Public Diplomacy

Engagement with the Middle East and North Africa, and other Muslim-majority countries, is “a top priority” for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), Deputy Assistant Secretary for Academic Programs Meghan Curtis said last week at the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA) conference in New Orleans.

Delivering his first official speech as Secretary of State, at the University of Virginia on Wednesday, John Kerry set the tone for his tenure in Foggy Bottom, drawing a simple and direct connection between U.S. foreign policy and domestic affairs:

“More than ever before, the decisions that we make from the safety of our shores don’t just ripple outward; they also create a current right here in America. How we conduct our foreign policy matters more than ever before to our everyday lives.”

In a recent blog post, Admiral James Stavridis, commander of the U.S. European Command, stresses the importance of linguistics, skills of regional expertise, and cultural understanding in U.S. military operations. He states:

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International exchanges are essential in “bridging the intersection between policy and public diplomacy” and help “empower future generations of political leaders,” Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine told an audience at George Washington University’s Elliot School of Foreign Affairs last Thursday.

With its leadership changing and the views of its eight Republican members ranging “all over the map,” the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) of the 113th Congress is likely to showcase “a lack of cohesion,” as well as strong, vigorous debates, CQ.com reports. This new dynamic could “reinvigorate a panel that has grown increasingly marginalized on Capitol Hill in recent years,” though it also runs the risk of “creating more dysfunction, with committee infighting bogging down the legislative agenda.”

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By a vote of 94 to 3, the Senate overwhelming approved Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) yesterday afternoon as the United States’ next Secretary of State, The Washington Post reports. Kerry abstained from voting but watched the proceedings from the front of the Senate chamber. Three Republicans voted against Kerry: Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas, and Sen.

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A young U.S. diplomat is hoping to build bridges between the U.S. and Pakistan and promote education for girls through singing songs in the local language, Pashto, AFP Islamabad recently reported.

Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) will be the new chair of the House Judiciary Committee in the next Congress, according to CQ.com.

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Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) will be the new chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the next Congress, according to CQ.com.

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has reiterated in recent weeks that she will not stay on at the State Department during President Obama’s second term. For some, this announcement has “unleashed…waves of speculation about her plans,” as detailed in this recent Washington Post profile about the possible paths she will take in the future. Current theories include a period of “hibernation” before a 2016 Presidential bid; the creation of her own women’s rights initiative; or (perhaps unlikely but still possible) retirement.

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