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

Zharkov
|
United States
February 13, 2009

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

This blog is a sychophant magnet and all of you need to try harder to match the others. At the moment, the foreign contingent is beating the U.S. team in praising the first three hours of the administration.

Do we need some sort of a visual indicator, a "fawning gauge", to rate each post as to sweetness and official propaganda value?

John
|
Greece
February 16, 2009

John in Greece writes:

Another wonderful new idea from www.state.gov. This is called REAL Democracy: everyone can participate, offer and have a feed back even with the Secretary of State. Right Here!

http://contact-us.state.gov/cgi-bin/state.cfg/php/enduser/question2_stat...

Congratulations Mrs. Clinton for the innovations in the site. Congratulations guys in state.gov. I wish you all the best!

Faith
|
Virginia, USA
February 16, 2009

Faith in Virginia writes:

Please, please change/remove the black background on this site. It discourages readers. Consult professionals graphic design professionals.

JOSE
|
Cuba
February 23, 2009

Jose in Cuba writes:

DIGNOTE IT IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO THINK, TO SUGGEST OR TO KNOW ANY TOPIC AS FOR FOREIGN POLICY. PERSONALLY I AM A SUPPORTER FROM THE CAMPAIGN OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON.

REGARDS,
JOSE
VETERAN'S GRAND SON OF THE OFFICER ARMED FORCES.
MEMBER OF THE AMERICAN DEMOCRACY INSTITUTE

John
|
Greece
February 24, 2009

John in Greece writes:

@ Jose in Cuba -- Right Jose! It's a great thinking tool and I am so happy to see that many many authors (bloggers) are coming in to our DipNote society. Keep on "hitting" guys.

Welcome Jose!

I also have a "content suggestion" inspired by your post. Why don't we propose to DipNote staff some topics -- of a more general foreign affairs perspective -- for further discussion?

What I mean is: which debatable issues we would suggest for more discussion? Please suggest some co-bloggers...

Best Regards!

Catherine P.
|
New York, USA
March 2, 2009

Catherine in New York writes:

Dear Mr. Wood,

This is an important initiative but I share Zharkov's grave concerns about the erosion of our civil rights under the First Amendment that are contained in the blogging comment policies that were lifted right out of the typical Silicon Valley platform provider's unconscionable TOS for a MMORGP, blog, social media, or virtual world. I realize you want to have a civilized conversation and not turn into YouTube here, but I think you might borrow some better practices from the better TOS like blogger.com and Raph Koster's Metaplaces where the devs have spent a lot of time getting user input to craft better TOS.

I'd be interested to know if the posts put here by contributors are saved, with their IP addresses and other identifying information, and kept in any USG databases for intelligence purposes.

Finally, I'd like to ask if you could please publish the names of the officials of the U.S. government who are operating the @dipnote on Twitter. Obviously you'll have to have a variety of staff performing this function but it's important that we understand who these officials are, what departments they are in, etc. with a notice somewhere on this site.

Mellissa P.
|
Georgia, USA
March 2, 2009

Mellissa P. in Georgia writes:

I am very impressed.

Jack
|
Florida, USA
March 2, 2009

Jack in Florida writes:

Madam Secretary,

Do not earmark $900 million dollars for Gaza. The majority of the money will be filtered and funneled to Hamas. To rebuild Gaza will only give Hamas more places to hide and launch rockets into Israel. Let Iran, they support Hamas, wholeheartedly, rebuild Gaza. And when that doesn't happen the Palestinians might think twice about allowing terrorist to setup rocket launchers next to schools etc. If we must help out the Palestinian people, let it be with food, medical and clothing not money. Money will just make matters worse.

John
|
Greece
March 4, 2009

John in Greece writes:

@ Catherine in New York -- I think that an Eric's in NM recent comment will be helpful concerning some of the security questions you made.

"As we noted in Part 1, Dipnote is in a unique (and unenviable) position of being prohibited by law from setting cookies to collect information about users of the blog. This denies its editors important information like how many individuals view which posts, whether the audience is diverse or primarily a recurring group, whether particular kinds of posts increase its audience, and so on. In short, they can't get information that bloggers normally use to improve their offerings. This information is available to some extent through analysis of comments, but few users post comments.

We're not lawyers, so we don't know the specific legal constraints on what the blog can do. However if the limitation is that the government cannot set cookies and collect individual data, perhaps an alternative is to use a third party for this purpose. Analytic services like Google Analytics and SiteMeter provide html codes that bloggers embed in their pages. The analysis server -- not the blog's server sets the cookies and collects the user information.

Reports provided back to the clients, to our knowledge, do not contain information about individual users but only aggregated data (for example, about the number of unique users who viewed a particular post). These services are commonly used on blogs and other web sites. Visitors can even disallow the cookies from these analytic services if they don't want to have their data collected. Perhaps this offers a way for the State Department to learn more about Dipnote readers without actually collecting individuated data about them."

Of course, I'm sure that DipNote staff will give you a more detailed answer concerning all the components of your queries. I wish I helped you a bit! Best Regards Catherine!

Annie
|
France
March 8, 2009

Annie in France writes:

Thank you for this very interesting and transparent initiative !

Glenn
|
France
March 11, 2009

Glenn in France writes:

I have travelled extensively through India, Nepal, Tibet and China and have spent 10 years reading about Tibetan history and culture. I find it reprehensible that the United States allows China to continue to claim that Tibet is an integral part of China when historically and geographically, that is not the case.

It is very simple. Tibet was the most isolated place on earth until very, very recently. It is simply inaccessible. The U.S. could not even ship weapons from India through China to fight the Japanese in WW2 because it was logistically impossible. What existed for centuries in Asia and Central Asia were various treaties between Mongols, Manchus and Tibetans. And much later, treaties between these same peoples and the Han Chinese.

It was a mistake not to stand up to China in the United Nations when they invaded Tibet in 1950. But it is not too late. The world is at a turning point. We know we need to take drastically new decisions in many domains. Knowing that, and knowing the 5-point plan for peace set forth by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the United States Congress in 1987, I urge you to change American policy on Tibet and recognize Tibet as a distinct and separate entity from China. This is radical, I know, but the option is even worse: China will systematically destroy the Tibetan language and culture in a generation with our approval. We have nothing to lose and the Tibetans have everything to gain.

As the Dalai Lama said in his statement yesterday, "China has made life for Tibetans a hell on earth." We need to react.

Thank you,
Glenn B.
Paris, France

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
March 13, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

To Acting Secretary Robert Wood, Dipnote Editors and Staff:

Dipnote used to post news items of the day, but dropped them I think because they didn't recieve a whole lot of public comment.

Dipnote has the "Question of the Week", an inside look at travel and ceremony, special events like International Woman's Day, specialized topic areas like diplomatic security, and specific issue related posts on areas of conflict globally.

But what's lacking on Dipnote is a general forum for current events where Dipnote gets married to "Briefing 2.0" by placing the State Dept.s daily briefing up on site for public followup.

Give you an example here Robert....in the brief of the 11th, a fellow with blond hair (I didn't get his name)was following up on a question of verification (North Korea) and your answer to him left me wanting to ask specificly whether the 5 parties had agreed on the exact nature of the protocols verification must look like to be effective, and does North Korea as the 6th party understand that in order to be true to its word, it must follow the outlined steps to the letter of the 5 party's understanding and intent, which North Korea signed onto as well?

See I'm not sure everyone is on the same page with this given the "war talk".

Anyway, just a thought on how to make this a better blog...

Best,

EJ

DipNote Blogger Luke Forgerson writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico -- Thank you for your comment. We are currently considering ways to make DipNote more interactive. We are constantly seeking to improve DipNote and will take your suggestions into consideration. We are glad to count you among our readers.

Chad
|
Minnesota, USA
March 17, 2009

Chad in Minnesota writes:

I'm wondering what types of internships or jobs available in the state department. This is a test

DipNote Blogger Luke Forgerson writes:

@ Chad in Minnesota -- We encourage you to look at careers.state.gov to read more about what jobs and internships are available at the State Department. You may also contact a Diplomat-in-Residence to address any questions you might have about State Department careers.

Deborah Y.
|
Texas, USA
March 13, 2009

Deborah Y. in Texas writes:

Love the new website. I especially like it that I can comment on policy, events and my country's relationships around the world. I have been so embarrassed these past 8 years. We shall overcome.

John
|
Greece
March 17, 2009

John in Greece writes:

@ Luke Forgerson -- Dear Mr. Forgerson, are there any similar links/pages for non-American citizens' openings who would like to work for an American Embassy or a U.S. military base around the world?

How can someone without a U.S. citizenship -- interested in working for an American Embassy or a military base in his country (locally) -- learn the job offerings and the application/requirement procedures?

Is the local Embassy site the only way? And, who are eligible -- what are the minimum criteria -- for such "jobs"?

Have a nice weekend Sir!

DipNote Blogger Luke Forgerson writes:

@ John in Greece -- Thank you for your questions. Foreign Service Nationals -- individuals without U.S. citizenship who work at U.S. embassies and consulates -- play a vital role in the practice of American diplomacy. Individuals without U.S. citizenship who are interested in working at an American embassy should contact the respective embassy directly. Here's a list of U.S. embassies, consulates and other diplomatic missions.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
March 15, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Luke, thanks for the feedback. I was intending to go beyond the interactive aspects of "public followup" to daily briefings.

Basicly when I wake up in the morning, I grab a cup of joe and brouse the news like so many others, then I turn to Dipnote and the daily brief to see what we're doing about it.

Now being that the daily brief is a slice of daily life, dipnote will stay "up to the minute" with current events, and will be more readable and generate more readership when folks realize they can get their info directly from the source, as well as interact with it.

As a citizen trying to make sense of it all, the daily brief has been an invaluable asset to my understanding for the last decade on a daily basis.

And it is an essential part of creating " A well informed public ".

It's inclusion on Dipnote just seemed to me to be a natural evolutionary step in Dipnote's public role to this effect.

Best Regards,

EJ

sarah
|
Virginia, USA
March 17, 2009

Sarah A. in Virginia writes:

secretary clinton:

around february 23, 2009, you, secretary clinton, pledged $900m to the palestinians to rebuild gaza after the israeli invasion. what is wrong with this picture? we sell weapons to israel to use to invade gaza, then we turn around and give the palestinians $900m to clean up the wreckage. to say the least, economically, this is crazy. morally, this is wrong because this only perpetuates war and killing. as secretary of state, i would hope that you would have a better solution. palestine does need aid, but this is a short term and bad solution.

please rethink your position on israel and palestine. israel is wrong to continue to harass, demean, kill, and take the palestinian lands. simply put, look at this scenario, if i make my neighbor angry because i tell him to quit parking in the middle of my back yard, he refuses and says that i have a shady back yard, which he wants, so i let the air out of his tires. he then burns my house down. my two children are hurt in the fire and put in wheelchairs for life. the state department feels sorry for me and fixes my house. the neighbor sees that i have a new house and the back yard is even more inviting so the neighbor decides to use the parking again. what can i say? i let the air out of the tires again and on and on and on, is this a "grown up" solution to a problem? i don't think so.

i will also be sending a letter to my senator and congressman to ask them to do more than give $900m to the palestinians. we need a solution, you are covering for a spoiled child (israel) by paying off the damaged party (palestine). we need a better solution.

thank you for rethinking this problem in the middle east.

John
|
Greece
March 21, 2009

John in Greece writes:

@ DipNote Bloggers -- Thank you very much for your reply that actually was proved "added value." I surfed a bit the local U.S. Embassy's official site and I found a new great link, I did not know about it until recently.

http://www.buyusa.gov/home

Of course this has nothing to do with FSN positions, but I think that people from all over the world can trace "golden" -private sector- commercial ideas, concerning successful products, services etc.

You "co-DipNoters" who are interested in doing successful new business, I strongly recommend you to seize the opportunity and hit the above link. You will find great business ideas!!!

Scott
|
New York, USA
March 23, 2009

Scott in New York writes:

Ending the war in Afghanistan on our own terms:

The recent surge in poppy production has to be dealt with in new and novel ways that play to our strengths and not to the Taliban's.

As NATO contemplates a renewed attack on the embedded Taliban -- a surge which has already cost hundreds of innocent Afghan lives as well as those of our own troops -- it's worth asking if there is not another way; another way to curb the Taliban influence that does not involve killing people.

History is helpful. In the 1970s, Turkey was the largest supplier of heroin in the world. Then the United States got smart and started buying the poppy crop -- we still do. The government sold it to U.S. pharmaceutical firms to make legitimate drugs -- after all, there are no bad plants, only bad uses for plants. The drug cartel lost control of Turkey and today Turkey is one of our staunchest allies in the Middle East. We later tried a similar approach in India with good results.

From the CIA world fact site we know that the GDP of Afghanistan in 2006 was something under $40 billion. Today, over half the GDP of Afghanistan is tied up in poppy production in some way, and is controlled by rogue warlords who channel profits directly to the Taliban -- some $100 million a year. This is an extremely lucrative business and there is nothing even remotely comparable in that region of the world. Sixty percent of Taliban income comes directly from poppy production.

On the other hand, growing food is either uneconomic for the average afghan farmer, or is outright forbidden -- at the point of a gun -- by the Taliban militia who control the rural regions.

Instead of fighting the Afghan farmer, who is caught in an impossible position, we should buy the crop -- all of it -- from him. This would:
A. End 60% of Taliban income immediately.
B. Put us on the side of the Afghan farmer instead of making us just one of his several enemies. Hearts and minds...
C. Put a serious dent in the heroin trade - a concern also for Russia and Europe, who blame us for the escalation of their drug problem.
D. Allow us to influence the Afghanistan people by becoming their respectful partner instead of their bullying enemy (there is something extremely unseemly about a country of our size, might, and moral stature, going around burning fields and dropping bombs on subsistence farmers in a desperately poor country. Obama may recognize this intuitively, but mollifying words have to be backed up with concrete action).

Eventually, we need to encourage Afghans to grow food instead of Poppy plants. We should pay a 10% premium over the market price for poppy, for food staples. By finally establishing a middle class of farmers, shopkeepers, and other distributors, supported by microloans, we would cut the Taliban off at the knees. And by supplying a profit motive, the new middle class would be encouraged to form militias or to finally build up the Afghan army to protect themselves against the Taliban -- who, despite popular perception, are largely loathed by the average Afghan citizen. As President Obama has publicly stated, you build a Democracy from the bottom up, not from the top down. We have a chance to do this in a way that is cheaper, far less violent, and far more effective than the shoot and burn approach we've tried thus far.

There are other answers to the Afghan situation, if people are willing to examine history and to break out of idealogical molds. We need to play to our strengths, not to the Taliban's. In a game of attrition, history shows that those who try to forcefully bend Afghanistan to their will, eventually lose.

George
|
Hungary
April 7, 2009

George in Hungary writes:

We seek partners in engaging with Islamists in Eastern Europe and beyond.

Marla M.
|
District Of Columbia, USA
March 26, 2009

Marla M. in Washington writes:

President Obama, The crisis in Darfur is dire. We need you to take swift action. Please discuss the following with Special Envoy Gration:

1. Support the ICC and the indictment of al-Bashir

2. Ensure the protection of the innocent civilians of Darfur and provide adequate support to the UNAMID Peacekeeping mission.

3. Work with other nations to create a road map for peace in Darfur and Sudan with multilateral pressure points and incentives.

4. Prepare a credible range of options for the use of military force to protect civilians and ensure the unobstructed delivery of humanitarian assistance.

John
|
Greece
March 29, 2009

John in Greece writes:

Once again West has to face a N. Korea threat. This time they called it a ""com-sat"". Can anybody help me out with my query. Where do they find this kind of tech and IT materials?

Which are the countries helping them by providing knowledge and ""silicon accessories""?

Because, I suspect that some countries (China?, Russia?) play a double role.

By the way, I hope that they do not watch my computer, as the recent news revealed about this strange ""IT base"" in China which had buged people and embassies around the world. However, in case they do, I have to say to them: ãããããããããããã (You will never obtain it) -- wishing the free internet translator worked OK (Chuckle & LOL)

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
April 4, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

To Robert Wood, and Sec. of State Clinton:

The State Department has made a decision to make an Iraqi translator, Jasim, wait another three years for a visa. One of the reasons that the denial was issued was that, Jasim, as part of the Kurdish Peshmerga, infiltrated Uday Hussein's organization to steal data and then stole Uday's car to escape. He was captured, tortured, and then released six years later when Saddam let all the prisoners go on the eve of the Invasion in 2003.

The theft of Uday's car is looked upon as criminal and not political.

"On several occasions while our guys were putting rounds down range, Jasim put himself in harm's way to pull the wounded out and treat them," Keene said. "Jasim is a hero to everyone he has ever met."

After the invasion, Jasim became a legendary translator, assisting above and beyond.

"I owe my life to Jasim ... hands down," said Master Sgt. Jason Krieger, who went on over 200 combat patrols with Jasim. "I consider him a brother, not only in arms, but in love as well."

For six years, Jasim has put his life on the line to help our troops. His stepbrother paid the ultimate price for Jasim's heroism.

Jasim said his stepbrother, in fact, was captured in the fall of 2007 and was tortured to death in an effort to get to him. The U.S. Army officer who received and processed the report on the murder, Major Leslie Parks, told FOXNews.com that Jasim's stepbrother was tortured with an electric drill through his eyes.

So his application had letters of recommendation;

http://www.foxnews.com/projects/pdf/040209_translator1.pdf

, awards and certifications from soldiers;

http://www.foxnews.com/projects/pdf/040209_translator2.pdf

, and the DoD and DHS approval.

Full story here:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,512422,00.html

---

Madam Secretary, Mr. Wood,

There are times when exceptional valor requires exceptional recognition and I strongly suggest you look into this personally with the intent to nominate the above individual for this nation's highest civilian award, the Medal of Freedom.

If it requires direct approval by the President himself to issue a visa to the man at this point, then it should be granted in parallel to the award. Not just a visa, but full citizenship in my opinion. Jasim has certainly earned this.

Thanks for your consideration in this matter.

EJ

Irina
|
Macedonia
April 7, 2009

Irina in Macedonia writes:

Dear Maddame Clinton, are you going to visit Macedonia soon, maybe this year?

Mike
|
Virginia, USA
April 7, 2009

Mike in Virginia writes:

What is the average waiting period for a secret security clearance?

DipNote Blogger Luke Forgerson writes:

@ Mike in Virginia -- Civil Service positions in the U.S. Department of State require at least a secret security clearance. Investigations usually take two to four months.

For those applying to the Foreign Service, candidates who pass the oral assessment must apply for the security clearance required for appointment to the Foreign Service.

You can read more about becoming a Foreign Service Officer and the Civil Service selection process at careers.state.gov.

John
|
Greece
April 7, 2009

John in Greece writes:

@ Irina in FYROM -- I also wish that Madame Secretary Clinton will visit FYROM and Greece soon. After all, hopefully, we should reach a final decision concerning the naming dispute.

Of course this means that all sides (Greece, FYROM, UN and U.S.A.) will accept a common decided name that will open the road for new collaboration horizons.

I do not personally feel like engaging in this childish -- according to my opinion -- "name discussion", but I honestly wish that both sides will soon reach a positive level of common understanding that will peacefully and civilized lead them to the new millennium within NATO and the other International Organizations.

Nevertheless, this vision has prerequisites: less nationalism and fanaticism from both sides and more dialogue and collaboration, especially when we discuss with the international mediators.

Olayinka A.
|
Belize
June 8, 2009

Olayinka in Belize writes:

I am very interested in volunteering my time to serve this Great nation.

Thanks.

Kathy
|
Virginia, USA
April 16, 2009

Kathy in Virginia writes:

Great job Secretary Clinton. I am so proud of your efforts for the U.S.A. Your statements are always thoughtful, intelligent and reflect what American is about -- cooperation and leadership. Plus you look like you are really enjoying the job. P. S. I am a registered Independent.

Thank you.

Susan
|
Florida, USA
April 16, 2009

Susan in Florida writes:

@ Robert Wood and DOS Dipnote staff -- You have done an outstanding job with the blog. It is better than ever! Thank you for the informative and interactive postings. Love the question of the week! I look forward to it each Friday. Your hard work is appreciated.

Karen S.
|
New York, USA
April 18, 2009

Karen S. in New York writes:

Please do all that you can for Roxana Saberi. It is important that she be freed as soon as possible.

On an unrelated note, I'm so glad that you're our Secretary of State but I miss you as our NY State Senator!

Pages

.

Latest Stories

July 26, 2014

The Situation in Gaza

Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Cairo, Egypt, July 21-22, 2014 to meet with Egyptian and other senior officials… more

Pages