All posts by chrysoula90

Struggles of Diplomacy

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How far can diplomacy go? With the recent release of the UN report detailing extensively the crimes being committed in North Korea, the UN is calling for greater international pressure on the nation and for the North Korean government to close its labor campus. But when a whole government is in denial anything is happening, what happens then?  Unfortunately, the UN has a poor reputation when it comes to imposing certain demands.

Additionally, beyond imposing more sanctions (which many can argue are not really that effective)  what else can the international community do? Now that the UN is willing to concentrate on more than just the proliferation of nuclear weapons in North Korea, does this mean anything for how people the international community approaches diplomatic efforts with North Korea now?  To exacerbate matters China’s veto power is hindering the international community’s efforts to do something more productive.

This is where diplomacy struggles, especially if a  entire government is in denial. It is astonishing that human rights abuses to the extent we see in North Korea  has been going on for over six decades. What role can diplomacy have now that there is an official report of the extent of these crimes? While I like to think that diplomacy can make a difference, this is where diplomacy becomes  a monologue where North Korea refuses to budge because it believes it has nothing to gain from opening itself up to dialog.  Military force is simply not an option ( nor is it something anyone wants to  risk doing). What can the international community do and should they do anything?  I am curious to know what others think.

Here is the link to the article: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/03/18/asia-pacific/long-road-to-hold-kim-north-korea-liable-for-crimes/#.UyiQAV5cui8

 

Evoking Godwin’s Law: War of Words in Asia

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For those of us who use the internet often,  Godwin’s Law is all too familiar in social media. For those unfamiliar with the so-called law, it simply states that  by comparing someone to Hitler or something to Nazism, it  shuts down the discussion completely.

While Godwin’s law tends to refer to internet discussions, it, unfortunately, seems to be applicable to real diplomatic efforts ( and  frankly, failures) between countries. President Aquino of the Philippines has recently been criticized for basically comparing China to Nazi Germany. When rallying support against “China’s claims to its nearby seas” he stated: “At what point do you say: ‘Enough is enough’? Well, the world has to say it. Remember that the Sudetenland [ Czechoslovakia] was given in an attempt to appease Hitler to prevent World War II.”

Read the full story here:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-26048500

We mentioned a few times in class that really image is everything. But what about words? What politicians say  ( in addition to what they do) unfortunately can really undermine one’s credibility., especially in an age of information, ( why do you think people get so upset over the usage of “your” and “you’re” on Facebook? Kidding aside there is a danger to name calling and extreme comparisons).  President Aquino’s statement may only serve to alienate the Philippines further from potential diplomatic ties with China. Whatever side of the issue one may stand on, for the President to release this kind of statement  is  dangerous in a PR standpoint and strategically will likely hurts its position in the region. By evoking such a comparison in cyberspace and the real world, the action tends to ignore  real concerns  and issues that have nothing to do with Nazi Germany.   I am sure President  Aquino has valid concerns  regarding China’s claim to the islands. However comparing this dispute to that of Nazi Germany and France and Great Britain undermines the reality what WWII was.

Additionally, the statement may only serve to create an ever widening gulf between potential diplomatic relations in the region.  There are better ways of addressing these territorial issues, but until people can move away from eliciting certain events that have historical and emotional context completely separate from current situations, there will never be real discourse. Words have power, particularly in this day in age where certain statements stand out more than others, for better or worse.

 

Unoffical Allies

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The following articles published in Nippon.com high light the increasingly positive yet complex relationship between Japan and Taiwan. http://www.nippon.com/en/in-depth/a02201/ & http://www.nippon.com/en/in-depth/a02204/.

Despite not having an offical diplomatic relations since the 1970s, Japan’s popularity has risen in Taiwan and vis a versa.  Appreciation for Japan in Taiwan has grown so strong, it has even been given a name, hari. The attitude was perhapes highlighted the most when Taiwan gave about 20billion yen to Japan after the Tohoku earthquake.  Considering Japan’s  rather rocky relationship with other countries in the region  it has managed to garner a support in a small nation that for all purposes has not had any kind of formal relations since the 1970’s.

This has been driven by the desire to stay on the PRC’s good side but at the detriment of official relations with Taiwan.  Ultimately, it is the public on both sides who are driving the relationship. Japan hosts about 1 million Taiwanese tourists each year and Taiwan gets about the same number annually ( it has been fewer lately due to the decreasing value of the yen however).  As both articles allude to it is the culture of both nations that drive them to each other. Japan’s history in Taiwan may also have some amount of influence which the articles touch on but don’t go into too much detail. It is interesting that despite how recent the history is, the overall relationship is relatively positive, but of course that is not saying everyone is supports this sentiment. Hari Kyoko explains how the Taiwanese media has been to heckle people who show appreciation for Japan.

What was interesting from the article was that despite the lack of official diplomatic relations, the appreciation of each others culture through their music, food, attractions, business etiquette, values is what it ultimately at the heart of public diplomacy. PD does not always have to be about forging official ties, it can be as simple as appreciating another culture. This is one facet of soft power. In one of our past readings we discussed how it can be hard to determine what “success” in PD ultimately is.  Personally I believe that a large part of PD, intentional or not, is to show that that the other is human.

 

 

 

Perceptions Abroad

 A large portion of PD is about branding or what kind of messages we send out about ourselves. Hayden linked PD to the idea of “soft power” or “affecting others to obtain the outcomes you want” (6). One of the three major characteristics of soft power as Hayden describes it is the “attractiveness” of an actors culture and institutions” (6).

This article from the Huffington post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mario-machado/service-as-diplomacy-the _b_3937024.html?utm_source=Daily+Media+Digest&utm_campaign=8907ea41ec-Media_Digest_9_23_13&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e87ea75dce-8907ea41ec-215172549 written by Mario Machado highlights some of  images that the US tends to portray of itself, in particular those that come from the military and of the Peace Corps. Unfortunately, as Machado describes, the most powerful  and lasting image of the two is that of the US military. The US  as it is pictured abroad is not necessarily seen a peaceful, despite the efforts of  the  Peace Corps or other organizations who offer humanitarian aid to developing nations.

To a large extent, both the Peace Corps and the military are the face of US  around the world, and all to often that face or image is conflicting. As Machado explains the “first function of the Peace Corpse Volunteers is that of cultural ambassadors.” Despite the Peace Corps efforts, there is limit to what can be done to improve the US’ image abroad, particularly because of our tendency to get involved militarily.

 If the US wants to make the Peace Corp mandate something people abroad associates more with the US ( ie 1.Help meet the needs of developing nations for trained personnel 2) Provide a better understanding of Americans on the behalf of other peoples, and 3) Provide a better understanding of other peoples on the behalf of Americans ), then the US should make an effort to pursue and promote  values that don’t necessitate military force. Or at the very least the US should recognize what kind of influence certain  perceptions of the US have abroad and whether or not it undermines the US’s PD efforts.

-Stacey Massuda

e-Diplomacy: Power through Social Media

Hi all!

I’m still very new to the field of public diplomacy and as such I am only beginning to understand the exact scope of what it entails. I’ve spent some time on the Take Five blog and while there are many great posts to read, one in particular caught my attention.

One of the many topics I am am interested in is the role of social media in influencing relations between not only governments but between non-state actors.  Such diplomacy through social media is known as e-Diplomacy, as highlighted in the following linked blog. It was very interesting (albeit not surprising) to see the results of the research posted in this blog ( http://takefiveblog.org/2013/02/19/the-use-of-social-media-in-public-diplomacy-scanning-e-diplomacy-by-embassies-in-washington-dc/) which  show that over half of the embassies researched use social media, and often use more than one social media platform at a time.

This research highlights that governments are recognizing the role and potential of social media in getting young people involved and interested in world events and issues. Traditionally public diplomacy tends to lie in the realm of governments interacting with each other, but with the popularity of social media in the public sphere this may be changing quickly (The so-called Facebook Revolution, anyone?). What this means for future policy making, if anything, would be interesting to research.  It would also be interesting to see if people really are becoming more knowledgeable of world events and issues through the use of social media.  Can “following” or “liking” an organization, program, or politician really influence the public significantly more than, say, watching the news? This would be difficult to measure, however, I feel that social media has the ability to highlight the interactive and synergistic potential of public diplomacy. I look forward to seeing what the future of e-diplomacy entails

Enjoy your weekend everyone.

-Stacey Massuda