Talking 2012 U.S. Foreign Policy Priorities

Posted by Mike Hammer
January 27, 2012
Radio Host Interviews Acting Assistant Secretary Hammer

Public outreach and engagement with the American people and media to present and explain U.S. foreign policy is one of the key missions of the Bureau of Public Affairs. Last week, I had the opportunity to spend two days in Miami, Florida, where I visited our Media Hub of the Americas -- one of six State Department media hubs worldwide (Dubai, London, Brussels, Tokyo, Pretoria, and Miami). The hubs are strategically located throughout the world to serve as satellite offices of the Bureau of Public Affairs. The Media Hub of the Americas is the only one located stateside with a two-track goal of communicating America's foreign policy to Spanish-speaking media within the United States and throughout the Americas.

I had a packed schedule principally focused on outlining U.S. foreign policy priorities for 2012, including discussing the Administration's keen focus on addressing the common challenges we face in the Hemisphere through partnerships with Latin American and Caribbean countries. Together, governments throughout the Americas are working to improve citizen security, generate economic opportunity, promote energy independence, and advance democracy and human rights.

The first day, I held a roundtable with talented journalists who write for wire services and print media based in Miami. Luckily, I had had my cortado (espresso with a touch of warm milk) with my fruit-packed breakfast, as these journalists kept me on my toes with their sharp questions. I also benefited from their observations and analysis of the trends in the region. Next, I did an interview with the renowned Latin American editor and syndicated foreign affairs columnist with the Miami Herald, Andres Oppenheimer. We discussed U.S. goals for the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia on April 14-15, economic opportunities in the region, including trade promotion and educational and technology exchanges, and U.S.-Latin America relations in general.

Our team, including our Media Hub Director Melissa Martinez, re-grouped during a lunch stop at a cafe that took me back to my Spanish roots with its delicious assortment of authentic tapas, including arroz negro -- rice in squid's ink. What's not to like? We didn't linger though, as I was whisked away to four radio "hits" starting with the engaging Julio Sanchez Cristo at Radio Caracol, a Spanish news/talk radio station owned by Grupo Latino de Radio. By the time the fourth radio interview came around, I was in a groove and enjoyed my fast-paced interview with the incredibly funny and sharp host, Agustin Acosta of Radio Actualidad, a Spanish-language AM radio station that focuses on local, national, and international news content for the Hispanic market.

The final official event of the day included a program and reception that we co-sponsored with the Center for Hemispheric Policy based at the University of Miami. I spoke about the Administration's 2012 global foreign policy priorities and took questions from a varied audience of academics, business people, students, NGOs, diplomats, and political figures. It was really neat to meet a student from “the U” (the University of Miami for non-football fans) who had just been accepted to an internship with our embassy in Australia -- I sure hope she enjoys it and decides she wants to join the Foreign Service as we are always looking for talent. My reward after an intense day was a team dinner at a terrific Caribbean restaurant, which showed off Miami's flair for big flavors, fun, and full embrace of the multiculturalism for which it is famous.

The second day, we started early with a meeting with the dynamic Program Director of the Knight Foundation. I left breakfast inspired by the foundation's innovative and cutting edge programs, and hopeful that there are numerous opportunities for collaboration. Next up: a courtesy call and interview at Radio and TV Marti, the Cuba Office of Broadcasting, followed by an interview at Univision for its leading current affairs Sunday program, "Al Punto," hosted by Jorge Ramos. The interview took me around the globe, touching on issues from Central and South America to the Middle East to back home again. Speaking of which, after two packed and productive days, I found myself back on a plane headed for home.

For more on what I discussed during my trip, here are the links to some of my Spanish language interviews: Radio La W, Univision, and Radio Caracol. You can also learn more about the work of the State Department's worldwide media hubs in this month's edition of State Magazine.



January 27, 2012

W.W. writes:

prevent iran reachin nuclear

stop syrian massacre

United States
January 27, 2012

Zharkov in the U.S.A. writes:

Your CFR noodlehead who wants a surgical strike on Iran should be advised there is no such thing as a surgical strike on a modern nation. The proper term would call that an act of aggression.

Surgical strikes exist for small or primitive nations where people live in mud huts or where they barely keep their automobiles running. It means all-out war with any nation large enough to do nuclear research, and we are more vulnerable than Iran. So forget that.

Get your nuclear facts from your inspections, not your nightmares. Actually do the work, not speculate and guess. Let the IAEA help you. That's what you pay the dues for. Stop listening to the CFR.

Burma B.
January 27, 2012

BDC in Burma writes:

This is Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) which is the global campaigning and lobbying organisation to restore democracy, human rights and rule of law in Burma where everyone can enjoy the freedom of speech, press, beliefs, assembly and rule of law that emphasizes the protection of individual rights. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) warmly welcomes the release of hundreds of political prisoners. According to the list of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD network inside Burma who are supporting prisoners and visiting prisons around the country -- the numbers are approximately nearest well documented by NLD that there are 591 political prisoners in Burma.

Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) also welcomes US Government decision to normalise diplomatic relation in response to Burma Government’s positive steps taken. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) encourages international community to engage more with Burma in order to balance China’s influence over Burma. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) truly believes that more engagement would effectively promote political, civil, democratic and economic freedom in Burma.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has already invited investment and tourism in Burma. Please do invest in Burma and please do visit Burma. Burma is facing challenges ahead which we must address sensibly, wisely and realistically for her quest for democracy. Burma must resolve poverty, corruptions, poor technology, and lack of expertise, poor banking, unemployment and inflation and fiscal and monetary policies.

Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) calls for investment in Burma which will significantly boost the welfare of the Burmese people. By removing investment and trade sanction on Burma, Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) truly believes that Burmese citizens will have the benefits of increased investment which can bring technology, knowledge and democratic values since outside investment strengthens private institutions. At the same time, Burma must work hard to end the economics monopoly and cronyism in Burma. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) welcomes tourists visiting Burma so as to promote ordinary Burmese people engaging with people from around the world.

Burma needs technology and financial assistance from international community to help rebuilding the nation after five decades of isolation and economics mismanagement. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) is very concerned that due to the sanction imposed on Burma as the subsequence crucial international aid are stopped delivering in Burma. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) calls for international community to provide more humanitarian assistance and development aid inside Burma and since in the past most of the US government's aid programme went to organisations based in Thailand. If there are obstacles blocking aids going inside Burma then we must remove them immediately since we don’t want to hurt the livelihood of the ordinary people of Burma whom are suffering from reputation risk. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) opposes anything hurting people.

Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) is very sad to learn that Burma receives less foreign aid money than any country in Southeast Asia because of the sanction imposed on Burma. For example, in 2009-10 Burma receives only $US7.2 per capita of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) while neighbouring Laos received $US64.4. Particularly international community must remove all sanctions that block technical assistance in health and social welfare. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) is very shocked to learn that restrictions imposed by western countries prohibit assistance from reaching any member of the government because of which prohibit providing any assistance such as even providing training to teachers and health workers.

Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) calls for more assistance and international investment in education, social and health care in Burma. We call for International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to help tackling poverty in Burma.

Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) truly believes that Burma is on the right track for democratic change. In order to help reliving the suffering of the people of Burma, we must have common position amongst all parties concerned by putting national interest first. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) calls for international community to remove TOURISM, TRADE and INVESTMENT sanction on Burma in order to alleviate suffering of Burmese people who are suffering from REPUTATION RISK and to encourage Burmese government’s reform process which had already started.

We would like to thank the millions people around the world who helped us to make Burma to be the free democratic society. Let us stand united overcoming all challenges.

Yes We Can!

We Will Win!

John P.
January 27, 2012

John P. in Greece writes:

@ Zharkov in the U.S.A.

A modern nation is a democratic nation.

Iran and Syria are not democratic nations. All of which make them NON-modern!

You wouldn’t debate with me on this right?

Otherwise I’ll "flickr" you… (CHUCKLE) with the most amazing pictures of the Democracy they (priests) think about…

If you want no surgeries you could possibly go to a wise perscription arrow like Dr. Eric offered: (by providing a great article4thought)


This idea is a very good medicine! I agree with him (again)!

But, Z are you so sure that the patients (Syria, Iran) will use the written prescripted pills?

They may try a nuclear therapy...

and then we are dead!

New Mexico, USA
January 27, 2012

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ John in Greece,

Zharkov acually agrees with me in principal Re: "Surgical strikes".

(As posted on WaPo linked op-ed-comments w/ minor typo corrections and abreviated colorful language);

I think it was Winston Churchill who stated "Words are the worst form of communication ever invented by man." (someone please correct me if I got this wrong), and whether that be back-channel or public, if the other guy ain't listening, there's not a lot a leader of any nation can do to invoke "behavior change".

Sanctions arn't likely to as they are more effecxtive at slowly bankrupting a government, who will then simply apply the cost of policy on the merits of the trickle down economic theory of maintaining power as practiced under sanction...onto the backs of the people. And as we've seen over all these years behavior simply goes from bad to worse in Iran's case.

Bombing may induce behavior change from bad to worse, as such, and should only be undertaken for the sole purpose of removing a government from power and eliminating its capacity to make war...period.

However, if you bill a government for its political stupidity directly, as I suggested we do with Iran in sending a $32 trillion bill for the last 32 years of state sponsored and led chants of "death to America" every Friday at prayers, I flat guarrantee you'll get their undivided attention....(chuckle)...because the ayatollah knows we'd have every reason in the world to come and collect if neccesary.

It doesn't give them time to go from bad to worse, or make the people suffer , only time to arrange payment to avoid instant bankruptcy or find a hidy hole to crawl into.

And when we do come to collect on the debt owed us from ill intent by dictators, hidy holes are the first place we generally look so the options are quite limited for billionare mullahs and the Iranian government in general.

I believe in giving folks a choice between war and peace, and at 32 trillion being the price they pay for peace; to preach peace instead of praying for our demise, that's a lot cheeper than the price the ayatollah will pay for refusing to pay the bill we send him and his government. And if we have to collect, it will be a fair price the Iranian people will have to pay to have us level the playing field for their aspirations of freedom to become manifest when we come "repo" Iran in order to give their country back to them.

At which point since Iran will be broke, we'll own it anyway, lock, stock and every barrel of oil they got.

This is simply an elegantly pragmatic way of addressing a fundemental beef the American public has since folks wanna know how we're going to pay for the wars dictators and terrorists seem so bound and determined to get us into.

I agree with Mr. Ignatius on his basic premis that we have to find a better way to communicate. Money talks as (BS) walks, so they say....


If folks wonder how I came up with the figure of 1 trillion per year for every year one ayatollah or another has been leading chants of "death to America" , I like big round numbers and it's right around the base ammount of the annual US government's budget (give a few hundreds of billions on the + side of that) and I wasn't figuring in "daily compounded interest" so the bill's exact ammount being subject to US gov. approval isn't mine to write the invoice for, that's Treasury and the GAO's job, since the Treasury Dept is the one to put the lien on Iran.

Now that's how I'd target the central bank of Iran if folks want to step up the financial pressure a tad.

Can anyone tell me if S&P would up our credit rating to a quad AAAA++++ with an "accounts recievable" that erased the defict on paper instantaneously (subject to collection action) and would a virtual 15 trillion dollar surplus on top of that former defict mean Congress wouldn't need to raise the Debt ceiling again, and can anyone at DoD tell me (or State/USAID) if they'd be looking at trimming their operating budgets to the bare bones effective operational minimum?

Would it end the partsan bickering in Congess over entitlement programs? Can any fat cat on Wall St. or in Congress tell me what kind of economic stimulous might be in order? Job creation? Economic recovery?

Let me count the ways the Ayatollah will be given to understand just why we would have every reason to come and collect on top of all the accumulated causus belli his government has given us to take unilateral action in our own self defense over the years folks....

Can you hear me now Mr. President? You just got another option tossed on your desk, being "all options are on the table" excepting this one that no one's thought about before now, least to the public's knowledge.

Hope he'll use it wisely.


You nailed it-
"Modern" by logical definition is after all, an evolving "great experiment" in which the "art of the possible" abides.


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