Monday, February 6, 2012

Goodbye and Hello -- visit us in our new digs!

Thank you for your kind thoughts and encouragement.  Your generous support made it possible for us to move to our new digs and permanent home at http://diplopundit.net

After today, this blog site in Blogger will no longer be updated.  You should be automatically redirected in 12 seconds.  If not, visit http://diplopundit.net and update your bookmarks. 




Friday, January 27, 2012

Pirates Hijack DiploPundit - Need Drones Now, Please - What's Next?

Now isn't this just straight up highway robbery in the internet super highway or the equivalent of piracy in the Gulf of Aden?  Did not even invite me to the launch party.  May I please borrow some drones, pretty please?




Trying to resolve this issue, in the meantime, I've been wrestling with the following:

A-- blog on or quit? I'm not playing chicken with content thieves but it's kinda exhausting going hand to hand combat with pirates, especially if you have to cook dinner, do laundry, coach my Geo Bee winner for next elimination, look for a paying job, read up, do research, write stuff, or have hand to hand combat with Blogger pirates, um .... did I mention pirates already? 

B-- blog on but move elsewhere? Thinking .... thinking ... maybe Wordpress.com which is free but has less flexibility or Wordpress.org which has more functionality and quite gorgeous but cost $$$. If you want to help me move to new digs at Wordpress, let me know.

C-- blog on but transition to a subscription service only? I hate subscription service; I had a few for a while but that did not last very long. So there ... probably not the best idea, nor most popular option. My heart is not in it, so it's not a real option. 

D-- look for a blog sugar daddy to underwrite the whole enterprise? Newt has a superPAC sugar daddy, why can't I have a blog sugar daddy?! Of course, I can't promise you the moon. 

E-- blog out and just die? Over 2500 published posts ...maybe it's time to hang up the blogging hat and try something new?  Like, I don't know -- maybe a bodice ripper best seller?  

I may be off the grid for a few days, doing some serious thinking and consulting ...






Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Officially In: Linda Thomas-Greenfield -- from Liberia to DGHR

On January 23, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield as the next Director General of the Foreign Service. The WH released the following brief bio:

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, with the rank of Minister Counselor and currently serves as the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, a position she has held since August 2008.  Previously, she was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau for African Affairs from 2006 to 2008, and Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration from 2004 to 2006.  Other assignments have included overseas postings in Nigeria, The Gambia, Kenya, Jamaica, Pakistan, and Switzerland.  From 1991 to 1993, she served as a Staff Assistant in the Office of the Director General of the Foreign Service.  Prior to joining the Department of State, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield taught Political Science at Bucknell University

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield received a B.A. from Louisiana State University and an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin.
Secretary Clinton with Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield during the
Embassy Monrovia Dedication January 16 and 17, 2012
Photo from US Embassy Liberia

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield  started her Foreign Service career in 1982 as a Consular Officer at US Embassy Jamaica.  She was the 2000 recipient of the Warren Christopher Award for Outstanding Achievement in Global Affairs in recognition of her work with refugees. Her embassy bio says that she is a Louisiana native with a reputation for her culinary prowess. She is married to a retired Foreign Service Officer and has two grown children.

If confirmed, she would succeed Nancy Powell who was nominated last December as the next ambassador to New Delhi.



Related items:
January 23, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts




Officially In: Pamela Ann White --from The Gambia to Haiti

English: Pamela Ann White, U.S. diplomat. As o...Image via WikipediaOn January 23, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Pamela Ann White as the next Ambassador to the Republic of Haiti. The WH released the following brief bio:

Ambassador Pamela Ann White, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Career Minister, currently serves as the U.S. Ambassador to The Gambia.  Prior to serving in The Gambia, she was United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director in Liberia, Tanzania, and Mali.  From 1999 to 2001, she served as USAID’s Deputy Director for East Africa.  Previously, Ambassador White held a number of overseas positions with USAID, including: Executive Officer in Senegal, Haiti, Egypt and South Africa and Community Liaison Officer in Burkina Faso. 

Prior to joining USAID in 1978, Ambassador White served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon from 1971 to 1973.  She holds a B.A. from the University of Maine, an M.A. from the School for International Training, and an M.S. from the Industrial College of Armed Forces.

If confirmed, Ambassador White would succeed career diplomat, Kenneth Merten, who was appointed chief of mission to Port au Prince on August 2009.



Related items:
January 23, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

Sept 14, 2010 | Officially In: Pamela Ann White to Banjul | Diplopundit





US Embassy Manama Relocates Employees and Dependents in #Bahrain

Manama and Bahrain.Image via WikipediaThe State Department issued a new Travel Alert for Bahrain dated January 23, 2012 which warns U.S. citizens to the potential for unrest in the country. Security concerns due to traffic disruptions caused by spontaneous demonstrations also caused the US Embassy in Manama to relocate its employees and family members to different neighborhoods in the capital city. Excerpt:

All travelers to Bahrain face increased scrutiny from Bahraini authorities, and the Government of Bahrain has refused to allow some U.S. citizens permission to enter Bahrain. The airport remains open and operational.


Spontaneous and sometimes violent anti-government demonstrations occur in some neighborhoods, particularly at night and on weekends. These demonstrations have included blockades of major highways, trash can fires, and establishment of unofficial checkpoints. Participants have thrown rocks and Molotov cocktails and used various other homemade weapons. The Ministry of Interior maintains official checkpoints in some areas and routinely uses tear gas, stun grenades, and other crowd control measures against demonstrators. The violent clashes between security forces and demonstrators can make travel in and around Bahrain dangerous without advance warning.


The U.S. Embassy restricts its employees from traveling to specific areas and advises all U.S. citizens to do the same. The recent increase in violent demonstrations along the Budaiya Highway corridor has led to traffic disruptions, effectively restricting travel for those living in the area. The resulting inability to leave one's home for an extended period poses significant safety and security concerns. As a result, Embassy employees and their dependents are being relocated to different neighborhoods. We continue to urge U.S. citizens to follow the latest security guidance and to avoid demonstrations. Please check our Demonstration Notices where the latest information and security guidance along with the latest map outlining the recommended areas of travel can be found.


There are no indications that Westerners or U.S. citizens are being targeted directly, but recent isolated examples of anti-U.S. sentiment have been seen on the streets and U.S. flags have occasionally been burned during demonstrations. U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to be vigilant regarding their personal security by knowing the locations of police and fire stations, hospitals, and the U.S. Embassy.
Read in full here.

Not everyone, of course, is pleased with this security precaution. Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute writing in Commentary magazine has this to say:
"While the State Department is right to worry about the security of its employees, removing diplomats at the first sign of trouble undercuts diplomats’ ability to gather information.[...] When the going gets tough, that is the time for American diplomats to be on the street, in local markets, and generally outside embassy walls or the confines of posh neighborhoods."
I don't know that you'd call this "the first sign of trouble." The demonstrations in Bahrain have been on and off since last year. And really, the mission is relocating staff housing in this arid archipelago, it's not like the embassy is shut down for business. 

Perhaps there is something to this that Mr. Rubin may not have considered. Our diplomats in Bahrain continue to meet with their local contacts; feeding the fish in Washington, D.C. three times a day, plus snacks becomes urgent and absolutely necessary. But how effective can our diplomats do their job if they are constantly worried about the safety of their family members who go about their lives in this chaotic and dangerous environment? They do not have security escorts and drivers, you know.  Diplomatic spouses and kids, at least, deserve to have snacks and dinners without a serving of tear gas. 



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

US Embassy Thailand: CODEL McCain - Jan 20, 2012

U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman shakes hands with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra— with Senator Kelly Ayotte, Sheldon Whitehouse, Joseph Lieberman, John McCain and Yingluck Shinawatra.



Photo from US Embassy/BKK/FB


Officially In: John Christopher Stevens to Libya


On January 23, President Obama announced his intent to nominate John Christopher Stevens as the next Ambassador to Libya. The WH released the following brief bio:

John Christopher Stevens, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, served as Special Representative to the Libyan Transitional National Council from March 2011 to November 2011.  Prior to this role, he was the Director of the Office of Multilateral Nuclear and Security Affairs.  From 2007 to 2009, he served as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Tripoli, Libya.  From 2006 to 2007, he was a Pearson Fellow with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Previous overseas assignments have included: Deputy Principal Officer and Political Section Chief in Jerusalem; Political Officer in Damascus; Consular/Political Officer in Cairo; and Consular/Economic Officer in Riyadh.  In Washington, Mr. Stevens has served as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Iran Desk Officer, and a Staff Assistant in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.
Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Mr. Stevens was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco from 1983 to 1985.  He holds a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, a J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of the Law, and an M.S. from the National War College.

Photo taken in Libya during Secretary Rice’s trip to Portugal, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria,
and Morocco, September 4 -7, 2008. State Dept. Photo by David Y. Lee
John C. Stevens identified with a red arrow

On 2007, Mr. Stevens arrived in Libya as the embassy's Deputy Chief of Mission and later became post's Charge’ d’Affaires. His bio indicates that prior to joining the State Department in 1991, Mr. Stevens was an international trade lawyer in Washington, DC. He also taught English as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco. He speaks Arabic and French. He was born and raised in northern California.

During the Libyan Revolution, Mr. Stevens was sent to Benghazi reportedly to establish better links with the rebel leadership, the Interim Transitional National Council, and draw a better picture of the groups fighting Muammar Qaddafi. At that time, for understandable reasons, the State Department had sought to keep his role low profile, refusing to release his official biography. He was only mentioned in passing by his boss as an unnamed “young diplomat.” 

Except for a postage-sized photo posted on the embassy's page in the Internet archive, we're only able to find one photo of Mr. Stevens taken during Secretary Rice's 2008 visit to Libya which we posted above. We'll see more of him when he gets his confirmation hearing and presumably after he gets to Tripoli.  If confirmed, he would succeed Gene Cretz, a career diplomat nominated by President Bush for the Libya post in 2007 but did not get confirmed until November 2008.




Related items:
January 23, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts


Peace Corps News: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Sends RPCV John Christopher Stevens as Special Envoy to Libya


Clinton Sends Envoy Stevens to Size Up Libyan Opposition



Officially In: Tracey Ann Jacobson -- from FSI to Kosovo

English: Tracey Ann Jacobson, U.S. Ambassador ...                    Image via WikipediaOn January 23, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Tracey Ann Jacobson as the next Ambassador to the Republic of Kosovo. The WH released the following brief bio:

Ambassador Tracey Ann Jacobson, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, currently serves as the Deputy Director of the Foreign Service Institute (FSI).  Prior to joining FSI, she served as U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan (2006-2009) and U.S. Ambassador to Turkmenistan (2003-2006).  Previously, she was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Riga, Latvia.  Prior to her assignment in Riga, Ambassador Jacobson served as Deputy Executive Secretary at the National Security Council.  Other assignments have included overseas postings in Seoul, Korea; Nassau, Bahamas; and Moscow, Russia.  Ambassador Jacobson’s Washington assignments have included service in State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and Office of the Under Secretary for Management.

Ambassador Jacobson received a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and an M.A. from John Hopkins Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

If confirmed, this would be Ambassador Jacobson's third ambassadorial appointment; she would only be the third chief of mission assigned to the US Embassy in Pristina. She will succeed career diplomat, Christopher Dell who was appointed to post in May 2009.


Related item:
January 23, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts



Officially In: Scott H. DeLisi -- from Nepal to Uganda

English: Scott H. DeLisi, U.S. diplomat. As of...          Image via WikipediaOn January 23, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Scott H. DeLisi as the next Ambassador to the Republic of Uganda. The WH released the  following brief bio:

Ambassador Scott H. DeLisi is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service and is currently U.S. Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, a position he has held since March 2010.  Prior to his assignment in Nepal, Ambassador DeLisi was the Director of Career Development and Assignments in the State Department's Bureau of Human Resources.  During his 30 year career in the Foreign Service, Ambassador DeLisi has served as Ambassador to the State of Eritrea and as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Gaborone, Botswana.  He has also served as Director for Entry Level Programs in the Bureau of Human Resources, Director for Southern African Affairs, and Chief of the Political Section in Sri Lanka.  His other postings include assignments in Pakistan, Madagascar, and India

Ambassador DeLisi received his B.A. and J.D. from the University of Minnesota.

If confirmed, this would be Ambassador DeLisi's third ambassadorial appointment.  He will succeed career diplomat, Jerry P. Lanier who was appointed chief of mission at the US Embassy in Kampala in 2009. The US Embassy in Kampala was closed in 1973 and was re-established on Jun 18, 1979, with David Halstead as ChargĂ© d'Affaires ad interim. No political appointee has succeeded in getting an appointment as US Ambassador to Kampala since then.


Related item:
January 23, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts


Monday, January 23, 2012

US Mission China: Gong He Fat Choi! Happy Year of the Dragon!

Today is the start of the year of the water dragon (23 January 2012 – 9 February 2013). Happy Year of the Dragon!