Welcome to Dipnote

Posted by Sean McCormack
September 25, 2007
Sean McCormack During Morning Press Gaggle

Welcome to the State Department's first-ever blog, Dipnote. As a communicator for the Department, I have the opportunity to do my fair share of talking on a daily basis. With the launch of Dipnote, we are hoping to start a dialogue with the public. More than ever, world events affect our daily lives--what we see and hear, what we do, and how we work. I hope Dipnote will provide you with a window into the work of the people responsible for our foreign policy, and will give you a chance to be active participants in a community focused on some of the great issues of our world today.

With Dipnote we are going to take you behind the scenes at the State Department and bring you closer to the personalities of the Department. We are going to try and break through some of the jargon and talk about how we operate around the world.

We invite you to participate in this community, and I am looking forward to stepping away from my podium every now and then into the blogosphere. Let the conversation begin.

PS - We're new at this. It looks like we broke our own rule and used State jargon in our blog title. "Dipnote" refers to a diplomatic note. It is one of the many ways in which governments formally communicate with each other.

The dictionary definition of a diplomatic note is: "A formal communication between an ambassador and a minister (usually the foreign minister) of this host government or another ambassador."

Comments

Comments

John
|
Greece
September 9, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Kirk

I am not a recruiter! I live far away from the States. I am not an American citizen. I do not have a job 4U? But I'm the creator of the game? (joking)

Let's have some feedback of your tendency to... offer? service?

Let's create a "virtual" game on how GOOD a probable SD officer is ready to be (This is also a promotional idea for our Blog -- let's create a game)

Rules: (negotiable/I don't think in their existence)
There is only 1 player: You
Position: SD junior analyst
Aged: 22 maybe 24 (who cares, a young boy? seeking Fed career)
1st post: Afghanistan
Year: today

Sitting "on the dock of the bay" in Kabul -- your cable receives this post for analysis:

"Is this the fruit of our labors?

While our strategists play cunning war games for Great and Noble Causes, people scream in vain for restraint. Are we too cowardly to kill our enemies with our own hands but instead prefer slaughtering innocents with bombs? How can it be that the thought of these poor, little, broken bodies does not pierce through to our very hearts? Does it not make one pause and ask themselves if these calculated tactics cause more harm than good? Are we so proud of our high science that we must birth these machines of death that kill so many who do not deserve to die? Is there truly no other way? We struggle, vainly, to do righteous deeds, but instead our fingers bloody all we grasp. More children who will never stand-fast -- struck with awe at the glorious rise of the morning sun. Now, more mothers feed the cold hungry earth -- never again to feel the caress of their husbands or touch with tender care the cheeks of their babes. Another brother taken, another son lost. Try as we might, to bring peace, freedom, and prosperity, what cruel curse is it that causes us to trample underfoot very lives we seek to protect? Their blood stains our souls. Right now, as widows' cries echo through the night, Our American Dream is surly their unfathomable nightmare.

If this is the fruit of our labors, I'd rather starve."

Analyze it Kirk?

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
September 9, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

@ Mr. Forgerson

Thanks for the reply. I am looking forward to the additions you all are planning, it must be a rewarding experience to have such an impact on the diplomatic scene and the people interested in it.

@ Eric in New Mexico

That is certainly a daunting challenge, but I have no doubt that you are up to it -- you are a keen debater and have an impressive knowledge of world events. You are doubly prepared considering that you have already run the gauntlet once and have a good idea of the needed knowledge. Good luck!

John
|
Greece
September 9, 2008

John in Greece writes:

Dear Mr. McCormack,

http://video.state.gov/?fr_story=4f8abdb18f63cebc9aadae1abd72fe0ee5e11fed

I watch the briefings -- via internet -- from time to time and the experience is unique. Watching the Daily Briefings, I have learned many many things that I would not have learned even if I had studied for earning the best university degree in the world.

The new "scenery", lighting and atmosphere in the press room is also unique and according to my esthetic: Excellent!
After all, all of us like progress...

Of course, I know, that after this comment some "good will" contributors will start a "huge" debating concerning the "decoration".

Nevertheless, according to my opinion, it's PERFECT! It's NEW! It's UPDATED.

All of which make the room ALIVE!

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
September 10, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

@ John in Greece

A game, eh? That's very creative of you. You might be interested in knowing that intelligence agents play a similar game where each member of the team pretends to be a different country and, using the context of a recent event, each tries to maneuver their country into the best position. It hones their strategic thinking as well as the skill of seeing things from another person's (or country's) perspective.

Frankly, I doubt anyone on here gives 2-cents what my analysis is of anything, but I'll indulge you your game -- at least this one round.

First off, it must be noted that an analyst has already been prepped with information that the average citizen doesn't have, like the State's real desired outcome of a region and intel about leaders and such. Plus, they have a framework of operation. I don't know how an embassy or post operates, so I'm working at a deficit, but I'll give it a go.

Since it's important to judge any information received by the aims of the source we will start with the author. It's obvious that this person is one of those silly idealists who are too easily moved to emotion by the plight of others!

As to the content of this message, which seems to be a warning about the detrimental effects of using tactics that result in high civilian casualties, the first step would be to collect the relevant data.

First I would liaison with the Afghan government to get their death count and compare it to our death count. To take precautions I'd note where the discrepancies were highest and advise to send undercover investigators to those villages to ferret out any insurgent spies or agents.

Next I'd look at the HUMINT from my fellow political and public relations officers to get a pulse on the mood of the people. I would look at the American people to see how these deaths are affecting public support for the war. If either one tipped the scale so far it created an interference in operations, I'd advise a change of tactics and level of acceptable risk for our military.

Meanwhile, to mitigate the negative effects of such deaths, I'd start several programs. One, a small honor guard that help bury the dead and witness the funeral. Assuming that they are not run out of town, they could help ease the distraught with official apologies and take the brunt of guilt. (But it's also possible that it might be best to leave them alone while they bury their dead since it's such a private moment) Plus, they would pay the families of the deceased with goods like food, shoes, and blankets, things they could use immediately, plus some money.

Second, I would send the most capable officers to meet with each of the regional leaders and placate them. Using their psychological profiles, find the appropriate lever to persuade them of our greater good, and to get them to downplay these deaths, or at least not exaggerate them. Use these moments to sense what their level of continued support might be and find more about their specific desires.

Third, focus a reconstruction team to rebuild any houses and public works destroyed by the bombs. I would increase the general aid to hit villages and crank up the propaganda output. After houses, focus on high-profile infrastructures and paying the locals well for the labor they contribute. Idle hands do the devil's work, keep them busy and fed.

These are expensive options, especially in personnel, but probably less so than a prolonged war by the frequently replenished ranks of insurgents made up of angry surviving relatives. Ignore the hearts of the people and they will grow to hate you, as the saying goes.

Finally, if the people's discontent caused partnerships with the insurgents, I would send an advisory message to the DoD. Bombs sure are expedient and virtually risk free (for us), but there are some things more important than saving the skin of our soldiers from even a scratch. A possible solution would be to ring the villages with small groups around the roads and points of travel, move several camouflaged sniper teams in at night, wait until dawn, and begin plucking off identifiable targets. Put up an observation drone and track movements. Anyone fleeing the village can be ambushed by waiting troops and captured. If the main targets won't come out from their cover, pull the snipers back and wait for them to come peeking out. Rinse and repeat. At night, move in using flash and stun grenades. Riskier, but much less likely to kill random innocents.

Of course, if the DoS and DoD are sharing their information properly, the DoS clean-up team will already be ready to move in after each attack.

And that, John, is my fantasy riddled analysis. I'll stop here to save the general public any more agony. Is that what you had in mind? If not, how would you like to play it?

Perhaps you would like to pick an event and put your analytical skills to work?

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 10, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Kirk, thanks for the vote of confidence there, but I doubt if I'm FSO material, and I didn't stand a snowball's chance against global warming (or someplace hotter) of achieving the impossible.

When I consdider the fact that most of them spend most of their time implementing policy and dealing with nuts and bolts aspects of this rather than actually having the time to really sit and reflect on policy, analyze its worth, find creative alternatives to futher policy goals, and then instigate change from within the institutional structure of DoS, then I'm better off doing so as a private citizen then stuck in some cubicle in a consulate somewhere.

And probably more effective, having way too much time to think on my hands...(chuckle).

A guy's gotta know his limitations, and I'm always pushing the envelope....go figure.

How would I answer John in Greece's hypothetical cable?

I would remind the individual that Taliban have provided misinformation not just on civilians killed in prior circumstance like this, but have also tried to get coaltion troops to attack civilian targets with providing false "leads" on Taliban activity.

I would remind him/her that his time would be better spent doing one's job in seeing what the entire embassy team can do to offer assistance and mitigate the political fallout instead of cabling superiors with hotheaded characterization of policy and assuming facts surrounding the incident before an investigation is completed and facts are confirmed. Unless it was personally eyewitnessed, which isn't indicated in the "cable".

So I'd tell him/her to go confirm those facts personally -- on the ground -- and get back to me with the results of their research and interviews.

Because if they sent such a cable without facts to back it up to begin with, I'd make certain to explain that their personal credibility was on the line.

And lastly, advise him/her that if they did not feel they could carry out their assigned duties and oath of service in good faith, to then offer their immediate resignation and pack bags for the next flight home. As is their option.

Basicly I'd send him/her a "Get a grip" in reply.

I wouldn't be unkind or threatening about it, just very real in pointing out options. And the lack of analytical content of substance and worth in such a cable.

Not exactly "dry" analysis from a junior analyst if you see my point.

John
|
Greece
September 10, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Kirk in KY & Eric in NM

Thank you very much guys for your participation to this 1st and "unfortunately" last phase of "Diplomatic Compass -- The Brain Game" (Beta ver1/2008). Believe it or not, I did not know (Kirk) the existence of the intel game you referred to, but I had almost the same way of thinking, when I attempted to create the "Diplomatic Compass" concept in my brain.

As long as there is something similar, I will abandon "creations" and I will keep on playing my favorite -- according to my age -- game in http://future.state.gov/fun/.
(by the way, great idea guys in the future.state.gov)

Nevertheless, I still believe that SD should develop such a brain game based on true historical events of the American diplomacy and history, using almost the same format as the intel test you referred to Kirk. You can use a combination of diplomatic, intel and military tools that the player can select in order to achieve his goal, based on true choises of the history.

If strategically, future.state.gov uses this communication tactic (I mean a game format that actually informs and educates site visitors), why not develop it for adults also? Of course you guys at DoS know better. I just shared a rough idea in a few words. Please, excuse me if this comment perspective of mine is too much childish.
____________________________________________________________

And now, I think that we owe you Kirk the results of your one and LAST participation to this game.

Game Voice (I would suggest Pacino's)
Al's voice announces the result concerning Kirk's move:

Al to player1 (Kirk -- Junior Analyst):
"Sorry Kirk, but you used your own keyboard to write your own career's obituary".

On Sun Aug 24/2008, while you were working in Kabul, your computer in KY forwarded the text you were supposed to analyze during your game-role.
In fact, either you knew it while doing so, or not, we made YOU ANALYZE YOURSELF! And you characterized him:
"Since it's important to judge any information received by the aims of the source we will start with the author. It's obvious that this person is ONE OF THOSE SILLY IDEALISTS WHO ARE TOO EASILY MOVED TO EMOTION by the plight of others! Accidents happen, especially during wars. There is an opening in a NGO in Kentucky. Good luck with your new life."

Al to player2 (Eric -- Intel specialist):
"Forget the game" and feed the cat! You always forget the poor animal. We are watching everything for keeping you safe. Try to keep the poor pet safe too.

Who told you that we can reply to the author of the received text? The scope is to analyze the unknown author and have a final safe conclusion on "who he is". (My fault that I did not share with you players the rules -- however, there are no rules!)

And now Eric, back to real life, keep an eye on player1, while he's changing career. He is a left-wing idealist with a subconscious tendency to question and reject his initial views and thoughts. He is very high-educated and trained. He may become a trouble if he collaborates with the bad guys.

____________________________________________________________

P.S.: OF COURSE, I'M JOKING KIRK. THIS IS JUST A SILLY GAME-IDEA. I AM THE LAST ONE THAT WOULD HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE TO ANALYZE YOU AND ESPECIALLY ERIC.
I TRULY WISH YOU THE BEST CONCERNING A CAREER WITHIN DoS. START FILLING UP APPLICATIONS AND -- GOOD LUCK!

Fred
|
Kansas, USA
September 10, 2008

Fred in Kansas writes:

Nice blog and I like the informative and interesting comments left by people.

I guess trying to be a FSO is next to impossible? I have taken the test three times, well, gearing up for the fourth time.

FSO is what I really want, is there something about the same but not as, lets say, competitive? Or something that has more of a personal application process other than a test?

I applied for an STS position and got a conditional offer of employment, but medical issues disqualified me. I was thinking of applying again but I really do not want to be in that line of work. But I really want to work for the State Department. Currently I am a junior in college majoring in political science, so I hope to be able to open some more doors for me to get into the State Department.

But if anyone has any suggestions or tips for me to gain a career with the State Department, I would be more than happy to have them as it is really something I want to do in my life.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 11, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Ah John....If a cable was sent, it implies one knows the source, and that a reply is possible and actually requested, as there were questions asked by the "junior analyst".

So I sinply played the game according to the parameters I was given to understand from the imput received.

In any case, the cat eats better than I do....(LOL!)

--------

@ Fred in Kansas,

Don't be intimidated by the odds, and please don't let my personal reflections on the process disuade you in any way.

Foreign experiance such as a stint in the Peace Corps, or other NGO oversees work is valuable experience to put on a resume.

As to health, I wouldn't qualify for world wide service, looking at the end of my third career in life due to a ripped rotator cuff and imminent surgury. Blessed by adversity I guess....(chuckle).

But that's not stopping me from trying to apply for an analyst position w/ DoS.

If you think you have something useful to bring to the table, go for it!

John
|
Greece
September 12, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico

I think we should stop this game concept before we make them all bored of this, although... I still see some interest in its concept.
Maybe I will reconsider its creation. (joking -- very tough, it needs a complicated group of "brain stormers"). The problem concerning the creation is that -- as Kirk very correctly says -- you need to know?

"First off, it must be noted that an analyst has already been prepped with information that the average citizen doesn't have, like the State's real desired outcome of a region and intel about leaders and such. Plus, they have a framework of operation. I don't know how an embassy or post operates, so I'm working at a deficit, but I'll give it a go."

+ (plus) plenty of other things: how intel or military works and how can you have all these co-operate (collaborate) for the same scope, in order to make the analysis for the creation of such an electronic game, in order for the programmers to be able to "write" the code.

- All of which I do not know my dear Eric.

- All of which, however, (now this is Al's voice again) describes:
How difficult it is for the U.S. to operate such a huge global "operation" in real time and not a game!!!

Concerning the "cable":
I already told you, it's my "fault" that I did not give you the exact parameters of the game, but:

Al to player2 (Eric -- Intel specialist):
"Regularly, we don not respond to objections concerning the in-depth status of the "game without the rules". However, in your case, we will make an exception due to your proven patriotic strength and of course, because we still believe that you still forget to feed the poor pet. (reminder!&...chuckle)

You know that nowadays, there are no cable-grams. All communications is Sat and Crypto. So, you should know that when we wrote that "you receive a cable on the dock of the bay in Kabul", of course the cable was from our central facilities (somewhere - we cannot tell you the exact location) and the "receiver" (Kirk) knew that the source was safe. It was not a letter, it was a cable. Have you seen many theoretic-terrorists (new word-term) "cabling" texts through our crypto procedure? They cannot even reach the AC-plug in (I hope).

So, you should have understood -- you players -- that the cable was obviously official due to analysis. Actually, our comparative literature office in Pakistan found this text in a local Muslim newspaper. The "editors" told "us" that they "found" it over the internet and they re-publish it.

Although the text was published in a newspaper in Pakistan, senior literature analysts suggested that probably the text was written from someone in Kabul (although English, they found two words that are part of an Afghanistan perspective of thinking).

So, knowing that often -- as Sean stated in the morning brief two or three days ago -- many things that happen in Pakistan affect Afghanistan and vise versa we send the cable to Kirk in order to analyze the writer.

Unfortunately for him, it was him.

Al to John in Greece ():
Quit the game concept, you are not EA. Try something else!

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
September 12, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

@ John in Greece

That was an interesting idea, with a little bit of development you may have a fun little game. The Army's Special Forces (or maybe the Navy Seals) has an on-line game where they describe a scenario and you have to pick the best response from a list. Afterwards they evaluate your choices and tell you the best option. You could try something like that.

Of course I recogonized my own writing and threw in a little self depreciating humor. I think everybody needs to have a laugh at themselves.

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
September 12, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

@ Fred in Kansas

I've been told that world experience is a valuable addition to your portfolio. If you have the funds, try a little travel abroad after you finish your schooling. Also, while foreign languages aren't a prerequisite, it may give you an edge over other applicants.

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
September 12, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

While some people, when they hear of villagers dying in bomb attacks, may sigh and say "Well, that's war for you" or worst yet, automatically assign those villagers to terrorist supporters to ease their guilt, it disturbs me when what we are doing abroad runs contrary to our own advice and established doctrine. The DoD may be a better place to lodge these protests, but the DoS is intricately connected and can speak for government. Between Afghanis reporting that they are more afraid of their own corrupt police than the insurgents, to an infrastructure that still has not solidified, and the killing of innocents by our own government, it's obvious things are not proceeding the way they should. Just so people don't think I'm off my rocker about this, here are some selected quotes from our own military personnel from the paper "Principals, Imperatives, and Paradoxes, of Counterinsurgency."

The authors:
Eliot Cohen, John Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies
Lt. Col. Conrad Crane, U.S. Army, retired
Lt. Col. Jan Horvath, U.S. Army
Lt. Col. John Nagl, U.S. Army

"Legitimacy as the main objective. A legitimate government derives its just powers from the governed and competently manages collective security and political, economic, and social development. Legitimate governments are inherently stable. They engender the popular support required to manage internal problems, change, and conflict. Illegitimate governments are inherently unstable. Misguided, corrupt, and incompetent governance inevitable fosters instability.""Political primacy. While all the elements of national power have a role in successful counterinsurgency, political objectives must be planned and executed with consideration of their contribution toward strengthening the host government's legitimacy and achieving the U.S. Government's political goals. The political and military aspects of an insurgency are usually so bound together as to be inseparable, and most insurgents recognize this fact. In counterinsurgencies, military actions conducted without proper analysis of their political effects will at best be ineffective and at worst aid the enemy.""Isolating insurgents from their cause and support. Cutting an insurgency off to die on the vine is easier than it is to kill every insurgent. Dynamic insurgencies regenerate quickly, so a skillful counterinsurgent must cut off the sources of that recuperative power. Ideological support can be sundered by redressing the grievances that fuel the insurgency."

(Why are we spending thousands of dollars on launching a missile into somebody's house to kill one guy, when the path to victory lies in a different arena entirely, such starving the roots of insurgency?)

"Security under the rule of law. The cornerstone of any COIN effort is security for the populace. Without security, no permanent reforms can be implemented, and disorder will spread. To establish legitimacy, security activities must move from the realm of major combat operations into the realm of law enforcement. If they are dealt with by an established legal system in line with local culture and practices, the legitimacy of the host government will be enhanced."

(Note these next four)

"Use measured force. Any use of force generates a series of reactions, so, it is best to use the minimum possible force in resolving any situation. At times, an overwhelming effort is necessary to intimidate an opponent or reassure the populace, but the amount of force and who wields it should be carefully calculated. Mounting an operation that kills 5 insurgents is futile if collateral damage leads to the recruitment of 50 more. Often it is better that police handle urban raids, even if they are not as well-armed or as capable as military units, because the populace is likely to view that application of force as more legitimate. Also, a local police force reinforces the rule of law.""The more you protect your force, the less secure you are. The counterinsurgent gains ultimate success by protecting the populace, not himself.""The more force you use, the less effective you are. Any use of force produces many effects, not all of which can be foreseen. The more force applied, the greater the chance of collateral damage and mistakes. Enemy propaganda will portray kinetic military activities as brutal. Restraint of force also strengthens the rule of law the counterinsurgent is trying to establish.""The best weapons for counterinsurgency do not fire bullets. Counterinsurgents achieve the most meaningful success by gaining popular support and legitimacy for the host government, not by killing insurgents. Security is important in setting the stage for other kinds of progress, but lasting victory will come from a vibrant economy, political participation, and restored hope. Dollars and ballots will have a more important effect than bombs and bullets, information is even more powerful when correctly wielded."

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
September 12, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

At the risk of spamming the board, I'll post one more item and then let my keyboard cool off a while.

@ John in Greece

All right, John, now I have a little game for you. I'll give you a scenario and you can tell me what actions you'll take to resolve it. Ready?

You are Greece's senior diplomat at the embassy in Kobudabi, a fictional tropical island country. You have a small five person staff plus some locals hired for the office.

You are enjoying a sunny afternoon when an informant bursts into your office with an urgent message: the President of Kobudabi has just resigned unexpectedly! Citing the tremendous difficulty in getting any legislation passed due to the opposition party's recent rise in power, he has packed his bags and left office. Several loyal followers, some who were your contacts in the government, have also resigned.

Furthermore, he has named an obscure party member to be his successor in the interim government. You have very little information on this person or his intentions.

The parliament is in chaos and most parties are demanding snap elections.

To make things trickier, there were several items awaiting the President's approval on his desk before he quit, the most pressing: a trade agreement to encourage Kobudabi's coconut exports to Greek (Grecian?) markets.

And to top it off, the opposition party, which has the most local support and would probably win any up-coming election, has taken a decidedly chilly stance towards Greece.

The phone rings, it's the local newspaper, and they want to know what your country has to say about this unexpected turn of events.

Leaders back in Athens want to know what's going on and your junior officers are looking to you for the next step.

What do you do?

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 12, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

It's pretty simple Kirk, military force is an essential leg of the stool, just as nation building and economic investment lead to security.

One cannot exist effectively in an insurgent environment without the other two.

Ultimately, your going to have to go in and eliminate the bad guys who are terrorizing the population. the fact that they hide among civilians is a deliberate tactic to make it harder for a nation that values human life to root them out.

Once the population understands that then they turn against the terrorists that bring trouble to their door. For it is they that are being "targeted".

Such was the case in Anbar with the "awakening".

On your little scenario....

A) Verify the information from the informanyt through existing contacts.

B) No detailed press statement untill facts are known. Express support for peaceful transition, rule of law and as being an Internal matter of the government, not US policy to determine the results.

C) Unlikely that there would not exist some contact w/opposition party already to know that they oppose the trade agreement so make inqueries.

d) After assesing all parties interests and intent, with respect to the nation's political future and its impact on trade, then offer a public assesment as to possible future trade agreement being sucessfully negotiated.

It may be that the opposition to the trade agreement was political, not practical in nature. The ruling party being for it, and the opposition against. Reasses the opposition's points of contention, and find answers that will satisfy their concerns.

Above all, encorage the parties to resolve things peacefully and do no harm to bilateral relations out of their partisan crisis.

The opposition may need some incentive to trust, after noting our support for the former governing party. So find out from them what the people need to see from Greece to better the relations among nations. Could be as simple as building a wastewater treatment plant to deal with sewage in the streets.

I'm sure there's other aspects I haven't addressed that would be by the Ambassador, but this is running kind of long so I'll stop now.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 12, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

(chuckle)....John, I'd still send the "Get a grip" in reply, without changing a thing...only I'd make sure it got published in the same Pak newspaper...(LOL)!

Checkmate.

Speaking of spamming....I get these emails from bogus members of US armed forces asking for me to stash away millions in stolen Iraqi loot.

Total scam, and attempted political manipulation.

It wuld be nice if US gov IT guys could trace these to their source and arange a meet up with real US soldiers.

John
|
Greece
September 12, 2008

John in Greece writes:

"I remember one end game where he had only his king left, and so did I, + a knight and a rook. I checkmated him, but there was an N under his king , so he survived with a stalemate, not able to move. And another where he wiped me out taking his own king and mine. Another "draw".

John
|
Greece
September 14, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Kirk in Kentucky

Money makes the world go around!

Back to your game:

Buy some time, No Press comments at all at this time (this is the only point I disagree with Eric), do not interfere with local politics and create new contacts using the official diplomatic way.

Anyway, according to your scenario, you are the one that wants to "buy". So, you have the money, you are the strongest.

Wait!

Saint Senior (chuckle)

mathew
|
Malaysia
September 14, 2008

Mathew in Malaysia writes:

please step into the bad situation which is going on in malaysia. humanrights abuses going on daily.prominent opposition members,bloggers and journalists are being detained with absurd reasons DAILY! all supposed to be a theart to the country. any dissent to the present goverment are considered a theart to the country. please help before it too late.

John
|
Greece
September 18, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Kirk in Kentucky

Eric's reply to your comment on "personal attacks" covered my thesis too, more than absolutely.
However, if you want my views concerning "personal attacks" I would first suggest us to change "channel" and go to the "welcome" section of our Blog. (That's why I am answering from here, as long as this debatable issue -- personal attacks -- has nothing to do with the topic U.S.-Russia).

Nevertheless I see that Z creates many funs of his "Utopia School of Change", on the ground that, on purpose or not, you did it too! We now discuss for something else, very different than the initial topic or the PROOFS that Eric offered to our debate,
(http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/world/2008/09/20080916_Georgia...) concerning the Russian invasion to Georgia, without attacking anyone personally, but using the "art of evidence" and descent, scientific procedures of participation in such a high-class Blog.

So, tomorrow (my day light local time) I will post my views concerning (Personal Attacks) and if you wish we can have a little debate, or at least you will have a chance to have my thesis concerning this term. However, we will do it "on subject", that is the "welcome" section.

Until then I suggest all visitors to read all the U.S.-Russia posts. It's obviously becoming very interesting!

John
|
Greece
September 19, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Kirk in Kentucky

What is a "personal attack"? Where it begins and where it becomes politics or debating technique without being a "personal attack"?

According to Dipnote rules, if a forwarded text contains "personal attacks" it's not posted. All of which is very fair and vital for keeping a high-class Blog atmosphere!

So, (I will talk only for myself) my previous posts referring to Zharkov's posts automatically are not "personal attacks" as long as they were posted. Otherwise Dipnote moderators would have banned their posting.

Obviously, they also understand how sensitive is the term "personal attacks" and its boundaries. Where it begins, ends and where it becomes politics that is debate or debate that is politics?

However, if you are interested in a more theoretical perspective, according to my interpretation of the term, it is extremely difficult to characterize something "personal attack", unless it's obvious personal. What is an obvious "personal attack"? If you call names, for example, or you attack the other debater's origins, religion etc, in order to insult him. If I had called Zharkov a stupid guy, or an idiot, then automatically it's a "personal attack".

But you cannot easily have a "personal attack", the way we use the term in our everyday life, especially during an internet debate, since you do not know the other debater. If you do not have a more personal view of the other person, how can you attack him due to personal reasons? So, the so-called "attack" is only debate that is "politics.

You may wonder why I call the "debate" politics and the "politics" debate. In our case, thousands of people "read" our debate and consciously or unconsciously receive political messages. So, it is politics after all.

In other words, when me and Eric attack Zharkov's arguments we only debate: we attempt to make our thesis stronger and "destroy" his. We do not attack Zharkov for being Zharkov. We attack his thesis in a political way and not personal.

When I do not "allow" him (Eric's suggestion) to change subjects, I do it on purpose (it's a debating technique) in order for me to "develop" the specific dialogue even more and reach the argumentation level where my political thesis becomes the "winning" one. This is not bad. This is debate! A debate, besides exchanging views, has a winner and a "looser".

This is the point I disagree with you. A glass of "political water" is either full or empty. There is a no "half". Either Russia invaded Georgia, or Georgia invaded Russia.

According to my interpretation of the evidences, Russia invaded Georgia? and this is certainly a "serious" attack!

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
September 20, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

@ John in Greece

I accept your points and theory as sound and well reasoned.

I made my response, perhaps a bit hastily, out of a concern that the blog would descend into the kind of mud-slinging you see on other sites and which this blog has been a nice refuge from. But you have reminded me that if a comment was truly without some merit, it would be screened out by the moderators. Sometimes I forget that cornering some one with a well constructed argument and making them squirm is part of the fun!

John
|
Greece
September 21, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Kirk in Kentucky

No matter if I am correct, or YOU are correct, here is the exact point that you are absolutely right, concerning what (I suppose?) you initially wanted to say:
When we talk inhere, we are all "creative", "free" and "open minded", After all, we are here in DipNote!

At least, through our interesting dialogue, I believe we made some positive steps; a healthy discussion with only one scope from both "sides": to keep high-standards concerning the Blog we both love, exchanging views.

Thank you very much for your reply. I really look forward to read more of your posts.

And why not? To debate more in the future? This is healthy!

Susan
|
Florida, USA
September 23, 2008

Susan in Florida writes:

I agree with Kirk in Kentucky and think this blogsite was created for discussions, for the exchanging of ideas, and perhaps, to have some input into our national diplomatic policies, if that is not too presumptuous on my part. To exchange ideas and opinions is a good thing and I appreciate the DoS for creating this site so that we can do just that. I have been visiting this site for sometime now, just reading the different comments but not commenting myself, until recently. This is my conclusion -- no one individual "owns" this blogsite. It is not a place to have "debate games" or to attack others in a sarcastic or demeaning manner. I believe that all comments have merit, whether you agree with them or not. This site should not become a place where only a few bloggers feel comfortable to comment. It must not become a game of putting others down because of their opinions. Remember, openmindedness is essential to learning.

John
|
Greece
September 23, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Susan in Florida

Thanks a lot Suzan. As long as you agree with Kirk, but Kirk agrees with me, it's like you agree with me too.

1. So, according to my post (Welcome Sep19 and Eric's reply Sep20), you agree that many topics "begin" with (as) posts, but on the way they become a "debate". Don't you? Otherwise, how can we "evaluate" (judge the argumentation value) someone's post concerning "US-Russia Relations", for example, if we have not concluded, whether Russia invaded Georgia or Georgia invaded Russia.

2. You write: "I believe that all comments have merit, whether you agree with them or not. This site should not become a place where only a few bloggers feel comfortable to comment". I totally agree with you. However, all comments that have merit, whether we agree with them or not should be "ready" for criticism as long as they are posted in a public forum. Bloggers who do not feel comfortable to comment is due to their luck of argumentation. I do not see any Blog signs writing "John ONLY" or "Susan Only" etc.

3. Concerning the "sarcastic or demeaning manner" you are referring to, if you mean my last "basketball" post I would like to inform you that this was an extremely political approach (Zharkov used 2 statements, but Eric replied him with 3 -- a 3shot). I just used some "jargon" in order to help the discussion climate and make it more "comfortable". I could do it the "straight" way by simply saying: "Z I feel you owe an answer to Eric's arguments", but I really cannot understand why this approach would make the Blog more interesting or popular?

Susan
|
Florida, USA
September 23, 2008

Susan in Florida writes:

@ John in Greece --

I do not believe that disagreeing with someone is "demeaning". But when the only intent is to totally negate another's opinion or thoughts on a subject, then I think it is wrong. They have a right to their opinion, as do you. I guess it goes back to that old saying, "it's not what you say, but how you say it". For me, a disagreement can be done with graciousness. My comments were made as a general statement, as I would not like to see this site become just an on-going argument. It was my observation that it might be headed in that direction. I appreciate your comments, always.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 23, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Susan,

When someone consistantly posts misinformation as "fact" knowing that to do so is false and misleading, this no longer constitutes "opinion" and thus it becomes fair game to question the intent of the author.

Nor does it constitute a personal "attack" , because it is the message and the source that are in put in question, by the statements they made.

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
September 27, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

Answers to FAQs about "Getting the People Part Right: A Report on the Human Resources Dimension of U.S. Public Diplomacy"

http://www.state.gov/r/adcompd/rls/110243.htm

Chairman Mr. Hybl answers questions regarding the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy testimony.

What surprised me was his statement that public affairs officers are used more in administrative duties and less in actual public relations.

So my question to the Dipnote readers is this:

How would you conduct a program to engage a foreign audience?

If you wanted to convince a foreign people of the correctness ofthe U.S. position or draw attention to a program, how would you do it? Brainstorm the most creative thoughts on this matter and fire away! I have a response ready, but I'd like to hear from you first.

Dipnote Editors: Since you are on the technological front, this blog being the cutting edge of public diplomacy, feel free to offer your perspective. Also, can you highlight some programs the DoS is currently using to "get the word out"?

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
September 27, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

@ Susan in Florida

Well said! I've been reading your posts and am looking forward to your future contributions.

@ Eric in New Mexico & John in Greece

You both have well reasoned points. To establish the facts is an essential part of deciding the next step. And there is nothing wrong with disputing those facts with more accurate information (especially if you suspect some one may be distorting the truth on purpose, eh?)

Regarding our little island diplomacy role playing game, I have to admit that Eric nailed it on the head, there's not a single thing I'd do differently. It was so similar that I was a bit surprised (though the steps may have been obvious, in retrospect) I think it would be neat to compile a booklet of historic diplomatic crises as a "what would you do?" game, in the back of the booklet you could put the actual actions taken for each crises.

John
|
Greece
September 27, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Kirk in Kentucky

Here is the "added value" packaging product label, concerning the "Little island diplomacy role playing game", when it makes it to the "multimedia stores":

"Intel Inside"!

P.S. Dear Kirk, before you proceed with the production of your game or any career you may follow, I would suggest you to remember this: No intel -- Game Over!

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
October 5, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

"Russia finds unlikely ally in Ukraine's Tymoshenko"

http://www.reuters.com/article/reutersEdge/idUSTRE4940GP20081005?pageNum...

Now that's something to think about.

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