Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Shout out to my friend Paul Rockower who sent me this very important news update brought to you by the onion. For more pressing - and entertaining- PD updates visit his blog Levantine 18.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Watch the video of this program here!
Both State and the FPC have a Facebook page. With that and the Dip Note blog. Looks like State is trying to pull itself into the Web 2.0 era. I have already seen plently of workshops on how to use these new social media sites for State, the White House and even the DOD. Let's see what they post.
STATE DEPARTMENT SOCIAL MEDIA
Hamid Dabashi wrote in the New York Times;
"If you were to follow youth culture in Iran at the turn of the century — from
the rise of a fascinating underground music (particularly rap) to a globally
celebrated cinema, an astonishing panorama of contemporary art, video
installations, photography, etc. — you would have noted the oscillation of this
generation between apathy and anger, frustration and hope, disillusion and
euphoria. In their minds and souls, as in their blogs and chat rooms, they were
wired to the globalized world, and yet in their growing bodies and narrowing
social restrictions trapped inside an Islamic version of Calvinist Geneva."
I think there are parallels in the oscillation of Iranian and American youth. I am not Iranian but I have been fascinated by their culture and history for some years now. The youth, in particular, fascinate me living between this beautiful, historic, ancient, Islamic past and the exciting, modern, twittering, Facebooking, new media future. I watch my Iranian-American friends oscillate between their American realities, lifestyles and their Iranian heritage. Between pride of being Iranian and yet living the Western, modern, American lifestyle fully and without regret. And I have watched many, though appreciating the culture their parents teach them, turning away from a country that is not what they know or stand for. Accepting, as their parents seem to, that their country of origin has been lost to fanaticism. But now this "green revolution" has been sparked by the Iranian youth who live the realities of the Iranian political, economic, and social situation in the country. Who also have their Iranian pride. They are standing up for civil rights, and now the Iranian-American youth, who had all but given up on their country of Iran, stand with them as if they had always been in this fight. Dabashi continues;
"I see the moment we are witnessing as a civil rights movement rather than a
push to topple the regime. If Rosa Parks was the American “mother of the civil
rights movement,” the young woman who was killed point blank in the course of a
demonstration, Neda Agha-Soltan, might very well emerge as its Iranian
granddaughter. If I am correct in this reading, we should not expect an imminent
collapse of the regime. These young Iranians are not out in the streets seeking
to topple the regime for they lack any military wherewithal to do so, and they
are alien to any militant ideology that may push them in that direction. It
seems to me that these brave young men and women have picked up their hand-held cameras to shoot those shaky shots, looking in their streets and alleys for
their Martin Luther King. They are well aware of Mir Hossein Moussavi’s flaws,
past and present. But like the color of green, the very figure of Moussavi has
become, it seems to me, a collective construction of their desires for a
peaceful, nonviolent attainment of civil and women’s rights. They are facing an
army of firearms and fanaticism with chanting poetry and waving their green
bandannas. I thought my generation had courage to take up arms against tyranny.
Now I tremble with shame in the face of their bravery."
I think we all sit in shame. Because now I watch Americans, who just 3 weeks ago did nothing about Iran but discuss if war was the right answer. Not thinking about the people, the youth, the ones we are standing for today. Even those of us who knew war was not the answer, did not fight for civil rights in Iran. And now our Facebook pictures are changed to those who are risking our lives, and we are members of groups that make us feel like we are part of the revolution. Make us feel as if we are playing our part. But what are we doing really but taking credit, pretending to risk our lives along side those, like Neda, who did die and are risking their lives, and uprooting their lives to bring change. When has my generation really risked their comfortable lives, their lavish lifestyles, their actual existence for the right cause? Why Iran? Why now? Why did we not stand so bravely when our own election was in question? Why do we not stand in masses, crying and posting daily as the people in Iraq die? Why is the support for the Sudanese, or the Burmese or the Nepalese nothing more than a trend? And what, once the riots and people of Iran quiet or as they are quieted and the excitement of these last few weeks has died down or become stale.. and other headlines hit CNN and the blogosphere.. what then will those who cared so much about freedom and civil rights and Iran.. what will they do next to bring human rights to the world?
To read the full Hamid Dabashi article visit the NYT site here.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Also, Paul Rockower, renowned scholar, journalist, photographer, friend and classmate has a blog that is pretty well known here but nonetheless if you are into PD, or even just blogging, it's definitley an entertaining one. So check that one out too!
Monday, June 22, 2009
Pahlavi spoke of how if the protests are put down it will lead to extremism and threaten economic stability. He charged the media audience not to underestimate the role they play in the outcome of the events going on in Iran. He stated that free media must fight the information blackout in Iran and inform their own leaders of the atrocities going on in the country. He often mentioned the Declaration of Human Rights, saying it "knows no boundaries." He stated that the had been in contact with. He talked of guards who got off their shifts and joined the protests when five hours earlier they were beating protesters and those in the Ahmadinijad regime who were contemplating the best way to "jump ship." He also noted reports that the regime was hiring outside forces, such as Hamas, to help quash the resistance.
No one benefits, he said, from "knives and cables cutting into the faces and mouths of our young and old, or from bullets piercing our beloved 'Neda', (a young woman who died on camera from a gun shot during an opposition protests in Iran, and has now become a face of the movement), and other victims of the violent crackdown on the protests. Pahlavi tried very hard not to get emotional but still shed some tears. The moment was very emotional and sincere, and was applauded by the media audience.
The focus of the media's questions, of course, focused on Obama's reaction to the events in Iran among widespread accusations of a too timid response. Pahlavi expressed very carefully that he was encouraged by Obama's recent words and stated a clear distinction between interfering in the Iran's matters and standing for human rights. The media pushed this issue repeat idly but Pahlavi didn't budge from the statement. He did state that non-violent movements seldom succeed without international support and that for the first time in Iranian history, the people have asked for international involvement.
When asked to address the Iran nuclear issue, Pahlavi said, "If I were there today, I would not feel safer if every country had nukes pointed at each other. I don't buy that argument."
Many questions focused on Pahlavi's plan for his role in a new government in Iran. There is some skepticism about Pahlavi's motives in campaigning for change in Iran, as the man who would now be Shah of Iran if it weren't for the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Pahlavi stated that if the people wanted him to run for office in a democratic, secular parliamentary system with a constitution based on the Declaration of Human Rights, he would of course. But insisted that the country was not at that point yet and until then, it was about the will of the people and human rights, not his future there.
Pahlavi announced that "a movement was born," "not an Islamic or anti-Islamic" movement, a"not capitalist or socialist" movement or part of any ideology, but a movements that "cares little about historical conflict" and all about the "sanctity of the ballet box." He charged Khameini with stealing the election and that the "citizens will not stand for it" and in the end "he will not stand" either.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Women in public diplomacy have long been confronted with a glass ceiling in Washington. It seems that their male counterparts in PD now see such a ceiling as well.What caught my eye was a comment last weekend by former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright. At her 50th class reunion at Wellesley College, Dr. Albright remarked to Boston Globe correspondent Ben Terris that women probably make better diplomats than men."In a lot of ways we do have advantages," she said. "Diplomacy is about being able to put yourself into someone else's shoes, to be able to empathize, figure out their perspective. At the risk of making a gross generalization, women are often much better at that." Maybe that's why, with one exception, all Under-Secretaries of State for Public Diplomacy have been women since the position was created in 1999.President Bill Clinton chose Evelyn Lieberman to be the first State Department chief of public diplomacy. President George W. Bush appointed three women and one man to the job during his two terms in office (Charlotte Beers, Margaret Tutwiler, Karen Hughes and James Glassman), and President Obama selected Judith McHale. Apparently the male presidents who signed off on those presidential appointments could not make up their minds, as that State PD position has been left vacant more than one-third of the time since 1999.It should also be noted that from 1997 to the present, three females have served as Secretary of State (Albright, Condoleezza Rice and now Hillary Clinton), with Colin Powell the lone male. With that new glass ceiling for men at the State Department for the positions of Secretary of State and Under-Secretary for PD, the ceiling for women was shattered at the former U.S. Information Agency, when it was merged into the State Department and the office of the Undersecretary of State for PD was created. It was an all-male director's club at the USIA down through its history, headed by 13 male chiefs during the agency's 46-year existence, 1953-1999 (Streibert, Larson, Allen, Murrow, Rowan, Marks, Shakespeare, Keogh, Reinhardt, Charles Z. Wick, Bruce Gelb, Henry Catto, Duffy).The Voice of America, which was not merged into the State Department, but survived with quasi-independence from public diplomacy and its glass ceiling in tact, has had 27 VOA directors since 1942, all males with two exceptions: Mary Bitterman, 1980-81 and Evelyn Lieberman, 1997-1999. Although a woman's diplomatic skills may not be required for the very top director's position at the VOA — located on the protected side of the public diplomacy firewall — their time to shatter the glass ceiling may yet come.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
"Sadly, there are thousands who are trapped in various forms of enslavement, here in our country….It is a debasement of our common humanity." ~ President Barack Obama
"Danielle Pletka insists she doesn't want the coup to succeed, she's just making "a sad observation about reality." Now? As the revolt reaches a critical phase? Instead of waiting to see what might happen? Here she pronounces the resistance over:
'The uprising is little more than a symbolic protest, crushed by the eliteShe could write that yesterday? Pletka is a hard-right neocon, very close to the Kagans, and a former aide to Jesse Helms. Her support for Ahmadinejad is the same as Daniel Pipes' and the Mossad's. What we're seeing is how much of the neocon agenda really was about freedom. I have long since stopped believing that, having observed them closely for the past few years. They are about warfare against Israel's perceived enemies, and extending US hegemony to eclipse any rival regional or global power. That is the prism through which you have to watch their every statement. But why is the New York Times giving a platform at this moment to people who got the Iraq war so terribly wrong? Are there no consequences for total neoconservative failure?"'
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.'
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
It's painful to watch what's happening.
I don't want anything to do with what has been said this far, as I neither have the strength nor the resilience to face all these unfathomable events.
I only want to speak about what I have witnessed. I am a medical student. There was chaos last night at the trauma section in one of our main hospitals. Although by decree, all riot-related injuries were supposed to be sent to military hospitals, all other hospitals were filled to the rim. Last night, nine people died at our hospital and another 28 had gunshot wounds. All hospital employees were crying till dawn. They (government) removed the dead bodies on back of trucks, before we were even able to get their names or other information. What can you even say to the people who don't even respect the dead. No one was allowed to speak to the wounded or get any information from them. This morning the faculty and the students protested by gathering at the lobby of the hospital where they were confronted by plain cloths anti-riot militia, who in turn closed off the hospital and imprisoned the staff. The extent of injuries are so grave, that despite being one of the most staffed emergency rooms, they've asked everyone to stay and help--I'm sure it will even be worst tonight.
What can anyone say in face of all these atrocities? What can you say to the family of the 13 year old boy who died from gunshots and whose dead body then disappeared?
This issue is not about cheating(election) anymore. This is not about stealing votes anymore. The issue is about a vast injustice inflected on the people. They've put a baton in the hand of every 13-14 year old to smash the faces of "the bunches who are less than dirt" (government is calling the people who are uprising dried-up torn and weeds) .
This is what sickens me from dealing with these issues. And from those who shut their eyes and close their ears and claim the riots are in opposition of the government and presidency!! No! The people's complaint is against the egregious injustices committed against the people.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
"Inacio Sebastiao Mussanhane, a Mozambican lawyer, was studying in South Africa
when he heard overheard men talking about high end call girls available in Pretoria. In 2008, he met 3 of the sex slaves of a powerful organized network that lures young girls from Mozambique for sexual exploitation. Posing as a client, Mussanhane went to the brothel and gained the confidence of the girls. Despite attempts by the criminal gang to bribe him, threaten his life, and kidnap him, Mr. Mussanhane began to work closely with the South African police, a local trafficking shelter, the Mozambican embassy, and the South African Ministry of Justice. Police freed the
girls and arrested the network’s organizer. The case went to court in October
2008 and is ongoing. Throughout the case, Mr. Mussanhane has been educating the
Mozambican and South African governments, police, and courts on the nature of
human trafficking. He continues to risk his life to protect the Mozambican
girls, ensure the prosecution of the perpetrators, bring international attention
to the issue, and disrupt a profitable multinational criminal organization."
He also talked about the effects of the current economic crisis on workers, especially foreign guest workers, which become particularly vulnerable "because of the way in which recruitment is often – is too often done, we see a problem in the guest worker programs both abroad and here in the United States, and a number of the tier rankings are affected by countries having large guest worker programs that do not have any safeguards built into them."
Two of the Heroes joined Ambassador in CdeBaca for the briefing, Vera Lesko from Albania and Mariliana Morales Berríos, from Costa Rica. They told their stories of how important their work is and the challanges they have in their home countries. Both spoke of either corruption or neglect in their governments regarding trafficking. Columbia moved up to Tier 1 and Albania is now a Tier 2 country after being a Tier 3 for many years. The Ambassador talked about the consequences for countries who are on the 3rd tier or continue to be on the 2nd tier. Apparenlty, those on tier 2 for 2 years in a row are bumped to tier 3, and those on tier 3 are sanctioned by the U.S.
"There are a few very positive countries that I’d like to single out. I can’t talk about Nigeria enough, actually. It's a country that within five years has gone from Tier 2 Watch List on the cusp of Tier 3, and because of political will, because of some talented detectives, because of a willingness to work with NGOs and actually do cases, has seen an upward trend in their prosecutions, has seen an improvement on how they treat victims, and as a result is a welcome addition to the list of Tier 1 countries."
I suggest everyone at least read the Victims' Stories of the report. Sad stuff.
Coincidentally, I watched the documentary Born Into Brothels last night. Sad and interesting film about a women who gives camaras to children born to prostitutes in red light district of Calcutta. The film can be watched here. I suggest it if this topic interests you and especially if you don't realize how bad a problem it is.
Monday, June 15, 2009
"119 members of Tehran University faculty have resigned en-masse as a protest to
the attack on Tehran University dorms last night. Among them is Dr
Jabbedar-Maralani, who is known as the father of Iranian electronic engineering.
They have asked for the resignation of Farhad Rahbari the appointed president of
Tehran University, for his incompetence in defending the University's dignity
and student lives."
Friday, June 12, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
An interesting anecdote;
A TV producer bought the rights to broadcast the American TV show "24" in Afghanistan. An army solider explained that in the show all the villains were Muslim. The Muslim producer said that he polled Afghans and apparently no one cared as long as they weren't Afghans.
The highlight of the conference for me was the keynote speaker, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale. She talked of how governments normally inclined to support US policies back away if their publics don't trust the US. She stressed how public diplomacy can help in these situations. She also talked about how PD cannot be seen as only wearing combat boots. There also needs to be a civilian force. She noted that sufficient financial resources are not available from the State Department and stressed her full commitment to reaching out to other departments for resources. She spoke of how enhanced PD is a key part of Presidential strategy in the Middle East, including providing a platform for moderate Muslims in the region. Her full transcript can be found here.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Then I joined my first FPC staff meeting in which we discussed upcoming briefings, press tours and events. My job over the next few months will be to assist in such tours and briefings which this department organizes for foreign media. I am very excited because I already see where my public diplomacy training will come in and it will be great to use what I have learned at school. I then sat in on a press tour meeting to help plan an upcoming event which will be announced soon.
This first day went by pretty quickly, I am excited to be here. My new colleagues, which consists of foreign service officers and civil service officers as well as producers and film people, are all very welcoming and ensure me I will have plenty of "real" and interesting work to do. It's good to know that it won't be all getting coffee and making copies. The worst part is trying to figure out what they heck everyone is talking about with all the acronyms they use here. But people are happy to explain things to me so that's nice. The USC Master's in Public Diplomacy program is well known here so I am in good company. It's refreshing not to have to explain what PD is and be surrounded by those who speak the language.
The State Intern program in general has set up several events each week for interns to attend pending their office work allows it. Such events include brown bag lunches with diplomats and other experts in the department, and tours of places like the White House and the Supreme Court. My supervisors have encourage me to attend the events I am interested in and also let them know if there are others that they can help set up for me or let me tag along with them. I am very excited! Keep following to hear more. I got approval to blog much of what I am doing so I'll try to keep up with all my exciting events.