The loya jirga is a venerable Afghan institution in which representatives of Afghan tribes are summoned, in the absence of formal government, to discuss issues of concern. Afghan rulers used them to ratify their rule whenever they seized power or expanded territory, because if there is one defining characteristic of a loya jirga, it is that it rarely says no.
When John Kerry succeeded Hillary Clinton as secretary of state in February, Clinton’s emotional departure from the State Department received blanket media coverage. Kerry’s arrival received next to none. “So here’s the big question before the country and the world and the State Department after the last eight years,” Kerry said in a speech to State Department employees on his first day on the job. “Can a man actually run the State Department? I don’t know.”
For all the growing interest in public diplomacy, the field still suffers from a lack of specificity in use of the term. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but it is a source of confusion. A look at the CPD blog demonstrates the wonderful breadth of issues that fall under the rubric of public diplomacy. A survey of peer-reviewed literature from the last five decades yields more than 600 articles employing the term – each with its own understanding of public diplomacy.
Ukraine has rejected draft laws that would allow the release of a jailed opposition leader, suspended plans for a landmark agreement with the European Union and announced it will renew active dialogue with Russia. The Ukrainian parliament's failure to pass the bills on Thursday to grant freedom to the former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, took away the country's last chance to satisfy the EU's condition for stepping towards integration with the 28-member bloc.
The State Department has long cautioned Americans about visiting North Korea, but on Tuesday it went a big step further, issuing a blanket warning against all American travel to the country. This was the first such State Department warning since North Korea began allowing American tourists in 1995, immediately raising the question: why?
Over the last week or so, there have been more than a few stinging indictments of U.S.-Middle East policy. Whether it is Iran’s nuclear program, the civil war in Syria, or Secretary of State John Kerry’s effort to push Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the Obama administration is near universally derided as both timorous and out-classed in the face of formidable adversaries. It’s been an impressive pile-on even if some of this commentary is actually more about politics than analysis.
When Matteo Ricci walked the streets of Beijing more than 400 years ago, he was a celebrity. The Jesuit was the first Westerner to enter the gates of the Forbidden City. He impressed the emperor by predicting solar eclipses. He created an enormous map that gave Ming dynasty Chinese a sense of the rest of the world for the first time. He spoke and read Chinese well enough to translate Euclid.
With a preschooler at home, I don't get out much. I get out to a lot of parks, but art openings or the theater? Unfortunately, never. Still, to be new in Paris, with some of the world's best museums, designer clothes shops, and gallery exhibitions all around me, at least I can partake in a buzzing cultural vibe.