Southern Belle, Steel Magnolia
Ambassador Swanee Hunt sits in the lobby of east Jerusalem’s American Colony Hotel holding court. Indeed, her elegant style of dress and soft-spoken manner make her seem like a regal figure, as she greets the diplomats, religious figures and activists she has come to see during her visit to Israel. The purpose of her trip is anything but social, however. The former US ambassador to Austria, a major player in the American intervention in the Bosnian conflict, and, since 1997, director of the Women and Public Policy Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Hunt is here to promote her most recent book, This Was Not Our War, a historical and social analysis of the Bosnian conflict from the perspective of 26 Bosnian women.
She is also here to further the “Women Waging Peace” program, a global policy-oriented initiative to integrate women into the peace process through what she calls “inclusive security” – including women in public policy and social change. If our interview is anything to go by, Hunt practices personally what she preaches politically: As women pass by our table, she loops them in and includes them in the conversation. She asks as many questions as she answers, which makes for an intense, often personal, and thoroughly engaging dialogue.
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