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  • Author: Kenneth I. Juster
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: The conventional wisdom is that the foreign policy of Donald Trump’s Administration severely damaged relations with U.S. allies and partners. Commentators point to repeated criticism by the United States of friends in Europe and Asia, as well as the abrupt withdrawal from trade and other arrangements. But such critics overlook the U.S. relationship with India, which made significant advances and will be an area of substantial continuity in Joseph Biden’s Administration. The U.S.-India partnership has grown steadily since the turn of the century, with the past four years seeing major progress in diplomatic, defense, economic, energy and health cooperation. The strengthened bilateral relationship has become the backbone of an Indo-Pacific strategy designed to promote peace and prosperity in a dynamic and contested region. The longstanding U.S. commitment to the Indo-Pacific has underpinned the stability and remarkable economic rise of this region over the last 70 years. While the concept of the Indo-Pacific has been many years in the making, in the past four years the United States and India have turned it into a reality. For the United States, the Indo-Pacific agenda meant working with India to provide coordinated leadership in addressing the threat from an expansionist China, the need for more economic connectivity and other challenges in the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Hegemony
  • Political Geography: China, India, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Eileen Donahoe
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: The United States plans to host a Summit for Democracy to advance President Joseph Biden’s stated priority for national security of revitalizing democracy. Digital technology must be a focal point of the Summit. The future of democracy depends, in large part, on the ability of democracies to confront the digital transformation of society – to address the challenges and to capitalize on its opportunities. Over the past decade, democracies have struggled to meet this test, while authoritarians have used technology to deepen repression and extend global influence. To combat the digital authoritarian threat, democracies must be rallied around a shared values-based vision of digital society and a joint strategic technology agenda. The Summit tech agenda should revolve around five core themes: 1) Democracies must get their own tech policy “houses” in order; 2) To win the normative battle, democracies must compete and win the technology battle; 3) Technological transformation necessitates governance innovation; 4) To win the geopolitical battle for the soul of 21st century digital society, democracies must band together; 5) Technology must be reclaimed for citizens and humanity.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Democracy, Summit
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Tibor P. Nagy
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Ethiopia, a key strategic partner of the United States in the Horn of Africa, is in the process of a remarkable turnaround. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his “reform agenda,” the nation is transforming itself from a statist, authoritarian regime in a state of perpetual “no war, no peace” with its neighbor Eritrea to the north, to an example for the rest of Africa due to its strong economic growth, democratic governance and regional stability. It is a place where private investment is being welcomed, educational opportunities are flourishing and women are finally being seen as equal contributors to national development. In addition, the 20-year border conflict with Eritrea has ended, with Ethiopia accepting the final decision of a UN border demarcation commission that awarded most of the contested territory to Eritrea.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Economic Growth, Investment
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ethiopia
  • Author: Kurt W. Tong
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: The summer of 2019, with all its compelling political drama, will certainly be remembered as a pivotal moment in the history of Hong Kong. In the end, however, will 2019 will be remembered as a tragic turning point, heralding Hong Kong’s increasing instability and irrelevancy in the coming years? Or, optimistically, will future historians see this year as a moment when Hong Kong’s key stakeholders, inside and outside the city, were sufficiently reminded of the city’s special value and characteristics to do what is necessary to keep its “one country, two systems” dream alive? The answers to this set of questions will have important implications for the national interests of the United States in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Social Movement, Political stability, State Formation
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, Hong Kong, United States of America
  • Author: H.E. Shinsuke J. Sugiyama
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: When I was appointed as Japan’s Ambassador to the United States in early 2018, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other political leaders had very clear instructions to me: they told me to go outside of the Capital Beltway as often as possible to explore the many communities that make up the United States of America. Following this instruction, I have visited nearly 30 states so far. As a diplomat who has frequently interacted with the United States during my career, even I was surprised by the depth of my feelings during these visits. I am finding that this is truly the “United” States of America! In city after city, even as people express worries about the current state of the world, they also mention that the Japan-U.S. alliance and the ties between our people have become a stable constant in these unsettled times. I believe that this full maturation of the Japan-U.S. relationship into a global partnership will allow us to build a more peaceful and prosperous world together.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Partnerships, Strategic Planning
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Gonul Tol
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: For decades, Turkey’s conflict with its own Kurdish minority has hindered the country’s democratization. But neither Turkey’s democratization nor the Kurdish quest for political rights has occupied an important place in U.S. policy. Turkey’s democratic shortcomings have been ignored by U.S. administrations for the sake of greater geostrategic interests. In a similar fashion, Kurdish rights have been overlooked in the game of power politics. Today’s regional context, however, ties Turkish democracy and the peaceful resolution of the Kurdish question to the U.S. security interests in the region. The United States must therefore pay closer attention to both. There is no doubt that most freedoms under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have been dramatically curtailed. Opposition leaders continue to face arrest and prosecution. Authorities use anti-terror laws broadly against those who are critical of the government. Thousands of people—including minors, journalists, foreign journalists, human rights activists, and social media users—who exercise their right to freedom of expression face criminal prosecutions on trumped-up terrorism charges. The mainstream media are largely controlled by the government and routinely carry identical headlines. Most concerning of all, however, is the ongoing conflict between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). A string of clashes in the mainly Kurdish region between the PKK and Turkish security forces has killed thousands since the ceasefire broke down in 2015—including 464 civilians, 1,166 Turkish security personnel, and 2,544 PKK militants—and displaced 350,000 people[1]. Both the PKK and the Turkish state played a role in the destruction of major segments of Kurdish cities. The political ramifications of the fighting have been equally disastrous. The Turkish state response has largely criminalized Kurdish political expression. Hundreds of Kurdish news outlets have been shut down. Thousands of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) activists and dozens of Kurdish co-mayors and HDP parliamentarians remain in prison. The Turkish government has removed elected mayors in Kurdish regions and installed government-appointed trustees in all but a few of the 102 HDP-controlled municipalities.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Democracy, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Asia
  • Author: Jude Blanchette, Qiu Mingda
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: After two days of intense talks with United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and his delegation crossed the street to the White House on the afternoon of October 11th to meet with President Donald Trump for the first time since the negotiations collapsed in May. The visit marked the 13th round of the bilateral trade talks and concluded with an announcement from the Oval Office of a “phase one” agreement. According to President Trump, this included China’s commitment to purchase $40-50 billion of U.S. agricultural products and a pledge to strengthen its intellectual property protection regime domestically. Moreover, Beijing would make still-unknown adjustments to how it manages its currency, the renminbi. For its part, the United States delayed a scheduled tariff hike on $250 billion of Chinese goods from 25% to 30% on October 15th. In addition, the Treasury Department would potentially review its previous decision to designate China a currency manipulator. All in all, it seemed to mark a turning point in the bilateral tensions. According to a tweet from President Trump two days later, this was the beginning of a larger deal that would be spread over three phases and that would benefit American farmers and potentially put an end to the trade hostilities between the two nations. In short, he tweeted, “the relationship with China is very good.” Though he acknowledged that the actual terms of any deal are still being worked out, the President repeatedly expressed optimism that he and Chinese leader Xi Jinping could ink a deal by mid-November during their meeting at the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Santiago, Chile. Unfortunately, such confidence is misplaced. The decided lack of details on the scope, timing and mechanics of the phase one announcement is an indication of just how preliminary the agreement is. Second, Beijing remains unwilling to make more substantive concessions on core structural issues, ranging from its preferential treatment of its state-owned enterprises to a credible commitment that it will protect the intellectual property of foreign companies. Finally, even if phase one comes to fruition, this won’t do much to reduce the uncertainty that likely will define the U.S.-China relationship for years to come, as both countries begin to openly acknowledge that they are entering a period of prolonged strategic rivalry.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Trade Policy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Monica Damberg-Ott
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: The U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, or IVLP, is often referred to as the “gold standard” of exchange programs within the public diplomacy community. The program celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2015, and more than 200,000 International Visitors have engaged with Americans through the IVLP, including more than 505 current or former Chiefs of State or Heads of Government,[1] since its inception in 1940. Margaret Thatcher, Hamid Karzai, and Indira Gandhi, to name just a few, are alumni. But with recent budget constraints and the need to demonstrate immediate, results-driven programming, the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) is placing greater emphasis on its most flexible rapid-response exchanges. Among those programs is the highly adaptable and policy-responsive option: the IVLP On Demand. So how does it differ from the original model, how does it compare, and how might it help show results more quickly? Each year, nearly 5,000 exchange participants come to the United States on the IVLP,[2] a foreign policy tool that helps strengthen U.S. engagement with countries around the world and cultivates lasting relationships. The program connects current and emerging foreign policy leaders with their American counterparts through short-term visits to the United States. Ambassadors often chair the rigorous, annual selection committees that embassies overseas use to nominate key contacts viewed as leaders in their respective fields to participate in the program. Each embassy fills its “IVLP slate” with nominees whose participation in the program helps to advance the mission’s key bilateral or multilateral goals. The majority of IVLP exchanges include visits to four U.S. communities over three weeks, although projects vary based on themes, embassy requests and other factors. From D.C. to St. Louis, from Kalamazoo to Seattle, and everywhere in between, participants meet with professional counterparts, visit U.S. public- and private-sector organizations related to the project theme and participate in cultural and social activities. (Baseball games are usually a big hit!) The program benefits the U.S. economy as well—a large portion of the funding goes back to the states in the form of visitors’ hotels, restaurants, transporta­tion and tourism. The success of the program is in its diversity—regional, political, religious and thematic. As the Exchanges Coordinator for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, I had the opportunity to meet and brief nearly 2,000 International Visitors from 2014-2016. Government officials, teachers, judges, law enforcement officers, human rights activists and other leaders from all over Asia participated in programs exploring topics ranging from judicial reform to cyber-security, from disability rights to maritime security, from food safety to trade regulation. For most participants, the program is transformational. I saw it firsthand in their excitement and gratitude in being selected. I witnessed it in the questions they asked and the discussions that ensued. I read it in the emails I received months later from participants who said the program changed their lives and inspired them to start a project, set up a conference or draft legislation.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Jr. James D. Melville
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: In August, Estonia marked 25 years since the end of Soviet occupation and the restoration of its national institutions. Estonia’s rapid reintegration with the West as a sovereign, stable, and prosperous democracy is nothing short of remarkable, and it serves as an inspiration to other nations. Theirs is a journey made possible through disciplined leadership, solid regulatory frameworks, strategic decisions, and a steadfast commitment to being a contributing member of European, transatlantic, and international alliances. Our partnership is one of allies with synchronized goals and values, a rare combination that gives both countries leverage to do even more.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Estonia
  • Author: Rufus Gifford
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Denmark is one of America’s closest partners. Near the pinnacle of global indices of wealth, well-being, and democracy, Denmark is uniquely positioned to work alongside the United States in support of our shared approaches to addressing 21st century global challenges. It is the only Nordic country that is a member of all three vital multinational organizations: NATO, EU, and Arctic Council. Denmark very much reinforces President Obama’s now-famous foreign policy quote in the April 2016 edition of The Atlantic: “If only everyone could be like the Scandinavians, this would all be easy.”
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Denmark