Tag Archives: State Department

Jerusalem Divide Grows Between Israel And US

The conflict between Israel and Arab nations is over a half century old, but some of the original issues of dispute continue exerting the emotional power to stir up anger and hatred. Jerusalem is regarded as critical to the meaning of an Israel and a Palestinian state since it represents the core of each people’s belief in religion. The American State Department issued a statement on Sunday in response to comments by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made clear in the statement that “Jerusalem is a final status issue. Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to resolve its status during negotiations. We will support their efforts to reach agreements on final status issues.”

Netanyahu opened up the proverbial can of worms by insisting “united Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours, it will never again be partitioned and divided.” Negotiations entails give and take in which both sides gain and lose. Exactly what is Netanyahu ready to give up in the pursuit of peace?

Chile Blasts Bush America On Human Rights!

During the past eight years, the Bush State Department has issued an annual report on the state of human rights in the world. After reading the latest report, the government of Chile issued a response which noted, “there is no Guantanamo in Chile” and argued the United States was the last country on this planet to issue reports pointing the finger at violations of human rights while ignoring its own. Francisco Victal, a spokesperson for the government, said his own nation’s experiences with dictatorship had made it sensitive to questions of human rights and argued, “when a human being is tortured in any place in the world, the dignity of the rest of the six billion beings is also violated.”

The administration of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld has brazenly boasted of torture that is acceptable and ignored the violations of human rights in their own country. A society which values social justice does not allow 50 million people to go without health insurance, a society which values human rights ensures those who lose jobs receive decent pay. Hopefully, the Obama government will truly be for human rights.

It’s Not Us, It’s You, Says US To Canada!

The American people consume a considerable amount of drugs which usually enters the nation form Mexico or Canada or elsewhere. The United States State Department once again gave a warning to another country to get their act together on the drug issue rather than looking inward and assuming responsibility for what its own citizens do about drugs. The new report charges, “Canada’s continued role as a source for ecstasy to US markets highlights the need for greater co-operation in tracking precursor chemical activity.” In other words, it is your fault that Americans use drugs. The Americans point out that Canada has been experimenting with programs to work with drug addicts which entail supervised injections.

Americans apparently want to use drugs. How about the United States trying an experiment in which drugs are legalized and supervised by the government? Is the problem we Americans and our desires or is the problem that other nations supply us with what we want to do?

China Denounces Criticisms Of Human Rights

Methinks, the Chinese government doth protest too much whenever the topic of human rights in their nation is raised by outside groups. A common Chinese strategy in dealing with negative remarks concerning its lack of democracy is to go on the attack and point out those raising issues about human rights do not have the best record in their own country. “We urge the U.S. to own up to its own human rights problems, and not use human rights as an excuse to publish human rights reports in order to meddle in others’ internal affairs” was the response of a Chinese spokesperson to the US State Department annual report on human rights abuses. Frankly, attacking the messenger does not address the issue of the message carried by the delivery person.

China has abused human rights in so many ways it is difficult having a beginning point. Dissidents are in jail, the people of Tibet are not allowed freedom of expression or even freedom of culture to be who they wish to be. China is right, there are many human rights abuses in the United States but that does not have anything to do with what happens in China. Why doesn’t China issue its own human rights report. Naturally, they would be number one on the list.

Washington Continues Policy Of Talking With Terrorists!

President Bush has repeatedly denounced assertions by Barack Obama that under his administration, the Untied States would engage in discussions with nations such as Iran and Syria. Bush and Senator John McCain have made plain any attempt to enter into discussions with nations listed as supporting terrorism would be appeasement of terrorism. Last week, the Bush administration dispatched a high ranking State Department official to participate in discussions with Iran. This week, the United States said it was ready to hold talks with two key visiting Syrian officials. Riad Daoudi and Ahmad Samir Al-Taki, are in the United States to participate in a forum organized by Search for Common Ground. The visiting Syrian diplomats will also have a meeting with representatives of the State Department.

The rhetoric of defiance which postures with strong words of defiance is a meaningless gesture whose audience is more likely right wing Republicans than the world outside. Barack Obama’s emphasis on talking and negotiating apparently has become accepted by the Bush administration.

Sordid US Story About Canadian “Terrorist” Unravels!

The United States government paid Pakistan a bounty of $500,000 for the 2004 capture of Canadian Abddullah Khadr according to information released by a Canadian court. The court made note the Canadian government knew about this shortly after the bounty was paid. Khadr’s lawyer, Nate Whiting, said: “The secret payment of this bounty is another illustration of the U.S.’s notorious practice of ‘outsourcing torture’ including the torture of Canadians like Abduallah Khadr and Maher Arar.” The Canadian lawyer stated bluntly: “Rather than dirtying its own hands, the U.S. simply paid the Musharraf regime $500,000 to arrest Mr. Khadri, knowing full well what they would do to him. The U.S. then did its best to hide this secret agreement from the Canadian judge hearing Mr. Khadr’s case.”

Whiting pointed out after the bounty was paid th U.S. State Department reported that Pakistan “tortured and abused persons, often to elicit confessions.” Khadr’s lawyer intends to argue that any confession signed by his client was obtained as a result of torture by Pakistan interrogators. Justice Richard Mosley made clear to his own government the documents would be released whether they liked it or not since there was no harm to Canadian interests by revealing the truth.

Each year the US State Department releases lists of nations that torture and abuse people. Apparently, State Department officials rarely bother to examine their own lists before allowing torturing nations to gain control of people.

Get Thee to Iraq Demands State Department!

The United States State Department has informed its diplomats they may be required to do a tour of duty in the hell hole known as Baghdad. A similar call-up notice last year created an uproar among foreign service officers who apparently don’t want to be placed in a war situation. Unfortunately, the State Department is facing a staffing crisis. An April 8th cable revealed, “We face a growing shortage of supply and demand in the 2009 staffing cycle” which noted more than 20% of the nearly 12,000 foreign service officers already have worked in the two major hardship posts of Iraq and Afghanistan. The “prime candidate” list identifies those with special skills such as proficiency in language as individuals who most probably will go into combat, diplomatically that is.

An estimated 300 Baghdad slots will come open in May and many will be filled by “directed assignments,” which means you will go or you will not serve in the State Department. Last year the slots were filled due to the willingness of some to volunteer, but if there is a lack of sufficient volunteers, the slots are filled by forcing men and women to serve where they do not wish to serve.

Secretary of State Condi Rice told the press on Tuesday she was personaly offended by the critical comments of some diplomats who questioned the ethics of sending foreign service officers into areas they felt were life threatening. She termed their comments, which were made at an open forum held by the State Department, to “cast a very bad light on the foreign service.” Of course, Secretary Rice flies in and out of combat areas under heavy guard which is not available to the average foreign service worker. One can only wonder why she holds an open forum to solicit ideas and then becomes angry when people express their ideas.

China Upset At Human Rights Criticism

For some reason Chinese officials are upset at the United States for criticism of their human rights record despie the fact the State Department removed China from its blacklist of the worst human rights abusers. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said his nation welcomed “suggestions and criticisms offered out of goodwill,” but he lashed out at anyone who dares suggests that China in any way interfers with the right of people to dissent. Of course, that will be welcome news to the hundreds of dissidents who yearly are sent to jail for the crime of criticising the govenment. Apparently, their words were not accepted as coming in a spirit of “goodwill.”

The State department report points out reporters are monitored by the government, many face harassment or arrest for writing the wrong things– obviously not in a spirit of good will. Ironically, the State Department was blasted by groups like Reporters Without Borders for dropping China from the list of abusers. It argued: “The situation in China is not, of course, comparable to the one in North Korea or in Eritrea, but Washington’s decision occurs at the worst possible time, just when the situation is worsening prior to the opening of the Olympic Games.”

US Military Plans Greater Control Over Security Firms

Under a new agreement between the Pentagon and the State department, the military would have more control over Blackwater and other private security contractors working in Iraq. Under the new accord there will be more stringent supervision over coordinating movement of the civilian security convoys and the reporting and investigation of any incident they’re involved in, as well as they question when they are allowed to use force. US military commanders in the field have been complaining they frequently they do not know security firms are even moving convoys through their areas of operation, and are then shocked to learn of some incident which might impair their working relations with the people of Iraq. The new agreement came about after Defense Secretary Gates and Secretary of State Rice got together to iron out differences.

This agreement will assist in ensuring some type of monitoring of the private security firms given their irresponsible behavior in firing quickly and without accuracy. Hopefully, there will also be provisions that make certain any member of a security firm who injures or kills an Iraqi will stand trial.

US Nuclear Team In North Korea

A team of US nuclear experts arrived in North Korea today led by Sung Kim, head of the State Department’s Office of Korean affairs. Their task is implementing accords reached regarding dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear weapon capabilities. According to Christopher Hill who played an important role in negotiations, “Now we are not going to get to normalized full diplomatic relations until North Korea gives up all of its nuclear ambitions and that the last 50 kilos of materials that they already got.” At the same time, Hill recognized Japan’s inability to obtain cooperation from the North Korean government about abductions of Japanese citizens who were kidnapped and brought to North Korea. Hill indicated they would have to proceed with the nuclear dismantling program despite not being able to achieve all goals of negotiation.

The United States insists that nations which are hostile to its national goals must accomplish certain tasks before being considered to be worthy of participating as an equal in world bodies. One can only wonder if the corollary is also true — that the United States must also meet goals before it is recognized as a humane and peaceful society. Does the world have a right to insist America dismantle its military operations in Iraq?