• Guest Posts,  Public Diplomacy

    To Know Us is to Hate Us?

    By Emina Vukic After having spent two years studying in the United States in 1950, Sayyid Qutb, leading Islamic theologian of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood who shaped the ideas of Islamists and terrorist groups including Al Qaeda, wrote an article entitled "The America That I Have Seen". In it he criticized the individual freedoms he had seen exercised, he was appalled at having seen unmarried men and women dancing together, losing themselves in lust, while the band played a revolting song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” He returned to Egypt convinced that the America is evil that had to be stopped. This came to be known as “Sayyid Qutb Syndrome” that…

  • Cultural Diplomacy,  Events

    Event: Aspen Cultural Diplomacy Forum

    From the Aspen Institute, The Phillips Collection, and the NYU John Brademas Center for the Study of Congress present the Aspen Cultural Diplomacy Forum. Date: October 4, 2010 Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Location: The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st Street, NW, Washington, DC How should the United States use culture both to communicate and listen to other nations? The 2010 Aspen Cultural Diplomacy Forum will feature the political and cultural leaders who are now shaping the policies and practices of cultural diplomacy in the public and private sectors. Keynote Speaker: Madeleine K. Albright, U.S. Secretary of State (1997 – 2001) Other speakers include: The Honorable John Brademas, President Emeritus,…

  • Cultural Diplomacy

    Yemeni YES participant discovers “real” America does not correspond to media image

    Written by Lisa Retterath of the Alliance for International Education and Cultural Exchange, where this post originally appeared. In a recent Huffington Post article, 17-year old Maad Sharaf shares his thoughts about how a year abroad in the United States through the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program has changed his life. Originally from Aden in the Republic of Yemen, Sharaf came to Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, where he quickly learned that the image he had gotten about the United States, based mainly on media coverage in Yemen, did not correspond to reality: “I thought America was all about huge buildings, exciting places, drunken people everywhere and going to war with…

  • Cultural Diplomacy,  Psychological Struggle

    Conflict Resolution and Prevention: The Role for Culture Relations

    Earlier this year, the British Council co-hosted an event in Brussels with Security Defence Agenda and NATO to discuss how “cultural” projects facilitate dialogue between groups, play a part in preventing conflict, healing post-conflict wounds, and potentially avoid conflicts based on misunderstand or mistrust. The video below are the highlights from this conference that I attended. It includes a post-event interview with British Council Chief Executive Martin Davidson. I strongly recommend it to those interested in creating and supporting culture-based engagement pathways that to some may be “alternative” but are ultimately fundamental. One cannot hope to successfully engage in a struggle of minds and wills if one does not understand…

  • Cultural Diplomacy,  Public Diplomacy

    Jamming for Uncle Sam: Getting the Best From Cultural Diplomacy

    By Nick Cull This originally appeared on Huffington Post. It is gladly cross-posted here at Nick’s request. Recent years have seen a welcome resurgence in U.S. Cultural Diplomacy, which after honorable service in the Cold War, sailed into the doldrums in the mid-1990s. Today, the State Department is reaching out to foreign publics in partnership with major private sector partners including Jazz at the Lincoln Center and the Brooklyn Academy of Music as well as maintaining its own program of visits, exhibitions and tours. While the new initiatives began under the administration of George W. Bush as a ‘soft power’ response to the challenges of the Global War on Terror,…

  • Cultural Diplomacy,  Public Diplomacy,  State Department

    A Tale from the Field about Religion, Culture, and Perception

    By Gregory L. Garland Matt’s blog has become a force to behold in the discussion about strategic communication, public diplomacy, and State/DOD relations. It has shined a light on what largely was a rarified, inside-the-beltway debate symptomatic of the old USIA’s domestic blank spot. What has been lacking are stories from the field outside the U.S. – examples of PD as it actually is conducted by PD professionals. Here’s one from my own experience that in many ways is typical. I’ve run effective PD programs that didn’t cost Uncle Sam anything except my own time. I’ve run next to useless PD programs so flush that I couldn’t spend all the…