Conference | The Future of Diplomacy with Diplomatic Courier and UN Foundation

Learn more about how digital diplomacy is evolving as an important mode of public interaction, persuasion, and engagement in person (D.C.) or online:

This half-day summit will explore the nexus between technology and social media and how they are changing modern diplomacy. These agents of change are acting as constructive disrupters by modernizing systems and by bringing new voices into old ones. The summit will bring together public diplomacy experts, leaders in policy and influencers in global partnerships to discuss best practices and offer engaging insight into the future of diplomacy and global issues. Follow @diplocourier and @DigiDiplomats, and #DiplomacySM and #DigitalDiplomacy on Twitter.

22 April, 8:00am to 12:00pm

Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center Rotunda

1300 Pennsylvania Ave, NW

Washington, DC 20004

via Digital Diplomacy Coalition • The Future of Diplomacy Join the Diplomatic….

Can Diplomacy Trump Aggression in Ukraine?

@RUNet Memes

Yesterday an emergency Security Council meeting provided the stage for more talk on Ukraine. Steven Pifer still thinks a Russian military intervention to be unlikely–but it does seem to be  clear that Putin is interested in more than Crimea. And the U.S. seems to understand that Putin is living a carefully developed fiction--one entirely of his own creation.

The U.S. take on events over the weekend:

This was no peaceful spring weekend for Ukraine.  Coordinated, well-armed Russian-backed militants attacked government buildings in a professional operation in six cities in eastern regions.  Many of the attackers were carrying Russian-origin weapons and outfitted in bulletproof vests and camouflage uniforms with insignia removed.

Observers on the ground saw that the events were carefully planned and orchestrated.  In Kharkiv, as pro-Russian groups neared pro-Ukrainian protesters, women, children, and medics moved away, leaving only well-armed young men to approach the pro-Ukrainian protestors.  These people were looking for a fight.  The pro-Russian “demonstration” was in fact a bloody attack on peaceful, pro-unity demonstrators.

The attacks occurred simultaneously in multiple locations.  These were not grass-roots political protests.  These armed “demonstrators” took over government administration buildings and security headquarters, seized weapons, forced local officials to abandon their offices, and attacked communications towers.

via Ukraine: Choosing Diplomacy Over Aggression | DipNote.

Writing in the Guardian, Ian Black lays out five possible scenarios, including a Ukrainian use of force, Russian intervention, US/EU Sanctions, NATO intervention, as well as diplomacy (which didn’t work in the Crimean situation).

The Onion | Ambassador Stages Coup at UN, Issues Long List of Non-Binding Resolutions

Someone at The Onion was paying attention during Intro to International Relations 110.  Brilliant.

Ambassador Stages Coup At UN, Issues Long List of Non-Binding Resolutions

Introducing … Gastrodiplomacy

Food, meet diplomacy.  It shouldn’t be surprising that food plays an important role in statecraft–but that appears to be changing (here, herehere and here):

But until now, food hasn’t been taught alongside international relations in the classroom. That’s because of past resistance to bringing food into other academic fields, says Sam Chapple-Sokol, a culinary diplomacy scholar who helps Mendelson Forman teach her class.

“People think it’s trivial or frivolous, that food is just something that goes into our bodies to keep us alive,” he says, adding that while many international relations programs do focus on food security, none has really dug into the “cuisine” aspect of food.

But that thinking is changing, especially among the public. In a recent study in Public Diplomacy Magazine, more than half of the 140 people surveyed said that eating a country’s cuisine led them to think more positively about that country. And more than two-thirds felt that countries in a state of conflict could benefit from gastrodiplomacy programs.

As the saying goes, “The easiest way to win hearts and minds is through the stomach.” It certainly seems that the class has won over the students so far — all 19 spots filled up quickly, with dozens more students on the waiting list.

“Must have been the food,” Mendelson Forman jokes.

via Gastrodiplomacy: Cooking Up A Tasty Lesson On War And Peace : The Salt : NPR.

Food Diplomacy Logo


For citizen diplomats you can always try this approach, thanks to Travel By Stove’s Becki Robins, a mother of four from California who aims to cook a dish from not just every official UN member nation-state but also culinary regions and areas from Abkhazia to Zimbabwe.

Teaching Ethics with “The Trolley Problem”

A very popular way to explore the ethics of utilitarianism involves a fat man and a trolley. Stop me if you have heard this one …

Would you pull the switch to save five people–and here is the catch–but you will kill one person?  Most people are more able to solve this problem of a speeding trolley by pulling a switch rather than “pushing a fat bystander in front of it.”

This dilemma is explored by two books, The Trolley Problem by Thomas Cathcart and Would You Kill the Fat Man? by David Edmonds, reviewed in the WSJ:

In fact, the two versions of the trolley problem, a famous thought-experiment in philosophy, elicit instinctive versions of two conflicting ethical impulses, ones elaborated by Jeremy Bentham and Immanuel Kant respectively: utilitarianism, which seeks the greatest good for the greatest number and judges actions by their consequences; and deontology, which insists, among much else, that certain rights can’t be violated under any circumstances.

This conflict is at the heart of two new books that use the trolley problem and its many permutations to explore how people make ethical judgments. For all the hairsplitting that the problem has inspired—a quantity of commentary that “makes the Talmud look like Cliffs Notes,” in the words of the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah—the moral dilemmas are profound. They are manifest in our political system, for example, when we face choices that will penalize some for the good of all, or at least of others, as is the case when we debate the legitimacy of taxation and redistribution, the justification for war, the uses of torture, or the justice of affirmative action.

via Book Review: ‘The Trolley Problem’ by Thomas Cathcart | ‘Would You Kill the Fat Man?’ by David Edmonds –

So how does this apply? On The Korbel Report (University of Denver), Alexander Bowe makes the connection between this scenario and Washington’s policy approach on Syria.  The problem of using drones is another issue, explored here. (Daily Kos) and even Michael Sandel explores these issues in his landmark book, Justice, and in this TED Talk, “What’s the right thing to do?”

This can be a useful way to explore utilitarianism–but as a few years ago John Holbo pointed out how the trolley problem is easily mocked, filled with ad absurdum elements–and even considered by some to be “the apotheosis of analytic-style absurdity.”

What Do Political Scientists Know? (And how do we find out)

What do political scientists, practitioners of “the dismissed science,” know that the rest of us don’t?  The process of dispersing research is (very, very slowly) changing as some serious scholars are writing for a wider auudience–explaining what we are learning via research.

Hans Noel at Georgetown explains here.

The paper is worth a full read (really). Also, Noel suggests more useful sources for informed analysis:

  • Jonathan Bernstein,
  • Daniel Drezner,
  • Simon Jackman,
  • Jacob Levy,
  • Jim Johnson,
  • Seth Masket,
  • Brendan Nyhan,
  • Steven Walt,



German Diplomacy: Reckless or Clever?

Russia is testing Germany’s new “muscular” foreign policy.  What will the implications be?

But while the “new” Germany has clearly emerged as the economic engine of the European Union, it has yet to proclaim a coherent post–Cold War foreign-policy doctrine. Instead, Berlin has maintained a somewhat manic-depressive posture, making in some instances critical decisions have had dramatic impact on international developments while in other instances adopting a more passive stand by responding to outside pressures.

via German Diplomacy: Reckless or Clever?.


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