WELCOME TO THE SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2021 ISSUE OF DIPLOMAT
Despite the relief of the world unlocking after the COVID pandemic, the dark side of the summer has been watching the tragedy unfold in Afghanistan. There has been much diplomatic mudslinging over the West’s exit from Kabul, and the humanitarian catastrophe that followed. James Landale, Diplomatic Correspondent, BBC News, provides Diplomat with a commentary on the diplomacy surrounding the Afghanistan evacuation. As he dryly notes, “This was the kind of hard diplomatic graft that goes largely unseen, a world away from the popular caricature of smart receptions and ceremonies.”
Simon McGee, former press secretary to two British foreign secretaries, looks at the Taliban’s makeover and surprising new PR playbook. Having designated trained, English-speaking spokespeople to communicate with the international media, he notes that the Taliban’s leadership now understands the power that the correct messaging and communication can have on foreign governments. He refers to “the new urbane, almost respectable, mask that the Taliban has worn to devastating effect. It has been so inf luential that one might even attribute Taliban victory to its PR offensive as much as its fighting prowess.”
In the run up to COP26, as part of Diplomat magazine’s series of virtual events with Public Policy Projects, Matt Toombs (Director of Partnerships and Engagement in the COP26 unit of the UK Cabinet Office) and Amber Rudd (Former Home Secretary and Deputy Chair of Energy and Climate at PPP) discussed what was required from both organisers and attendees to make the event a success.
In terms of defence, Brigadier David Allfrey MBE considers understanding and delivering on national value proposition. As Britain moves forward its evolving strategy of ‘Global Britain’ against a backdrop of everchanging world events, he says, “it is timely to examine how our nation best presents itself to the world and to reflect on our national brand; to examine how we might seek to engage and influence others, making appropriate use of all that we have while matching resources and focus to this end.”
I’m not sure I dare say it, but things appear to be returning to normal. Aside from interviewing all heads of mission in this issue in person, I’ve also been delighted to start attending some diplomatic events again, including a reception for the Bangladesh Foreign Minister, hosted by the country’s High Commissioner, Her Excellency Saida Muna Tasneem. (See photograph). In light of various major Independence Day celebrations taking place this year, we publish a piece by the Ambassador of Uzbekistan, who offers insight into three decades of independence, and the Ambassador of South Sudan, who writes on the 10th anniversary of the world’s youngest country.
Diplomat continues to review the credentials of new heads of mission accredited to the Court of St James’s, this month meeting the Ambassadors of Estonia and Azerbaijan, along with the High Commissioner for Mozambique.
In our lifestyle pages, Diplomat travels abroad for the first time in a while! We experience the ultimate in French rural elegance at historic family Chateau des Briottières in the Loire Valley. In London, Diplomat experiences contemporary luxury at its best at The Biltmore Mayfair, and looks at 80 Holland Park, the first fully serviced residential development in W11 from Christian Candy.
Please do stay in touch and send me article suggestions, new appointments and mission news that you would like covered. Follow and contact us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – our reach is growing on these platforms – we are happy to share your news on social media too.
Please stay safe in the meantime.
Venetia de Blocq van Kuffeler