DipNote: The Week in Review

Posted by Luke Forgerson
February 14, 2011
Woman Wearing Egyptian Flag Walks in Tahrir Square

About the Author: Luke Forgerson serves as DipNote's Managing Editor.

People around the world watched as history was made last week in Cairo's Tahrir Square. President Barack Obama said, "The word Tahrir means liberation. It is a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom. And forevermore it will remind us of the Egyptian people -- of what they did, of the things they stood for, and how they changed their country, and in doing so changed the world."

In his remarks, President Obama underscored U.S. commitment to Egypt as the country pursues a transition to democracy. Earlier in the week, President Obama called for the voices of the Egyptian people to be heard, and U.S. officials appealed for the universal rights of the Egyptian people to be respected. Deputy Secretary Steinberg testified before Congress on developments in Egypt and Lebanon and implications for U.S. policy in the region.

The people of Sudan continued to take historic steps of their own last week. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton congratulated Sudan, both northern and southern leaders, on the results of the Southern Sudan Referendum. President Obama announced U.S. intent to recognize Southern Sudan as a sovereign, independent state in July 2011. Continuing his 25th trip as U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan, Major General (Ret.) Scott Gration visited Port Sudan, a city on the country's eastern coast, and completed his third visit to Darfur in the last two months.

Decades hence, historians will closely examine the recent events that have taken place in Egypt and Sudan. Last week, historians at the Department of State looked back at 150 years of the Foreign Relations of the United States series, the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions.

History holds many lessons for us, and may even prompt us to ask, "How can we do better?" That was the question Secretary Clinton addressed when she convened the first ever, all-hands-on-deck ambassadorial conference. Kris Balderston focused on how we can do better by empowering our ambassadors to build partnerships with businesses, foundations, academia, faith-based groups, and diaspora communities.

In Croatia, we saw an example of a public-private partnership that has helped remove landmines and unexploded ordnance from 500,000 square meters of land and rehabilitate it for agricultural use. In Estonia, the United States is working with a civilian, demining group to help protect post-conflict communities by safely clearing landmines and unexploded munitions.

The Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) seeks to deploy civilian expertise to help countries find and implement ways to prevent or emerge from violent conflict. S/CRS released its 2010 Year in Review publication, telling us about efforts in Afghanistan, Sudan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and other countries critical to our national security. In Afghanistan, for example, civilian expertise and U.S. development programs are assisting farmers increase agricultural productivity.

USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator Mark Lopes told us how a staff exchange program between the U.S. and Brazilian development agencies will create more opportunities to leverage our assistance in third countries, and Assistant Secretary Jose Fernandez described how the United States and Brazil are working together to foster economic partnerships.

In Pakistan, the U.S. and Pakistani governments are working together -- in what some have described as a model for cooperation on bioengagement elsewhere -- to detect and assess microbial and viral waterborne pathogens and to improve capacity to manage biological risks associated with drinking water supplies. The United States and Pakistan are also partnering to support English-language instruction for teachers and expand educational opportunities for youth.

Emphasizing the importance of dialogue among the government, academia, nonprofit, and private sectors, Chief Information Officer Susan Swart participated in the Tech@State conference on open source software. Swart said that the Department must keep pace as technology moves ahead. In Thailand, Ambassador Kristie Kenney is using the latest technology to engage the public through social media. Ambassador Susan Rice is also using social media to connect with others. She held a foreign policy town hall at Twitter last week and took questions from participants worldwide via @AmbassadorRice. In related news, the Department of State started tweeting last week in Arabic and Farsi.

Here at DipNote, we are preparing for the next installment of "Conversations With America," a series of live webcast discussions between representatives of prominent, non-governmental organizations and the State Department's senior leadership. Watch Special Advisor for International Disability Rights Judith Heumann hold a conversation with David Morrissey on Thursday, February 17 at 3:00 p.m. (EST), and submit your questions for them in advance of the webcast here.

In case you missed our most recent "Conversations With America" broadcast -- during which Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, Deputy Assistant Secretary Cheryl Benton, and Wade Henderson discussed U.S. efforts to combat human trafficking -- you can watch the video here.

And if you missed Secretary Clinton's piece for Glamour addressing the fight against child marriage, read it here. The Secretary shares about reconnecting with two of her heroes: Nujood Ali, the first child bride in Yemen to get a divorce, and Shada Nasser, Nujood's attorney. You will find Nujood's story, the story of a young girl who stood up for injustice and the brave woman who stood behind her, inspirational.

Finally, as spring break approaches in the United States, we share safety information for U.S. students traveling abroad. We encourage all students preparing for an international trip -- and their parents -- to take a moment to review this information, and we urge all U.S. citizens traveling, studying, or residing abroad to sign up online for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment makes it possible for the State Department to contact U.S. citizens abroad in the case of family emergency in the United States or because of a crisis in a foreign country.

Comments

Comments

palgye
|
South Korea
February 14, 2011

Palgye in South Korea writes:

There are so many great achievements. do not blame anyone .... And you still think a lot of work remains.

Ron
|
New York, USA
February 14, 2011

Ron in New York writes:

"The Human Spirit cries out for Freedom."

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
February 14, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

News Item;

(CNN) -- The U.S. State Department launched a new Farsi-language Twitter feed Sunday in a bid to connect with internet users in Iran.

"US State Dept recognizes historic role of social media among Iranians. We want to join in your conversations," the department said in its first tweet.

---

One thing the dept might take from my experience blogging and interacting with Iranian dissidents is the all intrusive regime covert presence in the Iranian blogospere, and expect to be interacting with agents of the regime posing as dissidents as well as the real thing and everything inbetween.

The brain-drain of intellect that Iran has been undergoing over thirty years is not in of itself homeless, wandering adrift in exile.

You build it, they will use the platform to express themselves.

Morover, there are half a million Iranian/Americans holding citizenship in the US and most have family in Iran.

State by its lonsome cannot hope to establish the credible links needed to get the word out, or scratch more than the surface of the daily grind inside Iran.

31 years of isolation and here's your way of gaining clarity if you're willing to seek their help to do this at the grass-roots level.

The other thing to remember is that Conspiracy theory tends to be a national pastime, or at least a distraction, that the regime quite willingly entertains and uses to sow doubt, split any unity in amongst opposition org's.

It might be different as a member of government than I as a citizen in how you want to deal with the negative, but as an American on an Iranian blog for instance when my government's policies were challenged, and a sound-bite was quoted, and misunderstood, I'd post the transcript full and unedited, and you folks have a leg up on me in this as I had to go looking for policy, you folks implement it so it should be at your fingertips to thwart dissemination of disinformation.

A sense of humor helps convey the American "attitude" toward tyranicly generated nonsense. And no, it is not a waste of your time to takle that head-on, it's the traditional challenge to stand up for what you believe in that's being put forth.

Next, understand that what America and the international community can do and what has been requested of us in support of freedom in Iran has already been laid out by a collection of Iranian ideas from various sources among the opposition, and posed as a framework for proceeding forward.(*)

On the basis that what was proposed in 2005 not only being consistant with long-term US policy, but strengthens it today.

One may note many similarities in how America's policy developed and was initiated in the latter half of the last admin. and the follow-through attempted by this one in terms of sanctions and asset freezes, while a search for someone reasonable to negotiate with from the regime continues, and perhaps will till hell freezes over.

Well, if we think Iran having nuclear weapons is unnacceptable, then logic would tell you the Iranian people probably also have a problem with that and the more you can encorage their voices in the matter, then you can start gaining their trust, having something in common.

Worked for me.

---

(*)-(excerpt)

" 1.  Implementation of full international economic and military sanctions on the Islamic Republic regime via UN security council resolution based on human rights, support for terrorism, and this to be tabled with or without IAEA board recommendation on the nuclear threat the theocracy poses.

...

2.  Full diplomatic sanction and closing of Iranian embassies world-wide, removal and deportation of regime representatives, their agents and spies from all nations. Diplomatic sanction by the UN, and removal of representation from this international forum till such time as a legitimate interim government can be established in Iran.

...

3.  Freezing of any and all financial assets of the Islamic Republic regime, their current and former leadership, and corporate interests world-wide, till such time as a new interim government can be established.

...

4.  Repeated statements by world leaders publicly calling for the leadership of the Islamic Republic regime to step down peacefully, and to relinquish the government to the hands and will of the Iranian people.

...

5.  The coordinated post-regime rebuilding of vital social institutions and infrastructure of democracy should be implemented now. The training of judges, civil servants, police, etc. The Iranian exile community can provide the talent, initially and there are many more inside Iran supporting the opposition who will answer the call to service as the situation permits. This will speed up the post-regime process, and greatly enhance stability in the interim government. "

--end excerpts--

Source:-The "Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran" (SMCCDI)

( Excerpts from letter of January 27, 2005 to George W. Bush. )

Pelo B.
|
Dominican Republic
February 14, 2011

Pelo B. in the Dominican Republic writes:

History keeps repeating itself.. When people are oppressed, suppressed and depressed they revolt. Finally the world is starting to see itself as a single organism and that coming together and unifying gives us so much power.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
February 14, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Resolving a conundrum;

What to do when an opposition group makes a request like this?

"4. Repeated statements by world leaders publicly calling for the leadership of the Islamic Republic regime to step down peacefully, and to relinquish the government to the hands and will of the Iranian people."

With regards to US policy maintaining support for "the people's will" in matters of regime replacement therapy indiginiously initiated, and not being it our place to determine the outcome;

There's a notable difference in being able to affect a peacful outcome among governments that America has vast security and aid association with than one that is actively hostile to the US and others among the UN family.

If one is incined to notice patterns of behavior, the hostile regime is more inclined to be more oppressive of its own population's universal rights, and in notable cases the regime takes a holier-than-though approach to telling its subjects how to be, rather than letting them be unobstructed citizens fully participating in society as they see fit, so long as harms no other citizen's ability to do so under a constitution based on universal rights.

The debate then must allow for the notion to be tossed forth that perhaps as alternative short of kinetic war, the US gov. would along with others deem the government of Iran to be worthy of removal by collective intent, following the judgement and understanding reached as to the totality of the threat the regime poses to a world that seeks to live free and at peace.

If you want to isolate the regime, the formula is pretty strait forwardly put by the Iranian opposition, if the political will to seek it is there among the UN member states.

But will US policy, not taking a "cookie-cutter" aproach, take a more proactive stance to supporting "regime replacement therapy" in hostile states than non?

I'd say as a matter of observation that it's probably high time we had that debate publicly, and noting VP Biden and a few senator's comments, that has begun in earnest I think.

Well, my thoughts are that one should not be timid with friend or foe, and always tell it like it is.

Iran has been given every opportunity to become a productive, respected member of nations, and has told everyone in so many ways they weren't worthy, so then it is up to us to tell the Iranian people they deserve better than that from their government, and that we'll seek to make it possible for the people to do what they need to do to deal with their problem.

And the logic being pro-active about resolving their problem as well as what may be in our collective cappacity to do in support, because the regime has made the threat it poses across the board, every other nation's problem to deal with.

Can we dictate the terms of a future government?

Sure we can, and that instance on abiding by international norms of conduct in relations is paramount to what folks are seeking by way of "behavior change" ...or were, probably convinced by now that that was not in any future that a reasonable mind might continue to anticipate becoming manifest.

It may be time to turn a corner in the mind and say that alternatives to the present regime in Iran should be explored, and co-initiated with the people, who are again taking a beating in their streets.

That's my best advice to the WH and State at this point in time.

Valiant s.
|
Nigeria
February 14, 2011

Valient S. in Nigeria writes:

THANKS AMERICA,THANKS PRESIDENT OBAMA AND THANKS AMERICAN CONGRESS FOR TEAM WORK...I AM PROUD AND CONFIDENT THAT WORLD WILL SOON ENJOY PEACE. PLEASE,CONTINUE TO SOCIALISE AFRICAN LEADERS. ENCOURAGE PRESIDENT JONATHAN TO ALWAY LOOK AROUND. AS BIG AS NIGERIA, WE DON'T HAVE LASER MACHINE OF ENT...ONCE AGAIN THANKS. GOD BLESS AMERICA.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
February 14, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Pelo B,

Aye then, you understand America's secret, we revolt by the vote every two years, and after two-hundred-thirty odd, we're just getting used to the idea of "hyperpower" status..(chuckle).

At this point one might say we've institutionalized revolution as a constant 50 states all being in flux. None would think to succeed from this union.

Fortunately the founding fathers not only allowed for additional ideas and amendments incorperated over time, but insisted on mechanism of succession in leadership that would assure the constant influx of ideas and timely change of leadership, in a predictably way the public could take as "tradition" after this long now.

Simply , Of the people being the ultimate check on government abuses of power, through accountability under the law.

As a taxpayer, every civil servant essentially works for you, the vast board of tustees placing in them our public trust, electing those to lead and organize the public will and enact policy and law to make it so.

Why then would anyone pay a bribe to someone in your employ?

It is a different order of institutional mindset that sets democracy apart from all other forms of government, as imperfected yet as it may be.

I enjoyed reading your comment, and ameobic dissertation..."Finally the world is starting to see itself as a single organism" which conjures up a vision of a mass of protoplasm.

So what do we feed this beast?

Donald M.
|
Virginia, USA
February 14, 2011

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

Bravo Zulu to the State Department and to President of the United States President Barack Obama However, the United States should ensure they watch Mubarak to see what happens next. If only Iraq could of been handled the way Egypt was done, can't change the past but History is being made. Seems like Obama team is finding the right steam, the form of communication to enhance the message. Iran and others can learn from Egypt and other Arab states that when people stand up, that should count. People will have a voice.

Godspeed in all languages, all faiths, and we welcome freedom.

Addy A.
|
California, USA
February 15, 2011

Addy A. in California writes:

Egypt issue was handled great at the end. In the beginning, some blamed us for not saying openly that we are against Mubarak, of course this is a political issue and well understood here as we don’t want to be blamed for anything. However, at the end the messages were clearer and this helped many including me to explain it to the people in Egypt via Twitter and Facebook. Well done

palgye
|
South Korea
February 15, 2011

Palgye in South Korea writes:

person in Korea, Secretary of State is friendly with the people, by talk, is hate me, I think is the problem.

why? i don't know and i'm fatigue.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
February 15, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Valient S. in Nigeria,

With a name like Goodluck, how can Mr. Johnathan go wrong?

That was my first thought when he became Nigeria's leader.

And with luck, hard work, and patience on the part of the people, I'm sure Nigeria will find its potential in the 21st century.

Now if the citizens of Nigeria inspire your leradership to think, then you've done your part in helping yourselves get where you want to be.

Best regards,

EJ

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