cold war

Air Up, by Storefront for Art and Architecture

Remembering Jack Masey, a giant in American public diplomacy.

What is public diplomacy, quite often mentioned in the news? And how has it — and its variants/related terms — changed the nature of traditional diplomacy, if at all? Dictionaries define traditional diplomacy as “ the profession, activity, or skill of managing international relations, typically by a country’s representatives abroad“ or “the art and practice of conducting negotiations between nations.”

Jack Masey, a designer for the United States Information Agency whose model American kitchen, part of an exhibition in Moscow in 1959, provided the stage for an argument about communism and capitalism between Nikita S. Khrushchev and Vice President Richard M. Nixon, one of the Cold War’s most memorable confrontations, died on March 13 in Manhattan. He was 91.

North Korea today is known as the world’s most isolationist nation, an obdurate outpost of totalitarianism. [...] But the public spaces of Senegal, Ethiopia, Kenya and elsewhere are dotted with reminders of a long-running  often surreal charm offensive that was waged by the North as part of the Korean peninsula’s own Cold War. Since 1969, Pyongyang’s Mansudae Art Studio has exported statues and other monuments to at least 16 African countries.

The Voice of America and the U.S. international broadcasting community as a whole could use structural reform and more money. But that’s not why they appear to be failing miserably. No. The real failure is that they lack conviction. And without that, they will continue to appear irrelevant.

January 4, 2016

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