DipNote: The Week in Review

Posted by Luke Forgerson
May 23, 2011
Men at Coffee Shop in Egypt Watch Televised Address by President Obama

President Barack Obama delivered a speech on U.S. policy in the Middle East and North Africa at the Department of State on May 19, 2011. Recognizing the changes that have taken place in the Middle East and North Africa in recent months, President Obama announced a new approach to promoting democratic reform and economic development, as well as peace and security across the region.

The President said, "...We face an historic opportunity. We have embraced the chance to show that America values the dignity of the street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator. There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity. Yes, there will be perils that accompany this moment of promise. But after decades of accepting the world as it is in the region, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be."

While welcoming the President to the Department of State, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said:

"Mr. President, it is fitting that you have chosen to come here to the State Department to speak about the dramatic changes we have witnessed around the world this year.

"Now, on the back wall of this historic Benjamin Franklin Room is a portrait of the leader of Tunis, given as a gift in 1865 by the people of Tunisia in honor of the enduring friendship between our nations at the end of our Civil War. A century and a half later, Tunisians -- and courageous citizens from across the region -- have given the world another gift: a new opening to work together for democracy and dignity, for peace and opportunity. These are the values that made America a great nation, but they do not belong to us alone. They are truly universal. And it is profoundly in our interest that more people in more places claim them as their own.

"This moment belongs to the people of the Middle East and North Africa. They have seized control of their destiny and will make the choices that determine how the future of the region unfolds.

"But, for America, this is a moment that calls out for clear vision, firm principles, and a sophisticated understanding of the indispensable role our country can and must play in the world."

Following the President and Secretary's remarks, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes took questions via Twitter about U.S. policy in the Middle East and North Africa. Earlier in the week, President Obama met with King Abdullah II of Jordan. The President also met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

Secretary Clinton met with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, and together they signed a Framework Agreement on U.S. participation in EU crisis management operations. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon outlined U.S. engagement with Europe and called Europe "crucial to solving major international challenges."

Secretary Clinton also met with New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully at the Department of State. The Secretary and Foreign Minister discussed cooperation in the Asia Pacific region, as evidenced by New Zealand's recent participation in Pacific Partnership 2011 and the response to the Christchurch earthquake. They also discussed goals for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit taking place later this year. The second round of the U.S.-hosted, APEC Senior Officials Meetings (SOM) took place last week in Montana, where participants focused on trade, green growth, and regulatory cooperation and convergence.

Elsewhere, American diplomats addressed a broad range of global issues, from bringing pirates to justice to responding to food price volatility. Ambassador Eric Goosby provided an update on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria board meeting, and Senior Advisor Cindy Huang shared how the U.S. is promoting nutrition through the Thousand Days initiative. In Washington, Secretary Clinton spoke at the Obama Administration's launch of the U.S. International Strategy for Cyberspace, which underscores U.S. efforts to achieve an open, interoperable, reliable, and secure cyberspace.

Secretary Clinton also unveiled the "Secretary's Global Diaspora Forum" -- a program organized by the Secretary's Office of Global Partnership Initiatives with USAID and the Migration Policy Institute that brought together over 300 leaders from diaspora communities across the United States to discuss and collaborate on projects related to development and diplomacy with their countries of origin. Likewise, with the Secretary's support, Americans of Mexican heritage mobilized behind a new initiative to encourage proactive engagement between the United States and Mexico. Administrator Rajiv Shah shared how the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is working with diaspora communities on development issues, including in Sudan and Haiti.

Administrator Shah and Ambassador Princeton Lyman provided an update on their recent travels to Sudan, while Ambassador Kenneth Merten attended the inauguration of Michel Martelly as the 56th President of Haiti. The United States is working closely with the Haitian government and people to reduce the vulnerability of their country to future earthquakes, with a particular focus on advancing seismological research and scientific understanding. A group of applied scholars and mid-career researchers from the United States and nine other Western Hemisphere nations will be addressing seismic engineering, among other topics, as part of the Fulbright Regional Network for Applied Research Program, which Deputy Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs Alina Romanowski helped launch in Argentina.

In Senegal, Under Secretary of State Judith McHale met with young African leaders, while U.S. embassies and consulates across the continent are focusing on youth outreach throughout the month of May. Similarly, the State Department's "Doors to Diplomacy" contest encourages high school students around the world to become involved in foreign affairs; this year, teams from New Jersey and China won the competition.

In other State Department news, the Operations Center marked its 50th anniversary, a new Passport Agency opened in Atlanta, Georgia, and @StateDept passed 100,000 followers on Twitter. On behalf of everyone here at DipNote, I thank all who helped @StateDept reach that milestone. I also thank our DipNote readers for your continued engagement, and we look forward to hearing from you in the week ahead.



Bea D.
North Carolina, USA
May 24, 2011

Bea D. in North Carolina writes:

In 2010, President Obama called for "focusing [the Gaza blockade] narrowly on arms shipments":

[President Obama] also called for an easing of Israel's blockade. "It seems to us that there should be ways of focusing narrowly on arms shipments, rather than focusing in a blanket way on stopping everything and then, in a piecemeal way, allowing things into Gaza," [Obama] told reporters.

Which brings us back to the Gaza freedom flotilla. Obviously, we are not bringing weapons to Gaza. Is anyone claiming that we are? Therefore, according to view advocated by President Obama in 2010, the Israeli government should let us pass to Gaza unmolested, since the Israeli government should "focus narrowly on arms shipments."

This is not, at present, the Israeli government policy. Last year, the Irish boat Rachel Corrie was stopped by Israeli authorities from going to Gaza. To my knowledge, no one from the Israeli government ever claimed that they had any reason to believe that the Rachel Corrie contained weapons. As the Guardian reported at the time:

The former U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, Denis Halliday, said from the ship that trade unions and government officials had inspected its cargo. "So we are 100 percent confident that there is nothing that is offensive or dangerous," he told Israel's Channel 2 TV.

The issue with the blockade is not the Israeli right of self-defense against armed attack. This right is not in serious international dispute. The issue in dispute is the deliberate punishment of civilians, and denial of their freedom. If the policy in 2010 had changed to that advocated by President Obama, "focusing narrowly on arms shipments," there would be no dispute worth noticing today regarding the blockade.

Please ensure the safe arrival of the Freedom Flotilla in Gaza, continue to support the President's peace efforts, and keep telling Israel to respect human rights for all.

Tin Y.
May 25, 2011

Tin Y. writes:

I am writing this email from the name of the 22,000 selctees from this year Diversity Visa Lottery.


We would like to kindly ask to be granted the privilege to speak with congresswoman Zoe Lofgren since we strongly believe that she is the one of the few that can truthfully understand our issue and help us get what we were promised initially to have from DOS, and that’s our Selection for Further Processing for Green Card from this year DV lottery.

As you may already know, on May 13, the Department of State, voided the diversity visa 2012 (dv-2012 ) results due to a glitch in their computer program. Before they cancelled the results, millions of people all around the world from May 1 - May 5, had already checked in for the results. A day after, i.e. , from May 6th onwards(so to speak), the site was having some technical issues which hindered entrants from checking the results. This was until the cancellation announcement on May 13th. In the meantime, 22,000 winners had already proceeded with their next steps for further processing. According to DOS 22,000 are the number of selectees who were able to successfully login and check their notification letter.

I'm calling on behalf of the 22 000 selectees - our group has set up an online website and a united facebook group account. We are humbly calling to ask for your assistance, since we consider, it was an unfair decision to annul the results. And a decision for a redraw without retaining the initial 22,000 innocent selectees - simply due to a mistake created by a computer program. Majority of us have been morally and financially overwhelmed and hurt- at best. Now, it's critical that you also know -our aim for asking to reinstate our status as selectees - does not demand that the rest of the Diversity Visa Lottery entrants be stripped off their chances to win.

Please visit our community on Facebook at:


There are many heartwrenching stories to be heard there.

By sharing my story, I hope you can help 22,000 human beings across the world dreaming of living in and contributing to the United States. We did our part and didn't know that there was a computer error at the time of our application or winning. The results were indeed random to

us. It's critical that you also know that by humbly asking you to reinstate our status as selectees, we do not demand that the rest of the Diversity Visa Lottery entrants be stripped off their chances to win. One suggestion for the DOS would be to kindly allow the 22,000 winners to go ahead with their visa application and choose the rest of the winners (78,000) in the second draw on July 15. I believe that would be a win-win situation for all parties involved.

Please take a look on the following links for more info:


Also please find attached the lawyer letter to David Donahue.

Thank you so much for using your valuable time reading this email

You are one of our greatest hope we have.

Please hear our desperate shout for help.

With kind regards,

The 22,000 selectees

Health C.
May 27, 2011

H.P. in the Philippines writes:

I have visited the DipNote blog from it's beginning. It just keeps getting better and better. I like the new formats, such as "Week in Review", and the "new end of the year" reviews by the editors. As usual, the photos are outstanding and always pull me into the posting. I do appreciate the time the different authors of these postings take to tell us about what they are doing and what is being accomplished by the State Department around the world, as well as, here in the U.S.A.. Keep up the excellent job you are doing, it is noticed and appreciated. Keept it up and congratulations. :-)

United States
May 31, 2011

Engola in the U.S.A. writes:

this may be not about this topic, but please address it. its about DV-LOTTERY 2012 results.

while the results were not uniform, they are random.

Here is my own simplistic 2 step analysis:

1. Mathematically speaking, these results certainly could have have occurred naturally. As such, the results are random.

2. Even if the results did not occur naturally because of a “computer glitch”, the results are still random because no one in advance knew how to increase one’s chances. Thus there was a level playing field. Example: Lotto – 6 numbers drawn 1-40. Computer glitch causes a drawing in which the 6 numbers drawn are 1-6. But no one knew about it in advance. It would seem to be a strange result, but it is still random because no one knew about the glitch in advance, thus they were unable to modify behavior accordingly (buy tickets with those 6 numbers).

In retrospect, one can always see how to have improved one’s chances. In retrospect, a Lottery never seems random; one can always find a pattern. But the determination of randomness is based on equal probability: whether an individual was able to take advantage in advance, thereby increasing his or her chances. Here the answer is undoubtedly no. There is no evidence of anyone knowing in advance that the results would be skewed in such a manner; there is no evidence of people modifying their behavior to gain an advantage.

There are other reasons that this Lottery was conducted randomly, but as made clear in my May 17th letter to Mr. Donahue, no matter one’s view on the randomness issue, NOTHING could justify destroying the hopes and dreams of 22,000 people who played by the rules, as DOS has done by invalidating these results. NOTHING could justify this decision to break the honored commitment of the US government to these people. NOBODY, not even the non-winners, called for invalidating the 22,000 winning notifications.

There is an appropriate, fair, and reasonable way of going forward in this matter – and that would be to recognize the 22,000 winners and hold a new selection event in which an additional 78-100,000 individuals are selected. To not take this way going forward is an insult to these 22,000 individuals and flatly contravenes American principles of fairness and justice.


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