white house

The White House and Congress must be pushed by public opinion to take immediate measures to stop the flow of stolen artifact into our country. Obama administration officials should meet with the proposed legislation sponsors and get behind the draft bills objective which is to “deny terrorists and criminals the ability to profit from instability by looting the world of its greatest treasures.”

Barack Obama’s administration has come under withering criticism for failing to send a top U.S. official to Paris for a high-profile solidarity rally held after last week’s bloody terrorist attacks there. On Monday, Jan. 12, the White House admitted it made a mistake and scrambled to send Secretary of State John Kerry to France to help smooth over any bad feelings.

The White House says it will be responding to a petition calling for the deportation of troubled Canadian-born pop star Justin Bieber. With more than 234,000 signatures and counting, the deportation request is well over the 100,000 names a petition on the White House website needs before the Obama administration is required to respond to it.

The U.S. government is struggling to coordinate the volumes of information from the many agencies and departments that make up slices of the public diplomacy and strategic communications pie. Congress needs to use its oversight to evaluate the variety of agencies, set specific goals, and ensure that the vital work of public diplomacy moves forward.

America’s ambassador to the Holy See says the two sides are working to rebuild trust following the leak of embarrassing diplomatic cables late last year.

An amusing episode from my first Foreign Service posting -- in London, where, doubtless by computer error, given the ordinariness of my name, I was assigned in the early 1980s as a USIA officer -- took place in the US Embassy cafeteria, where Secret Service agents assigned to cover a high-ranking official visit were having their midday meal.

“Smart power” is supposedly the Hegelian synthesis of soft and hard power instruments of foreign policy. In reality, though, it usually means downgrading hard power in favor of soft power, which is precisely what is happening in America today.

Sometimes effective public diplomacy can be conducted through a simple and unambiguous gesture. Such was the case when President Barack Obama recently commemorated the 50th anniversaries of 17 African nations’ independence at the White House. The gesture – or really a non-gesture – was to not invite a single African head of state to the event.