Conversations With America: A Discussion on Multilateral Diplomacy and U.S. Global Leadership

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
September 15, 2011

More:Questions Submitted on DipNote

On Thursday, September 15, 2011, Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs, held a discussion with Ellen Laipson, President and CEO of the Stimson Center, on "Multilateral Diplomacy and U.S. Global Leadership." The conversation was moderated by Cheryl Benton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, and streamed live here on DipNote.

You can find a complete transcript of the conversation here.



Massachusetts, USA
September 15, 2011

Maureen in Massachusetts writes:

Multilateral Diplomacy/Conversations:

Would Assistant Secretary Brimmer and Ms.Laipson be at liberty to discuss the hopeful release of the American hikers in Iran?

Massachusetts, USA
September 15, 2011

Maureen in Massachusetts writes:

Breaking glass ceilings in Multilateral Diplomacy... This was a fine conversation as Assistant Secretary Brimmer managed to touch on all the objectives of the organization while Ms.Laipson conveyed the concern for guarding against special interest groups within. One could see that with all the information needed to get out to the audience- time was short for questions. Thank you

A.samie M.
September 19, 2011

ASM in Egypt writes:

"GOD" Bless America

New Mexico, USA
September 18, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

I have a thought or two about how the dept of State may improve the whole concept of "a conversation with America";

I understand that this is of neccesity a pretty "low budget" production done "in house" and I don't have complaint with the quality, generally speaking.

Location, locatioon, location people,...."America" is best conversed with outdoors in my opinion, and if I was directing cast and crew we'd be shooting on location best suited to the subject matter or simply making a picnic of it in a convienient local park as "America" strolls by, walking their dogs and kids as "background".

Why? You dare to ask? Need you ask? If it isn't utterly obvious to oblivious by now that a dimly lit , windowless cubicle, done up to look like a "comfortable" setting for a conversation ( 2- 3 folks crammed into a workspace of 1-max may violate union policy regardless of what you're doing....chuckle).

...and I'm here putting myself in some person's shoes overseas watching this...I'm like , "Do these people always have to do their thinking and hold conversations from a secure bunkered location all the time?"

I mean if you'all want to shed some light on the subject matter, just take it outside (weather permitting)for starters and give yourselves a little room to breath, wiggle the tootsies in the grass, and get more informal with folks you are trying to have this conversation with.

That doesn't mean to in any way detract from the content or delivery, but simply adds context to the visual cortex of the audience's experience.

It's a subliminal thing, while being overt about having a conversation surrounded by America in its natural setting.

Try this and take a public satisfaction survey or just compare hit counts on your U-tube channel and then tell me I'm daft for suggesting this format. Go on, I dare you to....and more.

Be willing to put these conversations on the very cutting edge of the policy planning staff's internal debates and be prepared to make news with the concepts and ideas tossed about, rather than just make a presentation of rehashed rhetoric on Mideast (Palist./Isreali peace) policy-background- that anyone writing in with question is already fully congisant with and not posing direct questin without expecting direct answer offered to the public question put to you.

Don't make the mistake of addressing the public like you would the press corps, we ain't buying "the art of saying nothing noteworthy while expousing the merits of policy." , especially when the world's populations are in such a dysfuncional state of being that folks in government tend to think we arn't aware of what you are policy. We forgive you though...chuckle...Never a hypothetical did a spokesperson meet that he/she didn't run away from like it had cooties or something..., and you know how filled with hypotheticals the world is in its state of flux on a constant basis..., leading some poor fellow tending goats to close his laptop; in closing on the thought that "no wonder they film it a bunker someplace deep underground...or so it would in fear of that hypothetical with their name on it.""What will it take for Palestinians and Israelis to order up a box of "get a grip" and share the enlightening contents till they find the plastic decoder ring inside supplied by US policy guru's?"

(or worded in more diplomatic speak;)

Or "If"; Israel's full support for Palestinian Statehood in the UN possibly being the very basis for Israel's formal recongnition as a state by all those who do not at present?

IE: resolving the basis for fear and conflict past...present and future.

Would this then be a consistant policy adaptation (or not), of current US policy in effectively seeking a two state solution by supporting this as policy?

And it's ok to say "I don't know, that's beyond my paygrade.""It's under review."

or "Nothing has been determined yet."

at least you tried.

So let's just accept the "given" that "a conversation with America" is an evolving process, and don't get stuck on format.

Let's just say I think a more expiditionary approach to this as a diplomatic effort is called for to get the word out.



P.S. quickest way to UN reform is to kick out the sponsors of terror among the member states from the UNGA by two-thirds vote cast.

Try it, and you may be pleasently suprised by the results of going for the vote. And if not successful in isolating them further, you've just proved the need for UN reform to the entire world's populations.

How can you lose?

September 19, 2011

John in Canada writes:

@Eric in New Mexico - Or "If"; Israel's full support for Palestinian Statehood in the UN possibly being the very basis for Israel's formal recognition as a state by all those who do not at present?

You hit the nail on the head - If Israel started acting counter to what they have done for over 50 years - they would likely make more friends. They may even find the future they hope for hidden where they seem to refuse to look.

Why is it that otherwise intelligent people come up with solutions to problems, those solutions create far greater problems than the original problem? Then they have the nerve to complain.

Some say we are 90% brain and 10% body. Perhaps if we spent 90% of the time thinking and only 10% of the time doing - we would be further ahead....much further.

New Mexico, USA
September 19, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ John in Canada,

Let's assume for the moment that for lack of any proof to the contrary there will always be problems of one sort

or another popping up regardless of as a result of policy or not, Murphy's Law rules over political stupidity.

I can't honestly say what problems will arise should there be a mutual recognition, formal and signed by all the

nations of the region and beyond seeking to put this long standing matter to bed, for the general peace and welfare

of all.

But generally in this life, one must give a little to get one.

Whatever "special relationship" the US may have with either party means very little if the parties are not hip to

this universal law of the human condition and set their policies by that human interest, rather than by a soly

nationalistic agenda.

And as such, as long as human interests be trumped by those who would act as spoilers of peace, then you have a

continuing vicious circle as we see today.

Hamas has got to understand that the US will not support the formation of one more state sponsor of terror, and if

we do take a veto to statehood in the UNSC then this is probably the only reason that would be considered

reasonable and responsible by our fellow citizens, just to clarify what Abass having "no free lunch" is really all

about,'s not just all about the aid we send to the people.

I can envision a working two-state tax base where one shop keeper next to another pays sales tax to separate

municipal gov. entities depending on the individual's citizenship rather than location, and controlling territory

is less a factor in soveregnity than the soverign ability to collect taxes in order to pay for services rendered by

public servants (fire, police, emerg. medical, local, state funded public works, etc.)

So what makes a State, "contiguous" ?

I don't think one can be created if it involves uprooting a whole lot of folks and forcing them to move elsewhere,

at the expense of another State.

Normally compensation and accomodation would be offered, but Israeli settlements on areas outside the 67

boundaries have been declared "illegal" due to the fact that Israel is in standing violation of a couple UN

resolutions calling for Israel to return territory siezed in conflict over 40 years ago.

The question of "who's land is it?" isn't going to be resolved by creating a Palestinian State along side Israel

(even with Isreal's full diplomatic support), for that will be a debate happening long after the peace is earned

with agreement and kept in trust.

The very notion of governing will be put to the test and that problem should be managable so long as folks accept

that democracy is "the great experiment".


New Mexico, USA
September 19, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ John in Canada(cont..),

Today marks exactly ten years since I started bugging my government by writing to them about foreign affairs policy and offering ideas and perspective.

I'm not sure "bugging" would be the right descriptive to use, but often times that's what trying to inspire folks to think seems like to some, (especially when I gotta honk my horn politely to get folks to wake up in traffic).

Sometimes I think the fear of success keeps folks from imagining a State dept. that thrives on answering hypotheticals, well wait just a to rephrase that based on the vast paradox involved;....being that it
is folk's job to get the hypotheticals right lest the world go strait to hell in conflict for lack of effective diplomatic effort....,

"But we don't comment on intelligence matters."

Wait just a sec, again please...., aside from the left overs from a lack of intelligence and other ethical infants
the State dept does comment on, if there's nothing of any intelligence to spark conversation than I would suggest you get folks from the various agencies who can go on the record and inform the public as we absolutely have the right to know, whether we have a "need to know" or not in the opinion of some quarters of our government, by for and of the people.

The risks of regional conflict should Iranian leaders be left to current international trends and left to devices of their ill intent, for instance;

Regional destabilization efforts (incl. Pal./Isrl./,Iraq, Afghanistan) in direct violation of UN resolutions and the good conduct of nations in gross measure, and as well towards its own citizens...,

Well, it isn't hard when dictators are dropping like flies anyway, but the thing about Ayatollahs is they tend to bite off more than they can chew thinking to advatage themselves by other's misfortune.

So you were saying about solving problems creates others ...well now that Tony Blair has come around to my way of thinking that "regime change" would be a good thing in Iran, I hope he'll read everything I've had to say about "regime replacement therapy" since this blog's been infused with such notion.

(I'm glad he's up to speed on the "why", it's the "how" that has folks truly philosophicly befuddled which saps political will, and there's a cure for that.)

And so John, if you have a government that you can't imagine being worse, or more vile and detestable, and you don't take issue with the people because they are as much vitims of the regime as the vitims of terror that regime sponsors abroad, and you engage in regime replacement therapy in a international group format, one could say that might look a lot like Iraq...but there's one big difference, won't be having a state sponsor of terror coming from outside to try and destabilize your military/civilian efforts by sowing ethnic strife within the population, and if the people rise up and claims are tossed our way we have "encoraged civil war", one must remember that when the Ayatollah declared all Iranian protestors to be "warring against God." (he being the only guy that knows what God is thinkingofficially), this bleeding farce to humanity just declared war upon the Iranian people, and incited civil war however and whenever that becomes manifest.

Why anyone would think "engagement" and "negotiation" will be effective without the threat of war attached to failure to abandon nuclear weapons ambitions makes little sense historicly, and whenever on the brink it seems only the threat of total anihilation works to secure the peace of nations.

I know this sounds so old and musty cold war sentimental warmongering but it's only a recognition that those same parameters very much do apply today, and the world is admittedly a more dangerous place with all the variables at work today.

And as always, when faced with the prospects of war, comes the desire to fight it on our terms, not our foe's.



Virginia, USA
September 19, 2011

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico, and John in Greece

Guys I think we do offer some kind of contribution to give feed back to the State Department. My typing might be a little off, just snipped my thumb by accideent with a knife opening something. Yes I medicated placed a band-aid on my boo boo! LOL

I think if the Government doesn't get some kind of feed back from the public, how would it know if we agree/disagree with policies. Its better to air something out, discuss it, or have a meeting about it. This form of thinking, works great. We can offer our input, and others can read, comment or agree to disagree with the comments. I know, I don't know everything in the world, nor do we see everything that happens in the world, doubtful, but we can offer tips or ideas how to solve issues. Thats what makes this Dipnote special.

New Mexico, USA
September 20, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Hi Donald,

Yes indeed I agree with your sentiments, ten years is a lot of time to put in towards anything on a volunteer basis, but if it were about the money I wouldn't have bothered..., I think every dad wants his kids to grow up in a saner world than he did and most dads will go the extra mile to see that happen for them.

"What did you do today daddy?""I've been busy making the planet fit for humanity to live in, one paint job at a time."

(words are a fair substitute for a paintbrush and you don't get carpel tunnel syndrome as much typing...)

"Did you bring me presents?""Yes dear, but they won't be ready for you to play with until you're an adult, policy's still under review as to what kind of world you'll be living in.""Well I hope they are really big presents if I have to wait so long to open them.""Somethings are worth waiting for, but in the meantime I brought ice cream.""You're the best daddy!"

(Dipnote may be a lot of things to a lot of folks, but to those who dare to comment here, I bet more than a few do so as an investment in their children's future along with everyone else's kids globally...)

If I seem a tad impatient at times it is only because they are already adults now...

And dad still has way too much time on his hands to think about things.




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