Saturday, July 31, 2010

Peace through War is not Peace....There Must be Another Way

This week in the Huffington Post was a great piece by Andrew Bacevich entitled The End of (Military) History? The United States, Israel, and the Failure of the Western Way of War. The heart of this article demonstrates that the military industrial complex is failing and the way warfare has been conducted in the West, by winning through sheer force of numbers, is no longer a guaranteed success. For me however, the heart of this article demonstrates that public diplomacy again, should be the "weapon" of choice. 

There is one quote that stood out to me in this piece. In discussing the aftermath of WWII, Bacevich noted that only two liberal democracies continued to build their military forces instead of downgrade them (as in Europe), the United States and Israel. 
            "By the 1950s, both countries subscribed to this common conviction: national security (and, arguably, 
            national survival) demanded unambiguous military superiority.  In the lexicon of American and Israeli
            politics, “peace” was a codeword....So even as they professed their devotion to peace, civilian and
            military elites in the United States and Israel prepared obsessively for war.  They saw no contradiction
            between rhetoric and reality."

This contradiction has finally come into view, whether peripheral or direct line-of-sight, of the global public. For the U.S., the two wars we are stuck in now and for Israel, the constant contradiction between peace and security plays out in the news media every day. Bacevich puts it smartly, "they saw no contradiction between rhetoric and reality". What is even more apparent, is that they do not see that war does not create peace, bombs do not create stability and security will never come from isolation and building walls so high no one can see over them. Peace will come through the pursuit of developing ties with your "enemies". Peace will come through relationships and building trust and understanding. Peace will come economic development, empowerment, listening and public diplomacy.

To continue with Bacevich's Israel example (and because I cannot help myself), peace for Israelis and Palestinians will only come for recognizing the mutuality and interconnectedness of both peoples struggles and situations. Both are right and wrong, both have had too much bloodshed and tears and on a microscopic level, Palestinians and Israelis are more genetically similar to each other than both  populations would like to admit. Recognize the sameness and capitalize on it, develop relationships and ties, create through those ties new relationships. Stability and security will only be afforded to Israelis when Israelis can afford the same to Palestinians. It is going to take years, if not decades, for that trust to take hold, but it has to start small and has to start somewhere because clearly this notion of "peace through war" is clearly failing. The global public sees through the rhetoric and will not stand for it much longer and that is dangerous for Israel's security as well.

Bacevich's article just highlights to the public diplomacy junkie that we are on the right path, that nations big and small, enemies and friends can learn to conduct international relations better through the use of public diplomacy.

A song from the 2009 Eurovision Contest says it best, There Must Be Another Way...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Beach & Theater

Today was a wonderful SoCal day. My friend Kaitlin and I have an official quiet spot somewhere along the beaches of LA where we enjoyed the sun, wind and sand. It was gorgeous and not crowded at all. In the evening we went to a performance of the California International Theatre Festival called Tempting Providence about a nurse from Britain in the 1920s who went to serve the coastal people of Newfoundland. It was based on a true story and a very clever  and endearing play. The set was sparse, consisting of 4 chairs, a table and a while cotton sheet. The acting was fantastic and in an hour and a half you got to know the main character and learn about her life adapting to Newfoundland, the people, the environment and a new way of life. It was charming and the Newfoundland accents are a mix of Canadian and Irish. We then led a talk back with the audience who surprisingly were mainly from Labrador and Newfoundland. Some of the older women in the audience knew the daughter of the nurse that the play was based on. I'm not doing justice to the story or the discussion, however, it was really a wonderful evening and terrific day. Excited for many more!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Back to Life, Back to PD

Well, it was my first official week as the newest staff member, the Assistant Director for Research & Publications at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy. After three weeks of full-time work, I feel almost adjusted and very excited about public diplomacy. Of course I'm excited about PD but what's even more exciting is that I feel like I've been reading more about PD and enjoying myself more than I had in quite a while. I guess a vacation and break from school work does that to a person.

So this week was the start of the 2010 Summer Institute in Public Diplomacy and I got to attend a fabulous talk by Charlotte Cole of Sesame Workshop. Public Diplomacy, co-production and children's television programming, it automatically puts a smile to my face. Just hearing the Sesame Street theme song brings back fantastic memories - and broadcasting to children globally, in their own languages and cultures - can certainly bring smiles to many small faces around the world. Muppet Diplomacy - such a great project - if only the adults would stay out of it and if we could all remain children forever.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Street Performances, Political Protests and Cultural Diplomacy

Please check out my premiere blog on the USC Center on Public Diplomacy's Blog (CPD Blog)

JUL 21, 2010 Posted by Naomi Leight
All posts by Naomi Leight

This past weekend, I had the privilege of attending a performance at the California International Theatre Festival in Calabasas. The annual festival offers an array of presentations meant to broaden “cultural understanding by means of community outreach, student training and cultural exchange through the performing arts”. As a whole, the festival is an excellent example of cultural diplomacy towards American audiences as presented by various countries such as China, Ireland, Canada and Mexico, among others. The play I attended was the most engaging and powerful work of art I have ever experienced. Stones, or Anavim, was created and performed by…... Full Text

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More blogging to come now that I'm back in the States and settling in to my new working professional life. I'll share some stories soon about SE Asia and my latest Los Angeles adventures.