides at the cusp of the widening US-Chinese divide, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent visit to Israel attests. Pompeo’s visit was for the express purpose of reminding Jerusalem that its dealings with Beijing jeopardize its relationship with Washington.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Arms Trade, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Israel, Asia, Palestine, North America, United States of America
  • Author: George N Tzogopoulos
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Greece, Israel, and five other countries of the Eastern Mediterranean have established the East Med Gas Forum. Turkey is not a member and is employing its own muscular approach in the region. The US would like the Forum to be more inclusive, specifically toward Ankara. Athens and Jerusalem could launch a diplomatic initiative to explore Turkey’s participation, as they have nothing to lose and much to gain from such an initiative.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Gas, Trade
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Mediterranean
  • Author: András Rácz
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The impending presidential election in Belarus on August 9, 2020, is highly likely to result in the smooth victory of incumbent Alexandr Lukashenko. Despite this fact, the unprecedented – and still growing – politicization of Belarusian society constitutes a challenge to the regime that will not fade even after a clear-cut election. The resulting tensions will require more diplomatic attention from Germany and the European Union.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Politics, European Union, Society, Presidential Elections
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Germany, Belarus
  • Author: Adam Traczyk
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Zbigniew Rau, who was appointed foreign minister on August 26, will help align the trajectory of Polish diplomacy with the government’s general line. His appointment fits into the logic of a larger government reshuffle, expected this fall, which aims for a greater centralization of power. His higher standing in the governing PiS party may, however, halt the gradual loss of relevance of Poland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Poland, Belarus
  • Author: András Rácz
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: After two weeks of heavy fighting, the new war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh is likely to escalate further. International actors have so far been unable to broker a ceasefire. In this case, the EU, with its limited leverage, can add most value by leading a response to the inevitable humanitarian catastrophe. EU diplomatic efforts should be led by France and Germany, coordinated with other member states, and also with Russia, to the extent necessary.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, War, European Union, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, France, Germany, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh
  • Author: Benjamin Augé
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Until recently, Saudi Arabia was the country out of the Gulf countries that had the greatest number of diplomatic missions in Africa. Although it is now outstripped by Qatar, which has been striving since the beginning of the Emirati-Saudi embargo that started in June 2017 to open a large number of diplomatic posts in Africa. The Saudi diplomatic network was formerly established in predominantly Muslim states (in the Maghreb, West Africa and in the Horn of Africa) and in South Africa. The kingdom can mainly rely on experienced diplomats, who have maintained a presence in Africa since the 1970s, boosted after the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution and the desire to prevent a spread of Shiism on the continent. Nowadays, Saudi Arabia is also clearly involved in Africa as elsewhere, to counter the influence of its Qatari neighbor.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Islam, Soft Power, Trade Policy
  • Political Geography: Africa, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Christopher Datta
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Across the developing world the United States runs aid programs that have met the laudable goal of reducing infant mortality and maternal death resulting from childbirth. We have done some astonishing things, such as completely eliminating smallpox. Now we are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by working to equip local communities with the tools needed to fight back against the coronavirus. Effective and inexpensive vaccines are everywhere administered to countless children who would otherwise die or be crippled by disease. More vaccines are on the way, perhaps even one for malaria, one of the biggest killers in the developing world. It is nothing short of a miracle. And yet the impact of these efforts in many countries could well be a legacy of war, famine, misery and the creation of new and even worse diseases.
  • Topic: Development, Diplomacy, USAID, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Robert Cox
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Amid the toil and trouble of their own politics Americans might have a moment to note the self-flagellation of their closest European ally. There’s more to come – and the US is going to be drawn into it, whether it likes it or not. Coronavirus has now temporarily obscured the Brexit issue while arguably inflicting upon the European Union the greatest strains since its creation. A stricken EU helps nobody.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, European Union, Brexit, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, United States of America, North America
  • Author: Derek Sandhaus
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: It’s rare that I receive a summons to brief senior diplomats. You see I’m a writer and what is referred to as a “trailing spouse” in the U.S. Foreign Service. So when my diplomat wife informed me that the Consul General and his deputy would like to meet with me, no one was more surprised than I. When I learned what they had in mind it all made more sense: They wanted me to tell them how to drink, more specifically how to drink in the Chinese manner.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Culture, Memoir, Alcohol
  • Political Geography: China, United States of America
  • Author: Jane Carpenter-Rock
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: In a 1956 State Department memo, J. Burke Wilkinson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, articulated the Department’s need for a “display room or museum for the preservation and exhibition of documents and objects important in the history of the Department of State and the Foreign Service.” Again in 1958, a series of internal memos urged the creation of a “Department Museum” and the development of a “related presentation program” to include “eighty additional galleries in the U.S. posts all over the world,” an idea supported by then-Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. For over sixty years, the effort to establish a “Department Museum” has waxed and waned. Intervening issues like war, international crises, changes in administration, and the ever-present need for office space, have often taken priority. However, the long-held vision of establishing a Department museum is finally taking shape in the form of the National Museum of American Diplomacy. With a projected opening date of 2022, this long-awaited museum promises to be a platform where the American people can finally see the “devoted efforts of the Department’s officers and employees to further the interest of our nation.” This article will explore the development of the National Museum of American Diplomacy and its goal to shed light on the history and practice of American diplomacy through the stories of its people.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, History , Museums
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Renee M. Earle
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: This year marks the 70th anniversary of the first Nobel Peace Prize presented for efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East between Israel and Arab nations in Palestine. The recipient was Ralph Bunche, an American academic and diplomat with the U.N., who received the Peace Prize in 1950 for brokering the Israeli-Arab armistice agreements in 1949. The agreements ended the official hostilities of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon and established armistice lines between Israeli and Arab nation forces that held until the 1967 Six-Day War. (This same seemingly intractable confrontation yielded two later Peace Prizes: to Anwar al-Sadat and Menachem Begin in 1978 and to Yassar Arafat, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin in 1994.)
  • Topic: Diplomacy, United Nations, Conflict, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Carter Wilbur
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: As the U.S. shifts its focus to Great Power Competition (GPC), the relationship between USSOF and embassies worldwide must likewise shift to reflect a whole-of-government approach. In Part 1, I took stock of the current relationship between U.S. embassies and U.S. Special Operations Forces (USSOF), which, while good overall, is too often geared to separate efforts rooted in the counter-terrorism context, where a USSOF unit’s narrow mission against a terrorist cell requires minimal coordination with the embassy’s broader political and economic missions. There are more ways embassies and USSOF can support each other than are currently being realized. The next step is for both sides to develop a more symbiotic, institutional relationship. To that end, I propose five points to guide the development of USSOF-embassy relations, based loosely on the “Five SOF Truths” that have summarized USSOF philosophy since 1987.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Armed Forces, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Albadr AbuBaker Alshateri
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: When Dubai World Ports (DWP), a Dubai Government-owned entity, sought to purchase the British company Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation (P&O) in 2006, it faced huge opposition from the US Congress, local authority, and national security experts, despite the Bush Administration’s approval of the deal. The acquisition of P&O would have given the Dubai company the concession to run six major ports in the USA.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Exports, Trade, Imports
  • Political Geography: North America, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Ophir Falk
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Peace is a universal value, the highest virtue in Jewish tradition, and cherished by anyone longing for a brighter future for his children. Pragmatic Muslim leaders are no exception and with the recently reached “Abraham Accords’, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel have proven that Peace for Peace is possible.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North America
  • Author: Imad K. Harb
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: The recent agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Sudan will not help the cause of regional peace.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Edward Marks
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: While the recent accords with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Sudan moves Israel further along the path of regional integration and diplomatic normalization, the deal does nothing for Israel’s other existential threat — the Palestinians living in Israel proper, the West Bank, and Gaza. Nevertheless, it is a big deal. It is all part of the evolving Middle East where Arab support for the Palestinians has been melting for years. For decades, many Arab states were united in their hostility toward Israel and support for the Palestinian cause, even though in some cases that backing was largely rhetorical. But change has been under way for decades, beginning with the Egyptian and Jordanian formal recognition of Israel and then in the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative (API). That Saudi Arabian initiative called for normalizing relations between the Arab world and Israel, in exchange for a full withdrawal by Israel from the occupied territories (including the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and Lebanon), a “just settlement” of the Palestinian refugee problem based on UN Resolution 242, and the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Integration, Peace, Normalization
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • Author: Renee M. Earle
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Some months ago, a former senior State Department official told NPR that the State Department had recognized the importance of reaching broader foreign publics because they are much more influential today in shaping their governments’ policies. While the Internet and social media have obviously accelerated the development of this public influence, I was dismayed at the suggestion that the importance of public outreach abroad was a recent realization within the State Department. The abysmal ratings today for the U.S. in one global poll after another, including the 2020 Pew Global Attitudes report, more than ever demand that the department prioritize and enable a robust public diplomacy program in the toolbox of our foreign relations.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Public Opinion, Internet, Social Media
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Charles Ray
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: When I served as the U.S. Department of States Diplomat in Residence at the University of Houston (TX) during the 2005-2006 academic year, in addition to recruiting and mentoring college students interested in taking the Foreign Service Exam, I did a lot of speaking on diplomacy and foreign relations in southeast and south Texas. One of the audiences I particularly liked talking to was high school students, the most interesting and challenging I’ve faced in my 30-year diplomatic career.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Memoir
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Kenneth Weisbrode
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Secretary of State Michael Pompeo raised a few eyebrows in August when he spoke, on foreign soil, to the Republican National Convention. Cabinet members, especially the Secretary of State, are held to a high standard in politics because they are meant to be custodians of the nation’s image. Many people regard party politics as tarnish on that image. Yet, Americans have long championed a gift for image-making. Related to that has been a less cynical belief, even faith, in the appeal of the American way of life, the American dream, a “decent respect for the opinions of mankind,” and similar truths taught to every American schoolchild. Today’s national mood and reputation challenge those norms in ways that do not bear repeating. The lamentations are omnipresent in print, on radio, on television, and online. What has been missing until only very recently has been the moral call to arms that usually accompanies such moments in American history.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: June Carter Perry
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: What is a Diplomat in Residence in 2020? In order to reach out to potential future Foreign Service Officers (FSOs), the Department of State places experienced officers at colleges and universities in sixteen regions of the United States. The FSOs assigned as Diplomats in Residence (DIRs) offer guidance and advice on careers, internships and fellowships to students and professionals in the communities they serve. Although one might compare their roles to those of recruiters for corporations or universities, in fact, the DIR’s responsibilities are much broader. Based on my position as Diplomat in Residence at Howard University 2001-2002, the DIR is a counselor, a teacher, a mentor and sometimes a parent.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Foreign Aid, Memoir
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: William A. Rugh
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: During the pandemic that swept the world in 2020, President Trump sought to focus major blame on China, where the virus first emerged. At a press conference on March 20, as American cases increased dramatically, he began to call it the “Chinavirus”, crossing out the word “coronavirus” in his prepared text. He continued to use that term, so criticizing China became a central theme in American “public diplomacy”. A new burden was added to the U.S.-China relationship, at the very time we need more, not less, mutual understanding.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Renee M. Earle
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: A few weeks ago, on July 4, we Americans celebrated our country and its freedoms, and we clearly have much to be grateful for – and also much to ponder. Seen both from within the U.S. and from much of the rest of the world, early Massachusetts Colonialist John Winthrop’s idealized “city on the hill” where “the eyes of the people will be upon us,” no longer looks as bright, and this should worry us. Much has been written to lament America’s retreat from the world stage during the current administration, which has been driven apparently by the mistaken notion that the U.S. can escape what affects the rest of the world simply by opting out or by saber rattling to get its way. But the longer the U.S. continues down this path, the question changes from whether the U.S. will want to reassume its 20th century role to whether the rest of the world will be willing to welcome back the America it perceives today. To watchers around the globe the America that led the world to increases in stability, prosperity, democracy, and human rights has disappeared in the trashing of international treaties and trade agreements, riots against racial discrimination, police violence, and our inability to deal effectively with the corona virus pandemic.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Charles Ray
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: The issue of militarization of American foreign policy is one that has simmered for decades. The American preference for employment of economic pressure and/or military force as a ‘quick-fix’ to deal with international problems instead of a more nuanced diplomatic approach is not a phenomenon of the 20th or 21st century. The increased militarization of U.S. foreign policy of the last decade is a continuation of a trend that has existed in one form or another for most of the nation’s history. The over-reliance on military power in foreign affairs, the militarization of U.S. foreign policy, dramatically increased with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. However, almost from the beginning of the founding of the republic, under pressure from business interests concerned with maintaining or increasing their prosperity or groups interested in maintaining their positions of influence or power, American political leaders have often resorted to use of force for a short-term solution.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Affairs, History, Militarization
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Ken Moskowitz
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: On June 15, State Department Inspector General Steve Linick officially departed his office, after his firing the previous month by President Donald Trump. The president said, per the clichéd phrase, that he had “lost confidence” in Linick. Linick is the fifth U.S. Government inspector general fired by Trump. The president has fired his cabinet secretaries and bureaucrats frequently. Why is this one important? Before retiring in 2015, I spent the last three years of my career as a Foreign Service Officer at the State Department as an inspector in the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The last two years were under Steve Linick. The OIG, replicated in most U.S. departments, conducts investigations, audits, and inspections of domestic State Department offices and overseas missions and embassies to insure that they are adhering to professional standards and properly carrying out their assigned duties. They also conduct ad hoc or topical investigations and inspections when particular problems have been brought to the IG leadership via its hotline or other confidential communications.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Memoir, Civil Servants
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Raymond A. Smith
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Dr. Smith’s 2011 book, The Craft of Political Analysis for Diplomats offered suggestions for doing political analysis better, from the viewpoint of a foreign service officer who had spent most of his diplomatic career practicing the craft. In this follow-on piece, Smith expands on his original discussion with thoughts on the cardinal sins of political analysis.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Political Analysis
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Tianna Spears
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: My name is Tianna Spears. Many may recognize me as the Black diplomat who ultimately fled the State Department after being harassed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials while crossing the border into the country where I was born. At the age of 26, I was diagnosed with debilitating mental health conditions and left traumatized. But I am not my trauma— I am a friend, sister, daughter. A person. I am now 28 years old. This year has been bittersweet for me. My grief, disappointment, rage, and sadness are not just personal, but as a Black woman in America, I’ve grappled with the question of how do I grieve a personal loss that is also systemic?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Government, Race, Reform, Memoir
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Peter Bridges
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: In 1981 I was assigned to our Rome embassy as the deputy to the ambassador, Maxwell Rabb. The Red Brigade terrorists had been active in Italy for some years. They had been responsible for perhaps thousands of violent actions and had killed many people, most notably former Prime Minister Aldo Moro in 1978. One day before I left Washington, my colleague Gary Matthews said “You are going to carry a weapon in Rome, I assume.” “Why, no. I don’t have one and I don’t plan to buy one.” “Go down to the Department armory and they’ll fix you up.”
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Weapons , Memoir
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Gregory Orr
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Of all the cultural tools used by the United States Information Agency (USIA) to promote public diplomacy, film had a prominent role. For nearly half a century, the film division at USIA produced, distributed, and sponsored films throughout the world. It is estimated that the USIA archive included nearly 18,000 films distributed to over 150 nations in dozens of languages. They ranged widely in style (documentary, newsreel, animation, educational, and even fiction) and subject matter (social issues, biography, history, the arts, the environment, daily life in America, and sports.)
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Media, Film, Soft Power, Memoir
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Bob Baker
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: In a November 1973 nationally televised press conference, President Richard Nixon denied his involvement in the Watergate cover-up and declared “I am not a crook.” In the U.K., where I was working in the U.S. embassy, British television showed the scene repeatedly as part of its daily coverage of the Watergate break-in scandal. As an assistant cultural affairs officer in the London embassy, part of my job was to improve the U.S. image and British understanding of our policies. I did not agree with all of our policies, but focused my work on the best in U.S. policy and culture. That included keeping British support for NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, our main alliance in the cold war with the Soviet Union. For months, President Nixon twisted on television every day as investigations led toward him. He wanted to avoid blame for his role in the burglary at Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. His almost daily interviews on television had eroded British trust in the United States. How could Brits trust the U.S. as a strategic partner in NATO if the President was a crook?
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, Memoir, Richard Nixon
  • Political Geography: Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Jonathan B. Rickert
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: One of the traditional tasks of diplomacy is the negotiation of bilateral and multilateral agreements. Although many diplomats may spend an entire career without ever engaging in such activity, I am pleased that I had the chance to do so.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Memoir
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Romania, North America, United States of America
  • Author: J. R. Bullington
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: My first overseas post as a newly-minted Foreign Service Officer was the American Consulate at Hué. I arrived in July, 1965, just as the massive deployment of U.S. combat units was getting underway. Emerging from a redneck hillbilly background in Tennessee and Alabama, and devoid of any international experience, I could not imagine the challenging, life-shaping adventure on which I was about to embark. This is my Foreign Service war story/love story/coming-of-professional-age story, as well as a participant’s account of a significant but largely unknown episode in the history of the Vietnam War. In 1965, the Vietnam War had not yet come to dominate American politics as it did by 1967. Nonetheless, it was very much in the news, and I was happy to be going to an exciting job in an exotic country that was emerging as a major focus of American foreign policy. Moreover, I had been unable to achieve my childhood dream of a military career because of a teenage bout with polio that left me with a slightly crippled leg, so I was pleased to have this opportunity to serve my country in a war. I was 24, and more than a little naïve.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Memoir, Vietnam War, Buddhism
  • Political Geography: Vietnam, North America, Southeast Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Morton III Holbrook
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: As Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines in 2000-2004, I worked closely with the American Chamber of Commerce in Manila. Amcham also had a branch office in Davao, the largest city in the southern island of Mindanao, staffed by Filipino nationals. In early 2001, I made my first visit to Davao to check out economic conditions there and help promote U.S. business interests. Though generally peaceful, Mindanao has a troubled history of rebellion and terrorist attacks. As a result, the Embassy’s Regional Security Office gave me a special briefing on what to expect, concluding by telling me to “keep a low profile.“ I flew from Manila to Davao airport, keeping this advice in mind. There was no jetway; our plane stopped about 100 feet from the terminal. As I walked down the steps from the plane, I saw a large banner running about half the length of the terminal building that said “American Chamber of Commerce in Davao Welcomes Morton Holbrook, Economic Counselor, American Embassy Manila.” So much for the security officer’s low profile advice, I thought!
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Memoir, Civil Servants
  • Political Geography: Philippines, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Pamela J. Slutz, Brian L. Goldbeck
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: President George W. Bush’s November 2005 visit to Mongolia marked an important milestone in U.S.-Mongolia relations. When the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1987 after many years of Cold War frostiness, Mongolia was a communist country closely allied to the Soviet Union.Bush’s visit, the first by a sitting U.S. president, re-affirmed Mongolia’s transformation from communism to democracy and a free market economy.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Public Policy, Memoir
  • Political Geography: Mongolia, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mark Wentling
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: My friends say I was born and raised in Kansas, but I was made in Africa. I first stepped on the continent in 1970 as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Togo and stayed much longer than expected, serving with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and working with non-governmental organizations across the continent. I ended up knowing firsthand in varying degrees each of Africa’s 54 countries.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Memoir, Peace Corps, USAID
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States of America