Welcome Back to DipNote

Posted by Robert Wood
January 20, 2009
Acting Department Spokesman Robert Wood at Computer

About the Author: Robert Wood serves as Acting Department Spokesman and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs.

Welcome to DipNote, the State Department’s official blog. DipNote gives context, clarity and other behind the scenes insights on the foreign policy headlines in which you’re most interested. The information is provided to you by those actually doing the work.

The term “DipNote” refers to a diplomatic note, one of the many means by which governments formally communicate with one another. Aside from the title, we make every effort to minimize the use of jargon and acronyms. When they’re unavoidable, we explain them. We want this blog to be as accessible and user-friendly as possible. This blog represents your opportunity to engage State Department officials, to contribute to the discussion of U.S. foreign policy. We want you to be active participants in a community focused on some of the most important international issues of today.

We live in an age in which there is a greater need for you to be aware of what is happening around the world, and in a time when everyone should be able to contribute to the dialogue. You can join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and submit your video question on the State Department’s YouTube Channel. I encourage you to explore DipNote and these other resources and to provide us your thoughts and feedback. I look forward to hearing from you.

Comments

Comments

Ian
|
Texas, USA
January 20, 2009

Ian in Texas writes:

Great to see this type of communication from our government. Keep it up!

John
|
Greece
January 20, 2009

John in Greece writes:

Great transition "DipNote team" and nice archive organization! I wish you and Mr. Wood, thousands of more successes.

And now "back to our keyboards" for more interesting debates and posts! Good luck to all DipNote staff, simple readers and authors.

Seyed
|
Maryland, USA
January 21, 2009

Seyed in Maryland writes:

Seems like change has come to Dept. of State too! Keep it up!

ashley
|
North Carolina, USA
January 21, 2009

Ashley in North Carolina writes:

WAY TO GO MRS CLINTON!!!!!

Patricia
|
New York, USA
January 21, 2009

Patricia in New York writes:

Just found Dipnote -- great resource -- I will visit the site frequently.

Congratulations to Secretary of State Clinton.

Joseph
|
New York, USA
January 21, 2009

Joe in New York writes:

Congratulations and best wishes to Mrs. Clinton, the deputies and the rest of you at the State Department. The world needs your experience, diplomacy, and strength.

rusty
|
Belgium
January 22, 2009

Rusty in Belgium writes:

Change has come congratulations to Secretary of State Clinton.

Sabir
|
Canada
January 22, 2009

Sabir in Canada writes:

Congratulations from Canada. Wish you all the best ang good luck in your most daunting job ahead. Looking forward a better and peaceful world ahead. God bless all in Obama's Administration. The world is waiting for a just and peaceful settlements in many countries: Pakistan, Palestine, Afganistan, India (Kashmir) and all of Africa.

Joyce
|
Virginia, USA
January 22, 2009

Joyce in Virginia writes:

Congratulations to Madame Secretary. I was a staunch supporter of hers throughout the primaries, and have been a fan since her days as First Lady. I was unaware of this site before now, I suspect many are still unaware. But with Hillary now as our new Secretary of State, I suspect many more will be visiting. Hillary has over 18 million loyal supporters. We are still here, and we can't wait to see you in action. Thank you for your tireless efforts on behalf of this country, you will always have our undying love, support, and respect.

Lynn
|
Missouri, USA
January 22, 2009

Lynn in Missouri writes:

This is the first time I've ever bothered to check out Dipnote. The fact that it is simple to find and even easier to use it a tribute to the new administration.

Congratulations to Madame Secretary. I thoroughly enjoyed watching her address the employees in the State Department this morning. As a former "coach", her use of the word, "TEAM" expressed it all.

With the new administration, we are all in this together.

Emjay
|
Iowa, USA
January 23, 2009

Emjay in Iowa writes:

To all in the State Dept and USAID:

Do you know how lucky you are to have this new leader?

She will be supportive of you and loyal to you, to the end.

Susan
|
Florida, USA
January 23, 2009

Susan in Florida writes:

To the Dipnote staff -- glad to have you back! The new postings are great and your "transition" was seamless, too. Job well done!

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
January 26, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Mr. Wood,

My email is down at the moment and I was hoping you could pass on a word of thanks to Ambassador Crocker for his outstanding service and congrats on recieving the medal of freedom.

May he continue to have the most excellent adventures in private life.

I'd be remis not to also invite him to post his thoughts here on what "the right stuff" is, in terms of selection of FSO's and perhaps the ingrediants of proper nation building as well, as it applies to the three "D's" (Democracy, Defense and Development).

With emphasis on the war of ideas and mitigating the 5 D's of methodology of those that seek to;

Distract, Deceive, Discredit, Discourage, and Dismember the effort.

Dipnote is well placed to be on the cutting edge of the debate, and offers a global audience an official invitation to think.

It's been my humble pleasure to contribute my 2 cents worth, for what it may be worth to others. So I hope I'm not out of line for making this request and offering the invitation right back with all due reciprocity...(chuckle).

"No socks required."

Thanks,

EJ

catherine
|
Georgia, USA
January 26, 2009

Catherine in Georgia writes:

Congratulations to you Secretary Clinton. I do not work in the State Department but I am a concerned retired U.S. senior citizen. Now it is time for this adminstration to get down to serious work. I watched the announcement of Mitchell and Stern to high level Diplomats to negotiate peace in the Middle East. Why is Secretary Clinton not making the initial trip herself to (at least) show strength and start these negotiations? What will her foreign relations responsibilities consist of if she is "not" going to have a face to face with various foreign leaders on their turf? Will she or will she not be traveling to other countries?

Jill D.
|
Wisconsin, USA
January 27, 2009

Jill D. in Wisconsin writes:

Can't read the writing on the website. It is way too dim.

Kitty M.
|
Alabama, USA
January 27, 2009

Kitty M. in Alabama writes:

I would like to know if the State Department, under new leadership, has plans (hopefully) to change our U.S. Embassy designs abroad, to be more environmentally sensitive and sustainable. I would like to suggest that the building designs be more sympathetic to the culture and environment in which they are located. Architectural sensitivity can do a great deal to offer a sense of openness, without loss of security. Thank you for the work you do. I am glad for the change!

Beverley-Ann
|
South Africa
January 28, 2009

Beverley-Ann in South Africa writes:

Congratulations Secretary of State Clinton.

I am so pleased to have found this wonderful up to date website, so that I can continue to follow news about the wonderful work that you do.

I am sorry I cannot congratulate you as President Clinton as I would have preferred to, but I know that this position that you now hold will allow you to achieve greater things ... that being to work towards bringing about Peace, Understanding & Respect to each other ... amongst all Nations.

You are an inspiration to woman around the world ... highlighting by your fine example ... that we as women can achieve so much by contributing positively ... by coming up with solutions to solve many of the serious issues that still plague our modern day life.

Your famous speech in Beijing way back in 1995 ... when you declared that ...

"human rights are women's rights, and women's rights are human rights"

as I said above ... inspired women worldwide and "helped galvanize a global movement for women?s rights."

All the very best with your new position as Secretary of State.

You remain an inspiration ...

THANK YOU !!!

Edith
|
France
January 28, 2009

Edith in France writes:

End the Boycott of Tourism to Myanmar!

Before deciding to go on our five-week trip to most of the accessible regions of Myanmar in November 2008, we, like the other tourists we met, discussed at length whether it would be right to do so. The trip convinced us all that the boycott against Myanmar is meaningless.

The boycott is supposedly directed against the military government, but the generals dislike tourism anyway and have done little to promote it since the mid-nineties. They loathe tourists running around with cameras and video recorders and it suits them just fine that the population of Myanmar does not have contact with western thought.

Tourism produces distributed income and is one of the few opportunities for a large number of the population to earn much needed money and to have some contact with the outside world, especially outside of Yangon. The junta earns enormous amounts on trade with China (precious stones/gold, teak and more) and even more with Thailand (i.e. natural gas - from fields operated by Total). The junta's income from tourism is relatively modest. To a certain degree tourists can avoid state hotels and travel agencies, limiting the amount of funds falling into the hands of the junta.

People in Myanmar need tourists, both to avoid total isolation and simply to survive economically. This is in particular true of the people who do not belong to the "Bama"=Burmese (65%) ethnicity, but to one of the many other ethnic groups (35% of the population) who mostly live in remote areas that are partly accessible to tourists today. The boycott does not hurt the junta in a significant way; it punishes the people already suffering from the junta?s brutal means of repression and lack of will and/or capability to improve the country's infrastructure and thereby the standard of living.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the Lady, has called for the boycott. She is an admirable person, but one ought not disregard the fact that she is living in a golden cage in Yangon. She admits herself that she does not know the conditions under which the non-Burmese ethnic groups live. She has not had the opportunity to travel in the country and therefore there is serious doubt as to whether she understands the impact the boycott has on ordinary people. The people, on the other hand, do not know that she is the one who has called for it. She is very much admired by the population of Myanmar at large for her courage to confront the junta, but also because she is the daughter of General Aung San, assassinated in 1947. He remains a hero in Myanmar.

In order to improve the situation and to create a basis for real democracy, Myanmar is in desperate need of better infrastructure, communication, education, clean water and hospitals. It is simply not true that the people in Myanmar have access to CNN and BBC. That is only the case for a few locations at certain times in Yangon and also on occasion in a few other bigger cities.

The generals perceive the Army and not Myanmar as their country. It is a State in the State, an imperial power, like the British not too long ago, who consider themselves entitled to exploit the country's resources to their own advantage. The people are also seen as a resource to use and abuse. The generals believe they were put on the throne by the workings of karma. Their underlings are punished for their sins in earlier lives.

The International Community should do more to assure that human rights are respected, that political prisoners are given their liberty and that personal freedom and access to objective information are firmly and widely established. In order to achieve results, eastern countries, like China, Thailand and Singapore, must take part in these efforts. Without them it will not be possible to put real pressure on the Generals.

The boycott of tourism ought to cease immediately as tourism is the only possibility for a large part of the population to improve their living conditions, whereas the boycott has proved completely ineffective with regards to the junta. Rather it plays right into their hands. One can and should only hope that as many tourists as possible will travel there in the future with open and critical eyes. It is such a breathtaking country with wonderful people who most certainly do not deserve to be boycotted for no good reason.

Edith
Lyon, January 2009

Edith
|
France
January 28, 2009

Edith in France writes:

Mr. Wood,

In view of recent media reports on the terrible situation of prostitutes from Myanmar (Burma) and the inhuman treatment of Rohingya refugees by the Thai Military I send you an appeal I wrote after having visited Myanmar extensively to end the boycott that has become a humanitarian boycott. It has been going on for so long and the situation has gotten just worse politically, socially and economically.

In the light of what President Obama has said about working with Developing Nations and the caring and pragmatic approach of Mrs. Clinton I hope U.S. Policy towards this country where people (not the Junta !) suffer tremendously from the boycott. Myanmar is the country that receives the least aid of all countries in the world.

Edith
Lyon, France, January 2009

John
|
Greece
January 28, 2009

John in Greece writes:

@ Edith in France -- End the Boycott of Tourism to Myanmar! END QUOTE. Do you think that this country is safe for traveling? I do not!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nygus/2971522319/

I wouldn't go there even for a 1M$ prize.

State Department must keep its fundamental "traveling" policy: securing travelers through alerts and warnings. After all, it's the only credible source of info in the world concerning where and how to travel.

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_1764.html
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1077.html

romma
|
Florida, USA
January 29, 2009

Romma in Florida writes:

i know the world is busy and in chaos, but whats happening in east african countries is alarming and scary! american government seems to be slowly packing out of east africa, particularly kenya, citizens of kenya are starving to death due to drought and famine, Government is obviously not helping them out in any way whatsoever, the leaders always making false promises and fattening their wallets while the ones who voted for them are living a miserable life! yet kenyan government is leasing the most fertile lands and areas in kenya to china, sudan, qatar, for monetary kicks and china is actually selling weapons, ammo, tanks etc to sudan, kenya, zimbwabwe. its looking like we are being set for a bigger mess. china is getting payment from kenya for the weapons etc by allowing chinese control and use of our waterways! to me it smells ratty, china has never had any interest in africa up until now. united states of america is abandoning them same as europeans did. kenyan young people are very angry at what is happening while others sleep, play golf etc. we need help getting rid of communist related countries and nazi like mugabe and slave runners in sudan. help help! i dont want to have to go through beijing first to get a visa to go to kenya! and its unacceptable to see kenyans die like ants due to hunger. hello!! anyone looking at this or even aware of it?

Louise
|
Connecticut, USA
February 5, 2009

Louise in Connecticut writes:

Can State Department, consider making the TPS (Temporary Protected Status) eligible for adjustment for Permanent Residence Status if they have been hear in the U.S.A. for numerous years and paying taxes? I think it would be fair to those hard working individuals to be able to adjust the status especially if they have worked hard for it. There are many U.S. Citizens abusing the laws and not paying their dues to society. Why not allow people with TPS status the same opportunity as us. Thank you for your time.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
February 5, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

To Robert Wood,

Here's a Sit. Rep. that ought to be posted in neon in the briefing room(*).

Pulled this off of Blackfive.net. While I may be taking liberties reposting (unedidted) an already public email by not confirming authenticity directly, I have no doubt the Public affairs dept @ State can do so without much trouble. And when and if you do, please send this citizen's thanks and warmest regards to Gen. Kelly and Marines everywhere.

To the folks at State that helped make this happen, please do continue to anticipate miracles while you enjoy this one. Well done to one and all!

EJ
-----

Author: Major General John F. Kelly

I don't suppose this will get much coverage in the States as the news is so good. No, the news is unbelievable.

Something didn't happen in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, today. Once the most violent and most dangerous places on earth, no suicide vest bomber detonated killing dozens of voters. No suicide truck bomber drove into a polling place collapsing the building and killing and injuring over 100. No Marine was in a firefight engaging an Al Qaida terrorist trying to disrupt democracy.

What did happen was Anbar Sunnis came out in their tens of thousands to vote in the first free election of their lives.

With the expectation of all of the above (suicide bombers) they walked miles (we shut down all vehicle traffic with the exception of some shuttle busses for the elderly and infirm) to the polling places. I slept under the stars with some Grunts at Combat Outpost Iba on the far side of Karma, and started driving the 200 miles up the Euphrates River Valley through Karma, Fallujah, Habbiniyah, Ramadi, Hit, Baghdad and back here to Al Asad. I stopped here and there to speak with cops, soldiers, Marines, and most importantly, regular Iraqi men and women along the way. It was the same everywhere. A tension with every finger on a trigger that broke at perhaps 3PM when we all began to think what was almost unthinkable a year ago. We might just pull this off without a bombing. No way. By 4PM it seemed like we'd make it to 5PM when the polls closed. At 4:30 the unbelievable happened: the election was extended an hour to 6PM because of the large crowds! What are they kidding? Tempting fate like that is not nice. Six PM and the polls close without a single act of violence or a single accusation of fraud, and nearly by early reports pretty close to 100% voted. Priceless.

Every Anbari walking towards the polling place had these determined and, frankly, concerned looks on their faces. No children with them (here mothers and grandmothers are NEVER without their children or grandchildren) because of the expectation of death. Husbands voted separately from wives, and mothers separately from fathers for the same reason. In and out quickly to be less of a target for the expected suicide murderer. When they came out after voting they also wore the same expression on their faces, but now one of smiling amazement as they held up and stared at ink stained index fingers.

Norman Rockwell could not have captured this wonderment. Even the ladies voted in large numbers and their husbands didn't insist on going into the booths to tell them who to vote for.

One of the things I've always said was that we came here to "give" them democracy. Even in the dark days my only consolation was that it was about freedom and democracy. After what I saw today, and having forgotten our own history and revolution, this was arrogance. People are not given freedom and democracy -- they take it for themselves. The Anbaris deserve this credit.

Today I step down as the dictator, albeit benevolent, of Anbar Province. Today the Anbaris took it from me. I am ecstatic. It was a privilege to be part of it, to have somehow in a small way to have helped make it happen.

Semper Fi.

Kelly

---end---

(*) Or simply handed to Matt with my best regards, as he's looking like he's about to have a coronary in the middle of your briefing the next time you tell him that policy is under review...(chuckle).

I know you usually would defer him to the Pentagon for such things, but in this case it simply comes through a concerned Dipnote contributor who does his research.

Figured the press would appreciate getting the details.

I know I did.

Kelly S.
|
Texas, USA
February 5, 2009

Kelly S. in Texas writes:

Hi Robert,

We just posted an article, "Top 50 Foreign Policy Blogs" (http://www.mastersincriminaljustice.com/blog/2009/top-50-foreign-policy-...). I thought I'd bring it to your attention in case you think your readers would find it interesting.

I am happy to let you know that your site has been included in this list.

Either way, thanks for your time!

Zharkov
|
United States
February 6, 2009

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

One suggestion I have is that when a post is to be omitted or censored because it raises embarrassing questions or discloses some inconvenient facts, it would be nice to have that post acknowledged in some manner to show it had been read but rejected.

A simple entry would do, such as,

@ Eric in New Mexico, post rejected as too obsequious for publication.

This way, we can learn the boundaries of our 1st Amendment on the blog.

DipNote Bloggers write:

@ Zharkov in U.S.A. -- We appreciate your participation on the blog. This is an open forum. Please review the blog's comment policy.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
February 10, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Dipnote bloggers: I appreciate you helping Zharkov get with the program. I'd hate to see him booted off site for consistantly being himself, as he offers me seemingly unlimited opportunity to make valid points in debate.

On the other hand,

How obsequious can I get? Let me count the ways...AHA! here's one!

I will certainly be most happy to be of service to the Dipnote bloggers of the world and take Zharkov out back to the woodshed to teach him some manners any time you'all like.

Please can I, Huh? Pretty please? PLEEEEEEEZE say YES,....LOL!

But go ahead if you must. Launch him to the moon, see what I care..,..(chuckle).

Some things are best addressed with mirth.

If you've blogged as long as I have on Foreign Affairs subjects, one becomes perpetually ammused by inane commentary directed on a personal level.

And that's all I have to say about that....

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
February 8, 2009

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

Secretary of State Clinton? What a sham. This was totally her prize for dropping out of the presidential race. She wasn't qualified to be president, what would make her such a good leader for directing the entire foreign policy division?

Congratulations anyway, I guess. She shot for the stars and at least got the moon.

Even Rice, despite her collaboration and contribution to such horribly flawed doctrine that led us to the state we're in now, managed to secure a degree of respect by the end. Surely Clinton can do better.

On a further note, let's see more interaction with the posters from the Dept. of State, please. Otherwise it's just another blog of people spouting their rhetoric like anywhere else.

Yoo
|
South Korea
February 10, 2009

Yoo in South Korea writes:

@ Mr. Robert Wood -- Hello, I am a teacher in South Korea. I found this blog in the state Department site.

Welcome to our Country.( Mrs. Secretary Clinton)

Our people always thanks for U.S.A., because especially America helped us for Korean War. We know that your young people were killed in many battle for protecting our Country from north Korea's invasion. Now U.S.A. have been helping us against broking out war by North Korea. I hope we have nice relations more friendly with Mrs. Secretary Clinton's visiting our Country

I hope Mrs. Secretary Clinton have a nice time for staying in Korea.

Sincerely
D. Yoo

John
|
Greece
February 10, 2009

John in Greece writes:

@ Kirk in KY -- I thought like you were interested (you "love" to?) in working for the State Dept: AMERICA! Here is a poor "advice" from an e-friend:

I am not experienced, I do not work for SD, but I felt like answering to you, on the ground that I like the fact that you have plans to apply for a DoS career. Please do not misunderstand me!

Dr. Rice stated (a month ago) that "she is not a partisan". I loved this statement of hers. Same counts for the new Secretary of State. Mrs. Clinton serves U.S.A., Freedom and the People; not her micro-party egoism. And I think that this is fantastic! This is U.S.A.! That's why I do not agree that Mrs. Clinton "shot for the stars and at least got the moon". She's in SPACE too! And space has no real estate values determining if the stars are more important than the moon.

Do you think (if you follow a diplomatic "job" path, as you have stated in the past that you love to do so) you'll ever have the chance to "decide" who the President will be, or the Secretary of State, in order for you to service U.S.A. in a better way? You will have to do it anyway...

And now back to our silly game:

(Al's voice): Then, Kirk, you are a "a NO GO SD officer'! WE do not choose the "upstairs". More experienced people decide if WE are good for "downstairs" or "upstairs". And some day, all of "US" can (maybe) make it to the tops. All of which means: if today you were within SD, would you resign on the ground that you do not "approve" THE 67th SECRETARY of STATE or the PRESIDENT? If you have a "No answer" to this question, then you "remain", but then RESPECT the 67th Secretary of State and the President!

(Al's voice with echo): ONLY UNITED WE STAND! PEOPLE DECIDED! SERVE!

Of course, my comment is just a "game". I wish I helped you a bit...

Terry
|
Connecticut, USA
February 10, 2009

Terry in Connecticut writes:

@ Secretary Robert Wood, your title says acting state dept. spokesman. Is there a replacement spokesman waiting to be confirmed or will you fill this post for the forseeable future? You do a good job by the way.

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