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Setback in Kyiv

Setback in Kyiv

“…President [Yanukovych] has repeatedly said he is committed to putting Ukraine on a European course.  That course does not have to conflict with a robust trade relationship with Russia.  This is not a zero-sum game…” U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt, December 20, 2013 The statement above may be narrowly true, but if we […]

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It Takes a (Potemkin) Village

It Takes a (Potemkin) Village

That heavily weighted word, propaganda, has surfaced again in connection with Russia, this time in a law forbidding “propaganda on behalf of homosexuality.” A storm of international protest against the law caused Russian President Vladimir Putin this week to publicly reassure the rest of the world that “people of all sexual preferences” would be welcome […]

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Stalemates, not Soulmates

Stalemates, not Soulmates

If you thought Washington’s ongoing political dysfunction was unrivaled, think again.  There are any number of running political stalemates on the European side of the Atlantic.  They don’t get the attention that the impasse in Washington has recently garnered, but one in particular, in Bosnia-Herzogovina, may be just as intractable as the no-holds-barred struggle between […]

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Now in EU, Croatia Asks: Where are the Leaders?

Now in EU, Croatia Asks:  Where are the Leaders?

For those who follow developments along the geographic periphery of the European Union, this was a good weekend to be in Croatia, the EU’s 28th — and newest — member.  The weather along the Adriatic coast is still summer-like, and many of the region’s media movers and shakers gathered at the seaside town of Rovinj […]

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Don't Shoot the Messenger!

In a week of tragic accidents, the WikiLeaks story may be the toughest one to bear, horrifying both for what it showed about the current state of war and what it says about the current state of our media environment.  As most know, thanks to the whistle blowers at WikiLeaks, U.S. military video footage, purloined […]

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Brokering Power, "Soft" and "Hard"

Along the gradient of power, there’s a possible mix of “soft” and “hard” varieties.  The public diplomacy originating at the U.S. State Department is commonly associated with the “soft” power of peaceful persuasion and cultural appeal;  the foreign information efforts at the Pentagon are often in the service of some tangible “hard” power goal.  The […]

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U.S. Public Diplomacy, Back to the Future

Readers of this space know there’s been a recent flurry of public activity by those who set the course of U.S. communications efforts with foreign publics.  This week’s unusual Congressional hearing on the State Department’s public diplomacy programs featured not only the current ranking official for public diplomacy, Under Secretary Judith McHale, talking about her […]

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The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point

Nuclear war is unthinkable, so conventional wisdom holds, but nuclear terror and blackmail are all too easy to imagine.  As we drift farther into the nuclear age, it is increasingly clear that the proliferation of the capacity to cause mass destruction is but one part of the danger the world faces.  The other is the […]

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Striped Pants Backpacker

Striped Pants Backpacker

Veteran Canadian diplomat Daryl Copeland has been on the ramparts of diplomatic studies for several years now, advocating a kind of diplomacy he calls Guerrilla Diplomacy.  Last week, at the International Studies Association convention in New Orleans, a panel of expert academics reviewed Copeland’s thesis and generally applauded his ideas. I also had a chance […]

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New Media, Old Truths

New Media, Old Truths

Many journalists and commentators have examined and illuminated the role of new media and technology in the on-going protests in Iran.  Exposing the electoral fraud perpetrated by Ahmedinejad last year and the violent repression of resultant protests certainly called for the skill of traditional journalists and the new media capabilities of Iranian citizen witnesses and […]

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Just Google "China"

The other day The Wall Street Journal ran a good summary of China’s conflict with Google.  It looks like we’re in for another international war of words but, this time, it won’t be a classic Cold War confrontation over political-military issues, but rather a war of words over words — censorship, to be precise.  China’s […]

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Plouffe, He's Back

The Obama Administration is back to practicing public diplomacy — with the American public.  Stung by the loss in last week’s election in Massachusetts, the White House is bringing back public outreach specialist David Plouffe, the mild-mannered star of the Obama election campaign.  Plouffe had stepped back from politics after the election to write a […]

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65 and Counting: An Interview with Kosovo's President

65 and Counting:  An Interview with Kosovo's President

SAN FRANCISCO — The President of Kosovo, Dr. Fatmir Sejdiu, likes to say that he is the head of the world’s youngest state, but after nearly two years of nominal independence for his country, this is a statement with an asterisk. Independence was declared by Kosovo on February 17, 2008, but recognition is still a […]

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The Year in Review

The Year in Review

The year 2009 in public diplomacy was a year for re-branding America in the world. The first African-American in the White House, who also happened to be the most eloquent U.S. President since John Kennedy, would have made for an auspicious year for the international image of the U.S. in any event. In fact, however, […]

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Why No Change Ten Years On?

When I was growing up in India, the U.S. Information Services used to serve as ambassadors of American culture, ideas, and ideals.  That entire approach to diplomacy was shuttered after the Cold War and even after 9/11 remains moribund. — Fareed Zakaria, “The Post-American World” Since 9/11, the U.S. military for the first time has […]

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About the Author

Mark Dillen

Mark Dillen heads Dillen Associates LLC, an international public affairs consultancy based in San Francisco and Croatia. A former Senior Foreign Service Officer with the US State Department, Mark managed political, media and cultural relations for US embassies in Rome, Berlin, Moscow, Sofia and Belgrade, then moved to the private sector. He has degrees from Columbia and Michigan and was a Diplomat-in-Residence at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins. Mark has also worked for USAID as a media and political advisor and twice served as election observer and organizer for OSCE in Eastern Europe.

Areas of Focus:
US Government; Europe; Diplomacy

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