Public Diplomacy and Global Communication 2014c

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MUSIC AND ITS ROLE IN PUBLIC DIPLOMACY

It is difficult, if not impossible, to name a society without any music heritage. It is argued that music is unusual among all human activities for both its abiquity and its antiquity. There is very little theory and academic exploration about the relationship between music and politics, but it is believed that music is widely applicable to political process. Music, one of the most fundamental elements of every culture, has the ability to represent a nation´s cultural values and political ideologies. Music´s diplomatic potential is illustrated its ability to reach beyond the common medium of political meetings and forums, in which certain outcomes are expected. But is music a feasible candidate for creating common ground upon which to build more positive relations?

During the Cold War, Western countries increasingly turned towards popular music in their public diplomacy. At the beginning, the use of music was limited to genders such as jazz and gospel, the second half of the twentieth century brought more genders to diplomatic context, such as country, bluegrass, rock, reggae and hip-hop. It is believed that as an instrument of public diplomacy, popular music plays a complex role in contested terrain. Music diplomacy has not only impacted the ways in which audiences perceive foreign cultures, but is has also helped to shape the cultural horizons of politicians, diplomats, cultural managers, and musicians involved in diplomatic programs. In this way, music diplomacy has had highly significant cultural and aesthetic effects (Technische Universität Dortmund, 2015).

jazzIn the half of the twentieth century, when the Cold War was at its peak, America deployed Dizzy Gillespie, a famed jazz musician, and a jazz band to change the world´s view of American culture through rhythm and syncopation. It was very successful, however, cultural diplomacy died down after the Cold War ended. But the events of 9/11 convinced the U.S. to send out America´s musician to win hearts and minds with melody once again.

Rhythm Road, a programme run by the state department and a non-profit organization Jazz at Lincoln Centre, has made informal diplomats from both musicians and audiences. Since 2005, musicians have travelled to more than 96 countries and places, where some people have never seen an American. It is argued that jazz is well-suited to diplomacy. It is collaborative, allowing individuals to harmonise, as well as play solo – much like a democracy. Jazz is also a reminder of music´s power. It helped break down racial barriers, as enthusiasts of all colours gathered to listen to jazz when segregation was still the law of the land (The Economist, 2009).

It is argued that music diplomacy can facilitate intercultural communication, and therefore ultimately forestall miscommunication and misunderstanding. Intercultural communication is viewed as a mean of bringing people together, and as a power to assist international organizations in the exercise of their services to the world community. It is believed that this type of communication should be used in foreign politics as a way to encourage people to discover one another through personal interactions. Learning about music different from our own can open our eyes on diverse culture and values (Einbinder, 2013).

An example of one of the leading music diplomacy initiative in the world is the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, created by Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said in mid 1990s. Daniel Barenboim is the internationally acclaimed pianist and conductor of Jewish descent, who believes that music should be valued as a useful tool to learn about our society. He sees music as a possible platform for people from different backgrounds to meet and engage in a cross-cultural dialogue. Edward Said is a Palestinian literary critics and philosopher. Their friendship gave birth to an idea of combating intolerance and prejudices through art. In their case, sharing a passion for music became a common ground for building interaction between the Israeli conductor and the Palestinian philosopher (West-Eastern Divan Orchestra).

Today, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is one of the only instances where Palestinian and Israeli youth are able to meet, debate and share their experiences. The project allows for intercultural dialogue and the sharing of knowledge between people from different countries that would, under normal circumstances, never have the chance to meet. The assumption underlying this project is that the orchestra could be a place where an alternative way of making peace can take place. The project is also supposed to suggest that bridges can be build that encourage people to get closer, showing that it is possible for people from different backgrounds to co-exist peacefully (Ibid).

The orchestra, as well as jazz bands proved that music diplomacy is a useful way to break down barriers that used to be considered insurmountable. It is suggested that governments should acknowledge the potential of music diplomacy for improving intercultural communication and understanding. A better knowledge of the other´s culture, beliefs and interests is the first step towards the improvement of international relations. Moreover, it is believed that the more we develop music diplomacy, the more we will be able to shape the international arena in a more cooperative and harmonious system (Einbinder, 2013).

References:

NATION BRANDING AND SUCCESS OF JAPAN

brandNation branding is a new discipline and a very complex phenomenon. Its practice is based on several well-established disciplines, such as marketing, public policy, international relations, trade and tourism promotion, psychology, public diplomacy and many others. Today, states have to compete for their positions on a global stage and to create suitable environment for their citizens. It is believed that nation branding is a powerful tool which can help to improve image of a country and create competitive advantage in global markets. Therefore, more and more countries are trying to use nation-branding techniques with a vision of improved image and reputation. And Japan is one of them (Anholt, 2007).

Japan decided to improve its image and to start its branding initiatives in 2002. Its main goal is ´to improve the image and reputation of Japan and turn it into a nation that is loved and respected by people throughout the world, with the focus on the lifestyle and the overall power of Japan´s cultural assets´. The most important objectives of Japan´s branding strategy are to promote diverse and reliable local businesses, attractive lifestyle reflected in a food culture, brands and fashion, and to establish Japanese fashion as a global brand (Akutsu, 2008).

It is argued that countries have various options and ways how to promote itself and implement its nation-branding strategy. Three most common areas for promotion are tourism – as it is a powerful element of the nation branding because it can brand a country directly through holiday adverts, cultural and public diplomacy – as they are inevitable in communication with foreign public, and brands – as they are important vectors of the image and reputation and channels for communicating national identity. Japan places biggest efforts to its tourism promotion and cultural diplomacy (Anholt, 2007).

japan-country-brand-logo

Japan´s cultural diplomacy uses its diverse culture to attract the interest of foreign population in the country and make them to trust the country. For cultivation of mutual understanding and trust between Japan and other countries Japan has been practising cultural exchanges, which have been playing an important role in the process of Japan´s modernization and enhancement of peaceful relations with other countries. Because of growing interdependence between countries, according to Japan´s Prime Minister, it is important to create common values and principles among different countries, while still protecting their cultural diversity (Prime Minister of Japan and his Cabinet).

Japan has been running a wide-range of initiatives and activities to fulfil its objectives. Since 2002, it has established various bodies and councils for promotion, it has revised many laws and made many reforms in order to provide more support and protection for local businesses, it also opened new film production and cooking courses at many universities, and in 2005 and 2006 Japanese Fashion Week was held in Tokyo (Akutsu, 2008).

Despite Japan has been widely criticized for being too insular and closed, in recent years Japan made huge investments and efforts in its branding and presenting its attractive qualities to the outside world. It is argued that from being an economic power in 1980s, Japan became a cultural superpower of the 21st Century (Dinnie, 2009).

It is evident that Japan´s reputation among foreign audience has been on the rise recently. According to the FutureBrand´s annual Country Brand Index x2014-11-11-country-brand-index.2014-2015, Japan became the best country brand, when it overtook Switzerland to earn the first place. Index says that respondents associate Japan mostly with advanced technology, health and education, art, culture, and good infrastructure. Respondents also said that the country is unique and that it is always improving and not standing still. The most associated brands with japan are Nintendo, Sony, Toshiba, Toyota, Panasonic, Honda and Hitachi (Country Brand Index, 2014-2015).

So, as we can see, Japan has been running its branding activities very successfully – from its early initiatives and establishments of different bodies, through the setting of its main objectives and promoting its various cultural aspects, to the reaching its goals and becoming the best country brand in 2014. The case of japan shows that nation branding is a powerful tool which can create a real difference and improve reputation of a country, if it is applied rationally and effectively.

References:

Akutsu S., (2008), The Directions and the Key Elements of Branding Japan, in Nation Branding: Concepts, Issues, Practice, Dinnie K., (2008), Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, UK

Anholt S., (2007), Competitive Identity: The New Brand Management for Nations, Cities and Regions, Palgrave MacMillan, NY

Dinnie K., (2009), Japan´s Nation Branding: Recent Evolution and Potential Future Paths, Temple University, Japan

Country Brand Index, 2014-2015, FutureBrand

www.futurebrand.com, accessed May 2015

Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet, Establishing Japan as a ´Peaceful Nation of Cultural Exchange´, Urban Renaissance Headquarters http://japan.kantei.go.jp/policy/bunka/050711bunka_e.html, accessed May 2015

PANDA DIPLOMACY

Everybody likes pandas because they are cute, cuddly and very rare. While it looks that they do not do anything else, just sleep and eat bamboo, actually, they play an important diplomatic role for China. For more than half a century, pandas have been sent to zoos in different countries as cuddly ambassadors, to help foster relations with those countries, what has become known as panda diplomacy.

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China started the practice of panda diplomacy in 1957, when it sent two pandas as a diplomatic gift to the Soviet Union as a symbol of establishing diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and the People´s Republic of China. Later in 1972, China gifted another two pandas to the United States after President Richard Nixon´s visit to China. The gift was seen as a huge diplomatic success and establishment of official relations with the U.S. Between 1958 and 1982 China gifted 23 pandas to different countries, such as France, Mexico, North Korea, UK and some others (Duggan J., 2014).

When China realised that numbers of pandas fell, since 1980´s it has stopped giving pandas just as diplomatic gifts. China, instead, began to give pandas to other countries on loan, which is approximately US$ 1,000,000 per year. The loans started to be used for panda conservation facilities and scientific research in an attempt to increase their numbers (Duggan J, 2014).

pandaAfter the First Lady Michelle Obama´s trip to China, she said in her blog that “In fact, just last fall, a new baby panda – Bao Bao, which means ´precious´ – was born in the National Zoo in Washington D.C., giving new life to our growing relationship with China. Even for nations as big, complex and different as the United States and China, small gestures can mean a great deal. They can bring people together and help them form bonds that can stretch across the globe” (Brinded L., 2014).

According to a research paper published in Environmental Practice, panda diplomacy has entered a new phase since 2008, when the Sichuan earthquake devastated the main panda conservation centre. The paper says that in recent years, panda loans are connected with trade deals for valuable resources and technology. There are two types of deals, paper says. The first involves “close Asian neighbour nations that have signed free-trade agreements with China since 2009” and the second involves “nations supplying China with natural resources and advanced technologies” (Duggan J., 2014).

In 2011, two pandas arrived to the Edinburgh Zoo and shortly after the arrival, trade deal worth £2.6 billion was signed for the supply of salmon, Land Rover cars and renewable energy technology to China. After signing the contract, a Scottish government spokesman said: “Strengthening our relationship will bring substantial benefits to both countries. We are committed to working hard to deepen existing ties and establish new areas of cooperation – an approach that is clearly paying dividends” (Hogenboom M., 2013).Panda-Overseas-Malaysia-Jib-Gor-Roast-Mah

The article also says that panda loans to France, Canada and Australia are connected with trade deals for uranium, which China needs for increasing its nuclear capacity by 2050. In 2011, two pandas were sent to Japan as well, and both countries stated that they hope the pandas will enhance friendly feelings and mutual understanding between them, as their relations were soured by a sovereignty dispute over islands (Ibid).

Dr Buckingham said that “the panda can be used to seal the deal and signify a bid for a long and prosperous relationship. If a panda is given to the country, it does not signify the closing of a deal – they have entrusted an endangered, precious animal to the country, it signifies in some way a new start to the relationship.” She also argues that China is interested to have “soft power influence through a global visual seal of approval” gained from loaning pandas (Ibid).

As we can see, a new phase of panda diplomacy has made it evident that China has a lot to gain through panda loans. China´s expansion and its use of panda diplomacy have become more interlinked and motivations behind panda loans have become more unclear. It is obvious that they are no longer just about conservation and diplomatic gifts, but become to the big extend bound up with political and economic aims.

References:

Brinded L., March 2014, Panda Diplomacy: How China Uses Animal to Get What it Wants, International Business Times

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/panda-diplomacy-how-china-uses-pandas-try-get-what-it-wants-1442721, accessed May 2015

Duggan J., February 2014, China´s cuddly ambassadors with diplomatic clout, The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/chinas-choice/2014/feb/27/china-panda-diplomacy, accessed May 2015

Hogenboom M., September 2013, China´s new phase of panda diplomacy, BBC News

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24161385, accessed May 2015

China Daily, February 2011, Panda diplomacy likely to boost ties, China.org.cn

http://www.china.org.cn/environment/2011-02/22/content_21972414.htm, accessed May 2015

Vladimir Putin – “Hero of Russia”

In Russia it has become a routine to hear people and also opposition politicians say that the best for Russia will be if Vladimir Putin will remain in power as long as possible. Otherwise, the situation could be even worse.

Vladimir Putin, doors

According to Levada Center, Putin´s popularity reached the approval rating of 85,5 per cent in August 2014, and almost 88 per cent in November 2014. He has even become the Man of the Year in Russia for the 15th time in row since 1999. His high popularity is very impressive if we take into consideration the situation in Russia caused by events in Ukraine and the Western sanctions. But why is it like that?

According to Pyotr Romanov (Romanov P., 2014), historian and journalist, Putin´s high popularity is caused by the Western pressure and sanctions. So that explains his popularity, but it does not explain why he has remained consistently so popular since the late 1990s when he was a prime minister of the country. It is not very common for any politician in any country to remain so popular for so long.

Romanov says that the rise of Putin popularity lies in the mentality of the Russian people, who tend to believe in national heroes and saviors. After 535e9c781556f.preview-800the series of Soviet leaders who brought more disappointment than enthusiasm, such as Yury Andropov, who was half-living, Leonid Brezhnev, who was senile, and Mikhail Gorbachev, who was good in speech but poor leader, Russian people finally found a leader, who would be able to meet their expectations.

Despite the high expectations, Putin managed to keep his support from people not because they are stupid, but because he depicts the traditional Russian values and priorities. During the time as a leader, he has achieved many successes, what Russians highly appreciate. And he also continues to ´keep a tight hold´ over the country´s affairs, Romanov says, what everybody, who remember chaos from 1990s, considers a great progress.

Even though Putin represses the opposition, many people think it is not a big disadvantage because they do not consider the opposition politicians as very important. Do you think that Russian people are wrong? Maybe, but Romanov claims that the problem is in the opposition itself. For decades, the opposition has been failing to create a real contact with Russian citizens and provide any alternative to the recent development.

Putin also pursues a foreign policy that is independent from the West, what Russian people support as well. The government is worse with the solving social problems, but it manages to maintain at least the minimum required to keep the public happy. And he is also trying to restore the condition of Russian´s army, what is very important for Russian patriotic citizens.

In contrast to that, there is also rising question about propaganda and its influence on Putin´s image of strong man in Russia and in the international news media. Russia has been criticized for censorship and propaganda over centuries. However, it is argued that over the last year, the Russian propaganda machine has pursued a two-pronged strategy towards its domestic audience. The first prong, used to justify Russia´s takeover of Crimea, is a replay of what Hitler called the ´Big Lie´- a false historical narrative in which the pro-democracy forces in Ukraine are portrayed as US-backed fascists out to commit genocide against ethnic Russians. Repeat a story as many times as possible, the idea goes, and a majority of the population will come to accept it.

The second prong, adopted after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, might be called the ´Big Confusion´. Faced with an event that threatens your Big Lie, starts a disinformation campaign. Fill the domestic airwaves with so many bizarre rumours, conspiracy theories, and paranoid fantasies that a cynical public stops caring what really happened.

It has been also argued that Russia´s propaganda effort also has a global dimension. In the last few years, the Kremlin has launched a slick, fast-paced satellite TV channel ´Russia Today´, which pays top salaries to British and American broadcast journalists willing to repeat the same messages in English. A surprising number of viewers are tuning on (Bayles, 2014).

So, the question is: Is Putin´s domestic support so high because Russian people really believe in their leader and accept his domestic and foreign policy, or is it because he keeps the public in the dark? Opinions about that vary, however, the truth is that Russia does not really have any potential successor to Putin at the moment, and thus, there is a fear among the people connected with the inevitability of Putin leaving the political scene one day, leading Russia to unknown and maybe even worse situation.

References:

Bayles M., 2014, Putin´s propaganda highlights need for public diplomacy, The Boston Globe, Boston                                    http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/07/28/putin-propaganda-highlights-need-for-public-diplomacy/9tyuKdtfqG2YqjR5mTd3IM/story.html, accessed May 2015

Romanov P., 2014, Putin´s popularity masks an uncomfortable reality, The St. Petersburg Times, http://www.sptimes.ru/story/40634?page=1#top, accessed January 2015

The Moscow Times, 2014, Putin nominated for Russia´s highest honor, ´Hero of Russia´title, http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/putin-nominated-for-russia-s-highest-honor-hero-of-russia-title/504236.html, accessed January 2015

SITA, 2014, Rusi si za muža roka po 15-krát za sebou vybrali Putina, Pravda, http://spravy.pravda.sk/svet/clanok/339830-rusi-si-za-muza-roka-po-15-krat-za-sebou-vybrali-putina/, accessed January 2015

http://openiazoch.zoznam.sk/cl/143141/Velikan-aj-okupant-Putinova-popularita-po-invazii-na-Krym-v-Rusku-stupa-preco-sa-vlastne-tlaci-na-Ukrajinu, accessed January 2015

Women in Combat: Gain or Dangerous Experiment?

Over the last two decades, the United States has been trying to open all military roles to women. Finally, in January 2013, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced opening of all military jobs to women by 2016. This will include approximately 200,000 jobs in ground-level combat force in the Army and the Marine Corps.

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The initial integration of women is believed to be difficult as all-male combat units need to adapt to the transition. But proponents are convinced that the military will gain a lot by including women in combat. The military needs women´s creativity, insight and empathy, characteristics that are often missing in male-dominated units. Recent studies from Harvard Business School and MIT show that ´group intelligence´ of an organization rises when women are on teams. Women bring a unique level of ´social sensitivity´, what means that they are able to read the emotions of other people. On today´s complex battlefield, social sensitivity is believed to be a crucial skill for military professionals (Denn W., 2013).                                                   William Denn, an Army captain and intelligence officer, expressed his sympathy with the inclusion of women in all army units in an article for The Washington Post. He said, “Including women in front-line units would be more than an exercise in social equality, it would be a valuable enhancement of military effectiveness and national security” (Denn W.,2013).

Proponents of women in combat tend to claim that (Frum D.,2013):Women on the front lines

  1. We have entered an era of push-button war in which physical strength has lost much of its military relevance.
  2. To the extent that strength continues to matter, some women can meet requirements and should be given a chance to qualify.
  3. To exclude willing women from military service is unfair and unjust.

Opponents of women in combat disagree with that. Kingsley Browne, for instance, describes his view about these three points in a book, Co-ed Combat: The New Evidence That Women Shouldn´t Fight the Nation´s Wars (Frum D., 2013).                 First of all, he believes that physical strength continues to matter in warfare. Soldiers still have to march for miles with heavy packs, they still have to be prepared to function with reduced food and water, and they also must sometimes fight and kill their enemy hand to hand.                                                                                Secondly, some may argue that even though strength matters, gender should not be a problem. There should be neutral strength requirements for women and men to pass. But the reality is different. The military does not and will not enforce gender-neutral standards in order to avoid excessive female injuries, what happened in the United Kingdom in 2010 during gender-free training.                                                   To illustrate a situation Browne says that the army´s standard fragmentation grenade has a blast radius of 15 meters. Infantrymen are required to throw a grenade 35 meters, military women only 25 meters. Yet, in practice many military women cannot throw even that far.                                                                                                     Thirdly, Browne claims that it is not the military´s job to be fair. It is military´s job to win wars. He says that our society values freedom of speech, the right to elect leaders, and individual choice and market competition. But according to him, all of those values are suspended in the military, sacrificed to the need for military effectiveness.

Finally, Browne depicts this policy as a pure ideology and claims that the United States is so confident in its margin of superiority that it can afford to weaken its own military performance just for this ideology. A big and rich country like the US can afford some mistakes. But the mistakes in this case will exact a cost in lives sacrificed (Frum D.,2013).                                                                                                                                                                         130124183154-leed-women-in-military-story-topSo what is your opinion? Do you think that including women in all military jobs is a good idea that will strengthen military effectiveness, or it is a dangerous experiment that will weaken the country´s military performance and security?

References:

Denn W., April 3, 2013, Women in combat roles would strengthen the military, The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/women-in-combat-roles-would-strengthen-the-military/2014/04/03/f0aeb140-bb50-11e3-9a05-c739f29ccb08_story.html , accessed December 2014

Frum D., January 3, 2013, The Truth About Women in Combat, The Daily Beast, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/03/01/the-truth-about-women-in-combat.html , accessed December 2014

Center for Military Readiness, November 14, 2013, Double-Think and Dissembling about Double Standards in Combat, CMR, http://www.cmrlink.org/content/women-in-combat/37313/double_think_and_dissembling_about_double_standards_in_combat , accessed December 2014

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/10/women-combat-all-fair-love-war-2014101465728258490.html

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/25/opinion/boykin-women-in-combat/

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/25/opinion/leed-women-in-infantry/index.html?hpt=op_t1

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