Tag Archives: afghanistan

Public Diplomacy Hypocrisy in Uzbekistan

With the deadline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, there are many questions to be answered about the Northern Distribution Route that runs through Central Asia. Unfortunately for these 5 ‘stans, when the Northern Distribution Route stops flowing, so will the aid.

During the past five years, the U.S. has almost completely ignored humanitarian violations by the Uzbekistan government, mainly perpetrated by President Karimov, because of their reliance on the supply route through the region into Afghanistan. The U.S. has a placed aid sanctions on countries that commit human rights violations, however, they have kept their relationship with Uzbekistan despite the government’s violations.

In a recent article highlighting these political problems, U.S. public diplomacy is making the case that if they need a country’s help badly enough, then human rights violations can be overlooked.

“’While U.S. officials make it clear the bilateral relationship cannot deepen absent improvements, there is no element of public diplomacy that signals there are red lines Uzbekistan can’t cross,’ as Steve Swerdlow, Human Rights Watch’s Central Asia researcher, puts it.”

If the U.S. cannot provide a steady policy for public diplomacy toward countries that are clear human rights violators, then it puts diplomats in the difficult position of trying to justify why one country receives aid and another doesn’t. The U.S. has also promised to leave behind non-lethal (debatable…) military gear behind in Uzbekistan when it departs. It is willing to give military aid to a country that has suppressed and killed its citizens in the past. What diplomatic message is this sending to countries where the U.S. doesn’t have any interests?

Uzbekistan is a slippy slope for U.S. public diplomacy and one that has not received much media attention. However, as the troops withdraw from Afghanistan, pay attention to the amount of aid and military-to-military assistance that is provided in Central Asia. It will be telling to determine whether or not this is a practice that the U.S. will continue to adopt in the future or not.

Pitfalls of Public Diplomacy Through the Media

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http://www.zimbio.com/Afghanistan/articles/tcNI-RXSAAl/Troop+downsize+Afghanistan+2014+under+consideration

A recent NPR radio piece detailed the difficulties that the U.S. has had in brokering an agreement for troops staying in Afghanistan after the 2014 deadline. The two governments have been at odds with each other about the way forward for GIRoA. Karzai is making decisions in a black hole while getting terrible advice from his inner circle. He hasn’t been on the same page as the White House for quite some time and doesn’t believe that the U.S. will leave Afghanistan despite its constant threat. However, the biggest factor compounding the problem has been the White House using the media to conduct public diplomacy.

Instead of closed-door meetings and one-on-one diplomatic efforts, the back-and-forth threats have been playing out in the public sphere of the media. That is no way to conduct diplomacy. Governments shoot themselves in the foot each time they let their enemies or allies know of their intentions through the media. That’s like hearing about a friend that’s been lying to you from the playground gossip queen. It always feels like a low blow and can never amount to any positive reconciliation on each entities behalf.

Karzai hasn’t been making the right decisions, but he is being publicly criticized in the media by the White House. That further distances himself from reaching an agreement. The NPR piece mentioned that the “two governments don’t understand each other’s politics and don’t know how to talk to each other.” However, it is a more deep-rooted problem in public diplomacy today. Governments are not using the media to their advantage. Instead, the push for 24/7 instantaneous coverage has been a detriment to building strong, lasting state-to-state bonds. Throughout the semester, this is probably going to have a lasting impact on different state-to-state relations. However, the immediacy of the media can have huge positive impacts on state-to-non-state relations. For example, the White House can reach the people of Afghanistan in their homes through the media. The question is: Does this ability to reach the people help or hurt the White House’s ability to close a deal with GIRoA?

Only time will tell and the clock is ticking…

NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – An Afghan boy, who fell a few days ago, is held by his father as U.S. Army Pfc. Jonathan V. Bachtel, a forward observer from Burleson, Texas, assigned to Troop C, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Raider, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Task Force Bronco provides security during a patrol in Rodat District in eastern Afghanistan's Nangarhar Province, July 18. The boy is related to a wood worker who just received news that his business will receive a small business grant to help stimulate the economy and provide for his family. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Burrell, 210th MPAD)
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – An Afghan boy, who fell a few days ago, is held by his father as U.S. Army Pfc. Jonathan V. Bachtel, a forward observer from Burleson, Texas, assigned to Troop C, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Raider, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Task Force Bronco provides security during a patrol in Rodat District in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province, July 18. The boy is related to a wood worker who just received news that his business will receive a small business grant to help stimulate the economy and provide for his family. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Burrell, 210th MPAD)