Back Issues of PDAA Today

Back issues of PDAA Today, PDAA’s quarterly print newsletter are now online and available for download.

Statement on response to COVID-19

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Given the need for diligence in the face of the COVID-19 threat, and in consultation with our USC partner, we are postponing our April 6 First Monday Forum. During this time, when it is vital to observe social distancing guidelines, we are exploring the feasibility of online events and will continue to provide you with Weekly Updates and News and Notes. We encourage everyone to engage virtually, to the extent you can, and invite you to spend some time exploring, our joint website.

Sherry Mueller, President, PDC
Joel Fischman, President, PDAA

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Martha Graham and the Legacy of Dance Diplomacy

Victoria Phillips’s book on Martha Graham was the subject of a discussion at the National Museum of American Diplomacy on March 5, 2020

The National Museum of American Diplomacy at the State Department arranged a “Diplomacy After Hours” discussion on March 5, 2020, that focused on a new book by Victoria Phillips, Martha Graham’s Cold War: The Dance of American Diplomacy. The event was hosted by Dr. Jane Carpenter-Rock, the Museum’s deputy director and the speaker at the May First Monday program on the projected presentation of Public Diplomacy at the museum. The respondents included PDAA member Ambassador Sally Grooms Cowal, who spoke about her encounter while CAO in Israel with Martha Graham.

According to its author, Martha Graham’s Cold War is the first book to frame the story of Martha Graham and her particular brand of dance modernism as pro-Western Cold War propaganda used by the United States government to promote American democracy.

“In her choreography, Graham recast the stories of the Western canon through female protagonists whom she captured as timeless, seemingly beyond current political and cultural values of the Free World. Centering on powerful yet not demonstrably American female characters, the stories Graham danced seduced and captured the imaginations of elite audiences without seeming to force a determinedly American agenda,” according to Phillips.

Recalling a Martha Graham Visit to Israel: Its Foreign Policy Objective Achieved

by Sally Grooms Cowal

Ambassador Sally Grooms Cowal

The Martha Graham Dance Company came to Israel as part of a tour to Egypt, Israel and Jordan shortly after the signing of the Peace Agreement between Israel and Egypt in 1979. The Agreement was brokered by President Jimmy Carter at Camp David. That was a major foreign policy accomplishment for the United States and remains, 40 years later, the only peace agreement achieved between Israel and an Arab nation. The foreign policy objective of the Martha Graham tour was part of a larger plan of cultural normalization, undertaken by the US, to create bridges of knowledge and understanding between Israel and the Arab world. I was the CAO in Israel at the time.

The foreign policy objective of the tour of the Graham Company was to illustrate that it was possible for performing arts groups to perform in Israel and in Arab countries on the same visit. Israel had been isolated by the Arab countries since its establishment. If you had an Israeli entry stamp in your passport, for example, no Arab country would permit entrance. There was no direct travel between Israel and any country in the region. To go from Tel Aviv to Cairo, for example, a flight of one hour, required an all-day trip. You went from Tel Aviv to Athens, had a several-hour layover in Athens, and then a flight from Athens to Cairo. It took about nine or 10 hours in total.

So we wanted to end that isolation and to show that Israel was in fact part of the region and should not be isolated and that there were decided advantages to be gained for all the countries if travel and tourism and business and cultural exchange between them became normal and routine. So, the plan was for the company to come to Israel directly from Egypt, showing that it was possible and normal to do so. It actually didn’t work out that way because we couldn’t get a commercial charter or scheduled airline to fly them from Egypt to Israel, so we had to call on the US Air Force to come to our rescue. Now, daily commercial flights exist from Tel Aviv to Cairo, to Amman, and perhaps to other Middle Eastern cities as well.

Other cultural normalization activities that the US Government pursued simultaneously included an expanded International Visitor Program, especially for travel and learning experiences that included both Israelis and Arabs in the same group of grantees. A regional IV program of, for example, water engineers from several European countries, would also include engineers from Israel and perhaps Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, so that they could meet as professionals with similar backgrounds on neutral grounds (the US), learning and experiencing together and beginning to break down the mutual fear, stigma, myths, and prejudices that had existed for generations.
Audiences in Israel were thrilled with the Martha Graham performances and for the tour being part of a larger Middle Eastern context. We hosted other US performing arts groups later, like the La Mama Theatre Company from NY and the Paul Taylor Dance Company, and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra–all of which performed in Israel and then in other places in the Middle East.

But Martha was the first. She had a history in Israel, she had helped to start the Batsheva Dance Company, she and her company had performed there several times, so Israelis were familiar with her work and thrilled that her company was performing in Amman and Cairo as well as in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. From the point of view of the American Embassy, our foreign policy objective of gaining support for what we hoped would be a new day in the region, with peace treaties between Israel and many other Arab countries, was achieved.

Ambassador Cowal retired from the Foreign Service in 1995 after serving as Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago. She was a Career Minister and had also been Deputy Assistant Secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean. Ambassador Cowal’s assignments included Cultural Attaché at United States Embassy, Tel Aviv, 1978-1982, and Minister-Counselor for Public Affairs in Mexico. After retiring from the Foreign Service, she became the deputy director of the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) where she was responsible for heightening world awareness to the emerging HIV/AIDS crisis. From 1999 to 2001, Ambassador Cowal was the President of Youth For Understanding, and from 2001 to 02, she was President of the Cuba Policy Foundation. She curently serves as the American Cancer Society’s Senior Vice President for Global Health. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Diplomacy Center Foundation supporting the National Museum of American Diplomacy. Her most recent article for PDAA, Life After the Foreign Service, is available here.

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Today’s Washington Post carries the sad news of the passing of one of our country’s foremost cultural diplomats: Yale Richmond.

Yale’s geographic area specialization was Russia and Central Europe. When he began working in the region, Russia was still the Soviet Union and the US referred to anything east of the Soviet Union as Eastern Europe. This deeply offended the Poles, for example, who pointed out that Warsaw was to be found some to 1000 miles west of Moscow,  just about mid-way between Moscow and Paris. The Poles would point out that they were central Europeans whose culture came from the west not from the influences of the barbarism found along their eastern border.

Yale quickly recognized that the Russian people and people of other ethnic origins living in the Soviet Union, and across central Europe, harbored no natural anti-American instincts and that they were highly receptive to opportunities that might allow them to learn English and perhaps even to visit or to study in our country. And Yale saw that the Communist governments of the Soviet Union and of at least some Central European countries (Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia) were willing, if not anxious, to work on expanding educational and cultural relations with our country.

So both on assignments in the field in Moscow and Warsaw and while serving in Washington supervising educational and cultural operations in this region, he began to gather U.S. Government resources for such efforts.

Yale worked tirelessly to educate younger staff, such as myself, on the diplomacy needed for such activities: language ability and a thorough knowledge of the history of these countries. We were exhausted after his intense visits to us in the field. He was indefatigable.

But perhaps the highest tribute that has been paid to Yale has come about most recently and in an very perverse manner: while Soviet leadership was anxious to support educational and cultural exchanges because it believed that this demonstrated that it considered such activity part of how civilized nations carried on relations with one another, the Putin regime has now shut down all such activities, declaring that young people who participate in such programs are brainwashed while they are in the U.S. and return enemies of Russia. The Soviets had the self-confidence to believe that their system could compete successfully with the outside world. Putin has no such confidence.

Yale was right. He supported language teaching and other efforts to expand academic and cultural contacts because he understood how deeply corrosive they were to totalitarian regimes. And now the Putin regime certainly recognizes this.

Perhaps no other person contributed more over a lifetime to helping Americans to understand the world beyond our borders and those beyond our borders to understand us.

We mourn the passing of our one of our country’s foremost cultural diplomats. But he leaves a superb road map for how we will need to rebuild our international relations in the future.

Ambassador Robert R. Gosende

Writer and Foreign Service Officer Yale Wolf Richmond, 96, a retired Foreign Service Officer who wrote books on intercultural communication, died of natural causes on March 22 in Chevy Chase, Maryland. He lived in the Washington area since 1963.

Mr. Richmond served in Germany, Laos, Poland, Austria, and the Soviet Union. For his service in Laos, he received the U.S. Information Agency’s Meritorious Service Award. At retirement in 1980, he was a Deputy Assistant Director (Europe) of the U.S. Information Agency. After retirement, he was a Staff Consultant to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe and the U.S. Congress, and a Senior Program Officer at the National Endowment for Democracy.

A specialist in educational and cultural exchanges with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, he established the Fulbright program in Poland in 1959 and negotiated fourteen intergovernmental agreements with the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe on exchanges in education, culture, science, and technology. For his work in Poland, he was awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.

After a 30-year career as a cultural officer helping people of other countries to understand America and its people, Mr. Richmond in his retirement wrote 11 books to help Americans going abroad to work or study to better understand the culture and people of other countries. He was the author of From Nyet to Da: Understanding the New Russia; From Da to Yes: Understanding the East Europeans; U.S.-Soviet Cultural Exchanges: Who Wins?; Cultural Exchange and the Cold War: Raising the Iron Curtain, a study of how exchanges helped to end the Cold War; Practicing Public Diplomacy: A Cold War Odyssey; and with his wife Phyllis Gestrin, Into Africa: A Guide to Sub-Saharan Culture and Diversity. Several of his books have been published in Chinese and Korean language editions, and his Understanding the Russians has been published in four editions and sold more than 35,000 copies.

Born in Boston, he was graduated from Boston College in 1943 at age 19, served in the army 1943-46, and received degrees in electrical engineering from Syracuse University (1947) and in history from Columbia University (1957). He was a member of the American Foreign Service Association, the Public Diplomacy Association of America, and the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies ASEEES His marriage to Pamela Cheatham Richmond ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife, Phyllis Gestrin, of Chevy Chase, MD; one child, Hania, of Naperville, IL, and one grandchild, Pierre David Hanlet. Memorial service will be held at a later date. Memorial service will be held at a later date.

Published in The Washington Post on Mar. 29, 2020


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POSTPONED: April 20 Program to Focus on Covering Foreign Affairs in a Changing World

Well known journalists Paul Richter and Karen Tumulty will speak at the April 20, 2020, PDAA lunch on the topic of Covering Foreign Affairs in a Changing World.

The Ambassadors

Paul Richter is one of two speakers at the April 20 PDAA luncheon.

Richter, who is also the author of a new book, The Ambassadors: America’s Diplomats on the Front Lines, most recently covered the State Department and foreign policy for the Los Angeles Times. He previously covered the Pentagon, the White House, and the New York financial institutions. A native of Minneapolis, he graduated from Clark University.

Photo of Karen Tumulty

Washington Post political columnist Karen Tumulty

Tumulty is a political columnist for The Washington Post. She previously worked for the Los Angeles Times and Time Magazine. She has received numerous awards for her Congressional and diplomatic coverage and is a frequent guest on national television. She is a native Texan who graduated from the University of Texas and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Richter and Tumulty are married.

The discussion will take place on Mon., Apr. 20, from 12:00 to 2:00, at DACOR-Bacon House, 1801 F St. NW. To register, please complete the form on page 7 of the newsletter or register on-line using the drop-down menu below. Deadline is Apr. 16



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Optional: The PDAA Awards Program is one of our most important activities. To make a voluntary contribution:

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2020 Dues are now payable. Click here to pay online or to download the mail-in form.


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POSTPONED: Public Diplomacy & COVID-19 Focus of April “First Monday”

This program has been postponed.

With concerns about the spread of COVID-19 rising rapidly, we have changed the order of First Monday programs. The April 6 First Monday will feature a panel on Public Diplomacy and COVID-19.
Speakers at the panel will include Kia Henry and Mike Zeltakalns; PDAA Vice President Joan Mower will moderate.

Henry is the OES PD officer for Covid-19 and other health issues. Zeltakalns is director of Crisis Response at the State Department.

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POSTPONED: First Monday Program to Focus on Presenting Public Diplomacy at the National Museum of American Diplomacy

May’s First Monday program on May 4 will feature a panel discussion on the projected presentation of public diplomacy at the National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD). The program will take place at the museum, 330 21st Street NW, Washington, DC 20006, beginning at noon.

A panel discussion will feature Deputy Director of Museum Content Jane Carpenter-Rock–a Public Diplomacy Officer–and the Museum content team.

Jane Carpenter-Rock, Ph.D.

Jane Carpenter-Rock, Ph.D.
Deputy Director, NMAD

Jane Carpenter-Rock joined the NMAD as Deputy Director for Museum Content in July 2018. She has served as a Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Department of State for over eighteen years. Prior to joining NMAD, she was Deputy Director in the Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the Bureau of African Affairs. From 2013 to 2016, she was the Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Cape Town. Other tours have included Deputy Director in the Office of Public Diplomacy for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs; Senior Australia Desk Officer; Information Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá; Watch Officer in the State Department’s Operations Center; and Consular Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg. Before joining the State Department, Jane held several pre-doctoral fellowships in Art History, including the Sara Roby Fellowship in 20th-Century American Realism at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She is the author of the book Betye Saar in the David C. Driskell Series of African American Art (Pomegranate, 2003). Jane has a B.A. from the College of William and Mary (1992), an M.A. from Howard University (1995), and a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Michigan (2002).

Participants are urged to arrive early in order to go through security and to pick up a sandwich. Although participation is free, registration is requested.

First Monday programs are presented by the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, the Public Diplomacy Association of America, and the Public Diplomacy Council.

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