Skip to content

Hip-Hop Diplomacy





Since December, musicians have been supporting the protests in countries like Egypt and Tunisia, and much of the music, are being made about these movements is hip-hop. Some of these songs have played a direct role in popular uprisings, while others have helped galvanize international support. The song were singed  rap music  in both English and Arabic, and international involvement  have helped to spread the music over the Internet, via Facebook and YouTube. Music like hip-hop’s role cannot be quantified in those instances and in countries like Morocco and Algeria where hip-hop is the famous a vast audience there has been no revolution. Al-Jazeera blames the enthusiasm of Western media to involved hip-hop’s role in actual revolutions on their idea that “a taste for hip hop among young Muslims is a sign of moderation, modernity .[1]

American Hip Hop group called Chen Lo and The Liberation Family sent in April 2010 by US State Department to perform in Damascus, Syria   Following Chen Lo’s performance, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton was describe US diplomacy’s “Hip hop is America,” she said in other word  that rap and other musical forms could help “rebuild the image” of the United States. “You know it may be a little bit hopeful, because I can’t point to a change in Syrian policy because Chen Lo and the Liberation Family showed up. But I think we have to use every tool at our disposal.” 

Isn’t first time that State Department use hiphop as tool in the awake of Abu Ghraib prison in summer 2003 when American soliders prisoner abuse and resurgence of Taliban. After then undersecretary of state for public relation Karen Hughes launched initiative “Rhythm Road” it was like the jazz diplomacy in the cold war era, but a new approach is required on the war with terror. In this role hiphop would play crucial role of countering “poor perceptions” of the US. 

In 2005, the State Department start to fund and send abroad hip hop envoys rappers, dancers DJs- to perform and speak in different parts of world. Those tours are mainly covered the broad of the Arab  world, with performances taking place in Senegal and Ivory Coast, across North Africa, the Levant and Middle East, and extending to Mongolia, Pakistan and Indonesia.

The artists stage performances and hold workshops those bright to hip hop lead by the ambassadors who are Muslims to local media about being Muslim in the US. The tours aim not only to exhibit the integration of American Muslims, but also, according to planners, to promote democracy and foster dissent.

However it has been hip-hop that has become the most iconic sample and widespread soundtrack of the Arab Spring and, notability it is having the double effect of helping to mobilize activists in the countries. Directly great impacted by of the demonstrators, movements while also solidifying links between Arab diaspora communities in the West with those still residing in the ‘homeland.’




China, Africa Boost Soft Power



China, Africa Boost Soft Power



The element of soft power model is chine new politic initiative, have been dramatically stepped up, in the past 5 years. China signed twenty two agreements on implementing cultural exchange programs with 17 African countries while more than ten are African countries sent over 20 government cultural delegations to China. About forty African cultural groups came to China for performance tour from 2001 to 2005, accounting for nearly half of the total number in the past five decades. Sino-African cultural exchanges in the new century festival  is featured with la cultural activities such as Sino-African Culture Year that China hosted in show of  2004 under the framework of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum.[1]

During the year, China received nine African art troupes and eight government cultural delegations while dispatching four art troupes and three exhibitions to Africa. Meanwhile, China and African countries carried out fruitful cooperation on human resources development in the cultural field. China sent 10 teams of experts and launched 14 workshops in African countries in the past five years, covering library science, dossier management, archeology, biology, dance and acrobatics, according to the Ministry of Culture. [2]


The Chinese government realizes importance of soft power and need for an improved international image of the country .In order to achieve it with China’s increasing economic and political influence in the world. Over the past decade China has organized and hosted several high profile international events, such as the Olympic Games in 2008 and the World Expo in 2010. However continue effort to Simultaneously , chine has intensified its efforts to promote Chinese culture and language overseas through setting up and financing the Confucius Institutes. As currently there are more than 300 Confucius Institutes all over the world, including one in Malaysia[3]. Some researchers describe Chine effort aspiration to enhance its soft power exercise. The theory concept of soft power is developed by Joseph Nye (1990) primary refers to the ability of a country to use its, attraction such resource rather than coercion to influence, other countries’ policies in order to achieve the desired results. Cultural attractiveness is regarded as one, of the important values in the concept of ‘soft power’.[4]





According to Corkin a resources credit analyst at Rand Merchant Bank in South Africa to Chines government has moderate there soft power strategy. China has become an important key player in African, both economically and political landscapes[5]. However, Chinese products still suffer from negative poor and quality in some African countries. China’s used the best method of soft power in Africa has a shorter history than the continent’s traditional, trading partners in western world. However, it is growing in strength. However it could lead a stage where the former colonial powers in Africa have already lost their influence. China has opened the new door up Africa by allowing many nations to see beyond their colonial masters as their most likely and most important benefactor.[6]











East African Terrorist Groups’ and use of the social media.



The start of Al Shabab’s group affiliate Al-qacida is use of Twitter as a propaganda tool began on December 7, 2011, following the entrance of the Kenyan troops into southern Somalia in October 2011.[20] Since then they start to post video’s on YouTube, social media for radicalizing youngest online followers,  it also attracted significant attention from journalists. [1]Since its launch onto Twitter, al-Shabab has made great use of the micro-blogging format system to deliver its counter narrative to events taken place inside Somalia running commentary on a host of political, social and religious issues, and taunting its enemies, such as the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) force inside Somalia the weaker Somali federal government.[2]After they on decline driven out of Mogadishu, losing towns & divided among itself. It needs a ‘spectacular’ attack to regain its credibility. this soft target attack was the new strategy approach for this terrorist group. Notably most commentators argued before the Westgate Mall attack happened that al-Shabaab was nearly finished as an organization. According to Benotman that he “would not be surprised” if another Al Shabaab operation took place in the next 48 hours in, for example, Uganda or Tanzania[3]



Al-Shabab’s complex assault on firs ground on Westgate Mall began just after noon on Saturday, September 21, 2013, when an undetermined number of gunmen entered the shopping centre and began throwing grenades and shooting indiscriminately.[4]

The insurgent were using social media on their smart phones, as the operation, a continuous stream of story updates and commentary, throughout the assault on shopping centre.[5]This reveals that the group is sophisticate and recognizes the value of tweeting, mainly in English, in order to attracting the attention of the world’s news media. As such attack happened in the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi illustrating only too well and shown that Al Shabaab still has the capability to strike beyond the borders of Somalia.


I would conclude on this sort of event like  Westgate Mall attack has returned the put in a very difficult situation al-Shabab militant group into worldwide headlines. This sort of attack on Westgate Mall provided the group with a media triumph that catapulted what they capable and the public stage. Al-Shabab repeated its earlier demands to the Kenyan public to pressure their government to withdraw its military forces from Southern Somalia.  As such attack wouldn’t lead leave Kenyan troops in Somali soil.It might  be a harbinger of a continuing shift by al-Shabab back to asymmetric warfare. The second phase began shifting back to their guerrilla roots in August 2011 when they withdrew from Mogadishu in the face of a mounting offensive by AMISOM, the TFG, and allied Somali militias. This followed al-Shabab’s defeated and oust in the major part of Somali.





[4] The Kenyan government has said that there were between 10 and 15 attackers, but the exact number remains unclear. See “Nairobi Attack: Kenya Forces Comb Westgate Site,” BBC, September 24, 2013



The 9/11 attack on what symbolized the economic power of America (The World Trade Centre) received a lot of media coverage. Consequently, America embarked on some form of backlashing based on what was claimed to be on the grounds of political repression and intervention using military means.




Many argue that the Bush – Cheney administration manipulated the fear experienced by the U.S citizens in order to justify the action to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq and it was all made possible through the U.S mainstream media (Bruce P. Montgomery 2009). Subject to the overall fear-fuelled news it is arguable that the public of the United States were highly shaken, as they had the revelation of the high levels of vulnerability they were exposed to.


America clearly capitalizes on the effects of the global communications network. Douglas M kellner emphasises that images of the 9/11 attack were clearly inscribed into social memory but the background of the attack was not. The administration had taken the opportunity to force through an agenda which included in it an attack on Iraq, and yet the origins and effects of the attack were not made clear to the public (Douglas M kellner 2010).


While there was no evidence to validate Bush’s claims with regards to Iraq being in possession of WMD’s or the link between Iraq & Al-Qaeda, media outlets created a ‘hype’ about the threat of AL-QAEDA and former leader Saddam Hussein’s supposedly ruthless regime, justifying the invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq. The failure to find any linking evidence just showed how the media told white lies and in this instance it is clear to see that this action shaped and or reshaped public opinion. This is an effect of the power that the media possesses and shouldn’t as their sole purpose is to inform unbiasedly, unless ofcourse they are directly influenced by politicians themselves which does not come short of an assumption in this current age of world politics (PNAC, 2000 Report)


A two part film titled ‘the Path to 9/11’ that began 5 years after the incident is what played a key role in the construction of a right-wing account of the origins and meaning of the attack. It was broadcast by the American based channel ABC that sought to blame and expose the flaws of the Clinton administration while presenting them selves as the saviours of America. America’s diplomacy tactics are diversifying as they are utilising celebrity diplomacy to showcase their political stature, particularly to the American public. Further Hollywood films have been created, one of those being called ‘DC 9/11: Time of Crisis’ another tactic which George Gedda views as Pro-Bush propaganda in the façade of a documentary (Douglas M kellner 2010)


To conclude, the representations of 9/11 blurred the lines between ‘war’ and ‘terrorism’ In this entire process, viewers got sucked into an abyss of fear that created uncertainty. Nevertheless, the emergences of new media in the Arab regions such as Al Jazeera are certainly opening new doors for dialogue as well as information dissemination as they are known to be more transparent. As new forms of communication are emerging, it would be interesting to see how this will affect U.S’ foreign policy within its publics and also how information will be transmuted to the global audience.







Brigitte L. Nacos and Oscar Torres-Reyna, Fueling Our Fears. Stereotyping, Media Coverage, and

Public Opinion of Muslim Americans, 2007



Bruce P. MontgomeryRichard B. Cheney and the Rise of the Imperial Vice Presidency – (BUSH & CHENEY ADMINISTRATION



Douglas M. Kellne , Cinema Wars: Hollywood Film and Politics in the Bush-Cheney Era


Tomasz Pludowski, How the World’s News Media Reacted to 9/11: Washington: Marquette Books, 2007



2000 report prepared by the neoconservatives -Project for a New American Century- (PNAC)



The association that celebrities have with politics and diplomatic affairs goes as far back as the cold war, more specifically in the early 60’s. America sought to reformulate American culture and values and that was done through the exposition of music, movies, sports including various other forms of entertainment. The Americans were right to believe that this was a strategic and powerful tactic to influence and reshape perceptions of their country, their people and their government. As this is evident today, America is a country that is largely embraced and celebrated by other western countries and even has many countries particularly in the global south that look up to America as a great role model.

The deployment of Jazz music artists such as the famous Louie Arm strong in the 60’s was their beginning of a global and ultimate move towards the remolding of belief systems abroad and a new painting on the canvas that portrayed the American cultural and value systems. For scholars such as Davenport, he believes that the deployment and more specifically the governmental funding towards the musicians was a tool to exercise soft power by countering the ideals of the Soviet Union and creating a quasi-Utopia model of governance (democracy) (Davenport 2009)

As America has grown to the extent which many believe; is the leader in the international community, their relations with celebrities has increased, so much to the extent that celebrity involvement in politics is now in various cases pivotal to the success of political campaigns that are held by state leaders. More significantly the involvement of celebrities in politics has now been institutionalized within the United Nations.

Big film stars such as Angelina Jolie of the sequel ‘Tomb Raider’ was formally recognised as a goodwill ambassador. Her transition from an ambassador saw her appointment as a special envoy of UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterresin the year 2012. in this role Jolie’s roles comprise of focusing on crises associated with population displacements, representing UNHCR and Guterres at the diplomatic level and finally overall advocacy and engaging with political decision makers on a national and international level.  Below is a picture of Miss Jolie on her trip in Ecuador where she met Colombian refugees living in the most deprived and extreme poverty conditions.Image.


What’s interesting about celebrity diplomats is that they can certainly reach a wider audience than politicians. They do to an extent fill that gap that international relations creates in the relations between politicians and the people. The outreach of a celebrity diplomat in most cases does reach the most disengaged whether socially, politically and quite significantly economically, as it is seen in the visit of Miss Jolie.

Another case is the indirect involvement of governments. An example would be the World Food Programme which is simply an extension of the democratic agency of the west, saw the deployment of Rapper & Entrepreneur ’50 Cent’ into Somalia during the famine in both Kenya and Somalia in 2012 where he vowed to provide 1 billion meals, plus a regular donation to WFP of 10 cents from every sale of a new energy drink called Street King that he has endorsed. This was out of his personal will as he was not appointed.



To conclude, Nick Couldry & Tim Markham (2007) argue that people who follow celebrities are disengaged in the world of international politics. While some argue that celebrity diplomacy is just a tool to further democracy and international weight & power, while this is true, celebrity involvement creates dialogue as they reel in audiences through their political works. The latest campaign named #BringBackOurGirls which is centred around the incident involving the 200+ girls abducted in Nigeria by a militant group, has seen the likes of stars such as American singer & song writer Aleisha Keys actively participate as it seen in the picture below.



It is safe to say that this has caused a domino effect gathering the publics, particularly her fan base and creating awareness. In this era, it seems as though ‘style’ is bypassing traditional forms of politics. This is a day and age where celebrity culture has become an essential in public dialogue and debate especially among issues that need public resolution. The existence and growth of celebrity culture means that it can no longer be ignored in the world of public issues. (Rojek 2001; Turner 2006)




Davenport, L. 2009: Jazz Diplomacy Promoting America in the Cold War Era. Jackson
Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi.






Rojek (2001) Celebrity




NATO – public policy and image support orientation in a post Cold war era.




 In the end of 20th century, global politics saw events, which have changed the whole balance of powers. Democratic revolutions and reforms in Eastern and Central Europe, the collapse of the Soviet Union signaled the end of the bipolar world, the system that was determining during the Cold War era. With the end of the Cold War, Russia lost all its Soviet bloc allies, which not long before that, were in the Warsaw Pact agreement. At the same time, NATO kept and strengthened its military and political capability. However, as the Cold War was over after 1991, the major reason for NATO’s existence was now gone, Communist opponents now turned pro-democratic, which meant that in order to keep the alliance up and running, it became clear that it had to transform and evolve to find its new functions in a post-bipolar world. 


 “In [today’s] environment, no organization can afford to be bad at communicating…. public institutions exist only by public consent and you need to take with you the hearts and minds of the people who consent to your existence.”[1] The modern world is a world of high technology based on highly development communication and information systems and therefore it is crucial for NATO to have an effective public diplomacy program in order to be able to influence foreign publics and agendas. For this purpose NATO created its own Public Diplomacy Division in 2004. Another key necessity was the fact that the alliance consists of liberal democratic states, where a national public opinion is a key determinant of any internal or foreign policy, especially the ones implying interventions with following casualties and military spending. Taking into account NATO’s strategic theories, all member states of the alliance have to be prepared for any crisis and its management, which makes it crucial for NATO as a whole and each individual member state to convince their populations of those operations’ necessities.



 There were, however, some harmful for NATO’s reputation events, one of which occurred during the bombing of Belgrade in 1999. The operation itself was not sanctioned by the UN, which already made it look less of a legitimate, but also one of the bombs hit the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, causing several reporters’ deaths. Until today it is believed that it was NATO’s payback for China’s official position against NATO’s operations in Balkans




 Acknowledging its image problem, NATO started to amend its public diplomacy via the Committee on Public Diplomacy, created in 2004, which acts as an consultative body for the NAC on public relations matters[2], including giving certain guides to the NAC on how to maximise public support for the aims and values of NATO. Consequently, the committee is responsible for NATO’s whole public diplomacy strategy, its amendments and planning, depending on certain factors. The main public diplomacy strategy consists of 6 main principles:

1) Public diplomacy is about listening

2) Public diplomacy must be credible to be effective

3) Public diplomacy is not always about you

4) Public diplomacy must be connected to policy

5) Public diplomacy needs to respond to the challenges of the 2.0 web world

6) Public diplomacy requires proper planning, training and resources[3]


( – public diplomacy division within NATO video)





The whole initiative for the public diplomacy within a New Strategic Concept of NATO is regarded as a success. The Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated that it was “the most open and inclusive process ever in the history of the Alliance”[4]. The Public Diplomacy Division managed to organise around 150 activities on the Strategic Concept within member states, which included various conferences, seminars, press-conferences, some contests for university graduates; all done to give young people opportunities to share their views and ideas about NATO’s present and possible future development[5]. Surely, those efforts are extremely important for NATO’s future, especially in a long run, as the main effect of these public diplomacy programmes and image creation will be tangible in years to come.


[1] (accessed 10/05/2014)

[2] (accessed on 10/05/2014)

[3] Stephanie Babst “Public diplomacy” p 4

[4] Stefanie Babst, “NATO‟s New Strategic Concept: Inspired by the Masses?” p 62

[5] Stefanie Babst “NATO‟s New StrategicConcept,” p 63.


Eurovision Song Contest- Cultural Diplomacy?

American Scholar J. William once stated that “in the long course of history, having people understand your thoughts is a much greater security than another submarine”[1]. Such a quote describes the motives of countries in developing cultural diplomacy strategies in order for other states to understand different aspects of their own identity, “helping create a better climate of international trust and understanding in which official relations can operate”[2].

eur It could be argued that the European song contest is a form of cultural diplomacy with countries being able to attract other states through image. The following post will argue that countries have been able to use the European song contest as a form of soft power, with the hosting country being able to ‘brand their nation’ in the process. Milton C. Cummings describes cultural diplomacy as “the exchange of ideas, information, values, systems, traditions, beliefs and other aspects of culture with the intention of fostering mutual understanding”[3]. It could be stated that the Eurovision song contest allows the other European nations to view aspects of their culture and gain a mutual understanding through music, with the winning country getting to host the contest the following year. This allows the incumbent country to show off the best bits of their nation, to visitors and viewers alike. With the Eurovision coming up to its 60th year, it is estimated popularity stands at 200 million or higher[4].

It is not surprising that with such high popularity with the show being aired in Japan and Australia, that countries use such event as a form of diplomacy in which they can portray an attractive image to those around the world, attracting tourism and state to state interaction. The song contest is not only a contest that can not only enhance diplomatic relations, but break them as shown in the last song contest dated the 11th May 2014. The act representing Russia where ‘booed’ throughout the show, showing the audiences dismay with current affairs throughout Russia. Russia has been the “centre of criticism over its handling of the crisis in Ukraine and its controversial anti-gay propaganda law”, however they still managed to grab 7th place, finishing 10 places ahead of the United Kingdom[5]. The winning act from Austria was in fact a drag act, commonly known for their performances throughout gay clubs across Europe. This could suggest that across Europe, gay culture is becoming more widely accepted.

The argument surrounding nation branding is not a new phenomenon when it comes to Eurovision, especially post-cold war. One theorist states that “Estonian Television used the show for nation branding, placing Estonia among the Scandinavian countries with impressions of pine forests, saunas ad Nordic clichés. This way they could free themselves, from belonging to the post-soviet sphere”[6]. This view is shared with Dr Paul Jordan, who gained his PHD in writing about the politics of Eurovision, and the nation branding efforts of states such as Estonia and the Ukraine. He states Estonia participated in nation branding, where by the “government engaged in self-conscious activities aimed at producing a certain image of the modern state”[7]

Another example that contributes to the argument that states can enhance their image through such contest is as follows. Before 1999, countries had to sing in their native language. “Today each national entry can be performed in any language, including imaginary languages as evidenced by Belgium in both 2003 and 2008; which in itself can be seen as a reflection of the contested nature of Belgian linguistic identity”[8].

The contest helps create a cultural identity for countries such as Belgium, across Europe. It cannot be disputed that the Eurovision song contest is a highly political mechanism. With countries competing year after year to be crowned winner in front of millions, it’s hardly surprising countries use such mechanism to build relationships, or break relationships with other countries.


[1]Caspian Information Centre, Image-Making, Cultural Diplomacy and the Eurovision Song Contest, Occasional Paper 18 [Online] Available at:[Accessed March 2014]

[2] Donfried, M, & Gienow, J (2013) Searching for a Cultural Diplomacy, Berghahn Books, Pg. 3

[3] Caspian Information Centre, Image-Making, Cultural Diplomacy and the Eurovision Song Contest, Occasional Paper 18 [Online] Available at:[Accessed March 2014]

[4] Jordan, P (2014) The Modern Fairy-tale: Nation Branding, National Identity & the Eurovision song contest in Estonia, University of Tartu Press, Pg. 37

[5]Wyatt, D (2014) Eurovison 2014: Russia Act: the identical Tolmachery twins, jeered by crowd during final [Online] Available at:[Accessed May 2014]

[6] Caspian Information Centre, Image-Making, Cultural Diplomacy and the Eurovision Song Contest, Occasional Paper 18 [Online] Available at:[Accessed March 2014]

[7] Jordan, P (2013) Nation Branding: A tool for nationalism, 7-12, Routledge: Taylor Frances group

[8]Jordan, P (2014) The Modern Fairy-tale: Nation Branding, National Identity & the Eurovision song contest in Estonia, University of Tartu Press, Pg. 25