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.

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Comments

Comments

Susan
|
Florida, USA
August 12, 2009

Susan in Florida writes:

@ Zharkov in U.S.A., SNP in Syria, and Joe in TN. "Putin pledges MILITARY build up in Georgia..." This was in the news today. Just thought I'd bring it to your attention since all of you believe that Russia isn't interested in any type of military build up and are only interested in "getting along" with everyone. I am sure you will find some excuse for this action on their part.

John
|
Greece
August 12, 2009

John in Greece writes:

@ Susan in Florida -- You are absolutely right: I would never trust the Russians.

Archive:

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Joe in Tennessee, regardless of Putin's, or should I say the entire Russian Gov.'s (given their parliment's calling for the recognition of the separatist region's independance from Georgia. Which will be vetoed in the UN Sec. Council if an attempt is made by Russia to alter existing UN resolutions on territorial integrity), actions and planning , what I see is them desperatly trying to save face and trying to justify remaining in Poti and other soverign Georgian territory outside the disputed regions not so much as a point of negotiation, but as misplaced pride in their actions, and it won't fly with the UN.

As I said, they've bitten off more than they can chew.

I don't know whether the reports of Russian nuclear missles moved into S. Ossetia are true or not, but if confirmed....the Russians have apparently violated the very agreements you speak of regarding their end of things from a non-aggression standpoint.

I think the only rational way to solve the underlying issues that lead to violence is to put the issue up for international arbitration. The parties themselves are too close to the problem to have the proper perspective to solve this themselves, obviously.

It's going to take a real clear eyed, independant, non aligned negotiator to lead that process.

Japan perhaps could, even China.

But without a peacekeeping force that has no vested interest except to keep the peace, this situation will flare up again in violence. Especially if the Russians don't withdraw completely from Georgia proper.

Eventually they will be facing a situation of armed insurgency otherwise.

And there's nothing that the west could do to prevent that, because the Georgian people won't put up with any Russian occupation very long. Protests have already begun.

There's a very limited time to put a lid on this for good and all, and the Russians need to understand this for their sake.

The backlash has already begun.

Posted on Mon Aug 25, 2008

Donald
|
Virginia, USA
August 13, 2009

Donald in Virginia writes:

12 August 09

Thought I would revisit and offer my opinion, it has been awhile.

My foresight tells me that Russia will invade Georgia again.... They will invade Czech Republic and Polond right off the start once they think President Barack Obama is too busy or doing other things. It's not the Russian people, it's the Government of Russia will make these big bold moves into Europe, to Conquor and divide Nations. Once they have Europe under it's throne, then they will eventually turn its force on the United States, then it also dawned on me that they could try a "Double Whammy" try and take Europe and the United States on in battle. While were still working on the withdrawl from Afghanistan and Iraq, would make the United States very vulnerable. What does President Barack Obama do when Russia attacks Europe, especially after he received a warm welcome from these people? Hence, better have a plan. Before the acts of war happen. I would never trust the Russian Government on anything. Which is ironic because most of the Russian people are probably very nice and want peace!

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 13, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Susan in Florida wrote:

"I am sure you will find some excuse for this action on their part."

Susan, you really need to stop making assumptions about what I think, it's more polite to simply ask.

The only "excuse" that would have come close to justifying Russia's actions last year, or now...would be the nightmare scenario involving the deliberate attempt to access a former Soviet bioweapons research lab/production facility by either non-state actors or a state actor such as Georgia that posed a direct and imminent threat to the Russian people in their eyes due to the long standing hostility between these two nations.

In fact, if you do the research, those sites exist.

If Russia did not want to panic its own people, or the rest of the world with the potential opening of "pandora's box" and a global pandemic, they'd need a convienient cover story for the actions nessesary to secure those sites.

The separaratist issue may well have provided that cover story, if, and I emphasize the word "IF", the Russian government was faced with an imminent outbreak of weaponized smallpox, virulent hemoragic fever, or a biotoxin coctail in the region.

If that was the case, their only option may have been to seal it up tight, and guard it like Fort Knox, permanently.

Too dangerous to move the contents or access it to destroy.

John in Greece may remember a post of mine on this subject around that time.

---

@ John in Greece,

What hasn't killed you has only made you stronger I suspect, and I see you came "loaded for Bear"...(chuckle)

Good to have you back!

Donald
|
Virginia, USA
August 13, 2009

Donald in Virginia writes:

13 August 09

Thanks @ John in Greece

I have always enjoyed this blog. Great way to communicate and make people aware of what to expect. I totally agree John what doesn't kill ya makes you stronger. Ofcourse I'm still plugging away trying to get our Government involved in making Emergency Escape POD's to save lives! The plane accidents and helicopters, people dying for what? The FAA and NTSB always promote the same examples of what went wrong, but I disagree because we should be able to survive any accident from a vehicle. Thats why I continue pushing my EE POD's. This idea that I came up with, has been sent to the FAA/NTSB and other places and gets no attention. A silver bullet and nobody cares. When I think of all the accidents around the world, and if the people were safe inside a protective shell, had a parachute in a plane, and survival equipment. Pressurized Emergency Escape Pod, with a static line, would save hundreds of thousands of lives. I guess I will continue trying to push the issue, hope someone with sense will get onboard before the next serious plane, helicopter, train, bus, or even cars, or trucks on the road today have deadly accidents, peoples lives are important, cost of health care when getting emergency treatment. The average EMT Medical evacuation at the scene of an accident is thousands of dollars, even just a pickup with an ambulance can cost upwards of a thousand dollars. Something to think about!!!

John
|
Greece
August 13, 2009

John in Greece writes:

@ Eric in NM, Susan in Florida and Donald in VA.

You know me guys, sometimes (regularly) I write with my heart. Let me offer some "help". We are all friends here. ALL!

@ Eric (you know how much I respect you) -- Susan never asked you something, because she did "ask" SNP, Joe and Zharkov, who -- from time to time -- "underline" Russia's new role. I think that her comment was extremely right and you know that she loves you and respects you. All of us? I mean she is a friend -- you know that! (I apologize if I have not understand correctly)

@ Thanks for the "thank you John", but I think that I do not deserve this. I have not done a thing. You are the guy that deserves a great "thank you" for being here and sharing your ideas with us. Of course, you know that I cannot help you with them, but the fact that you are thinking, dreaming and imaging a better world means a healthy brain and a man I admire.

THE MOST IMPORTANT GUYS:
We are not so special as we think. It's not only me and you, Eric and SNP, Susan and Zharkov, Joe and Ann, Donald etc. It's the platform: DipNote! And I see too many great new ("old" too) voices saying important things to make us continue this great "debate"/international diplomatic conversation. I mean we are a universal team (within our different approaches)! We could call it DipNote amateur "diplomats", who often can be heard by people we could not imagine at all that would listen to us (as Eric wisely has stated: you never know who is reading).
--

Anyway, I'm working on a new comment that Susan and Eric brought to table without knowing that they did. That's why, I strongly believe that all of you guys in this Blog are spiritual and healthy. Because, sometimes, we don't initially understand how much important a pure dialogue can become, but it is!

Thank you all for your extremely kind words -- KEEP ON BEING HERE!

Susan
|
Florida, USA
August 13, 2009

Susan in Florida writes:

@ John in Greece and Donald in VA -- My concern with Russia has always been the same. Their history does not reflect a desire, or a resolve, for freedom and human rights. I agree with you... I do not trust them, and I believe that our government should trust them with scepticism.

@ Eric in New Mexico -- Eric, I read your posts with interest, and find them informative. I always appreciate your comments. That said... my comments about Russia were not directed at you. They were directed at SNP, Zharkov, and Joe in TN. I was responding to comments made that I was "clueless" about Russia and Putin's intent. It was to point to what is going on in that part of the world, right now.

Donald
|
Virginia, USA
August 14, 2009

Donald in Virginia writes:

I'm just honored and humbled at the same time! We have been offering a multitude of writings in hope that people will listen, and make the world safer for all people! I admit being away for a period of time working. Sometimes the job has to come first!

I am certainly glad we all share a bond of writing, communicating and making our thoughts known in the Dipnote for everyone to read. I also admit my typing skills get debunked by accident. My brain waves move faster than my fingers can type. (Chuckle)

We are all Dipnote Care Bears -- I would salute everyone, John in Greece, Eric in New Mexico, Zharkov, Joe in TN, Susan in Florida, all those that have promoted ideas, thoughts and were bold enough to stand-up with the comments. We certainly have to formally Salute the State Department by offering this method to express our thoughts.

I was truly blessed by the United States Navy having served onboard two United States Warships, qualified Surface Warfare and managed to attend the best Navy Fire Fighting Schools in the Country.

I continue to teach people about techniques and skills that help them in case of fires, floods or natural disasters. Today I thought about those that are in a flood situation. If people can remember the simple letters of H I K they will have a greater chance of survival. This method is shoring. You make the 4x4's from wood or steel to shore up your home or buildings. The H and I beams are used for ceilings, the K is used for doors or hatches. This provides more strength to your structure. The walls of the structure just place 2x4's or 4x4's in a slant position. Ensure you nail these studs down. This technique is not new, was first used onboard the German Battleship Bismark during world war two. You plug holes in pipes with shoals. Being creative you cut a round piece of wood, then simple enough take a hammer and plug the wood in the hole. If you ever have a fire and flood at the same time, remember the Fire is the higher priority. Always stay low more oxygen, use blankets, fire extinguishers, and when evacuating "USE THE BACK OF YOUR HANDS" especially in the dark. If you use the open part of your hands, grab electrical cable you will get zapped. The back of your hand you pull away quickly. Giving you a 2nd chance on life.

One of the greatest achievements I think looking back was an accident that happened, I was the first on the scene to respond. Years back a bus carrying shipyard workers, the bus flipped over coming off an overpass. I was just on the highway heading to the store, when I witnessed the entire accident. I stopped my van, put my emergency blinkers on, then quickly went to the bus. I was successful at removing 5 passengers that were hurt from the flipped bus. Few minutes passed and others came and helped get the rest of the passengers out and safe! When the Ambulance arrived, the first question the EMT asked, "How did everyone get off the bus so quick? We simple said, "We did" and then I departed, knowing they were all in good hands with EMT. The news reported headlines next days paper, the bus driver had been drinking, and recieved a DUI. All the passengers and driver was safe and got the medical treatment needed.

Good Day Everyone! and Godbless!!!

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 14, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

My appologies Susan, it's been about 30 years since I've had my eyes checked, and I'm either halucinating or I need reading glasses.

Anyway, it is one thing to pledge to do something, it's another to come up with the big bucks to make it reality. If the Russians want to go broke spending their money on hardware and bases for an obsolete Black Sea fleet, ( way things are going with their relations with Ukraine, their lease won't be renewed), then that's their choice.

I think they'd be better off spending it on cleaning up the biological disaster waiting to happen in the Aral sea ( which has shrunk to the point where rodents and other mammals could become infected with the leftovers of the biological weapons testing they did on an island which is soon to be part of the mainland - it may be at this point, the report I read was a few years old.)

They've already had one really close call with smallpox from that site, and the only reason it didn't break out nationwide in the Soviet era after several people died in the closest town was a General's quick thinking to make sure the train to Moscow didn't stop in that town till containment was assured. 100% fatalities among the infected, about half a dozen all told. The family of one researcher who was 15 km away from the island on a ship taking bio samples of the water who became exposed.

If you like, I'll provide the links to the reading material I've been brushing up on of late.

I've said before that I think we're really lucky to be having this conversation at all, and yes, it is still possible to extinct the human race, simply by accident, regardless of whether we point missiles at each other or not.

If I was a Russian, I wouldn't be worried about missile defense, NATO expantion, or the economy. But I'd be scared stiff by my nation's cold war legacy, for good reason.

There are worse things than nukes.

Susan
|
Florida, USA
August 14, 2009

Susan in Florida writes:

@ John in Greece -- You stated it very well. We are all friends here. I, too, love Dipnote. I am impressed by the quality and diversity of the daily Dipnote postings. The comments from bloggers, from around the world, are always genuine and thoughtful. They keep me thinking! And, John, thank you for putting it in the proper perspective. I hope you are fully recovered. Best regards.

@ Eric in New Mexico -- Thank you for your response. I was offended to be called "clueless" because I did not believe that Russia had ANYONE'S best interest in mind, including their own citizens. Your post certainly verifies this. Russia does not seem honorable or benign to me. Anyway, I'd appreciate the link, when you have time. Keep up the interesting posts. This is why I love Dipnote... the exchange of information and comments/thoughts is the best! And we can directly communicate with our government. Well done, DoS.

John
|
Greece
August 15, 2009

John in Greece writes:

@ Susan in Florida -- Don't make me feel permanently ill now (LOL). Relax, I AM theoretically OK! Eric in NM "underlined" something extremely interesting, I would love to hear more about:

QUOTE: There are worse things than nukes. END OF QUOTE.

I think that this "guy" in New Mexico (Chuckle) writes something extremely important again !

P.S.@ Susan: Thank you very much for your interest! You make me really happy to know that great women are in the American educational system.

Zharkov
|
United States
August 16, 2009

Zharkvov in U.S.A. writes:

Russia seemed content to be a teddy bear until NATO broke the Reagan promise and advanced toward their borders, and before Georgia attacked them. We didn't have a problem until NATO and our "alliance" with Georgia caused one.

While Reagan's promise and NATO threat may have been illusory from our viewpoint, the killing of Russians was not. The State Department parroting the initial Georgian lie that Russia attacked first was the final insult.

As with any other country, if you deceive their leaders and train their neighbors to kill their citizens, they lose interest in our warm regards.

It is astonishing that Russian leaders continue to offer us second, third, and fourth chances at a peaceful relationship while we begin training Georgia's army again, and I think we should try harder to treat Russia fairly and honorably. It is worth repeating that Russians now look to our deeds, not our words, if we want to prevent another Cold War.

It seems some in our government have difficulty deciding who the next enemy should be - Republicans, war vets, patriotic Americans, Iran, or Russia. So many possibilities, so little time. Maybe we should limit our search to the guys who are actually shooting at us?

One thing the State Department could do is to lobby Congress to repeal the now-obsolete Jackson-Vanik Amendment and show Russia that we are willing to put the Cold War in the past where it belongs. There is no reason to exclude Russia from our markets when they do not exclude our corporations from their markets. If the Golden Rule is not part of our foreign policy, then we need a new foreign policy.

Donald
|
Virginia, USA
August 16, 2009

Donald in Virginia writes:

@ Zharkvov in U.S.A. -- When Russia decides to deploy two Attack Submarines off our coast and your saying let's have peace? If Russia truly cared about Peace they would have "Stand-Down" from operations around Georgia and they certainly would not be sending Attack Submarines in waters close to the United States. This does not sound like girl scout's passing out cookies when they are showing off their strength. I seriously doubt Europe trusts Russia either. Russia has to prove themselves and stop their own aggressions. We all want peace, first show me peace, tell me peace but back it up with Peace, not with Attack Submarines.

John
|
Greece
August 16, 2009

John in Greece writes:

@ Zharkov in U.S.A. -- Z, things are simple: Russia attacked Georgia (remember?) Now it's proved even more. And it's even more obvious than... the radio transcript that Eric in NM gave you.

Would you like some more?

Susan in Florida writes:

@ Zharkov in U.S.A., SNP in Syria, and Joe in TN. "Putin pledges MILITARY build up in Georgia..." This was in the news today. Just thought I'd bring it to your attention since all of you believe that Russia isn't interested in any type of military build up and are only interested in "getting along" with everyone. I am sure you will find some excuse for this action on their part.

Posted on Wed Aug 12, 2009

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 17, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Susan in Florida, I don't know why my post with links to testimony before Congress didn't take, but a simple google search- Bioweapons + Soviet + Programs- should give you links to what I was reading.

Yeltsin ended the offensive bioweapons programs in the 90's that employed some 60,000 , and U.S./ Russian cooperation since has helped re-employ these scientists in more peaceful persuits, as well as funding some clean up of sites, including chemical weapons destruction, and help with monitoring.

It's really hard for me to guage Russian intent, sometimes it seems the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing, othertimes it's like they're going through knee-jerk reaction on a political level of evolution , a-la "Spasticus Autisticus".

I would say though that if their subs surface off our east coast, rather than attempt to remain concealed...then there's a certain ammount of transparency going on between our governments, and one must judge intent accordingly.

Anyway...this is the "Welcome to Dipnote" section of the blog, not a discussion on Russia, so this will be my last post on the subject here.

What would be extremely interesting, if not news worthy, would be if Dept. of State sent out a few invitations to heads of state to post blog entry once in awhile, issue specific to their concerns in bilateral relations with the U.S., and see if that helps promote good dialogue.

Just a thought...

Donald
|
Virginia, USA
August 17, 2009

Donald in Virginia writes:

@Eric in New Mexico -- I would say its difficult for anyone to Judge what the Russians true motives are when they are posturing their Naval Fleet around U.S. waters and still have a stronghold over the country of Georgia. Diplomatic channels need to be addressed to ensure we don't end up with World War 3 in our backyard. I can say from serving in the U.S. Navy this makes me a bit nervous knowing they are getting closer to our coast. Especially, when they are Nuclear Class Submarines. If not mistaken years back, the Russians had an accident with one of it's Nuclear powered submarine on our coast, they even made a movie, or documentary on the incident. I think President Barack Obama might want to read, or watch that movie, then he would get a better understanding about the Russians. Off hand I can't think of the title, but had to do with a "Boomer" which is a ballistic Missile Nuclear Russian Submarine that something went wrong, and No not talking about "The Hunt for Red October" this was something different. A russian sailor saved the boat, and perished from the nuclear radiation by capping off the reactor. I believe it was a true story. That could of turned into something else completely, like an accidental Nuclear Device going off undersea, which should make people think more about the consequences of Nuclear ships or submarines.

Susan
|
Florida, USA
August 18, 2009

Susan in Florida writes:

@ Donald in Virginia -- I think the book/movie you are thinking of is K-19 The Widowmaker. The book's author is Ret Capt Peter Huchthausen. The book is very good. The movie is not bad. The whole incident was very, very, sad. Hope this is of help. I really hate it when I can't remember the details of something I've read or seen. The movie came out in 2002, I believe.

John
|
Greece
August 18, 2009

John in Greece writes:

@ Donald in Virginia -- I absolutely agree with you, concerning the Russians. A couple of days ago, I had taken the decision not to mention my fears, but as long as I see people having the same fears I got, I will briefly add some more bullets in Donald's arsenal:

1. Not only Georgia, but also Ukraine, Poland plus any NATO project in what they think as "their neighbouring danger" and any territory they think that still belongs to them no matter if their "bloodthirsty Empire" expired!

2. They keep on working towards creating a European energy monopoly.

3. Now they also use nuclear "strategy" to make this energy monopoly project even stronger. They are trying to build an electrical nuclear station in Turkey. Obviously, their "KGB" collaboration in providing technology and nuclear materials in Syria, Iran and maybe N. Korea made them decide that it's a good business, with both money and political "influence".

4. Even the Russian Church -- under the new "Head of Priests" -- is all of a sudden attempting to become the "leader" of all the Orthodox Churches. I think this means something too, especially if you think how fanatic Muslims use this "socio-button" (Religion).

Ok! some simple thoughts from me... I could write for hours, but sometimes simple civilians like us may say stupid things. I'll be honest. I understand that Mr. Obama's Administration foreign policy is to make U.S.-Russian relations better and safer. I like this! (Besides, great job from the American diplomatic side!) Nobody of us is a fun of war or "cold war". However, when you deal with people who CANNOT TRUST (Russians), you always must CROSS CHECK.

So, I absolutely agree with you Donald. Nevertheless, I don't agree that you "hit" Eric (you addressed him) with a question, although he stated that QUOTE ...this is the "Welcome to Dipnote" section of the blog, not a discussion on Russia, so this will be my last post on the subject here. END OF QUOTE. We must respect this, as long as he stated that he won't answer back right now, concerning this issue. This is a typical, healthy, non-negotiable diplomatic procedure. After all, sometimes, waiting for the appropriate time to talk is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of wisdom (my prediction).

@ Eric in New Mexico -- I won't talk about Russia (Chuckle). I couldn't predict the time we would have a disagreement. But I think that even now that happens it is extremely healthy. I'm talking about the "role" of the "Welcome to Dipnote". I strongly disagree with you. As long as there is no "chat room" and according to my opinion we should not have one in here, I think that we must have a "small back door", for opening discussions. The DipNote posts are extremely important, but you know better than me that news run with even bigger speeds. If readers feel that they cannot breath (expressing their views, fears, impressions, whatever) they will go to other "web-places" to express their interest about issues. And then, instead of having news, facts or arguments "from the source", they will become anti-American propaganda victims.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 18, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Donald, If the Pentagon is not concerned, neither am I. Fact is, we do exactly the same thing in international waters...on patrol with our nuclear subs.

I wouldn't read a whle lot into it other than the Russians have the capacity to do so, despite having decommissioned 4/5ths of their "boomers" since the fall of the Soviet empire.

They're about to abandon their Bulava missile project due to repeated system failures during testing, and as I said, they can go broke trying to maintain parity with the US if they want to, or think it's neccessary, but that's their choice, isn't it?

End of subject as far as I'm concerned.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 19, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ John in Greece, I would agree that when the Dipnote staff devotes two weeks solid on the Secretary's trip to Africa, it's hard to find an open topic on another subject that's currently making news, or as an ongoing issue with developments (whether that be about Russia or not).

If staff were to uplink the daily briefing to the blog as "topics du jour" that might be the "catch all, be all, end all" to frustrations among readers and commenters alike.

Not like this is the first time I've suggested this, but if they thought it was a good idea, we wouldn't be discussing this on the "Welcome to Dipnote" section of the blog.

Logical, no?

In any case, I suppose we could all spin this conversation about Russia in context with the kinds of diplomatic tools we could use to "leverage" good governance (see question of the week), in the sprit of keeping things on-topic and in format, but that sort of limits the range of public opinion options.

I'll tell you why I went into "self-limiting mode" John, and the reason is simple. I don't like repeating myself and I have nothing more to add after some 50,000 words printed here on this blog on the topic of Russia ( a conservative estimate).

Except this...(chuckle). Consider it well.

The only way the human race will get over the concept of "Us and Them" generating a dysfunctional mistrust that has allowed the building of whole industries devoted to killing everyone off, turning the planet into something that resembles Mars in a few hours time, and fuels preacher's proseletizing of "end times" phrophesies and conspiracies (some actively seeking to create the conditions of apocalypse); Will be when the human race finds life on another planet and we all "get a grip" when we realize there's another "Them" out there, or we have a really tragic event that changes everything, for all of us.

It's hard to undue an education. We don't like change when a mindset has become comfortable.

Comfortably numb more like, to the insanity we as nations and peoples have grown accustomed to.

"Us and Them" ends with "you and me", a radical new diplomatic mindset created within one individual at a time, and it's too bad folks haven't bottled it yet into an "international beverage" served at the local pub.( hat tip to PJ Crowley for a little out of context inspiration).

Regarding something Donald said, we've been there, done that...google "USS Thresher".

Regarding "invitations" John, as you well know from your challenge to me to come up with a solution to the crisis in Somalia (which I did in 24 hours), I don't have a problem challenging the think tank community of PHD's to meet me half-way to the table in debate, and that goes for heads of state as well. I've got a bone to pick with every one of them.

I wouldn't bother to be here if I didn't think I could make a difference, but I'd like to put that to the test.

So let me just speculate what would happen if I got an invitation to speak at next Spring's Nuclear Security Conference for 20 minutes.

The first 5 minutes would be spent expressing my amazement "that we were even having this conversation at all.", the next five minutes would be spent pinning everyone's ears back and telling them to "get a grip", and the next 9 minutes telling them exactly how to go about doing it. And the final minute spent on destroying the concept of "Us and Them", and thanking those that made it possible to get a lot off my chest in a very short time.

I guarrantee two things, I WILL change the nature of the global conversation by presenting a perspective on the history that can't be obtained from anyone else.

Thing is, I'm not convinced folks want to end this insanity as yet. Despite The President's speech in Prague.

Thus I'm not convinced anything I might have to say will make a difference in how folks get along eventually, but I will get folks to think about it, that much is highly probable if not problematic for some.

Perhaps that's simply a "given"...(chuckle).

Aileen O.
|
United Kingdom
August 21, 2009

Aileen in Scotland writes:

21st August 2009

Dear Senator Clinton

Release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi

I write as a former resident of Lockerbie, and former pupil of Lockerbie Academy. I have listened with dismay the protestations from the U.S. regarding the release of above. The Justice Minister Kenny McAskill made it clear that Scottish justice had convicted the prisoner accordingly, but his release was now to return home to die. An action I support. However, it has been on my mind for some time that had the U.S. been as open and honest as the Scottish Government, regarding the shooting down of Iran Flight 655, none of us would be in this situation today.

When the bodies of the passengers of Pan Am Flight 103 started to rain down on Lockerbie, the first reaction was shock and bewilderment. For those who witnessed the aftermath, it was hell on earth. My own elderly aunt had five bodies in her garden, one on the roof, and body parts strewn along the road. Friends of my parents had their lives, and their home, blown apart in seconds. The vast fluorescent wedges of debris along the hillsides, the smell of fuel still heavy in the air. Worse still, the child's dress fluttering on the wire fence near the road, a Christmas present, never received, still with the remnants of the festive wrapping. Dollar bills dancing around the grass verges, because no-one had the heart to pick them up. Luggage lying in fields as if abandoned deliberately, their owners, still strapped to their seats apparently sleeping, but dead, miles from their plane.

I know our Justice Minister Kenny McAskill is an honourable and intelligent man, and what he did yesterday was supported by those who also thought Megrahi was properly convicted, yet also held doubts about the reality of his actions. He did not bomb the Maid of the Seas in isolation, and the question for us all has always been, who really perpetrated this crime?

I hope you will reflect on those who washed the victims clothes, who made tea and comforted strangers in a small Scottish town far away from the U.S. Even today, another bride leaves her wedding flowers on the Memorial, as I did in 1991. No photographs, no publicity, just a quiet moment of reflection on an otherwise happy day. But I would also reflect on the 66 children who died on Iran Flight 655 out of the total of 290 civilians, shot down by U.S. missiles. The crew of the USS Vincennes were honoured after their tour of duty. It is a confusing irony to those who see reward and condemnation for the same act.

You are a respected politician, and also a woman in politics, world wide, that is a tough act! But some of the statements yesterday hurt the population here. Scotland is an old and proud country, and the Scottish Diaspora in the U.S. vast, indeed John Paul Jones, the founder of the U.S. Navy was born close to Lockerbie, so the links are still strong with your comparatively young nation. But it was Scotland who bore the brunt of this disaster and if we decide this is the appropriate action, then I think we should receive your consideration and respect in this single act of compassion. It would be comforting to have a visit from someone from the U.S. Government as we seem so often talked of, but rarely spoken to.

Kind regards,

Aileen O.

Susan
|
Florida, USA
September 3, 2009

Susan in Florida writes:

@ John in Greece -- I have been reading about the events in Greece. First the fires, then the explosion(s) in Athens. Hope all is well with you, and family and friends. Best regards.

John
|
Greece
September 5, 2009

John in Greece writes:

@ Susan in Florida -- And now the elections (LOL). You are right, very hard "semester". I also watched the news with the same agony of yours, concerning California fires.

I'm personally OK. My friends and family too! Thanks a lot again for your interest.

By the way, I really loved your post concerning Religious Freedom. Especially this part: QUOTE: So, when making a choice be sure to know what you have chosen, and ask yourself, does it promote empathy and compassion for others, or hatred and intolerance. END OF QUOTE.

I think that you were misunderstood by someone-s, but that's OK. Go ahead and ask for your 1$ due to this misunderstanding -- if you recall Eric's "PNL of debating" (CHUCKLE). According to my opinion, you are right!

Susan
|
Florida, USA
September 14, 2009

Susan in Florida writes:

@ John in Greece -- Thank you for your kind words from September 5th. My own faith has been a great comfort to me. It has also been a guide for me in dealing with everyday life. I do think that everyone should have the right to choose who or what they believe in. It really should be a given! Glad all is well with you, and hope that continues for you. Best regards.

Susan
|
Florida, USA
September 17, 2009

Susan in Florida writes:

@ John in Greece -- Well, John, here we are again, a thought or two on Russia.... Russia is choosing to sell arms to both Brazil and Venezuela and we are basically "disarming" in Europe to make them happy. What are your thoughts on this? You are closer to the situation then we are, and I always value your opinion. You know how I feel, I just do not trust Russia. I've said it before, their history does not speak well for them. I hope President Obama is making the right choice. I voted for him and do like him. Best regards to you.

John
|
Greece
September 18, 2009

John in Greece writes:

@ Susan in Florida -- QUOTE: For one secure in what they believe in, that's all water off a duck's back. Don't get your feathers ruffled (Susan). END OF QUOTE.

Trust the President, Robert Gates and the Administration. I think that they know all these issues better than us.

Susan
|
Florida, USA
September 20, 2009

Susan in Florida writes:

@ John in Greece -- That is good advise. We should leave it to the experts. Hope all is well with you. Best regards.

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