Saturday, September 15, 2012

September 15

“What a bore it is, waking up in the morning always the same person. I wish I were unflinching and emphatic and had big eyebrows and a Message for the Age.”

--The description in murdered US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens's high-school yearbook; early Cold-War era Secretary of State Dean Acheson image from


What Ambassador Chris Stevens would have wanted us to do in the Middle East - Robin Wright, Washington Post: "Chris was posted in Jerusalem during the second intifada, when Palestinians were blowing themselves up on Israeli buses and Israeli troops were raiding West Bank villages. In a bit of unorthodox public diplomacy, Chris and a junior officer went outdoors during a rare snowstorm and started lobbing snowballs at each other. Young Palestinians and Israeli border guards on opposite sides of the divide joined in. It broke the tension, at least temporarily. His antics were misleading, however. Chris fast became one of America’s savviest envoys. ... So as the United States deployed gunships and drones this past week to track his killers, I started thinking about what Chris would have wanted the United States to do — about his death, the latest turmoil and in the years ahead. I suspect his message would have been: Waver not. But he was less an advocate of U.S. influence than of U.S. enabling. Two days after his murder, Chris was supposed to inaugurate the first 'American Space' in Libya. That’s why he went to Benghazi. The center would offer a library, computers with free Internet access, language classes and films. In prepared remarks he never got to give, Chris was going to say, 'An American Space is not part of the American Embassy. It is owned, operated, and staffed by our Libyan partners, while the United States provides materials, equipment, and speakers. An American Space is a living example of the kind of partnership between our two countries which we hope to inspire.'” See also.

Ambassador Stevens as a Public Diplomacy Envoy - John Brown, Notes and Essays: “It has been little noticed by the mainstream media that former US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, tragically murdered in the town of Benghazi, went to the American Consulate in that provincial town to open a so-called 'American Space' sponsored by the State Department -- a visit that was a public diplomacy gesture par excellence. Robin Wright, a joint fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson Center, and the author of 'Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World,' did mention in The Washington Post this purpose of the Ambassador's visit (and what an 'American Space' is about [see above]) ... American diplomat Peter Van Buren, whose blog 'We Meant Well' is a must-read, does mention the 'American Space in connection with the Ambassador's Benghazhi visit, giving it its proper appellation: ['] It appears that the Ambassador was in Benghazi for the ribbon-cutting for an 'American Corner.'

An American Corner is, in State’s own words, a 'friendly, accessible space, open to the public, which provides current and reliable information about the United States through bilingual book and magazine collections, films and documentaries, poster exhibitions, and guides for research on the United States.' Ironic of course that Ambassador Stevens and his people died in what is sadly all of a propaganda gesture, a book nook Corner that says happy things about America so that Libyans will love us. ['] So far as I can tell, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (or President Obama) has not emphasized this 'American Space/Corner' opening as a purpose of the Ambassador's visit to Benghazi which led to his death. The reasons for this silence are unknown to me, but perhaps the State Department could enlighten the public on this matter. On American Corners, please see." Image from

The precarious life of a diplomat - Robert J. Callahan, "Like all dedicated American diplomats, he [Stevens] knew that to understand a country and its culture, to report accurately to Washington, and to effectively promote American policies, he had to engage the people, in provincial cities and small villages as well as the capital."

A U.S.Envoy Who Plunged Into Arab Life - Steven Erlanger, New York Times: “J. Christopher Stevens, the American ambassador to Libya who was killed in an assault on a diplomatic mission there last week ... was an unusual American diplomat, friends and colleagues say. He allowed himself to be governed by the habits, proprieties and slower pace of the Arab world. ... What the United States lost was not only one of its foremost Arabists, a man who built a bridge to the tribes and militias that toppled the Libyan dictator Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. It also may be losing, in the unrest sweeping a conflict-prone crescent of Muslim countries from Pakistan to Sudan, a style of diplomacy already on the decline: the street-smart, low-key negotiator who gets things done by building personal relationships. Mr. Stevens, 52, was known as Chris, but he often signed letters and e-mails to friends as Krees, the way many Arabs pronounced his name. His affection for Arab culture and street life, whether in Syria, Libya or the Palestinian territories, made him many friends and impressive networks of contacts. ... Diana Buttu knew Mr. Stevens in Ramallah and Jerusalem for several years from the autumn of 2002, when he was the political officer dealing with the Palestinians and she was the legal adviser to the Palestinian negotiators. ‘He was a different kind of American diplomat, he really was,’ she said. ‘First, he was interested in being here. He brought a lot of energy and he spoke Arabic, and reached out to people and tried to build relationships for the U.S. In my experience, many U.S. diplomats don’t speak Arabic, or if they do, they don’t try.’ ... Harvey Morris, as a correspondent for The Financial Times, also knew Mr. Stevens ... . For him, Mr. Stevens was both of a new generation and yet ‘very much in the tradition of old-school Americans who went to the region, that missionary generation that founded the American University of Beirut, long before any suggestion of U.S. neocolonialism.’ ... Another friend in Jerusalem, Noga Tarnopolsky, a journalist, remembers Mr. Stevens as ‘the ideal of what you want when you meet a diplomat; he was a complete anomaly,’ she said. ‘Wherever he was living, he was able to let go of everything else and live that place completely.’ But she said he was deeply frustrated with security regulations that confined his activities. ‘He wanted that human contact, he wanted to be able to speak to Palestinians on the street, and he couldn’t because security regulations made him always travel in armored vehicles,’ she said. ‘He used to talk about how he felt this was an obstacle to his ability to really be who he wanted to be.’ ... Helena Kane Finn , who was a senior diplomat at the American Embassy in Israel [as Public Affairs Officer -- JB] , remembers her encounters with Mr. Stevens with fondness and respect. ‘He was able to keep his balance and remain open-minded,’ she said. ‘And he had sheer courage. It takes a lot of guts to go into Libya and do what he did. It’s not just dinners and cocktail parties. It’s people like him who really count.’”

A Friend’s Tribute to Ambassador Chris Stevens: The Diplomatic Indiana Jones -- He was brilliant, full of conviction, and defied the extremist narrative that Americans are greedy, arrogant, and dimwitted. They had no choice but to kill him. Roya Hakakian remembers her dear friend Chris Stevens - Daily Beast: "Chris had an inner cultural stethoscope.

No matter where he was, he could always hear the beating of the local life." Image from article, with caption Stevens heads to an April 2011 meeting with Libya's opposition leaders in Benghazi.

Op-Ed: Former US Diplomat Criticizes Weak Language on Libya Killings - Ted Lipien, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "Former U.S. Ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe criticizes the executive staff of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) for using a weak language in describing the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. Public relations officials of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) — the U.S. government agency responsible for broadcasts to the Middle East and other parts of the world — referred to the 'passing' of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens in a statement expressing condemnation of the attacks that claimed his life and three others.

Ambassador Victor H. Ashe, one of the current seven members of the bipartisan board in charge of U.S. international broadcasting, said the killings should be described as murder. Ashe image from entry

In the Wake of Benghazi: Thoughts on Diplomacy, Security and Representation - Daryl Copeland, "The sacking of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, the tragic deaths of U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his staff, and the continuing protests outside U.S. embassies throughout the Greater Middle East raise a host of vexing questions. Unfortunately, when it comes to striking an appropriate balance between the competing demands of effective diplomatic representation and optimal personal security, for the most part one is left with an uninspiring ensemble of compromises and trade-offs. There are no bromides or panaceas, no good or easy answers. In any diplomatic service, ensuring the welfare and well-being of employees is – and, indeed, must be – the top government priority. Yet, there are countervailing considerations and practical constraints. Most U.S. diplomatic missions are already so fortified and securitized that they more resemble Fort Apache than the popular image of an elegant chancery on some leafy boulevard. Physically isolated by blast walls, festooned with multiple levels of surveillance, lethally defended by Marine guards, and procedurally odious to enter, these missions are so protected that a simple visit is often transformed into a degrading ordeal. In the case of those working inside such bunker-like installations, limitations on the effective practice of diplomacy, and especially public diplomacy, can be overwhelming. For a country that styles itself as the 'land of the free,' all of this is extremely unsettling. Any further hardening of the diplomatic footprint will further diminish the United States’ already declining soft power, discourage face-to-face contact, and present real problems in terms of establishing interpersonal ties based on confidence, trust, and respect."

Islam Blasphemy Riots Now Self-Fulfilling Prophecy - James Kirchick, "On 11 September, 12:11 PM Cairo time, the Embassy of the United States to Egypt released the following statement: ['] The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy.

We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others. ['] ... supporters claim, absolves the president of blame for a statement they nonetheless defend on its merits. Regardless, the buck stops with the President of the United States; if a US Embassy releases a statement, one must assume it is something the President stands behind. Revoking the statement while failing to discipline or fire the individual behind it sends mixed signals. Moreover, in remarks at the White House condemning the murder of Ambassador Stevens, the President appeared to reiterate the Cairo Embassy’s statement, announcing that 'We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,' in effect passing a value judgment on a certain instance of expression while failing to explicitly defend the principle of free expression itself." Image from

Pashtun Awakening: Defeat The Taliban By Changing The Narrative – Analysis - "There is still hope if the Pashtuns can restore their sacred tribal structure and identify the Taliban movement for what it really is – a religious mafia concocted on white boards in Rawalpindi. It needs to be clearly communicated to the Pashtuns that Pakistan via its Taliban proxy is using Islam as a strategic weapon. The Pashtuns must be made aware that they are being de-Pashtunized. As the U.S. heads towards the exit doors and reduces its footprint in line with Biden’s 'counter- terror lite' option, it can at least modify its policies to deal with the Pakistani/Taliban threat. If the crux of the problem is a lost narrative the solution is taking it back from the jihadists that hijacked it. This calls for identifying, confronting and defeating propaganda through public diplomacy counterstrikes and preemptive psychological tactics. Instead of brokering an unholy alliance, the U.S. State Department and ISAF public relations personnel should be working with educated Pashtun facilitators on a mass communications program to make the Pashtuns aware of what is really happening. This would include facilitators working on the ground with the tribes, communicating orally, organizing shuras and disseminating information via local press. The U.S. should leverage media, press, radio, the internet, social media and other information technology tools to spread the word in both Pashto and English. It will also encompass monitoring Pakistani and Taliban websites and producing rebuttals to misinformation. This path will be much more effective than the military option. Pashtun unification is the key to a truly independent Afghanistan. Grassroots information campaigns, public diplomacy and psychology operations can go a long way in educating the tribes, changing the narrative and combating misperceptions, including the misperception that the Taliban are an indigenous movement."

The State Department’s Diplomatic Culinary Partnership: peace through deliciousness, and not a moment too soon - Leslie Brenner, "This time last week, I was in Washington, D.C. for the Association of Food Journalists’ annual conference — a first for me, and it was stupendous. This is the first of what I hope will be several blog posts about events surrounding the conference. Most notably from a news point of view, as a group we were invited to a reception at the State Department for the launch of its new Diplomatic Culinary Partnership Initiative.

The initiative strives to 'elevate the role of culinary engagement in America’s formal and public diplomacy efforts.' (If only we could use culinary diplomacy real quick to cool things down in the Middle East….)  Washington Post restaurant critic and AFJ member Tom Sietsema wrote a fine preview story about it.  All part of the American Chef Corps, an impressive retinue of chefs, was in attendance, including White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford, José Andres, Rick Bayless, Mary Sue Milliken and many more. The program aims to 'foster cross-cultural exchange' by having the chefs participate in public diplomacy programs and 'enhance formal diplomacy' through food and cooking to engage foreign leaders at Department of State functions. 'This is a really important moment for chefs,' said Sam Kass, assistant chef and senior policy advisor for healthy food initiatives at the White House. 'Besides chefs,' he added, 'grandmothers are the only ones with real food knowledge in this country.' (Well, some of the members of the Association of Food Journalists might argue with that…) The food and drink were pretty fabulous, including a wine bar that focused on vintages from  Michigan, Virginia, Maryland, Idaho, Oregon, Arizona, New York and, yes, Texas! (McPherson Cellars 'Tre-Colore'), and an impressive spread of American charcuterie and cheeses. Some of the chefs were set up in stations making plates — I loved Mary Sue Milliken’s heirloom bean, avocado and bacon tostada, anchored by a wonderful, tangy version of an old-fashioned three-bean salad. Art Smith and Wes Morton’s roasted farro salad with smoked Carolina swordfish was terrific, too. And the passed hors d’ouevres [sic] were adorable, like spaghetti and meatballs (a forkful of spaghetti atop each small meatball with a dollop of marinara); tiny pizzas (each in its own Diplomatic Culinary Partnership pizza box); and a verdant pasture of pigs in blankets

(the old-fashioned kind) and pig-shaped smoked salmon canapes, each wearing a blanket of tobiko — cute! Also of note: an excellent 10-year old rye whiskey from Vermont called Whistlepig and a cocktail called a George Washington Rye Rickey.

Above image from; first below image from article, with caption: Pigs in blankets and tobiko blankets on smoked salmon pigs (Leslie Brenner); second below pig image from See also, "Why Does Islam Forbid Pork?"

Diaoyu Islands Announcement Significant: Chinese Diplomat - "The Chinese government has officially drawn up tables and charts of Chinese territory surrounding the disputed Diaoyu Islands. Chinese diplomats defended the measure, arguing that it is only rational that China asserts its national territorial sovereignty against the claims of other nations as it has a right by international law. The government will be preparing a report to be delivered to the United Nations shortly. Included in the report is an assertion that the Japanese have acted illegally in claiming the islands. As the dispute continues, observers are expecting the rhetoric of the public diplomacy involved to intensify. (Luke Phillips)"

U.S. Department of State Welcomes Pakistani Performers Zeb and Haniya to the United States - "The U.S. Department of State announced that the Pakistani singer-songwriter duo Zeb and Haniya will travel to communities across America for its groundbreaking cultural diplomacy initiative, Center StageSM from September 5-October 1, 2012. Center StageSM brings performing artists from Haiti, Indonesia, and Pakistan to the United States to engage American audiences in 60 medium and small-sized towns and cities. Zeb and Haniya will tour to Akron, OH; Washington D.C.; Madison, WI; Albuquerque, NM; Helena, MT; and Houston, TX. For a full list of artists and performance dates, click here. During their tour, the Pakistani artists will participate in variety of performances, workshops, discussions, artist-to-artist exchanges, and community gatherings in seven medium and small-sized towns and cities. This Wednesday, September 12, Zeb & Haniya will perform at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. The performance is free and open to the public. Center StageSM builds on Secretary State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of 'smart power' -which embraces the full range of diplomatic tools, in this case the performing arts, to bring people together and foster greater understanding. Center StageSM is a public diplomacy initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It is administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts in cooperation with the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations, with support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the Asian Cultural Council, and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. General management is provided by Lisa Booth Management, Inc."

Afghan and Central Asian Members of Parliament work to strengthen cooperation - "On 5 July 2012, a group of 14 parliamentarians from Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan visited NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. The visit - organised by NATO Public Diplomacy Division - was part of a long-standing programme of cooperation in the field of public diplomacy between the Alliance and these countries.

The group met with representatives of the Diplomatic Corps, as well as with members of the International Staff, including Ambassador Dirk Brengelmann, Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy." Uncaptioned image from entry

The Duke, the Duchess and the media - Suti speaks: Exploring the World of Public Relations, International Affairs and Social Media: "For long the British royal family has been a public diplomacy tool for Britain. They represented British values to the world and in the early days of post- colonialism it was quite accepted. Lady Diana, the princess of Wales, changed things: single handedly and in a very non –conformist way she broke with the royal protocols and campaigned for causes that really needed global attention. Things however have changed. Prince William and Kate Middleton’s global stardom (as the BBC likes to portray) has a lot to with fashion, youth and glamour.

They are like what David Beckham and Victoria are to football. They might be going around the world as the Queen’s representative, but it is the gloss and sheen of their visits that make news. However, the manner BBC spoke about Kate’s first public speech in Malaysia was like a parent, who rejoices hearing a child speak for the first time -a strange obsession with the princess! The news is good for Britain but don't really know how it is important for the BBC World Service audience. The BBC must realize that in the 21st century, people are least interested in things like public diplomacy and British values. It is worth talking more about the constructive side of things like the charities they have chosen to support and the things they do which actually make a difference to the world." Image from entry

The Esalen Pacifica Prize - "A joint project of Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California and TRACK TWO: An Institute for Citizen Diplomacy, based in San Francisco, The Esalen Pacifica Prize was launched earlier

this year to highlight the role of the arts in enriching and deepening ties between Russia and the United States across a range of common interests – cultural, scientific, business and economic." Image from entry (work by Olga Bulgakova). Via NI on Facebook.

9/17: Ambassador Schmierer to Speak About Events in Libya, Middle East at MIIS - "Ambassador Richard J. Schmierer will address the recent events in Libya as well as current trends and developments in the Middle East at a public lecture on Monday, September 17 at 5:30 p.m. in the Monterey Institute’s Irvine Auditorium at 499 Pierce Street.

Ambassador Schmierer assumed his current position as deputy assistant secretary for public diplomacy in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs in September 2012. He served as Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman from September 2009 through August 2012. Prior to his ambassadorship he was the deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs from June 2008 through July 2009. From June 2007 through June 2008 Ambassador Schmierer served as the head of the Office of Iraq Affairs at the U.S. State Department." Schmierer image from article


As Arab world evolves, U.S. pursues uneasy alignments - Scott Wilson, Washington Post: A Pew Research Center poll published in June found that in five Muslim-majority countries surveyed, Obama’s approval ratings had dropped sharply.

Nearly half of the people polled believed when Obama took office that he would be “fair with Israelis and Palestinians”; only 18 percent believe he had been, according to the poll. His use of drones to strike terrorist targets in several countries also has sharply damaged his reputation. “The Obama era has coincided with major changes in international perceptions of American power,” the poll noted. “Even though many think American economic clout is in relative decline, publics around the world continue to worry about how the U.S. uses its power — in particular its military power — in international affairs.” Image from article, with caption: Anti-American protests continue in the Middle East: U.S. diplomatic compounds continue to come under attack in Egypt, Yemen and other countries.

Washington’s role amid the Mideast struggle for power - Editorial Board, Washington Post: Militant Islamic movements, which in several of those countries have been losing ground to more moderate Muslims and liberal forces, seize on pretexts such as the anti-Muslim film to mobilize against their political enemies, exploiting widespread misconceptions among Arabs about the United States and its policy toward the Islamic world. The intelligent U.S. response to these circumstances is not to cut off aid to Egypt — as some in Congress demand — or to pressure Mr. Morsi for difficult but largely symbolic statements or acts. It is to undermine the extremists’ strategy by refuting the attempts to portray U.S. society and government as anti-Muslim; by pragmatically working with governments to renew economic growth and combat violent jihadists; and by continuing to support the liberal political movements that, as much as the Islamists, are fighting to win broad public support.

In Libya and America, imbeciles affecting foreign policy - Kathleen Parker, Wahington Post: What we clearly must not convey to the Muslim world is that either a random, Koran-burning zealot or an anti-Muhammad filmmaker is remotely relevant to our foreign policy. By apologizing — and later by Romney’s commenting — we made events more of an American problem than they were.

Getting Egypt’s Morsi to give up his 9/11 ‘truther’ talk - Robert Satloff and Eric Trager, Washington Post: Huge majorities in major Muslim countries prefer baseless conspiracy theories to the facts of what happened that other Tuesday morning 11 years ago. Although al-Qaeda routinely brags about its “achievement,” 75 percent of Egyptians, for example, still deny that Arabs carried out the attacks, as a Pew study reported in July 2011. This denial of history has policy relevance for the United States: Mass rejection of the facts of 9/11 undermines U.S. global counterterrorism efforts. Persuading Muslims to set the record straight is a condition for any successful counterterrorism strategy. Obama should explicitly condition any meeting with Egyptian president Morsi on the latter’s clear and public renunciation of 9/11 revisionism.

Why is the Muslim world so easily offended? - Fouad Ajami, Washington Post: It is never hard to assemble a crowd of young protesters in the teeming cities of the Muslim world. American embassies and consulates are magnets for the disgruntled. It is inside those fortresses, the gullible believe, that rulers are made and unmade. Yet these same diplomatic outposts dispense coveted visas and a way out to the possibilities of the Western world.

The young men who turned up at the U.S. Embassies this week came out of this deadly mix of attraction to American power and resentment of it. The attack in Benghazi, Libya, that took the lives of four American diplomats, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, appeared to be premeditated and unconnected to the film protests. Image from

A fight against religious extremism - Ahmed Salah, Washington Post: This is not a fight between “the Muslim world” and “the West.” It is not a fight between American values and Islamic values. It is a fight between moderates and extremists. It is a fight between everyone — American and Arab — who is working toward freedom, equality and co-existence vs. the counter-progressives in the Middle East and the West who are fighting to spread discord and hatred.

Puzzled by a ‘red line’ demand - David Ignatius, Washington Post: So what does Netanyahu seek from Obama that he hasn’t yet gotten? Apparently, it’s some sort of ultimatum or deadline for Iran to stop its nuclear enrichment, which could someday provide fuel for a bomb. Netanyahu should understand that no country can allow another to impose the conditions under which it will go to war. The United States needs to take control of the deadly confrontation with Iran, rather than being cajoled and buffeted by its smaller, weaker ally. Obama needs to own the policy of prevention he has declared.

No Rush to War - Editorial, New York Times: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is trying to browbeat President Obama into a pre-emptive strike against Iran. The best strategy is for Israel to work with the United States and other major powers to tighten sanctions while pursuing negotiations on a deal. It is a long shot, but there is time to talk. And that’s where the focus must be.

Israeli Fallout - Eric L. Lewis, New York Times: Faced with the vexing issue of whether the Middle East should be further roiled by an Israeli attack on Iran in an attempt to stop its nuclear program, Romney is willing to outsource that decision to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Under Obama or Romney, U.S. Mideast policy won’t change much - Aaron David Miller, Washington Post: Big moves in Mideast foreign policy — three Arab-Israeli disengagement agreements in the two years after the 1973 war; negotiating an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty in 1979; waging a short and successful war to push Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in 1991 — are not only rare but take a combination of opportunity, will, skill and guts, as well as real leadership in the region.

All of those seem in very short supply these days, regardless of who wins in November. So reinforce the barricades and increase security around our embassies; we’re in for a rough time in a region that is bound to produce unending headaches for whomever sits in the Oval Office. Image from

Are you safer now than you were four years ago? - Eliot A. Cohen, Washington Post: Perhaps the president and his aides are declinists, who think of the United States as too weak to act; perhaps they are indifferent; perhaps they are merely incompetent. In any event, this president will leave his successor a country that is considerably less secure than it was when he took the oath of office.

Closing the book on CIA torture: It has become clear that the courts are unable or unwilling to hold the agency and others accountable - Editorial, Los Angeles Times: Obama should support the creation of a public commission that would examine the torture policies of the Bush era with the same rigor and access to information that informed the report of the 9/11 Commission. By illuminating the past, such a national inquest could make it less likely that a future administration would succumb to the temptation to pursue security at the cost of humanity.

The West's 'hard power' deficit: Shrinking defense budgets among its allies are a warning sign for the U.S. - Gary Schmitt, Los Angeles Times: Stephen Hadley, former President George W. Bush's national security advisor, has pointedly remarked: "Europe has become so enamored with soft power that it has stopped investing in hard power. In terms of hard security, it makes Europe a free rider." Strong words from someone who has been deeply committed to keeping transatlantic ties strong.

The thankless task of the Foreign Service officer - Colum Lynch, Foreign Policy: Former U.S. diplomats say that the American public generally doesn't appreciate the risks diplomats face and the importance of their work in serving American interests.

And they cite diplomats like Stevens -- an Arabic speaker who arrived at his posting (via cargo ship) as a special envoy to the anti-Qaddafi insurgency in Benghazi. Stevens image from article

Why America’s Diplomats Must Remain Visible - Jon Lee Anderson, New Yorker: In the wake of the attacks this week on the U.S. missions in Benghazi, Cairo, and Sanaa, there is understandably heightened concern about the risks faced by U.S. diplomatic representatives who are stationed abroad. There will be calls for greater security measures to protect them, and, no doubt, greater restrictions on their movements as well. The reopening of a U.S. embassy in Mogadishu may well now be seen as an unnecessary risk, but it would be a great pity if that were so. The American disappearance from Somalia all those years ago did not help Somalia; nor did it help the United States. Now that Somalia has begun moving toward democracy, it certainly deserves American support. Via GG on Facebook

America's Other Army - Nicholas Kralev, Foreign Policy:  Given the United States' expansive global role, it should come as no surprise that America's diplomats have to take on an ever-wider variety of tasks during their careers. The most recent U.S. National Security Strategy lays out the core national interests that an American diplomat is charged with upholding -- the security of the United States, the country's prosperity, and the values it stands for (human rights, democracy, and equality). These interests are so fundamental that there is usually political agreement on them regardless of which political party is in power. Another document, the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review issued by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2010, elaborates on the importance of the international system to U.S. interests. It says that to ensure the security of the United States, the entire world has to be secure and stable because today's threats, such as terrorism, transnational crime, climate change, and pandemic disease, are "global, interconnected, and beyond the power of any one state to resolve."

Azhar Ahmed convicted of offensive Facebook message: Ahmed had posted the message on Facebook just days after the soldiers death - BBC News: A teenager has been found guilty of posting an offensive Facebook message following the deaths of six British soldiers in Afghanistan.

Azhar Ahmed, 19, of Ravensthorpe, West Yorkshire, was charged with sending a grossly offensive communication. He told Huddersfield Magistrates Court he accepted the message had been "unacceptable" but had denied it was "grossly offensive."

The judge said his comments were "derogatory" and "inflammatory." Ahmed image from article. Via GG on Facebook


--Via MC on Facebook

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