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Karaoke: The latest arrow in Washington’s diplomatic quiver

SINGAPORE - MARCH 21: Former Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant on March 21, 2013 in Singapore. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Former Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant on March 21, 2013, in Singapore. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

When your economy is a bit shaky and your military in a bit of a budget squeeze, there’s always what Joe Nye called “soft power.”

Nye was talking about extending U.S. influence not through drones or bribes but through the lure of American culture or values or policies to influence people around the world.

Kind of like when the State Department sent jazz legend Dave Brubeck to Poland in 1958 to loosen the commie grip on most everything in the country.

So our ambassador in Singapore, former Miami trial lawyer and Obama mega-bundler Kirk Wagar, is working on his  own variant.

“Soft power diplomacy, baby!” he posted on his Facebook page last week, along with a photo of himself  in white pants and shirt, microphone in hand, on stage doing Karaoke in a Singapore club. Apparently he’s quite good at this.

“Learned something today,” he wrote. “Singapore had never seen an Ambassador from the United States do karaoke. I have rectified that situation. I hope it’s a good thing …”

Well, one can only hope.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.



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Al Kamen · February 25, 2014

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