January 2014

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Cover Story

Indonesian Envoy Steps Down
In Long-Shot Bid for President

a4.ambassador.campaigning.homeDino Patti Djalal loves his current job as Indonesia's ambassador to the U.S., but he'd love being president even more. "I very much enjoy the world of diplomacy ... but this is a historic moment for Indonesia, and I've always wanted to go into politics," the envoy told us in an exclusive interview. Read More 

People of World Influence

War Reporter Says Obama,
Military Need to Shape Up

a1.powi.ricks.homePulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas E. Ricks is a self-proclaimed fan of the military and of President Obama, but ask him about top brass and Obama's performance as commander-in-chief and you'll get an earful. Read More


Interpreters Speechless

Afghan, Iraqi Interpreters
Stuck in U.S. Visa Bottleneck

a2.interpreters.visas.shinwari.homeCongress is likely to extend programs that offer visas for Afghan and Iraqi interpreters who helped the U.S. war effort, but thousands have been left stranded in backlogs while facing danger back home. Read More


EU's Future

Roadblocks, Speculation
Line Path to EU Membership

a3.euro.union.members.homeCroatia's accession to the European Union gave its Balkan neighbors hope that they would be next, but the path to EU membership is lined with hurdles for each candidate country. Read More


Feeding the Hungry

Local, Global Charities
Help Feed the Hungry

a5.charities.food.poor.solar.homeAmbassadors normally seen at cocktail parties were slicing and dicing in the kitchen, hairnets and all, as part of a State Department effort to highlight local community service projects. Read More


The Rotunda: Foreign Affairs on Capitol Hill

Bush Lawyer Wants Post-9/11
War Authorization Revised

a6.rotunda.bellinger.homeThe man who helped craft a sweeping post-9/11 terrorism law under the Bush administration is now pushing for that law to be updated — and reined in. Read More


Book Review

Bernanke's Book Is Useful Primer
On Fed's Efforts to Save Economy

a7.bernake.rotunda.homeBen Bernanke steps down as Fed chairman in January, the end of an eight-year tenure as the head of America's central bank that's been hugely consequential and unexpectedly controversial. Read More

Medical

The State of Statins:
Do Risks Add Up?

a8.medical.blood.homeA new cardiovascular risk calculator to determine if otherwise healthy patients should go on statins was released with much fanfare in November — and plenty of confusion. Read More


   

War Reporter Has Fighting Words For Obama, Military to Shape Up

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By Michael Coleman

Thomas E. Ricks, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of five books on American warfare, is a self-proclaimed fan of President Obama, but ask him about Obama’s performance as commander-in-chief and you’ll get an earful.

Ricks, author of the 2006 bestseller “Fiasco,” which named names while scorching the Bush administration’s handling of the war in Iraq, isn’t impressed with Obama as a wartime president, either. Now a senior advisor in the New America Foundation’s National Security Program, Ricks told The Diplomat that many of Obama’s military advisors are political “hacks” who don’t understand that generals aren’t political pawns. He blatantly says that former National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilon, a longtime Washington operative and lawyer who served Obama from 2010 until June of this year, was “awful.”

“I still am a fan of Obama, but I think he’s handled the military establishment very poorly,” Ricks said in a wide-ranging interview. “I have been bothered for a long time by the very narrowness of the background of Obama’s national security people. To a surprising degree, they are political hacks and [Capitol] Hill rats — former congressional staffers who see the world though a political lens and probably think Congress is much more important in national security affairs than it really is,” complained Ricks, who has reported on U.S. military activities in Somalia, Haiti, Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Kuwait, Turkey, Afghanistan and Iraq.

a1.powi.ricks.thomas.story
Photos: The Penguin Press
Thomas E. Ricks

“I don’t see diversity in the national security people and I see a highly politicized lens through which these people look at national security issues,” he continued. “You have domestic advisors — hacks out of [Obama’s hometown of] Chicago — much more involved in national security issues than in the past.

“I think that Obama has been quite disappointing in national security issues,” Ricks said.

The former Washington Post reporter isn’t optimistic about Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s tenure either. Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, was narrowly confirmed by the U.S. Senate in February, but only after a bruising and embarrassing confirmation hearing that left him fumbling for answers on Iran, Israel and other subjects. Ricks called Hagel “a weak secretary of defense who had a horrible confirmation hearing” and said his nomination reflected ambivalence about the job from the Obama administration.

“The signal it sent is basically we don’t really care,” Ricks argued. “I was surprised at how rough Senate Republicans were on Hagel. It showed a lack of thoughtfulness — [Obama advisors] weren’t talking to enough people to find out how Hagel would be received on the Hill.”

Ricks doesn’t mince words or serve up political niceties. The reporter recently grabbed his own headlines during a Fox News interview in which he said the U.S. consulate attack in Benghazi had been “hyped” for political purposes, especially by Fox News, which he called “a wing of the Republican Party.” However, the old-school former newspaper reporter doesn’t seem to take sides in Washington’s partisan warfare. He told Melinda Henneberger of the Washington Post that MSNBC had invited him to speak but he declined, telling them, “You’re just like Fox, but not as good at it.”

Ricks’s no-nonsense writing has propelled him to the top of the media echelons. In addition to covering the Pentagon for the Washington Post from 2000 to 2008, Ricks wrote about defense for the Wall Street Journal for 17 years. When The Diplomat caught up with Ricks by phone, he was holed up in his “writing house” in Maine, where he is working on his sixth book, an analysis of the ways Winston Churchill and George Orwell helped shape the 20th century. The book, tentatively titled “Churchill, Orwell and the Making of the 20th Century,” is a departure for Ricks, whose previous books all focused on military affairs.

“One’s on the right, one is on the left — they’re very different people — but they agree that there must be a way beside fascism and communism,” he said of the two subjects in his latest book. “They helped preserve liberal democracy.”

Ricks also maintains a regular and award-winning online presence, penning the popular blog “The Best Defense” on Foreign Policy’s website. The blog is a compelling compendium of his thoughts on U.S. military policy, links to articles he finds interesting, and contributions from guest bloggers, including current combat veterans.

The book that catapulted Ricks to literary fame was “Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq.” Published in 2006, at the height of the Iraq War, “Fiasco” was a devastating indictment of the U.S. military’s handling of the conflict, and especially its failure to anticipate the Iraqi insurgency while using conventional warfare that actually fueled escalating hostility and bloodshed. “Fiasco” was particularly noteworthy for its slew of on-the-record interviews with military officials and use of thousands of government documents to show that the United States had planned poorly for the war and its aftermath. The book reached the top of the New York Times bestseller list and was widely credited for helping to transform public opinion about the war.

Last year, Ricks released his latest book, “The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today.” The tome takes aim at a U.S. military culture that Ricks says tolerates, and even rewards, mediocrity in its leadership ranks. In the book, Ricks examines why more U.S. military generals aren’t fired or demoted for poor performance. His research led him to the policies of revered military icon Gen. George C. Marshall Jr., who served as chief of staff of the U.S. Army, secretary of state and secretary of defense and is widely credited for the Allied victory in World War II. Ricks found that of 155 men who commanded Army combat divisions in World War II, 16 were fired for their job performance under Marshall.

“You had a removal rate of better than 10 percent,” Ricks pointed out.

a1.powi.ricks.book.fiasco.storyAfter the Vietnam War, only one U.S. general was fired for subpar performance.

“The tradition was lost and didn’t come back,” Ricks said, lamenting that poor planning and bad decisions should have resulted in multiple firings during and after the Iraq War.

“Coming out of Iraq, nobody got fired for anything and mediocrity was kind of a core value among American generals,” Ricks charged. “If you believe the U.S. Army, it’s like Lake Wobegon — all of our generals are above average. We know that’s not true. We’ve just fought two endless wars — our longest wars go on forever. They don’t seem to be resolved, people come and go, they rotate in and out, nobody wins the war, and nobody owns the war.

“What do we have now?” Ricks asked. “We have a situation where being an army general is like being a university professor with tenure. You can be professionally incompetent but as long as you don’t embarrass the institution you won’t be fired.”

That point leads the conversation naturally to David Petraeus, the former four-star general who resigned his post as CIA director one year ago after he acknowledged having an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. That rankled Ricks, who credits Petraeus with helping to clean up some big messes after the initial botched occupation of Iraq. He said Americans’ obsession with punishing sexual indiscretions deprives them of some otherwise supremely competent leadership.

“What gets people fired nowadays tends to be zipper problems,” Ricks said bluntly. “The professor who boffs an undergraduate or the general who sleeps with a junior officer. You can be a lousy teacher in the classroom or a lousy commander in the battlefield and you don’t get fired for that. That strikes me as kind of screwy. It’s not just a hit on the Army; it’s also a hit on the American people. We care more about the private love life of our generals than we do about whether they are good combat leaders.”

Critics of that thinking point out that the U.S. military claims to uphold the highest standards and should practice the values it preaches. But more important, Petraeus was in charge of the CIA, and affairs are frowned upon in the intelligence world precisely because they leave officers vulnerable, possibly compromising national security. Broadwell reportedly enjoyed unprecedented access to Petraeus while writing his biography, raising questions about whether she was privy to classified information; in one speech she even appeared to divulge sensitive details about the consulate attack in Benghazi.

But Ricks said Petraeus, whom he knows well, could have weathered the political firestorm over the Broadwell affair if Obama had backed him despite the circumstances.

“I think what Obama should have said was, ‘Hey Dave, you screwed up big time. Take some time off, go home, make it up to your wife as best as you can and then get back to work,’” Ricks said. “But I don’t think Obama had any interest in expending political capital on the part of Petraeus partly because they didn’t trust him and partly because they suspected that Petraeus had political ambitions. I don’t think he had any political ambitions.”

Regardless, Petraeus has found his post-scandal footing, teaching at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and working for the investment firm KKR.

But Ricks says many other top — yet subpar — American military officials fly under the performance radar. He suggests that the lack of accountability among the top ranks might be solved, at least partially, by reinstating the draft and making military service compulsory.

“If you want to support the troops, one of the best ways is to make sure they have good leadership,” Ricks said. “We owe it to the enlisted men to give them good leadership, but we don’t necessarily give it to them these days. That’s one reason I favor a draft.”

A draft might also restrain politicians eager to rush to war, Ricks says. “If you had a draft, then American families would care and that would make congressmen care and they’d begin asking questions like they did in World War II,” he told us. “Harry Truman came to prominence in the U.S. Senate by leading a commission looking into military acquisition problems. Nowadays nobody seems to want to ask a lot of questions of the military.”

He added: “I think it would reconnect the American military to American society and one of the benefits is yes, it would inject more accountability into the system.”

While Ricks is critical of Obama’s handling of the military generally, he came to the president’s defense on the question of Syria, where he says Obama has thoroughly considered the ramifications of a U.S. intervention in that war-torn nation.

“To Obama’s credit, I think he’s been a very deliberative president,” Ricks said. “George W. Bush was one of our least deliberative presidents, who tended to shoot first and ask questions later. It’s not a bad idea to be deliberative. I think Obama’s done OK on Syria partly because I don’t think there are any good answers there.

“We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t,” he said. “If we support the Syrian rebels, it raises the question of if the rebels win, what happens to the Syrian minorities, the Armenians, the Christians, the Jews and others? Do we create a new refugee problem? I don’t see good answers on Syria.”

Likewise, while the recent deal struck with Iran could herald a major breakthrough in the long-stalled talks over the country’s nuclear program, it could also lead to unintended consequences.

The landmark interim deal negotiated by the P5+1 to curb aspects of Iran’s nuclear program for six months while a more comprehensive agreement is hashed out has infuriated Israel and much of the American Jewish community. It’s even fueled speculation about a joint Israeli-Saudi strike on Iranian nuclear installations, a possibility Ricks does not discount.

“It wouldn’t surprise me to see a joint Israeli-Saudi Arabian operation against Iran,” he said. “It would make it militarily so much easier to do if you could fly Israeli aircraft out of eastern Saudi Arabia…. I could see a large strike that not only hit nuclear sites, but also air defense sites and missile sites because of course you’d be worried about retaliatory missile shots at Riyadh, Jeddah and Tel Aviv.

“You could also see Iran retaliating with Hezbollah getting frisky in Lebanon and various other Shiite disturbances in eastern Saudi Arabia. It would run the danger of a general war breaking out in the Middle East.”

Ricks also said he doubts it would be possible to pull off such a bold strike without at least tacit approval from the United States. However, he envisions Secretary of State John Kerry — whom he compared to the depressive, downer character Eeyore in “Winnie the Pooh” — “getting up there and calling all parties to cease fire.”

“Frankly, I don’t think they could really pull it off without us knowing, especially if it was a joint Saudi-Israeli operation with Israeli aircraft flying into Saudi Arabia to do it,” he said. “The real worry would be twofold: Would such a strike lead to a general war in the Middle East?” he asked, “and would the United States somehow get dragged into the consequences of a strike?”

That leads the longtime military observer to warn that U.S. soldiers can’t be the only tool in America’s foreign policy arsenal — and military intervention can’t be used as a constant fallback option. Diplomacy, he says, should be bolstered.

Ricks said he thinks the U.S. government should give the State Department a bigger budget, and sometimes a bigger role in overseas conflicts. Walter Pincus, a Washington Post reporter, found in 2010 that the U.S. Army had more musicians than the State Department had Foreign Service officers, a fact that Ricks pointed out in making his case for more spending on diplomacy.

“The State Department clearly needs more money,” he said, referring to annual international affairs spending, which is roughly one-tenth the Pentagon’s base budget. “It’s tiny compared to the U.S. military. I think there should be more cooperation between the military and other parts of the government. We need a military that is sometimes going to be taking orders from Foreign Service officers.”

While he’d like to see more money flowing to Foggy Bottom, Ricks advocated slashing spending across the river at the Pentagon. Despite dire warnings from Pentagon brass that sequestration will hollow out the military, the latest bipartisan budget deal will blunt some of the harshest cuts, and defense spending for fiscal 2014 is still set to clock in at roughly $600 billion, including the war in Afghanistan. Ricks said the defense world needs less money and more critical thinking.

“The American military between World War I and World War II had almost no money, but they did a lot of thinking and in that time they produced a great generation of generals,” he said, citing Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower and George S. Patton. “They did that because those guys did a lot of reading, writing and thinking. I think our military leaders can do a lot more of that and a lot less spending money.”


About the Author

Michael Coleman is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

   

Afghan, Iraqi Interpreters Stuck in U.S. Visa Bottleneck

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By Zachary Colman

Read more: Afghan, Iraqi Interpreters Stuck in U.S. Visa Bottleneck
   

Roadblocks, Speculation Line Path to EU Membership

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By Molly McCluskey

Read more: Roadblocks, Speculation Line Path to EU Membership
   

Indonesian Envoy Steps Down In Long-Shot Bid for President

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By Larry Luxner

Read more: Indonesian Envoy Steps Down In Long-Shot Bid for President
   

Local, Global Charities Help Feed the Hungry

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By Larry Luxner

Read more: Local, Global Charities Help Feed the Hungry
   

Bush Lawyer Wants Post-9/11 War Authorization Revised

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By Luke Jerod Kummer

Read more: Bush Lawyer Wants Post-9/11 War Authorization Revised
   

Bernanke’s Book Is Useful Primer On Fed’s Efforts to Save Economy

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By John Shaw

Read more: Bernanke’s Book Is Useful Primer On Fed’s Efforts to Save Economy
   

The State of Statins: Do Risks Add Up?

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By Gina Shaw

Read more: The State of Statins: Do Risks Add Up?
   

International Students in U.S. Reach Record-High Numbers

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By Carolyn Cosmos

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Chinese, Other ‘Critical’ Languages Make Themselves Heard in D.C. Schools

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By Gail Sullivan

Read more: Chinese, Other ‘Critical’ Languages Make Themselves Heard in D.C. Schools
   

Hotels Show Washington Is More Than Government

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By Audrey Hoffer

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Luxury Still Abounds in Italy, But So Do Simplicity, Spirituality

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By Kathy Kemper

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Masterpieces from Enduring Empire in D.C. for First Time

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By Molly McCluskey

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Juggling Two Careers, Danish Couple Still Keeps It ‘Hygge’

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By Gail Scott

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‘GOLS’ Shows How to Give Kids Sporting Chance in Life

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By Audrey Hoffer

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Contemporary Artists Stage Revitalization in Saxony-Anhalt

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By Gary Tischler

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Argentinean Artist Blurs Lines of Power

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By Gary Tischler

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Ma Makes Smart Career Move With Arlington’s Water & Wall

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By Rachel G. Hunt

Read more: Ma Makes Smart Career Move With Arlington’s Water & Wall
   

‘The Past’ Picks Up Where ‘A Separation’ Left Off

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By Ky N. Nguyen

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Films - January 2014

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By Cari

Languages

English


Farsi


French

German

English

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Directed by Peter Jackson
(U.S./New Zealand, 2013
The dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim their homeland from Smaug the dragon.
Area theaters

The Invisible Woman
Directed by Ralph Fiennes
(U.K., 2013, 111 min.)
At the height of his career, Charles Dickens meets a younger woman who becomes his secret lover until his death.
Angelika Mosaic
Landmark's E Street Cinema
Opens Fri., Jan. 17

The Last Days on Mars
Directed by Ruairi Robinson
(U.K./Ireland, 2013, 98 min.)
A group of astronaut explorers succumb one by one to a mysterious and terrifying force while collecting specimens on Mars.
Landmark's E Street Cinema

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Directed by Justin Chadwick
(U.K./South Africa, 2013, 141 min.)
Based on the 1994 autobiography of the same name, "Mandela" chronicles the inspirational life of Nelson Mandela as an international icon and one of the world's most revered leaders (English, Afrikaans and Xhosa).
Angelika Mosaic

One Chance
Directed by David Frankel
(U.K./U.S., 2013, 103 min.)
In this true story, Paul Potts, a shy, bullied shop assistant by day and an amateur opera singer by night, becomes a phenomenon after being chosen for — and ultimately winning — "Britain's Got Talent."
Area theaters
Opens Fri., Jan. 10

Saving Mr. Banks
Directed by John Lee Hancock
(U.S./U.K./Australia, 2013, 125 min.)
Author P.L. Travers reflects on her difficult childhood while meeting with filmmaker Walt Disney during production for the adaptation of her novel, "Mary Poppins."
Landmark's E Street Cinema

Walking with Dinosaurs 3D
Directed by Barry Cook and Neil Nightingale
(U.K./U.S./Australia, 2013)
See and feel what it was like when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, in a story where an underdog dino triumphs to become a hero for the ages.
Area theaters

Farsi

The Bright Day
Directed by Hossein Shahabi
(Iran, 2013, 86 min.)
A kindergarten teacher sets out to save a student's father accused of killing a coworker, working to track down witnesses who can prove the death was an accident. At the same time, the dead man's powerful family wields its influence in an attempt to keep the witnesses silent.
Freer Gallery of Art
Fri., Jan. 17, 7 p.m.,
Sun., Jan. 19, 2 p.m.

Closed Curtain
(Pardé)
Directed by Jafar Panahi and Kambozia Partovi
(Iran, 2013, 106 min.)
In 2010, filmmaker Jafar Panahi was sentenced to six years of house arrest and a 20-year ban on filmmaking for allegedly engaging in propaganda against the Iranian government. In 2011, he flouted the ban with the autobiographical "This is Not a Film." Now, he returns with a self-reflexive, Pirandello-like consideration of his punishment's effect on his psyche, which begins as the story of a man (co-director and actor Kambozia Partovi) hiding his adorable dog from Iran's recent ban on dogwalking.
Freer Gallery of Art
Fri., Jan. 10, 7 p.m.,
Sun., Jan. 12, 2 p.m.

Fat Shaker
Directed by Mohammad Shirvani
(Iran, 2013, 85 min.)
Intended as an attack on Iran's patriarchal social structure, this unconventional film stars Levon Haftvan as a gluttonous alcoholic who uses his deaf-mute son to lure attractive young women into drug- and booze-fueled nights of illegal excess. Afterward, he extorts money from the women by threatening to go to the authorities. But one female photographer refuses to be intimidated and instead attempts to rescue the young man from his controlling father.
Freer Gallery of Art
Fri., Jan. 31, 7 p.m.

The Patience Stone
Directed by Atiq Rahimi
(Afghanistan/France, 2012, 102 min.)
In an unnamed country torn apart by war, a young woman (Golshifteh Farahani) watches over her comatose husband, venting her frustrations about living under his control.
Freer Gallery of Art
Fri., Jan. 24, 7 p.m.,
Sun., Jan. 26, 2 p.m.

French

The Past
(Le passé)
Directed by Asghar Farhadi
(France/Italy, 2013, 130 min.)
An Iranian man returns to France to grant his wife a divorce and discovers she has started a relationship with an Arab man who has a son and a wife in a coma (French and Farsi).
Landmark's E Street Cinema
Opens Fri., Jan. 10

German

Lessons of Darkness
(Lektionen in Finsternis)
Directed by Werner Herzog
(Germany, 1992, 50 min.)
Werner Herzog's film shows the disaster of the burning Kuwaiti oil fields, but in contrast to common documentary style, there are no comments and few interviews. Rather, the viewer is presented with stunning scenery and beautiful music from "Rheingold" and "Götterdämmerung" (screens with "The Transformation of the World into Music").
Goethe-Institut
Mon., Jan. 6, 6:30 p.m.

The Transformation of the World into Music: Bayreuth before the Premiere and Lessons of Darkness
Directed by Werner Herzog
(Germany, 1994, 90 min.)
Often lauded for his incorporation of German composer Richard Wagner's concept of the "total work of art (Gesamtkunstwerk)" into cinema, director Werner Herzog provides the viewer with more than a behind-the-scenes documentary (screens with "Lessons of Darkness").
Goethe-Institut
Mon., Jan. 6, 6:30 p.m.

   

Iranian Filmmaker Works in France Without Skipping a Beat

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By Ky N. Nguyen

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Events - January 2014

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EVENT CATEGORIES

Art

Dance

Discussions

Music

Theater


ART

Through Jan. 5
Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris
The first retrospective exhibition in the United States, and the only scholarly catalogue on the renowned 19th-century French photographer Charles Marville (1813-79), presents recent groundbreaking discoveries informing his art and biography, including the versatility of his photographic talents and his true identity, background and family life.
National Gallery of Art

Through Jan. 5
A Democracy of Images: Photographs from the Smithsonian American Art Museum
More than 100 photographs selected from the Smithsonian American Art Museum's permanent collection celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the museum's photography collection, examine photography's evolution in the United States from a documentary medium to a full-fledged artistic genre, and showcase the numerous ways in which it has captured the American experience.
American Art Museum

Through Jan. 5
Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa
Some 100 exceptional works of art from the late 18th to 21st centuries come together for the first major exhibition and scholarly endeavor to comprehensively examine the rich relationship between African artists and the land upon which they live, work and frame their days.
National Museum of African Art

Through Jan. 5
Northern Mannerist Prints from the Kainen Collection
Some 50 works embody the sophisticated imagery, extraordinary stylization and virtuoso technique of the printmaking industry that flourished in the northern Netherlands and at the imperial court of Prague in the late 16th century.
National Gallery of Art

Through Jan. 5
Wanderer: Travel Prints by Ellen Day Hale
A selection of prints, drawings and original printing plates demonstrates Ellen Day Hale 's passion for travel and her mastery of printmaking.
National Museum of Women in the Arts

Through Jan. 5
Yes, No, Maybe: Artists Working at Crown Point Press
Featuring 125 working proofs and edition prints produced between 1972 and 2010 at Crown Point Press in San Francisco, one of the most influential printmaking studios of the last half century, "Yes, No, Maybe" goes beyond celebrating the flash of inspiration to examine the artistic process as a sequence of decisions.
National Gallery of Art

Through Jan. 12
Living Artfully: At Home with Marjorie Merriweather Post
From the glamour of Palm Beach, to the rustic whimsy of the Adirondacks, to the distinguished social scene of Washington, D.C., heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post brought to her multiple residences a flawless style of living and entertaining that was made possible only through the gracious management of loyal staff.
Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens

Through Jan. 12
Pakistani Voices: A Conversation with The Migration Series
In April 2013, the Phillips partnered with the State Department to conduct a series of workshops in Pakistan focusing on art and social change. This exhibition features 29 works by emerging Pakistani artists and 20 works by students and orphans who worked together to create visual narratives about identity, personal struggle and Pakistani history.
The Phillips Collection

Through Jan. 17
Bojagi & Beyond
Showcasing the artistry and originality of the traditional quilted Korean wrapping cloth known as bojagi, this exhibition features seven Korean and American artists who highlight traditional textile techniques along with the modern reinterpretations of this centuries-old family practice.
Korean Cultural Center at the Embassy of South Korea

Jan. 17 to April 13
Judy Chicago: Circa '75
The iconic body of work from the 1970s by Judy Chicago demonstrates the prominent feminist artist's firm belief in the power of art to redress gender inequalities.
National Museum of Women in the Arts

Through Jan. 24
GOLS for Development
This digital and photographic exhibit narrates the impact of sport as a vehicle for social transparency, taking as an example the life of Pelé, the king of soccer, in parallel with several sports development projects in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Inter-American Development Bank Cultural Center

Through Jan. 25
Explorations
"Explorations" presents the winners of the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series, a nationwide art competition that aims to discover the next big names in urban photography, painting and multi-media arts, and to celebrate today's diverse up-and-coming artists on a national stage.
International Visions Gallery

Through Jan. 25
A Night at the Opera
The grandeur of opera — its unforgettable music, stellar performers, and lavish scenery and costumes — has transfixed audiences for more than 400 years. This 50-item display will feature manuscripts, printed scores, librettos, photographs, correspondence and set designs dating from the late 18th century through the beginning of the 20th century.
Library of Congress James Madison Building

Through Jan. 26
Van Gogh Repetitions
In the first Vincent van Gogh (1853-90) exhibition in D.C. in 15 years, the Phillips Collection takes a fresh look at the van Gogh's artistic process, venturing beneath the surface of some of his best-known paintings to examine how and why he repeated certain compositions during his 10-year career.
The Phillips Collection

Through Jan. 26
Yoga: The Art of Transformation
Through masterpieces of Indian sculpture and painting, "Yoga" — the first exhibit to present this leitmotif of Indian visual culture — explores yoga's goals; its Hindu as well as Buddhist, Jain and Sufi manifestations; its means of transforming body and consciousness; and its profound philosophical foundations.
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Jan. 28 to June 15
Shakespeare's the Thing
Marking the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth, this exhibition presents a miscellany of treasures in the Folger collection from Shakespeare's 1623 First Folio to modern fine art prints, revealing the Bard's influence on performance, adaptation, scholarship, printing, fine art and even in mild obsession.
Folger Shakespeare Library

Through Jan. 31
Icons of the Desert
This exhibition of early indigenous Australian paintings from Papunya, from the private collection of John and Barbara Wilkerson, took more than 10 years of development in close consultation with the aboriginal community and descendants of the artists.
Embassy of Australia Art Gallery

Through Jan. 31
Linger On! (Verweile doch)
Capturing fleeting moments in time, these diverse works by six artists present extraordinary encounters with contemporary art, ranging from documentary photography that enhances reality via the deft use of framing and lighting to precisely staged productions.
Goethe-Institut

Through Jan. 31
Portraits of Power: Works by Alejandro Almaraz of Argentina
Since 2006, the Organization of American States's Art Museum of the Americas has aimed to promote OAS values of social progress and cultural exchange through the visual arts. Continuing along this path, Alejandro Almaraz's examinations of popular authority figures encourage conversation on vital OAS interests such as democracy and good governance.
Art Museum of the Americas

Through Feb. 9
Lines, Marks, and Drawings: Through the Lens of Roger Ballen
This exhibit considers the 40-year-plus career of Roger Ballen, one of the more recognized photographic artists working today, through a new approach: an examination of line and drawing in his photographs.
National Museum of African Art

Through Feb. 14
Illuminating Opportunity: A Photography Exhibit for Social Good
This photography exhibit by Trees, Water and People explores the organization's solar energy program in Honduras through the eyes of photographer Darren Mahuron. Viewings are by appointment only; for information, call (202) 370-4618 or (202) 370-0151.
Organization of American States

Through March 2
Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections
In the first exhibition devoted to Byzantine art at the National Gallery, some 170 rare and important works, drawn exclusively from Greek collections, offer a fascinating glimpse of the soul and splendor of the mysterious Byzantine Empire.
National Gallery of Art

Through March 2
Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art
Nearly 100 works in all media by 72 leading modern and contemporary artists present the rich and varied contributions of Latino artists in the United States since the mid-20th century, when the concept of a collective Latino identity began to emerge.
Smithsonian American Art Museum

Through March 9
Alex Prager: Face in the Crowd
Los Angeles artist Alex Prager's first solo museum exhibition in the United States debuts her latest series — elaborately staged crowd scenes, both poignant and revelatory — alongside earlier photographs and video works.
Corcoran Gallery of Art

Through March 15
Man at the Crossroads: Diego Rivera's Mural at Rockefeller Center
This exposition centers around the mural that Mexican artist Diego Rivera painted in New York City, reconstructing its history with unedited material, including reproduced letters, telegrams, contracts, sketches, and documents, following Rivera's commission, subsequent tension and conflict, and finally, the mural's destruction.
Mexican Cultural Institute

Through March 16
The Dying Gaul: An Ancient Roman Masterpiece from the Capitoline Museum, Rome
Created in the first or second century AD, the "Dying Gaul" is one of the most renowned works from antiquity. This exhibition marks the first time it has left Italy since 1797, when Napoleonic forces took the sculpture to Paris, where it was displayed at the Louvre until its return to Rome in 1816.
National Gallery of Art

Through April 27
Work by Hand: Hidden Labor and Historical Quilts
Over time, quilts have been revered as nostalgic emblems of the past, dismissed as women's work, and hailed as examples of American ingenuity. This exhibition breaks new ground by examining quilts through the lens of contemporary feminist theory.
National Museum of Women in the Arts

Through May 4
In Focus: Ara Güler's Anatolia
Ara Güler, the "Eye of Istanbul," is famous for his iconic snapshots of the city in the 1950s and '60s, but with an archive of more than 800,000 photographs, Güler's body of work contains far more than these emblematic images — as seen in this exhibition of never-before-shown works by the legendary photographer.
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Through May 26
Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950
The first in-depth exploration of the theme of destruction in international contemporary visual culture, this groundbreaking exhibition includes works by a diverse range of international artists working in painting, sculpture, photography, film, installation and performance.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Through June 8, 2014
Perspectives: Rina Banerjee
Born in India and based in New York City, artist Rina Banerjee draws on her background as a scientist and her experience as an immigrant in her richly textured works that complicate the role of objects as representations of cultures and invite viewers to share her fascination in materials.
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Through July 13
Dancing the Dream
From the late 19th century to today, dance has captured this nation's culture in motion, as seen in photos that showcase generations of performers, choreographers and impresarios.
National Portrait Gallery

Through Aug. 24
Africa ReViewed: The Photographic Legacy of Eliot Elisofon
"Africa ReViewed" showcases the African photography of celebrated Life magazine photographer Eliot Elisofon and explores the intricate relationships between his photographic archives and art collection at the National Museum of African Art. Elisofon's images had a huge impact in framing America's perceptions of Africa and its diverse cultures during the 20th century.
National Museum of African Art

DANCE

Jan. 21 to 26
Shen Yun 2014: Reviving 5,000 Years of Civilization
Shen Yun Performing Arts, a classical Chinese dance and music company, returns with a lavishly colorful and exhilarating show that includes legends, characters and tales from both the ancient and modern world, presented by the Falun Dafa Association of Washington, D.C. Tickets are $50 to $250.
Kennedy Center Opera House

Jan. 24 to 26
GOLD
Canada's Cas Public dance ensemble uses everyday sounds and objects in to explore the joy, humor and mischief of childhood — all performed to Canadian pianist Glenn Gould's famous recording of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Goldberg Variations." Tickets are $20.
Kennedy Center Family Theater

Jan. 28 to Feb. 2
Mariinsky Ballet: Swan Lake
St. Petersburg's historic Mariinsky Ballet — one of the most influential classical companies for more than two and a half centuries —returns with Konstantin Sergeyev's bewitching 1950 production of "Swan Lake," based on Petipa and Ivanov's immortal 1895 masterpiece and danced to Tchaikovsky's glorious score. Tickets are $29 to $150.
Kennedy Center Opera House

DISCUSSIONS

Sat., Jan. 18, 2 p.m.
Scotch Whisky Master Class with Dougie Wylie
Take a memorable journey down the historical Scotch whisky trail with Dougie Wylie, the "Scotch Whisky Man," sampling Scotch whisky from the Lowlands to the Highlands and from the islands to the small distilleries on the mainland. Tickets are $45.
George Mason University Hylton Performing Arts Center

MUSIC

Thu., Jan. 2, 8 p.m.
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra: Viennese Favorites
The magic of New Year's in Vienna comes alive as Andrew Grams conducts enchanting miniatures of Mozart, the effervescent favorites of Johann Strauss Jr. and more. Please call for ticket information.
Music Center at Strathmore

Sat., Jan. 4, 8 p.m.,
Sun., Jan. 5, 3 p.m.
National Philharmonic: Sounds of Central Europe
The "Serenade for Strings" by Dvorák is laden with hauntingly beautiful melodies suffused with the spirit of Czech folk music; performed by Nurit Bar-Josef, concertmaster of the National Symphony Orchestra, Mozart's "Violin Concerto No. 5," often referred to by the nickname Turkish, is full of energetic and lively melodies; and "Symphony No. 29," one of Mozart's early symphonies, is a personal work that combines intimate chamber music style with a fiery manner. Tickets start at $28.
Music Center at Strathmore

Fri., Jan. 10, 8 p.m.,
Sat., Jan. 11, 8 p.m.
Folger Consort: Brave New World – Music of the Tempest
The Folger Consort hosts a program exploring and celebrating the musical interpretations of Shakespeare's "The Tempest," including Matthew Locke's 1674 incidental music for orchestra and voices. Tickets are $30 to $50.
Washington National Cathedral

Sun., Jan. 12, 4 p.m.
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Known as Britain's national orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra founded in 1946 by Sir Thomas Beecham, who envisioned an elite ensemble of the country's finest musicians. For this concert, guest conductor and violin virtuoso Pinchas Zukerman leads the orchestra to perform Bach's "Violin Concerto in A minor" and Schoenberg's romantic masterpiece, "Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night)." Tickets are $37.50 to $75.
George Mason University Center for the Arts

Fri., Jan. 24, 7:30 p.m.,
Sun., Jan. 26, 4 p.m.
Fusion: A French-American Musical Exchange
The Cultural Service of the French Embassy, in partnership with the Phillips Collection and under the label France Musique, presents its first edition of "Fusion," a program that seeks to build a bridge between French and American musical talents. Through "Fusion," an American musician (violinist Miranda Cuckson) will perform a concert at the French Embassy, followed by a performance of a French musician (Quatuor Eclisses) at the Phillips Collection. Admission for the Jan. 24 concert is free and $30 for the Jan. 26 concert. For information, visit http://frenchculture.org. 
Embassy of France (Jan. 24)
The Phillips Collection (Jan. 26)

Fri., Jan. 24, 8 p.m.
National Symphony Orchestra: Dvorák's Symphony No. 9 – Whose World?
For aficionados and newcomers alike, this series uses actors, narration, excerpts, and multimedia to share captivating stories behind a score, in this case Dvorák's towering "New World" symphony, followed by a full performance of the work. Tickets are $10 to $50.
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

THEATER

Through Jan. 5
The Apple Family Plays
Studio presents the first two plays in Richard Nelson's quartet of plays about the Apple siblings and their extended family. Set at successive meals over the course of four years, the tensions and compromises, affections and resentments of the Apple family's personal lives play out against a rapidly changing America. Presented in rotating repertory; tickets are $39 to $75.
The Studio Theatre

Through Jan. 5
A Christmas Carol
Ford's Theatre has delighted Washington audiences with "A Christmas Carol" for more than 30 years. Join the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as they lead the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge on a journey of transformation and redemption. Please call for ticket information.
Ford's Theatre

Through Jan. 5
Edgar & Annabel
From one of Britain's most promising young playwrights, this dark and cheeky look at what the future might hold features undercover agents, surveillance algorithms, and explosive karaoke. Tickets are $30 to $35.
Studio Theatre

Through Jan. 5
Elf the Musical
Buddy the orphan leaves the North Pole to find his true identity in this modern Christmas classic that will make everyone embrace their inner elf. Tickets are $25 to $150.
Kennedy Center Opera House

Through Jan. 5
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
This fun musical farce based on the classic plays of ancient Roman playwright Plautus tells the bawdy story of Pseudolus, a slave in ancient Rome, who goes to great lengths to gain his freedom by securing a courtesan for his young master, Hero. Tickets are $20 to $110.
Shakespeare Theatre Sidney Harman Hall

Through Jan. 5
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Broadway and Arena Stage favorite Kenny Leon returns to direct Malcolm-Jamal Warner (in his Arena Stage debut) in a new adaptation of the beloved film "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner." Please call for ticket information.
Arena Stage

Jan. 8 to Feb. 23
Tribes
When Billy, who was born deaf into a garrulous academic family that raised him to lip read and integrate into the hearing world, meets Sylvia, who is going deaf herself, he decides it's time to speak on his own terms in Nina Raine's moving play, the second offering in Studio's yearlong New British Invasion Festival. Tickets are $39 to $75.
The Studio Theatre

Jan. 10 to Feb. 16
The Tallest Tree in the Forest
Daniel Beaty brings to life the true story of Paul Robeson, hailed as the "best-known black man in the world" for his incomparable singing and acting, brought low by accusations of disloyalty to America. Please call for ticket information.
Arena Stage

Jan. 16 to March 2
The Importance of Being Earnest
Keith Baxter returns to direct Oscar Wilde's most perfect of plays — a comedy of class, courtship, and avoiding burdensome social conventions. Please call for ticket information.
Shakespeare Lansburgh Theatre

Through Jan. 19
Flashdance – The Musical
Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the pop culture phenomenon of "Flashdance" is now live on stage, with the inspiring and unforgettable story of a Pittsburgh steel mill welder by day and a bar dancer by night with dreams of becoming a professional performer. Tickets are $45 to $150.
Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater

Jan. 24 and 25
Wedding of Ordos
The Inner Mongolia Ordos National Song and Dance Theatre presents a moving epic that depicts the poetry, music, and dance of a traditional wedding in the ancient Mongolian city of Ordos. Tickets are $10 to $180.
Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater

Through Jan. 26
Gypsy
Set during the 1920s on the fading vaudeville circuit, Momma Rose, the archetypal stage mother, steamrolls everyone on her way to propel her daughters into child stars. But when the younger, more talented daughter defects, Rose sinks all her hopes (and claws) into the elder. Tickets start at $40.
Signature Theatre

Jan. 28 to March 9
Richard III
Explore Shakespeare's portrait of maniacal ambition and dig into the truth about this king's real nature with this celebrated history play — staged, for the first time in Folger history, in an Elizabethan Theatre reconfigured to allow for a production "in the round." Tickets are $39 to $72.
Folger Shakespeare Library

Fri., Jan. 31, 7:30 p.m.
Chinese New Year Gala – 2014
The Chinese American Association presents more than 300 artists from throughout North America in a performance that celebrates the Chinese New Year 2014 and Chinese culture and art. Tickets are $20 to $100.
George Mason University Center for the Arts

Jan. 31 to March 9
Mother Courage and Her Children
Kathleen Turner returns to Arena to star as a tough-as-nails matriarch who profits off the very war that steals her children from her one by one. But will the cost of war be higher than she's prepared to pay? Please call for ticket information.
Arena Stage

   

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