tv Book TV CSPAN May 29, 2013 1:45pm-2:46pm EDT
i think that provides a great segue to go to the global scope of soft power with you, jill. >> thank you very much. i have to say, i'm very grateful to john, when i leapt in there where the word propaganda, it was actually a response to a course that i took at georgetown from john in which he talks specifically about propaganda. so i was kinds of prime for that. it is something, you know, that does have a pa jourtive connotation. in other countries it has less pa it is a technical term. but a very quick preface. the reason i'm here, was invited here, is because i'm in the throws of -- throes of writing on vad vladmir putin.
i was told i don't have a thesis because there's no soft power from mr. putin. i don't agree. i think that it has to be defined in the different way. that is one of the problems that i think of soft power. it's squishy. it is soft, as you said, jason. it's not a well defined concept. in fact right now there's a revisionist theory about soft power. there are two people. one happens to be john, who doesn't think that it. >> i'm not worthy of being quoted. >> you are. that explains the false comfort we find in soft power. which as we will see here, is not very soft at all. nye makes a case for attracting and convincing countries but that is simply another way of
talking about diplomacy. and i think that's a very good point. also, there is another person whom looked at this, amy salman, we were looking at her articles today. and she believes that these are the hard and soft are false boxes. that these concepts are put in to. that actually she would talk about symbolic effect. i think symbolism is important. as i write my paper, i'm getting more in to, i guess, the message of a culture, the symbolism of the culture, the resonance that the culture has. and that may be an hassive thesis is a little too -- you know, broad or undefined. i think there's something to it. let's say when we talk about america's traditional use -- or
america's -- i wouldn't say use it gets utilitarian. america's soft power. john mentioned decoration of independence. you can bring it up to ronald reagan talking about human rights around the world. the united states has this almost sinmatic -- you rm look at hollywood and say america has an image of itself as a land of freedom, opportunity, and democracy. and i'm not going to evaluate that. i'm not going to give my judgment how true or false it. i'll say that is -- excuse me. an image that the united states projects. and organically projected from the culture its. other countries use different types of soft power. for instance, france, i saw a little popup on the internet -- don't ask me how i found it.
it popped up there. it was about investing in france. businesses in france. and it had a person with a french accent. which immediately pegs it as something that is soft power. language is definitely soft power. it said i know you want to invest in -- [inaudible] [laughter] each day in france we have 2,500 companies that invest. and it went on like that. it was charming. i kept watching. then it said, end of cost in france there are 2,500 ways of making love. then they said, only kidding. and it goes on. [laughter] so it was playing with the image of france's, you know, nation of love and lovers, it was play -- it was talking about a very serious thing. which is investment. you can almost hear the wine being poured. it was very effective.
i was charmed and my eyes were open to another form of soft power. this is definitely -- it was not, as i remember, the government doing it. i think it was a business group. so business groups and individuals can do soft power, obviously. nongovernmental organizations can do it. there are other countries that use it. south career uses it with the culture. south korea culture right now is very hip around the world. in asia and influential. they are literate on the web and the internet. so they have a different type of soft power projection. japan has its own with culture and also the hip nature of communication technology. i would say that russia and china just very briefly -- russia and china are definitely using it. and they're getting more and
more serious. i just came back from moscow a month ago where i did a number of interviews on soft power in russia. they are investing more in it. they are doing more with the structure of public diplomacy, and what they believe is soft power. they know that there are images -- they have done polling. it doesn't take, you know, a genius to know it's a problem. they want to correct it. there is one problem with soft power, and it's the advantage and disadvantage. is that the advantage is that, as i said it's very organic. in its most primal form it arises from the culture itself. some countries believe that they can use or exploit or utilize soft power. in fact, one person i spoke to
at state department, the u.s. state department said use the tomorrow impositional. impositional soft power. which i thought was interesting. sounded like a contradiction in terms, but i think a lot is contradiction in terms. this person at the state department was not recommending the use of impositional soft power. she was actually talking more directly about russia. feeling it can somehow structure soft power, use it as a government tool or -- well, we'll call it a tool but in a good sense. to change what they believe, the russians believe is a false impression of what if going on in their country. finally, the chinese very big in to soft power. in fact, one of the russians i spoke to was very concerned. he was saying that -- russia right now has 59 -- you can
correct me, i know in the end it's going to talk more directly about russia. there are apparently 59 kind of centered -- cultural centers that russia has around the world. china, he says, at last count 900. i'll bet there are more than 900 by now. because there are opening them. why do countries use soft power? they use it to change the narrative about themselves. the russians believing there's a false narrative out there. that is being created by its enemies, countries that don't want russia to do well. could be their actual enemy. it could be -- let's say their economic enemies. and the chinese could be using it. there are many people who say they are using it in order to soften the impact of their economic move around the world to capture resources, and sell
things to the world. that could be another reason. i just -- briefly want to go to one thing we talked about as we were discussing how we would break up the enormous subject which is branding. there are actually is a russian word now, branding. and as i talk to one russian official, i got whattic is the classic, as we say on tv, sound byte or coat. -- quote. he said you know what you have done? i said for purposes of the discussion, i'm not an american. but he said, you -- americans, have carried out the biggest rebranding in the history of the world. and i said what is that? and he said, in the old days when it was communism and catch -- capitalism you sold capitalism and we competed. now you are selling freedom and democracy armed the world.
that's your brand. that's what you sell. so his idea was that you can somehow rebrand country and idea, a concept, a deeply held belief, and sell it. this feels very post capitalist to me. to me, it's very hip. it's actually saying that we can manipulate people in to taking this brand. i started thinking, well, maybe the united states does some of the same thing in a slightly different way. because these -- i'll close on this. with a we have right now is the waning power of government to spread messages. although it's still very potent. you have the internet, social media, twitter, facebook, et. cetera. and websites all kinds -- al qaeda has a website.
other groups, individuals have impressed websited. so the conversation -- i'll also a very good quote from a person who is targeting that. the social media issues said it's -- this was terra who was the head of the he said it used to be about governments managing public perceptions. but now it's people talking with each other. in cutting out the government. that's something that has really tossed things to the air. not only for developing countries or countries that are new, soft power, but also to countries that have been doing it for a long time. you have to engage, and you cannot tell people what to think. you may manipulate them. there are ways of doing this.
there is no longer a big finger by governments to tell people what to think about what they do. sometimes they are policies telling the world what they're doing. i'll stop on that. then -- [inaudible] >> okay. thank you very much, jill. >> yeah. >> thank you. thank for the oversight. i'm going to try to build on them. so i'll be brief, but i'll look forward to more questions and perhaps more detailed discussion during the q & a. so firstly, i'll provide a quick background on public diplomacy and what russia has done in term of public diplomacy over the past decade. because i think we could see a major water shed, you know, in 2003-2004 and especially putin's second term in office. in terms of russian attempts to a-- improve the image abroad and do a better public diplomacy. so why was that? i think my answer to that, at
least, is the fact that during the first term in office, putin managed to consult a power and order at home. his foreign policy became much more assertive. he also realized when trying to engage with international public, it was very difficult -- it was proving to be very difficult for russia because the negative image that the world had of russia. so they decided they had to do something about it. we should also remember that the international context of getting a little more -- a little more hostile, if you may, you know, for russia because of the extension of nato. because the war in afghanistan and iraq which was not too far from russian borders. and the -- spreading and moving across the space. and a lot of russians saw that as being a western mastermind sort of project, you know. and they realized they have to do something.
they have to revamp it or actually start it in term of improving their image abroad. so what a did they do? i'll provide some examples here, and there are many. i'll cover a couple and focus mostly on what the government has been trying to do specifically the government you talked about, you know, other comings in. in term of the media in the late 2005, they established russia today which now the rt networking which has grown to include several languages, you know, several channels, each one with a different focus. i'm sure you have all seen it. and they -- i believe they have about 20 bureau around the world, which to me is impressive. then they also established websites such as former russia profile, which was then incorporated to a -- which is a major news website that was government sponsored, if you haven't realized.
journal of minister of foreign affairs. in terms of culture, they have been very active, already mentioned i believe as we were talking. the funds which all focus on promoting russian culture abroad, supporting cultural activities, promoting education, russian language teaching. and more recently they also emphasized starting to emphasize online efforts as well. beyond social media aspect of what the media is already doing, the minister of foreign affairs established various twitter accounts in russian, in english and in other languages. they have a facebook page was is only in russian for some reason. and some ambassadors are tweeting themselves and most prominent in the uk. i also notice that there's
during improving some of their websites, and busy website, making them much more user-friendly and more informative. there's really a big difference from a couple of years ago. so all this is commendable and exciting to see. but despite it all the russian image doesn't seem to have been improving much. as already mentioned. so many will say that it is a failure of russians of power, but why isn't the case? and i think that's what i will try to address. first of all of course the perception of stereotypes that still continued from the cold war era, and you know, proxy wars don't really help that case much. then a lot of the social media effort i referred to before is taking place in russian. so my question is who is the target public? are they trying to call to the foreign public, like the indices for example, when the ambassador tweeting in russian crazy trying to reach out to the public of the country or is he talking to
the domestic public back in russia, or perhaps his superiors, at the checkmark he needs to gets? soft power within the russian concept, context. and it's not that russians don't understand what soft power means, but rather russia has realized that soft power as in its essence cannot really be applicable for russia. the issue here is soft power is to american and that's my problem with the concept. it's based fundamentally on the american political system and political culture. so success there is defined by, you know, success of freedom abroad, you know, or how aggressive the u.s. is promoting its values abroad, or you know, the civil society and a vibrant civil society with some of the countries might not miss it
should have. so russia cannot afford going down that route unless it changes its political culture or its foreign policy objectives. and that i think is an unreasonable expectation of any country. but they also realize they cannot afford not doing anything in terms of soft power either. because there will be a vacuum that will inevitably be field by other actors whether the west which they cease to as their enemy, or some other actors that are not necessary friendly to the russian cause. so the do realize they have to be doing something. so stranded between iraq and -- a rock and a hard place, russia came up with its own brand of soft power which reflect their own vows and own little system as well as their own foreign policy objective. and that is very different from the soft power understanding and conceptualization of joseph nye, the original concept. so i think that's where a lot of the misunderstanding comes from estimates and think of why russia is doing certain things the way it is in terms of public
diplomacy. so what is this russia version of soft power? someone suggested resort that russia cannot outcompete the u.s. when it comes to the soft soft power. instead he suggests focusing on the hard soft power which sort of implies the promotion of the russian perspective and influence abroad, and what jill mention in terms of pr and branding sort of falls within this category of examples. similarly we can see the rise of anti-western or rather anti-american conceptualization of soft power. which was paralleled by the prominence of the concept in the russian discourse, whether we're talking about national sovereignty or informational sovereignty. and at the core of this lies this perception of an all-out war by the west against all those other countries that won't
give in into western influence. whether it's iran, venezuela, china or russia itself. so they see the u.s. as being the global hegemon, and certainly not comfortable with that. and i think there was an issue that occurred during the 2008 war with georgia, if they keep referring to it as a major watershed of their own because they realized that george and u.s. managed to control the media narrative much better than russia did. and they decided they had to do something about it. so beyond that i think the best example of soft power can be seen in the most recent foreign policy concept that was adopted by the government in february. and as an soft power is conceptualized as independence from western influence of russia, and as well as traditional influence. so here examples would include
the recent story with usaid was the u.s. department agency was kicked out of the country for supposedly promoting regime change in russian, or the increase in testing increasing government pressure against internationally or foreign funded ngos far pursuing similar objectives. all the while it's interesting to note that the foreign policy concept and -- emphasizes fresh has to learn how to do the soft power better, that it is actually important for russia to learn how to be soft power. to me it's funny to observe their trying to learn the techniques of the western techniques that basically to use them against the west itself because they see the west as posting this threat to their own sovereignty. so this is just to give you an idea of what russia sees as the soft power entered in the 21st century. i will be wrapping up here. i think in terms of the u.s.-russia relations, soft
power is more source of tension and a force that brings them together to improve the situation both sides have to work on the perceptions of each other. so they have to try and approve the stereotypes and images of each other, both on the general public level as well as among the political leadership. and more importantly though, as already mentioned, the best soft power is achieved through actions after the public diplomacy of peace. so we could only hope that both sides will be able to achieve some compromise in the near future. thank you. >> thank you very much, yelena. this has provided excellent framework for our discussion in your questions. and i now actually, going back to the diagram, i think the diagram of the russian concept of soft power and the u.s. concept of soft power fitting into phone would -- public diplomacy, pr brandy, i thought you going to get into gangnam style for a moment there.
[laughter] yelena, if maybe i could put up a question for you i guess also, all of you on the panel. i think it's sort of a russian historical. >> host: reconceptualize foreign concepts. going back to peter the great, and there's also i suppose maybe a contradiction here, particularly in recent years where russia has really raised soft power as a tool but it also sees the use of soft power by other nations like the united states as a threat to its sovereignty. and i'm just trying to sort of reconcile that. is that why it's distinct or is it just a counter diction? >> well, i would say it's a contradiction. i don't think they're emphasizing the difference as much. the article i referred to earlier, the differentiation between soft soft power and hard soft power was the first time i actually saw the.
so perhaps i hadn't come across that early. i don't know. but i think that's an interesting distinction to try to do. but beyond that they are not really emphasizing that much. they're just saying this is our version of soft power and soft power is a universal concept, everyone can use it. it's like public diplomacy for example. >> force for good and it is i think that's what the misunderstanding comes from, that they don't fully understand all the baggage that the concept comes with. >> i just wanted to jump in because i think i would be interested in what yelena and john think about this, i think also there's a tiny. you look at, russia is 20 years old, a couple of decades. the first as you mentioned, the first part of that period was spent consolidating and making sure the country did not implode. i mean, that was, that was the
danger after the end of the soviet union that the whole place would fall apart. so there were legitimate concerns, you know, yeltsin and putin had their hands full, one could argue. just simply keeping the country together. and i think that that fear, when i was in moscow, people continued to bring that up. they point to the caucuses. they point to divisions, lack of coherent ideas about what makes russia tech. the centrifugal forces that can pull a country apart. and so to really, so let's say, take 10 years, the first 10 years of trying to keep the country together. at that very time that concept of soft power, you know, 1990 1990s, this phrase is coming out, then it picks up steam that takes a few years. so it is percolating in the west at the very time that the
russians are not particularly interested in attracting people to their ancient history and how receptive they are. their first focus, the soft power projection, was economic. they fell, that's i think a very important part. what they wanted was to get people to invest in russia. they wanted to bring the economy back, and it was a very mechanistic utilitarian approach, which was people don't think we are a good place to invest. they think we are all corrupt and we better set that narrative straight. and that was their approach to soft power for quite a while. remains to a certain extent. the second one, i would argue, would be let's get those russians have led back to where they belong, but then build the country, what are they doing in california? you know, one of the doing in silicon valley? they could be working here in moscow. so that is where you find a lot
of this russian language where you say wait a minute, exactly what yelena said, who are they talking to. well, i think a lot of the people they're talking to our russians who are here in washington, here in california, and in other countries. brain drain has diminished but it is still there. >> if i may speak from an american perspective. i was the cultural affairs officer in moscow from 1990 1990-2001. and speaking about american public diplomacy towards russia and the russian reaction to it, i do want to get into individual programs and so forth, but one of the things that struck me as an american diplomat having the pleasure of practicing public diplomacy and russia, and i like to call myself -- russia the qun
of national identity. speak very, very generally, i hope you can speak generally, americans define themselves in political terms. you know, the declaration of independence, constitution are political documents that underscore the rights of the individual. on the other hand, russians have a problem in deciding themselves, art to fill cultural in deciding themselves politically. rather, they defined themselves are least when i was there culturally. the russian language, and the achievements in culture tolstoy, russian music, russian ark picture. and so one of the problems that exists in creating come if you will, a russian-american dialogue on a public diplomacy
level with its implications for the soft power of both countries influencing the other, is that americans tend to think politically. russians, in the past, now it's changing, thank culturally. and one of the very difficult things i had at the cultural affairs officer is that the united states doesn't take culture very seriously. and so with all my russian contacts would always say, why does have a cultural program? and then i would answer -- we don't have a minister of culture in united states but that was a bad excuse. we have hollywood. this is what congress is. and so that's i think the real issue in the russian-american dialogue regarding public diplomacy. of course, it's changing as you both pointed out so well. the russians are in some ways trying to reimagine themselves
and present themselves to the west with the eight interesting enough with american and western pr firms. but still i think i kind of people to people level there's this issue about national self-definition, which poses obstacles and challenges and at dialogue on a public diplomacy level. >> let's turn to questions we might have out in the audience and perhaps on twitter as well. if you have a question please just give your name and organization that you are with. and i think you may have microphones as well. we have a question, a gentleman in the third row. >> my name is richard ribs and a recent registered in of columbia school of economics. this question is for jill. you alluded pretty much soft power is an organic process, and i'm wondering there's an article recently on cnn regarding this
notion that china is trying really hard, very contrived process to serve as a conduit for delivering soft power initiative. do you think the government can serve in that capacity, or do you think it really is a kind of subconscious evolving process that takes place rooted over years of work? we seek is not one single entity. they could be nike, it could be fast food chains, it could be hollywood so it's not have so much by government. it evolves into this larger data about soft power. >> i mean, this would be my theory and i'm not an expert in this at all so, but i would say the chinese use their culture which existed way before soft power was ever invented. so that is one very strong force. now, could you say did it just spring from the earth? well, part of chinese culture is
part of what the government, the government did. and the people in the society. i think we are verging on that area that john was talking about, the difference between public diplomacy and soft power. i think of soft power as the soil, you know, and that's called public diplomacy kind of the plow, or whatever the for, whatever you want, to use that loma meal, the cultural loma to continue this crazy analogy. but, you know, that's kind of what it is. so that, now, in the united states, which is very highly sophisticated in terms of the media and how we propagandize ourselves, and income you could argue that democracy et cetera having grown up in the '50s, a
lot of this was used by the government. you know, through periods in our life. world war i, world war ii. as propaganda but it created, it was the fertilizer that went back into the soil. >> propagate -- >> exactly. i'm not quite sure how to answer your question. i think if, it's not, you know, either or, but i think that right now governments as russians begin to grapple with how can we utilize whatever we've got, whether it's language or culture or cuisine, or just kind of the hipness of the society in order to get people to like us, on some level, and do what we want them to do. which is ultimately why this is interesting to governments.
>> we have another question down here, lady in the second row. >> thank you. i'm a law student at american university. my question is about the soft power not being that influential, because of the fact that russia hasn't changed their foreign policies, like for instance, in syria right now i mean rush has his -- huge influence overseeing governments and yet they are not responding in just and even humanitarian way to end the conflict. why are they using their soft power to end the conflict in syria or to help the world from, like, yeah, they're so many people dying and they can actually stop it. why aren't they doing so? >> well, thanks for the question.
i was thinking about it a lot. i think the arab spring can be another example beyond the georgia war that i mentioned in terms of bringing the prominence and importance of soft power to the forefront of russian government. i think what the suitcase does is presents another excuse would have to fight over soft power with the west. that's why i think they have been very careful not to come here, i'm looking for the word here, but not to betray their old friends and to stick with the line that they been treading the past i do have a decade, since the cold war. so they are afraid that if they see a change in government the government won't be too from towards russia and other countries sort of be overtaken by a pro-western force. so that's something they can't have.
and again that is connected to economic and military concerns. for example, what we see in libya they lost a lot of economic interest. so they are afraid of a similar thing happening again. and it's a military concern i believe. if that answered your question at all. >> i will be really brief. i think there's another factor, which is russia had its principal approach to foreign policy. their principled approach to foreign policy in syria is sovereignty. it is a sacred diplomatic principle of the russians, that sovereignty is paramount. nobody should be able to don't any other country what to do. nobody should change other countries against their will. libya was a mistake, and c. would be a mistake as well. and they would further say that you talk about human rights, and if you look at libya to look at
the post-arab spring world, people's rights have been massively abused by this process that on the surface look like democracy, democracy breaking out, and actually what do you have? you have people dying. this is the argument. i have proven this argument, and i think, i do know, i'm not going to say do i believe it, do i subscribe to it or anything, but that is one sovereignty, you mentioned poverty, is like up there number one for russian foreign relations and international relations. >> which is an ironic situation because in the way public diplomacy is an interference in the country's internal affairs. whereas the soviets were always ready to use propaganda to interfere in countries. but it's, you know, public diplomacy is kind of, you know, not a hard power invasion by
soft power invasion and that is a violation of sovereignty. i think a lot of the resentment about, not a lot but reason regarding american culture in russia, especially after the cold war, during the cold war american culture was a kind of a forbidden fruit and, therefore, very attractive. when the soviet union collapsed and the russian population became more, almost invaded some would say by american pop culture, they got indigestion. almost like eating too much popcorn at a bad hollywood movie. answer by the time i was there there was this kind of reaction against american culture, vulgar. in fact, it was quite remarkable thabut i never saw, and i mentid
it is previous, i never saw so many american movies in my life that i did in moscow in the late 90s and early in this century. american be movies purchased or cheaply by russian television often with korean subtitles and voiceover in russian. and i tell you, the cultural experience, it was really also 21st century, you know? spent if we could pause longer, i think it's a very useful context for discussion of soft power. can we call the arab spring a success of both u.s. foreign policy and u.s. soft power? was there an alignment of the two in that? >> it's too early to tell. it's not over. i mean, that's, i mean i think from the russian perspective they are afraid of a domino effect. what we saw with the protests,
two years ago i think it was, into 2011 or early 2012, they were afraid that it was arab spring affect coming to russia. they had this flashback of the revolution. so to them it's as you said, it's an issue of interference but again interferes to what he and? if it's regime change, which they see as being, the native major problems with it. i mean, from the american perspective, yes, i do think it is too early to say. we can't really know yet. >> may i suggest that perhaps in the west, you know, the presence and use of the social media as major contributions of the arab spring were overhyped, totally overhyped. i think the russian government was not as savvy about the social media, as the kind of
cyberutopian to in the united states, where going to change the world if we twitter enough. but that doesn't company, you just read the very stimulating intellectually -- as you know was brought up in belorussia and saw how authoritarian governments can use the media for their own purposes. you know, at a time when everybody in the west was going guy, about the social media -- was going guy, with facebook we all have absolute total freedom, this is it, the end of history. he was saying wait a minute, it's not that simple. and i think from my experience as a diplomat, just a few remarks on this, one of the things i noticed is that a western journalist who very often don't know very much about local conditions, really, and is getting worse and worse.
with notable exceptions. [laughter] really, i mean, you know, they are parachuted into a country and rather than looking at the history or even the social condition of the culture, they look at what is familiar to them, which is facebook or twitter. and they tend to overhyped that as a contributed factor and changes in the society. i noticed this one is posted in belgrade in the mid-nineties, where e-mail was used by dissidents to criticize the government. and western commentators, journalists, you know, which come to belgrade for a couple days and say this is the first e-mail revolution. but, you know, you didn't have to live in belgrade for a thousand years to realize it was far more collocated the kind of
changes that were occurring. and i would say not being a middle east expert, that certainly could be said about the middle east, the social media. maybe it's sufficient condition but certainly not a necessary. >> nicking upon social media and twitter, why did you check to see if we have any questions on our twitter feed? >> high everyone. we have two questions that came in. one came in before the event and it sort of says on something we crushed by which is hollywood and the question actually is, is hollywood a good or bad use of soft power for the u.s.? so i'll let you answer that one first. >> i think both. i think, you know, it's very powerful the way american films are made, you know, the
sophistication, tactical sophistication. the world that it presents, no rules, you can do whatever you want. this is the land of freedom. easy rider, yeah, that type of thing. and then it is complete depravity. i mean let's face it, you know, you can be anything an american films. and so it cuts both ways i think. i mean, that's where, it is interesting, isn't it, that it's kind of a controlled media. you need money. there's an industry and everything. but the image it presents of the united states is really desperate. there's some very smart films and there's some really horrible things. and as john mentioned, sometimes the world gets the worst ones if they can't afford the really good ones. but, so i think it really cuts both ways. >> i was fascinated by this question. there's a kind of trimalism
in the united states reminiscent of the triumphalism after the end of the cold war, the end of history, we have one, history will -- regarding american pop culture in the 21st century, i'm not convinced it's going to be as dominant as some people believe it and let me just suggest some reasons. first of all, american culture as represented by hollywood is to log as close to as was in the 20th century. i mean, people have seen american films. they have heard american jazz. database consider a former broadway culture so doesn't have the newness it had in the 20th century. that's one. two, local, countries themselves are developing a kind of, foreign countries are developing a kind of popular culture that is often as attractive if not more attractive than hollywood itself. for india produces more films,
hollywood produces more films than hollywood. and then a third, as in a statement of americanization hollywood has lost a lot of its, if you will, soft power, the can of soft power went in the 20th century and that american films are increasingly directed to global audiences and are becoming in fact less quote recognizably american. you know, whatever that means but american fills today though, it's not like looking at casablanca, something very american like casablanca. but if you look at the blockbusters that hollywood produces these days and exports overseas where the big market is that, doesn't have this american quality. and then finally in terms of american popular culture, soft power as kind of remaining comments are the 21st century, take the english language, which in the 20th century was a
vehicle for americanization, you know, i don't want to speak with a british accident i want to speak with an american accent. but what's happened is that english has become an international language, to longer specifically quoted american language anymore but it's become an international language. so the impact of american pop culture of film, literature, even language i think must be, mustn't take it totally for granted that the soft power will remain dominant in the 21st century i think to be a lot more centers, and they think it's just a voiceover of the country under soft power. >> great question because i think a lot of russia focus is on hollywood. russian directors are now of american hollywood film. a russian director, which is
bizarre. but let's take another question from the audience. in the fourth row. blue shirt. >> hi. that you very much. my name is richard. i'm a graduate student at georgetown university but also the founder of the guard station called the center for american russian engagement of emerging leaders, which started something we started after i was a student body president at my university and we were invited, and subsequent we have institutionalized this and taken about 100 or more student leaders, american student leaders to russia, all funded by the russian government. also he has done this. so my question is, i've experience a lot of interest from the russian government in bringing over and their soft
power public diplomacy and targeting young americans, future leaders through these initiatives. and i'm interested in, and then also to ambassador when it first with a the things that you said was he's more concerned about the as public opinion towards russians, and that's the harder thing than the russian public opinion of americans. and so i'm interested what suggestions you have and how americans can engage more, like more interested in the public diplomacy and the perception of russians and what can be done. >> john? >> go to russia. as you did it. well coming in, it's kind of an irony that the soviet union in the cold war, russia was a kind of exotic place that attracted a
lot of young americans and the government provided a lot of money to study russia. soviet studies, russia studies. and now this period is over, ironically enough, the french it is by no means automatic. -- the friendship is by no means automatic. is a real challenge to make americans interested in russia. russians are far more interested in the united states and americans are interested in russia. part of it is our lack of knowledge of frankly geography, yeah, i pick many people knew where the soviet union was because we all know the phrase war is god's way of teaching americans geography. so you know, quite a lot of young people in high school could see the sun beating on the map. that's a problem. i'm sure you saw the minor tempest in a teapot after the tragic event in boston, where somebody twittered we've got a
new czechoslovakia. he said it was the czech republic and the czech ambassador wrote us a very slightly ironic letter saying please, you know, the czech republic is not chechnya. so that's a major problem. and i think if young americans saw this as opportunities in russia, i think that would be, but it's not, i mean it's difficult, it's becoming worse. i mean, you know -- >> i was an exchange student when i was just into college. very early, a longtime ago. and it changed my life. i mean, that's why i'm sitting here today because i've studied in st. petersburg, leningrad at the time. and so i think exchanges, student exchanges, tourism, yeah, there are more and more tourists you can take, kind of interesting things that russians are offering. i did interview someone, and
they're looking at doing more exchanges. so i would watch that page if they can get the funding and they seem to be getting a lot of funding t but i think they're going to be trying to do something. that's something the russians are more comfortable with. its public diplomacy, and i think that they're pretty can't do with it. they know how to do it. they did it under the soviet union but they didn't do it the way maybe they can do it today, which is much more open. there are a lot of websites, you know, a whole lot of websites. yelena would probably be a good contact for that wher were you n just engage with russians, young russians and find out what's going on. i keep thinking, i wonder, their music, it's really weird. their classical culture, the high culture is very, very good and very effective. but i have yet to see some type
of really interesting, you know, hip on tour from russia, which is a little strange. because there's a big is it into should maybe i just don't go to the right places. spent i see someone laughing. >> we will give you a little later. >> anyway, that's about what i can suggest. >> go ahead. >> just, i think, culture is an important entrance, which also have to contextualize it. i know whenever -- you are trying to understand the context and you don't have a, i think that's where you can sort of get it. try and engage their interest through that innocence and i think that's what russia can do better. sort of providing a circle context an of the culture contet of why certain actors,
characters acted in the way they did, but what does it say about the general political culture or political situation in the late 19th century or whatever. and i think that's something that struggle knowledge, the cultural knowledge and i meet, exchange is can't help but if you don't have the financial means of doing so, there is internet. and yes, it's not a silver bullet but i do think it can help. there's a whole bunch of different sources you can look up now and different ways to connect with other peers on the other side of the atlantic. i don't think that's difficult at all in this day and age. but can i just bring one anecdote regarding russian-american cultural connections? rock grinder is the son of yul brynner, who as you know, was born in siberia, yul brynner. moved to the united states and rock, his son, was born in the u.s. rock country, he's a college
professor, wrote an excellent book about his family history, the brynner's originally came from switzerland, went to japan and helped to found in the 19th century. and rock went back several years ago to attend a movie festival in honor of his father. and my understanding is that not all films of yul brynner were welcome in the soviet period, including the magnificent seven. at the film festival, the magnificent seven was screened of course we all know he was a star in debt. i never knew he was of russian origin and i first saw "the magnificent seven." anyway, after the film was shown, thi this is what rockefe, one of the russians in attendance, apropos of yul went to iraq and said, it takes a russian to make a western.
[laughter] >> i think, these are the connections that can be made. you know, kind of not monday level but i mean the whole history of, you mentioned, hollywood. there's a book about it. >> boris karloff. >> on the real quick practical point, i think it's improving but if you were easier for russians to come to the united states and americans to go to russia i think that would be a huge improvement across the board. for those in the russian image and state department here are just to echo that. there are a few other hands. yes, ma'am. >> hi. my name is sophia and this is a fascinating conversation because i recently came back from russia after serving there for two years as a public diplomacy officer. at the embassy.
so i have a number of questions but mainly i wanted to ask about the prospects for cooperation and public diplomacy because as richard said, that something is very important for us, too, to improve the image, all that i was dismissive of javaone two of our russian colleagues with that and we sent a real hesitation on their part to do joint public diplomacy projects in the united states. they do more in russia but really ther they were projects t we really wanted them to do in the u.s. and they were hesitant about it. there was a real old school thinking as well in terms of what they wanted to do in the u.s., not the hip young russian current pop stars who would perhaps be really influential with the youth here. so to what extent do you see success in public diplomacy without bilateral cooperation, or one of the prospects for increased cooperation between the u.s. and russia on the public diplomacy front?
>> i think i'll call john kerry and ask them. i understand that, once the minister of culture can produce a musical, consisting of 1930s american songs, is that -- yes. anyway, it's a very difficult question. i have the privilege of computing to the open world program, and i think in its own way very successful program in that it brings up-and-coming young russians from outside of the capital to the united states for two weeks, perhaps too short a period, to see america if you will grassroots america, not just the big cities. i think that's one way to do it. another way, quite frankly, as also for the russian government
and for the new russian wealthy to start organizing these things. because i'll be honest with you, when i read in the near times, manhattan, real estate is being bought up by wealthy russians. i keep asking myself, why don't they find an exchange program? you know, is that, i mean it's not the soviet union anymore. and it would do wonders in the united states to have frankly more -- >> [inaudible] >> i think would be very well received by americans, because, you probably have more because you got there more frequently. >> absolutely. >> the new jersey nets. >> i do want to favor the side of the room too much but let's go to the question up front, nikolai, and then i saw a question i think the third row. but why don't we start your?
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