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Diplomacy Becoming More Down to Earth



One of the challenges facing President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in his second term is to increase investment and boost exports with a view to closing the current account and trade balance deficits. For that purpose, new ministries in the fields of investment, digital economy and the creative economy will be established. Additionally, a new function will be added to the Foreign Ministry dealing with international trade.

Those changes are being made, in Jokowi’s words, because “we have two problems: increasing investment and increasing exports”. Simple as they are, Jokowi’s words are full of meaning and provide ample room for interpretation regarding how to conduct Indonesia’s diplomacy and foreign policy.

The President’s Instruction

Investment and exports have always been part of the diplomacy and foreign policy carried out by the Foreign Ministry through its missions around the world. The question is how to interpret the President’s instruction to “increase investment and increase exports” from the perspective of diplomacy and foreign policy.

From the strategic-conceptual point of view, diplomacy under the leadership of Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi for the past five years has been aimed at bringing tangible benefits to the people. This is in line with President Jokowi’s people-oriented policy. In this spirit, diplomacy must correlate with the needs of the people: as we call it “down-to-earth” diplomacy.

This kind of diplomacy is basically the sharpening as well as broadening of the definition of Indonesian diplomacy, which previously was heavy on regional and global politics. It is true that a big country like Indonesia must play a significant role and demonstrate its leadership both at the regional and global levels. Participation in regional and multilateral fora such as ASEAN, Group of 20, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Asia-Europe Meeting Summit, Indo-Pacific, etc. shows that Indonesia is playing an active role in dealing with regional and international issues.

Many may think Indonesia’s presence in those international fora is merely a diplomatic gesture it deliberately makes to other countries. Nothing could be further from the truth. In every regional or multilateral meeting, Indonesia almost always brings an economic diplomacy agenda to attract foreign investors, with particular emphasis on the digital economy, infrastructure and vocational education and training. Therefore, every rupiah spent on foreign travel will generate tangible benefits to the people. This is what down-to-earth diplomacy means.

President Jokowi has directed the focus of diplomacy in the next five years to investment and export promotion. This is similar to his instruction four years ago when he asked Indonesian ambassadors and diplomats to act as salespersons for Indonesian products. Based on these instructions, the Foreign Ministry initiated “down-to-earth diplomacy” with the economy given a priority.

Using their already-established human resources, budget and institutions, Indonesian diplomats overseas carry out economic promotion commonly referred to as trade, tourism and investment (TTI). The three pillars of economic diplomacy are in line with the essence of down-to-earth diplomacy: bringing tangible benefits to the people. If the Foreign Ministry is entrusted with a new task related to international trade, the down-to-earth diplomacy concept will only be reaffirmed.

Indonesia’s Diplomacy

With international trade being under the purview of the Foreign Ministry in terms of its operationality and promotion, the efforts to increase foreign trade will be directly connected to the grand design of foreign policy and down-to-earth diplomacy. At this point, Indonesia’s diplomacy is surely growing more down-to-earth.

Connectivity between foreign trade and foreign policy is needed because economic diplomacy is not simply about promoting TTI. Thus, the expansion of the Foreign Ministry’s portfolio is not as simple as giving it a new task and a larger budget. It requires a paradigm change in the conduct of economic diplomacy. Economic diplomacy must be in line with the strategic vision of geopolitics, geo-economic, gravitational tendencies of the world economy, regional and global political stability and ideological competition among countries.

All of those strategic perceptions must serve as a basis for designing the economic diplomacy strategy. If economic diplomacy operates with a sectoral approach, it will risk being isolated from the macro-political context and broader national interests. Changes in the paradigm of diplomacy should not be reduced to a shift in focus from political diplomacy to economic diplomacy, but more on expanding the perspective of economic diplomacy itself.

Conventional economic diplomacy that emphasizes the business-sectoral economy needs to be reinterpreted by expanding it into economic diplomacy with a macro-political perspective so that it supports the conduct of diplomacy in other fields.

The challenge is how to connect business-sectoral economic diplomacy and macro-political diplomacy. For example, economic diplomacy that supports the territorial integrity of Indonesia. The absence of effective occupation by the state of the frontline islands has increased the vulnerability of territorial integrity. So has economic underdevelopment in the area along its land borders.

Territorial Integrity

The welfare gap could lead citizens in the border areas to shift loyalty to neighboring countries, putting territorial integrity at stake. For this reason, economic diplomacy needs to focus on attracting investment in road infrastructure, ports, tourism or special economic zones, so that growth centers will be built on the frontline islands and border areas.

The potential threat of national disintegration in Papua, for example, can be addressed through economic diplomacy and international trade. Papua’s geographical and ethnic proximity with Pacific countries should inspire Indonesia to utilize this Melanesian sentiment to improve trade and economic relations with the Pacific countries. Efforts to connect business-sectoral economic diplomacy (be it investment, trade or tourism promotion) with macro-political and broader national interests come at an opportune time. The down-to-earth diplomacy that Retno has initiated will become even more down-to-earth for the good of the people.

Darmansjah Djumala The writer is Indonesian Ambassador to Austria and the United Nations in Vienna, and a lecturer at the post-graduate program in the Department of International Relations, Padjadjaran University, Bandung. / Global ties: Delegates to the Indonesia-Africa Forum chat, a day ahead of the international conference in Bali’s Nusa Dua. The two-day event aims to discuss issues of economic cooperation and trade. (Antara/Nyoman Budhiana)



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Nagorno-Karabagh Has Become A Part Of Azerbaijan Throughout History



Armenia attacks on the City of Ganja, the second largest city in Azerbaijan
Armenia attacks on the City of Ganja, the second largest city in Azerbaijan/AFP

The war between Azerbaijan and Armenia that took place since the end of September 2020 has caught world attention. The mass media around the world also highlight the bloody conflict in the Caucasian region from various perspectives. The most basic thing and it should be noted is that Nagorno-Karabagh, which is often referred to as a disputed area, is actually part of the territory of Azerbaijan which has been recognized internationally. The fact is that Nagorno-Karabagh has been a part of Azerbaijan throughout history.

This prolonged conflict began when Armenians were transferred to Nagorno-Karabagh from various regions in Turkey, Russia and Iran in the middle of the XIX century, after the signing of the Gulustan Agreement (1813) and the Treaty of Turkmenchay (1828) between Iran and Russia, as well as the Adrianople Agreement ( 1829) between Turkey and Russia. During the occupation of the Soviet Union, Nagorno-Karabagh became an autonomous region, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenia claimed the territory. Around the 90s Nagorno-Karabagh and seven other cities around it were occupied by Armenia, and Azerbaijan had lost 20% of its territory, while more than one million citizens were forced to flee.

Azerbaijan is a sovereign country that always puts peace first, and for the last thirty years it has tried to resolve conflicts that occur through various means of diplomacy, not through the war. On the contrary, Armenia has refused time and time again to negotiate with Azerbaijan even by saying the slogan “Garabagh is Armenia, period!” to end the peace process.

The fighting which erupted again on 27 September 2020 was provoked by Armenian forces, resulting in the deaths of more than 40 Azerbaijanis civilians and about 200 others injured in the attacks launched by Armenia. Although the two countries reached an agreement for a ceasefire starting on October 10, 2020, the Armenian forces broke just minutes after the agreement was announced. Even the following day Armenian troops targeted an attack on the city of Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second largest city which is located 60 km from the battle site. As a result of the attack in the middle of the night, 10 civilians were killed, and more than 30 others were injured.

A few days earlier the Armenian armed forces also attacked Khizi and Absyeron, the location where the Indonesian Embassy is located, releasing medium-range missiles. With all its acts of arrogance, Armenia has shown disrespect and cruelty towards civilians and representatives of countries where their embassies are at the point of Armenian attack. Apart from that, Mingachevir, an industrial area owned by Azerbaijan, was also targeted by the Armenian attack. The city is home to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan power plant and oil pipeline, the largest strategic project in the European region.

As a result of Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan, many Islamic cultural heritages such as mosques and madrassas were forced to demolish.

The mosques that were attacked by Armenia were half collapsed into cows and pigs

The mosques that were attacked by Armenia were half collapsed into cows and pigs

What hurts the feelings of Muslims in Azerbaijan and around the world the most is that Muslim houses of worship were also attacked and in a semi-collapsed condition they are used as pens for cows and pigs.

Azerbaijanis are confident that Indonesia, whose population is the largest Muslim majority in the world, will not remain silent about such Islamophobia. Azerbaijanis believe that Indonesia will support Azerbaijan and condemn the Armenian military aggression against Azerbaijan.

Laura ZarbaliyevaTranslator : Nia S. Amira

Author : Laura Zarbaliyeva

Director of the Center for Indonesian Studies

(Centre for Indonesian Studies, Azerbaijan University of Languages)

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2018 Golden Globes Red Carpet and #MeToo Movement



Bella Hadid attends "The Unknown Girl (La Fille Inconnue)" premiere at the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 18, 2016. GETTY IMAGES

It seems so painfully obvious now, in the #MeToo era, that to ask a woman only
about what she’s wearing, and then to turn to the man next to her and ask him nothing about his clothing, and everything about his work, is sexist, reductive and diminishing.

And yet, before we launched #AskHerMore in 2014, it was de rigueur red carpet tradition.

Over the years the campaign did its work on the red carpet — Hollywood women from Reese Witherspoon and Shonda Rhimes joined in, the internet exploded and the hashtag trended. Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic changed their tune and asked more substantive questions. Chris Rock even highlighted us in his opening Oscar’s monologue in 2016.

But #AskHerMore was never just about the red carpet. It was always about our larger culture — a culture that never celebrates a woman’s accomplishments as much as her looks.

Women who walk Hollywood’s red carpets are some of the most well-known women in the world. They’re the best at their craft and make a ton of money — though perhaps not as much as their male counterparts — and still cannot be taken seriously. And it’s not just, “Who are you wearing?” But also: “What’s your morning routine?” “How did you lose the baby weight?” “Who’s at home watching the kids?

As the Harvey Weinstein fallout and the numerous #MeToos that followed showed us, the reverberations of that kind of culture are profound. Not even the most well-known women in the world are immune to the sexism, discrimination and violence that follows.

But in the wake of #MeToo, people understandably wondered whether the red carpet even mattered at all anymore. The 2018 Golden Globes was proof that it still does – perhaps it’s even more important than ever.

These women have always had something to say, but were systematically silenced – told by the subtle and not so subtle signs of our culture that what she had to say didn’t really matter. At least not as much as what she looked like, and definitely not as much as what the man standing next to her had to say.

So what happens when you really value what a woman has to say instead of what she is wearing? When you allow women to take the lead and set the stage? Something quite extraordinary. The night was dominated by the conversation that women demanded we have.

A good majority of red carpet coverage went to the eight activists who were brought by A-list actors – Saru Jayaraman, Ai-jen Poo, Tarana Burke, Rosa Clemente, Marai Larasi, Mónica Ramírez, Calina Lawrence and Billie Jean King – bringing a national primetime spotlight to issues that never get the spotlight. Some of these issues include domestic care work, the One Fair Wage campaign and farmworkers’ rights.

On the red carpet, celebrities were asked, “Why are you wearing black?”and we were treated to incredible moments as a result. Ava DuVernay tweeted: “I am wearing black today because balance and inclusion and diversity is not some kind of allowance to be made to accommodate people. No, sir. It is a correction of an error. It is a righting of a wrong. And it is going to be done. Now.”

And then of course, there was Oprah. Need we say more.

Yes, the silence of men was disappointing, but that’s not the point. The women shined brighter than any shadow the silent men cast.

Our job now is to ensure, with precision and purpose, that this movement doesn’t just benefit the most powerful women in the most glamorous spaces, but also the most marginalized women in spaces and workplaces that don’t make the news. Because feminism that only benefits women at the top — famous, wealthy and predominantly white — isn’t feminism at all.

The women of Hollywood have stepped up to that challenge in commendable ways. In addition to their stunning show of solidarity on the red carpet, famous women are leveraging their spotlight to highlight injustice and change it. They’re banding together to say “Time’s Up.” This collective is leaderless, collaborative and efficient.

They’ve created a legal fund to support women in much less powerful industries who are coming forward with harassment accusations. In joining together, hand-in-hand with the activists on the ground, they’re publicly acknowledging and declaring that their future and equality is bound to the equality and prosperity of others. That none of us are free until all of us are. In the words of Oprah — “a new day is on the horizon.”

This moment isn’t about the red carpet. It’s not about black dresses or about the actors wearing them. It never was. Instead, this is a moment about a movement. A movement that’s uplifting women’s voices, valuing women for their whole humanity and demanding justice. This movement is about creating a different culture — a better culture — and a more just and equitable world for all.

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I’m a Conscientious Objector, Long After the Vietnam Draft



Students in Boston protest the Vietnam War, which drove a deep wedge into the American public. GETTY IMAGES

“Let’s play guns!” There were giant mounds of dirt on Mabie Street in New Milford, New Jersey. It was 1955. What was once a farm was now being turned to a middle-class housing development. My immigrant father had moved our family of seven out of the Bronx to a better life in the suburbs. A good place for a 6-year-old kid to run around play baseball, football, and guns. Like so many families back then it was a new start in a better place. The future was bright, there were kids my age all over the place. We were happy and living on Mabie Street, USA.

We took sticks, toy guns, pistols, shotguns, machine guns, derringers, Lugers, water guns, and an occasional rubber Bowie knife, and we spent the day playing…guns. There were rules. You couldn’t just go shooting guys. When my friend Barry’s father was laying down the rules for the upcoming engagement (dads played too), he’d explain: “If you can see even part of the guy’s head and you point your gun and yell, ‘DA! DA! DA! YOU’RE DEAD!’ Then you are dead! No arguing!” Kind of final but we got the point: if you’re dead, you’re dead. That was a fixed rule. No exceptions. Kinda like life. Except you could get up again for the next battle.

In 1960, my oldest sister, Marianne became a young Democrat. JFK was running. My Italian Catholic family was beside itself with excitement. At Sunday mass, Monsignor Curry, ordered all Catholics to vote for Kennedy. It would be a sin not to. Kennedy was our guy. He played football and swam a hundred miles to save his buddies on PT 109.

JFK was coming to the Teaneck Armory, just a couple miles from us and the entire family was going to see him. I’m behind a rope at the armory with thousands of people. I look down a broad driveway and a giant convertible comes around the corner. The crowd breaks through the ropes to surround his car. I’m 10. People are going nuts. They finally clear the crowd. The great man is coming my way. At last, he gets to me. I wave. He looks me right in the eye, smiles, and waves back. He knew me… he said hello just to me. Three years later he was shot dead. Dead is dead. There was no arguing. He would not get up again.

I didn’t leave the TV those three days in November ‘63. I saw Oswald get shot dead by Ruby on TV. Saw the riderless horse leading the funeral parade, saw that beautiful little boy salute his daddy and Jackie lighting the eternal flame. I believe those events forever changed me. Took away my confidence, my security, and my invincibility.

When I started high school in 1963, no one had heard of Vietnam. By graduation in ‘67 it was a different story. More than 11,000 guys died that year, most of them were 19, 20, 21. Kids. By the end of 1968, 16,592 more would die. Back home there were marches, and cities burning, and Panthers, and lynchings, and Ali. Students were protesting and getting beat up in the streets, some died. Then Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy get shot. What the hell is going on?

There was no draft lottery yet but lots of talk of one. Nobody wanted to go to wherever the hell Vietnam was. We were kids. We just got our letter in football! Then in December of 1969, Congress thought a draft lottery would be a good idea. I end up No. 36. This couldn’t be possible. I met Kennedy for God’s sake. How can this be? 36. I’m dead.

What now? My only hope is my terrible hay fever. My sniffling and sneezing would be dangerous to the troops. My older brother escaped just months earlier by going completely nuts at the draft board. They classified him 4F. Unsuitable for war. I could try that but I was never as good an actor as my brother. Things had changed considerably at the draft since my brother’s award-winning 4F performance. No more BS. You could be bleeding from the eyes and you were going in. No escape. I was completely trapped. I just wanted to go home, lean on my Mom’s shoulder and watch TV with her like I used to. How am I gonna get out of this mess?

Sometime during my physical, I heard two words that changed everything. Conscientious Objector. All I have to do is explain my position in writing, have a personal interview with the Selective Service Board and convince them that I should not be in Vietnam with everyone else. My appointment day with the draft board came quickly. When I went into the small office in Hackensack, a kind-looking man probably in his 40s was behind a desk. He had my file in front of him including my epic essay on why I shouldn’t fight in Vietnam. This is the man who would decide my fate.

“We’ve all killed and been killed many times in our past lives!” I said. Oh Lord, this can’t be going well, did I just talk about past lives? Boot camp here I come! I continued, “We have been killing each other since the beginning of time. We don’t learn anything, and our Karmic burden on this planet gets worse and worse.” Then finally: ”I can’t in good conscience continue this endless cycle of killing boys my own age and collecting more bad Karma. My load is too heavy as it is.” The man looks at me… and says… ”Karma”… then after what seemed like forever… “I’m gonna put this through. You have six weeks to find alternative service. Good luck!”

Almost 50 years have passed since that karmic day in Hackensack, and by any measure, I’ve had plenty of good luck. I found my alternative service at NYU medical library working in the stacks. That’s right, I was putting med students’ library books back on their shelves. I found a small room in Astoria, Queens, to live in, complete with a hot plate and toilet in the hall. Not fancy but a lot better than living in the jungle in Vietnam and getting shot at every day.

It’s 2019, and I’m back here in Astoria. I knew about the old Paramount studios that were just a few blocks away from my luxurious 32nd Avenue Astoria address back then. They made 90 films there in the 1920s, with people like Valentino, The Gish sisters, W.C Fields, and the Marx Brothers. Now Murphy Brown, a show I first filmed with Candice Bergen in the 1990s, released the first season of a reboot, made at the Kaufman Astoria Studios.

And we’re dealing much of the same national madness and division that sent me to Astoria as a 20-year-old. Being here, how could I not be reminded of the guys born on August 24, 1949 who never heard of Alternative Service. Didn’t meet a kind draft board guy. Had no clue they could object. And never saw their moms again. I’m so sorry. We were all just scared little boys. I got the chance to grow up marry the gorgeous woman I’ve loved for 46 years, and have three kids of my own. They didn’t.

It feels like the world is falling off its axis again. Kids are still killing each other in some war or other. African Americans continue to be shot in the streets. People in power hurl nasty nicknames. Nazis have crawled back out from under their rocks. And anger infuses every public space. People say that they have not seen anything like this in their lifetimes. But if you’re my age, you have seen this madness before. And that’s scary. Where are we heading? What will my four beautiful grandkids have to face? Will some leader ask them to pick up a rifle and go kill somebody else’s grandkids in a war somewhere? Sadly, history tells us that might be the case.

Our little ones will discover the terrible things we do to each other on this planet soon enough. They don’t need to learn any pre-school war games from grandpa. So I’ll teach them a different game. There will be no talk of guns. When they find big dirt hills, like the ones we had on Mabie Street, they can play on them as much as they want. And there are still rules: You can climb up the hills and run down them as fast as you can. You can play a lot of stupid but very funny games. You can build huts with speakers and WiFi, get filthy dirty, laugh till you’re breathless, and then go home to mom for cookies and milk. Rules are rules. No arguing. Because what’s the point of any game unless you get to go home at the end?

Correction, Feb. 19

The original version of this story misstated whether there was a military draft before 1969. There was a process for conscripting men into military service, but not a draft lottery.

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