Public and Private Diplomacy

While I was conducting public diplomacy with Maldivian journalists, the real diplomats were busy a few blocks away at the president’s office and the Holiday Inn, Male’s newest and most posh hotel. For days, the story dominating the news in Maldives has been President Nasheed’s decision to accept two former detainees from Guantanamo Bay. The government reasons that there’s a lot to gain by helping the US meet President Obama’s goal of closing the detention facility. The presence of the US Ambasador at a regional anti-terrorism conference indicates that Maldives will be getting US aid for its security concerns. However, the opposition party is fighting the deal and the battle has all the intrigue of a Hollywood thriller. The opposition claims the US has already smuggled the detainees into Maldives, and there are charges that secret diplomatic documents on the deal were leaked to the other side. The story has generated an endless stream of talking heads, as every politician in this country seems to have an opinion about whether this action will turn Maldives into a safe haven for extremists. It’s one of those important stories that has few visuals, so I couldn’t have picked a worse time to try to encourage the TV journalists here to get some B-roll once in a while.