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

Hannah
|
Texas, USA
October 22, 2007

Hannah in Texas writes:

I'm very excited that our government has decided to create this site. I'm sure everyone else has discovered this way before I have, but I think this was a very smart move made by the state. Thanks!

Kris
|
New Jersey, USA
October 23, 2007

Kris in New Jersey writes:

The blog idea is a good attempt at breaching the gap between government and the people.

But the name is a poor choice despite your use of it in the circle you inhabit. You must realize this by now.

The grey text on black is unbelievably hard to decipher. I tried to read through parts of the site and became very frustrated. Being a Mac user I can invert the colors on my screen which helps, but the text is still a dark grey against a lighter grey. That makes it more legible but the contrast needs to be improved. I will probably not visit often unless you change the color scheme. Good old black on white is best for the text area. Your attempt to be hip with the black scheme only works on teenage gaming sites. Besides, the name just destroys any 'coolness' you may have desired.

Also, in the comment section it would be helpful if your replies were of a different shade so it is more obvious who is 'speaking'. Or make your names a different color so they are easily set apart.

Good luck.

Martin G.
|
California, USA
October 24, 2007

Martin in California writes:

Is Condolezza Rice going to ask that all military operations are videotaped, as she did with Blackwater, in order to be able to respond accurately to accusations of civilian killings?

Vaughn
|
California, USA
October 26, 2007

Vaughn in California writes:

Regarding THE HILL interview of U.S. Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs Kristen Silverberg, by spokesman Sean McCormack on 5/14/07 Policy Podcast: U.S.- UN Relations, the interview portion referring to PEPFAR wasn't an interview at all, but Kristen's PR/misinformation campaign for the Whitehouse to mislead skeptics and to boast with her policy input niceties, misstate the program's horrid fraud failure with incorrect praise of success.

Wouldn't addressing the Randall Tobias 10.7M USD grant to CEO Ron Sugar/Northrop be also the logical next step; see: Bruenn v. Northrop Grumman - Corruption Gone Wild?

Great success, at the time of mentioned misinformation interview, Tobias was being fired, DC madam scandal and fraud cover-up, what makes PEPFAR a success (where's the support data) when Tobias/Sugar swindled massive AIDS set-aside funds via numerous USAID fraudulent contract awards and grants, violating agency?s own mission statement, all the while the OIG casting a blind eye. Associated fraud totaled in the billions of USD, why not a word mentioned regarding?

Why has USAID not awarded any additional PEPFAR supply chain contracts or grants to CEO Ron Sugar/Northrop since the abrupt May '07 Tobias's departure?

http://www.state.gov/p/io/rls/85044.htm

Benjamin C.
|
South Carolina, USA
October 26, 2007

Benjamin in South Carolina writes:

Well, this has been a long time coming. I would like to commend the State Dept for embracing public diplomacy. This is the first time that I know of that State has facilitated not just a Government-to-public exchange but also a public-to-public exchange that will be (and all ready has been) created out of this forum.

There is much more that could be done! Where is your prominent link exchange with Global Voices Online? (It should be on your front page!) Where are your guest bloggers from areas of interest? I understand that this is a new process. I understand that there is a learning curve (i.e. the snafu with the name), but there is also much catching up to do.

First we have to change the State Department definition of "Public Diplomacy" to something more like the USC Center for PD. This includes both active and passive exchanges. It includes public-to-public dialog. State sadly only works from the government-to-public side when it could play a facilitating role for public-to-public by using this as a forum for dissidents and bloggers in censor and harassment prone areas. Perhaps this will be a natural progression!

Once again, congrats on this step towards fuller engagement in true PUBLIC Diplomacy.

Benjamin Cook

http://arenablog.blogspot.com
http://arenablog.blogspot.com/2007/09/something-to-say-and-somewhere-to-...

John
|
Oklahoma, USA
October 29, 2007

John in Oklahoma writes:

With all of the problems with Mattel and other recalls from China has everyone forgotten the fact that we are still at war with China (since there has never been a formal end to the Korean war) and companies that are doing business in China are consorting with and are providing aid and comfort to the enemy! I would like to know why thay have not been charged with treason? Instead they are allowed to pad their profits by moving their companies and labor there? I heard a Quote today "China is the Dragon that America keeps feeding that will one day come around and bite Us" and with over 1 trillion U.S. dollars in its banks their army and navy is only going to get bigger China is the 800lbs Gorilla in the room that no body want to talk about.

RANDY
|
United States
October 29, 2007

Randy in U.S.A. writes:

Given; All wars throughout history have been about the  aquisition of real estate or resources.   Question; How many of our youngest and finest does it take to equal a barrel of oil?

RICHARD
|
Nevada, USA
October 29, 2007

Richard in Nevada writes:

The U.S.A. has just sanctioned nuclear power in Egypt.

Why, when they have proximity to ocean tides on their coastline which would allow non-polluting, non-threatening energy. Nuclear power creates nuclear waste. Ocean enrgy does not create nuclear waste nor the basic materials for weapons. why don't we pursue and help our allies to pursue tidal and wave energy?

Victor
|
Michigan, USA
October 29, 2007

Victor in Michigan writes:

Thank you.

Michael
|
West Virginia, USA
October 29, 2007

Michael writes:

Any attempt at meaningful discussion about the salient realities of so called, "US Foreign Policy", without a firm grasp of CIA and black-ops actions, (for 50 plus years, worldwide), would consist mostly of pretty concepts and euphemisms galore. Oh, and boatloads of denial.

What the State Department is unable to achieve for U.S. business interests in the public arena, the thugs from the CIA have done far from public scrutiny or effective oversight for well over 50 years.
Michael writes:

And the suddenly, the nearly unrecognizable country, (and world), in which we now live has been directly shaped by these events.

In what is largely recognized as the seminal event in current US/middle eastern relations, (i.e. the 911 attacks then the massive, well planned conspiracy of lies leading to Iraq, soon to extend, (by the same incredible ineptitude and allegations by the same band of marauders)), into Iran, the United States CIA organized the toppling of Iran's democratically elected president, Mohammad Mosaddeq in 1953, when he revealed his intentions to share the country's oil wealth with common Iranian citizens. The US choice as his successor was Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who, with his "Savak", an immense state police force trained by the CIA, employed brutality, rape, kidnapping and murder to insure and maintain the Shah's dictatorship for the next 26 years. Upon his overthrow by Islamic fundamentalist's in 1979, the US Embassy in Tehran, (in fact, only now admitted to be the CIA overlords of the Shah), was stormed by college students, resulting in the 'Iran hostage crisis'.

If you are of the mindset that the militarily and economically superior United States has a right, moral or otherwise, to directly intervene in the internal affairs of nations not able to prevent it, staffing and funding a so called "State Department" or overly complicating a "foreign policy" above "The U.S. will get what it wants, or bad things will happen to you" seems, well, silly.

If you suspect exaggerations or hyperbole try:
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=13372
And/or:
http://www.apfn.org/THEWINDS/arc_features/government/cia6-97.html

Google the CIA and Australia. The CIA and Greece, The CIA and El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Chile, Indonesia, Poland, Korea or Vietnam. Those would all be nice starting places if truth and national identity are important to you.

I refuse to live a lie. My loyalty and patriotism are not unconditional. And what now resembles a dictatorship, my love of country has become a genuine fear of my government.

If you somehow doubt that the horrible attacks of 911 weren't a result and retaliation to past atrocities of the CIA and their black-ops, a blind, unquestioning U.S. support of Israeli and a massive campaign of deception and manufactured consent for military actions in the middle east, you are just not paying attention.

Janice
|
Arkansas, USA
October 29, 2007

Janice in Arkansas writes:

I appreciate your giving this format a try. I hope the voices speaking to you through this blog will be read thoughtfully and considered of value. Meanwhile, I'd deeply appreciate a more readable screen--larger print, greater contrast. Alas, but not all of us have the strong, perfect eyesight of a twenty-year-old--and some never do/did have it!

Michael
|
West Virginia, USA
October 30, 2007

Michael writes:

I must admit, my skepticism had the best of me and because my sharply worded post didn't appear for several hours, I was convinced that the new blog regarding the State Department was going to be highly filtered, mostly censored and mainly fluff.

And lo and behold, my post appeared. Complete with all the uncomfortable truths.

I commend you folks and hope that this new venue can lead to positive and compelling discussions about what is really going wrong.

Niya
|
Bulgaria
October 30, 2007

Niya writes:

Can you please change the color of the background. Black is terribly depressing and those small white letters on this lavishly black background is extremely hard to read.

Zharkov
October 30, 2007

Zharkov writes:

Do you want public dialog? How about explaining this to the public?

Potential prosecution of Blackwater guards allegedly involved in the shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians last month may have been compromised because the guards received immunity for statements they made to State Department officials investigating the incident, federal law enforcement officials said yesterday.

FBI agents called in to take over the State Department's investigation two weeks after the Sept. 16 shootings CANNOT USE ANY INFORMATION gleaned during questioning of the guards by the department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which is charged with supervising security contractors.

Diplomatic Security spokesman Brian Leventhal declined to comment on the situation, first reported yesterday by the Associated Press. Anne Tyrrell, a spokeswoman for North Carolina-based Blackwater Worldwide, also declined to comment.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack referred all questions to the Justice Department. "But if anyone has broken the rules or applicable laws, they should be held to account," McCormack said.

Several of the Blackwater personnel, however, asserted that they had already told their stories, under immunity grants from the State Department, and declined FBI interviews that could be used against them, law enforcement officials said.

Administration officials have said that the Christmas Eve case has languished because of the legal uncertainties.

But in congressional testimony last week, Rice said that the holdup was "not the absence of law . . . it's a question of evidence."

David
|
Florida, USA
October 30, 2007

David in Florida writes:

Thanks for setting this up. I think its a great idea and its great that we have a place to interact with the government and each other.

Ronald
|
New York, USA
October 30, 2007

Ronald in New York writes:

Thanks for the Dipnote blog. Direct access to State is wonderfully refreshing, and I have already blogged on each of your topics. One area I feel strongly about
is U.S. support for UN, particularly the Conventions on Corruption and the provision for restoration of stolen assets. So many global problems are caused and fueled by corruption, and there is over 1 trillion being taken from the world's licit economy. Think of the possibilities if we take the lead.

henry
|
District Of Columbia, USA
October 31, 2007

Henry in Washington writes:

dipnote is a great idea...kill the black background...too hard to read...

Minna
|
New Jersey, USA
November 1, 2007

Minna in New Jersey writes:

This web site seems interesting to me. thank you for providing information.

Darrin S.
|
District Of Columbia, USA
November 1, 2007

Darrin in Washington DC writes:

A good start on a blog. As for my feedback:

-The U.S. has a diversity of citizens. Foreign Service employees, who are very hardworking and motivated, do not necessarily reflect that diversity. Please do more to hire FS candidates with cross cultural communication skills and who have actually lived in those countries for some time. Focus on outreach to communities in the U.S. that have the background and the skills to articulate American ideals and perspectives.

-Work with the UN to ensure they have more accountability at all levels of their organization.

Good luck to Karen Hughes' replacement.

John
|
Virginia, USA
November 2, 2007

John in Virginia writes:

I am writing to comment on an NPR news commentary this afternoon (11/1//07) about a State Dept staff meeting today in which several employees of the Department objected to being directed to staff the embassy in Baghdad as opposed to volunteering. This, even though (i) in their employment agreements they agreed to this, and (ii) State employees in Baghdad are protected by a private security contractor which has been in the news for using excessive force to protect them, which some in the Department have criticized, but which has protected the fannies of said State employees.

The State Dept employees' union shop steward objected to this decision by the top Decision Makers, according to the NPR commentary.

Some thoughts by a member of the private sector:

1. Like every other person who signs any employment agreement, you have to either live with it or resign. Deal with it: You can get yourself shot in any other country you are assigned to, i.e., Tanzania in the Clinton years. And the odds are higher in D.C. than in many other foreign capitals.

2. Some of the comments reported on NPR made the speakers appear to be really out of touch with (i) realities on the ground in Iraq, (ii) real life outside of the International Studies curricula at Yale and Stanford, and (iii) real life in the U.S. of A.

3. If the State Department really has to hire unionized employees, hire the Steel Workers and the Teamsters.

This is being sent to this site, because the State Department website does not invite citizen comment elsewhere, except to say, "Cool!" about Department employee commentaries.

Ralph K.
|
Maryland, USA
November 2, 2007

Ralph in Maryland writes:

United Nations to the Rescue

Some would say better late than never that the UN Security Council voted unanimously August 10 to broaden the role of the United Nations in seeking an end to sectarian violence in Iraq and to promote peace talks on national, regional, and international levels. US efforts to rebuild infrastructure damaged by the Iraq War has been hampered by insurgent attacks both upon the US military and Iraqi civilians. According to recent news reports, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador to the UN, sought to allay concerns that the Bush administration was seeking to saddle the UN with responsibility for Iraq. He assured the UN that the US will do its part.

Others would say, however, that it is already too late to reverse the destruction, deaths, and resentments that were incurred, following the US military invasion of Iraq. Present day military actions involve shock and awe bombing, search and destroy intrusions, torture of suspected insurgents, and their detention without criminal charges. The United States has occupied Iraq now over 4 years, and has built a multitude of military bases and airfields throughout Iraq. Many Iraqi citizens view this perhaps as putting the fox in charge of the raided chicken coup. Was it a mistake to use military force? How do we honor what was asked of the military to resolve what was really a political issue?

The US military invaded Iraq under the pretense that it harbored nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration became impatient with the UN inspection for these weapons and saw fit, whether deviously or incompetently, to invade Iraq. Many believe this was in violation of international law, to which the US is bound under its Constitution. Later, it became evident that Iraq indeed did not have weapons of mass destruction. The invasion brought death and destruction throughout Iraq. Many places in Iraq are still without water, sewage, and electricity. Many Iraqi citizens have been disrupted from their neighborhoods and have sought refuge elsewhere. Who should be accountable for these assaults? How do they differ from crimes against humanity? Many of us have heretofore looked upon the United States as being a champion of human rights. Is the United States losing its esteem around the world?

The toppling of Saddam Hussein is said to be the reward for the US invasion of Iraq. He was generally accepted to have been a cruel despot that committed crimes against humanity. Surely most of the chaos, death, and destruction could have been avoided if the UN Security Council would have brought criminal charges against him in a special criminal court. Now the International Criminal Court exists to handle such cases, but the Bush Administration had rejected the US involvement in this institution. Submitting such cases to a court honors our sense of separation of powers. The US founding fathers believed that legislative, executive, and judicial duties could not be entrusted to the same body. Acts of war ignore the separation of powers because the enemy is often perceived without due process of law.

Michael M.
|
West Virginia, USA
November 3, 2007

Michael in West Virginia writes:

Let's be realistic, and apply a clear, unbiased grasp of un sanitized U.S. history. The term "U.S. Diplomacy", without fail, is the euphemism for the public's perception that the U.S. is a civilized country, valuing human rights, self determinism and democracy. The reality is, and history clearly and repeatedly reveals, that the U.S. values none of these in actual practice. The true way that the U.S. exerts its influence on other nations is through the well funded, covert efforts of our CIA and the various black-ops tentacles at its disposal. Thwarting any seeds of democratic reform, (1) carrying out vigorous. propaganda campaigns,(2) the crushing of labor unions,(3) and overthrowing legitimate governments, (4), the CIA is the epitome of secretive, under-handed government power, applied often with stunning brutality, free of effective oversight and far from the knowledge of the U.S. public. In pursuit of U.S. economic and strategic interests for 60 years, worldwide, (once the hype, hyperbole and propaganda is stripped away), the U.S. is clearly and demonstrably the leading terrorist nation in the world. Patriotism is a grand tool protecting a house of cards based on a grand lie. Indifference, ignorance, media control and false pride protect the perpetrators.
And most importantly, if you don't, (or refuse to), connect the myriad of past U.S. covert actions, particularly in the Middle East, directly with the attacks of 911, you are among the immense population of 'ideal Americans' carefully groomed and most prized by your government.

1) See Guatemala, El Salvador
2) See Nicaragua, Vietnam, Cambodia
3) See Chile, Haiti, Italy, Indonesia
4) See Greece, Australia, Chile, Iran

News flash: An central component of the so called 'benchmarks' that the Iraqi government is expected to adopt by the U.S., well hidden from the U.S. public and ignored by the mainstream media, is the requirement that the Iraqi population surrender 87.5%, (eighty-seven and a half percent), of their oil wealth for the next thirty years, almost entirely to U.S. oil giants. http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_richard__071023_bU.S. hco_s_covert_atte.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegations_of_state_terrorism_by_United_St...
http://truthemergency.U.S. /
http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_allen_l__070622_america_s_most_d...

Martha
|
New Jersey, USA
November 4, 2007

Martha in New Jersey writes:

Good morning Mr. McCormack,
The statement by Secretary Rice boggles my mind. President Musharrraf is obviously dealing with our mutual enemies in the way we would to protect our country. The consequences if he fails are dire for the world. Why are we not supporting him? How dare we react to our friends in the way the State Department is to Musharraf? What happens if he is killed or overthrown? There was a time that I had great faith in Ms. Rice - no more! A setback for
Pakistan is a setback for the U.S.

Nick
|
Virginia, USA
November 6, 2007

Nick in Virginia writes:

First time here, testing

Steve
|
Czech Republic
November 7, 2007

Steve in Czech Republic writes:

To all FSOs:

I am not part of the diplomatic corps but have served a large part of my life within the Army and have lived abroad for many years .I have observed the news these past two weeks and read many articles on the row over should FSOs be ordered to serve in Iraq.

Let me just say that our diplomatic corps enjoys a very privileged lifestyle that would raise the ire of all Americans if they new the extent of the pay and privileges provided to those serving in our Embassies around the world. It is a disgrace for these elitist individuals that took an oath to serve their country to pick and choose when and where they will serve. Many have allowed their political feelings to get in the way of their service to country.

I would like to say to those individuals that want to cry and complain to get out of the diplomatic corps and get a real job !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Regards.

Greg
|
Iowa, USA
November 7, 2007

Greg in Iowa writes:

Pakistan. We should not impose Democracy on a friendly government; or any other politically correct affirmation. It is questionable whether Pakistan is actually friendly however. If we go to war with Pakistan and win; then Democracy could be an answer. Otherwise Pakistan has to work this out themselves.

Iraq postings. I understand the apprehension. My son wants to fight there, and even I feel that is the right thing to do. But actually sending him is another matter. No matter how "safe" his posting might be there is always the chance of death. That is the nature of Iraq today. God help you in your call to duty. We do care about every diplomat and soldier there. To be a civilian and be thrown into this; especially if you are not politically motivated, is a pinch. Stiff upper lip guys and gals! Your efforts do not go unnoticed.

Kevin
|
Missouri, USA
November 7, 2007

Kevin in Missouri writes:

Pathetic to see the recent complaints and whinings by the foreign service folks in the State Department. Welcome to the real world that the DOD has operated in for several years now.

Annie
|
Texas, USA
November 7, 2007

Annie in Texas writes:

Diplomats go where needed in war or in peace.

George
|
Georgia
November 7, 2007

George in Georgia writes:

Gentlemen,

So far you have verified everything most working people think about diplomats and talk about among ourselves. You seem to be elitist individuals who think you have to think for us!

Wrong, gentlemen! We know what we have to do to support you. We pay incredible taxes for very little return on investment from you. How could you possibly think you would never be asked to do what was necessary to support the United States? That is your job! Every job has things about it that people don't like to do. The choice then is either do the job or quit!

If you can't do the job, get off the pot!

Ronald
|
New York, USA
November 8, 2007

Ronald in New York writes:

Dear Mr. McCormack:

I am writing to suggest a moratorium on foreign policy statements which are critical of other nations; and rather focus on positive and pro-active statements regarding U.S. activities around the world. On 11/1/07, President Bush said, "...on every front, we are on the offensive." This approach is at the root of many of our nation's difficulties with the rest of the world. Don't we need a break from this antagonistic posture?

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