DipNote: The Week in Review

This week, President Barack Obama saluted the service of the armed forces who fought in Iraq and helped bring the war to an end at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. President Obama said, “…One of the most extraordinary chapters in the history of the American military will come to an end. Iraq's future will be in the hands of its people. America's war in Iraq will be over."

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton hosted the U.S.-Iraq Joint Coordination Committee with Iraqi Foreign Minister Zebari to define our new partnership with a free and democratic Iraq at the Department of State. She said, “…[O]ur new beginning is founded in mutual understanding, shared interests, and mutual respect for each other as sovereign equals. We share the same goal, building a self-reliant Iraq with a government that is able to serve the needs of the Iraqi people.

On December 14, Secretary Clinton delivered the keynote address at the International Engagement Conference for South Sudan, focusing on how the United States and international community can partner with South Sudan to help create the conditions that make successful development possible.

The Secretary Clinton also joined PBS NewsHour's Jim Lehrer for “Innovation and the Global Marketplace: A Discussion on American Innovation, Trade, and the Next 10 Million Jobs.” Secretary Clinton said, “…[W]hat we've tried to do in the State Department is to demonstrate clearly that economic statecraft is an essential part of American diplomacy, and we want to use all of the tools and the forces of the global economy, harnessed with our diplomacy, on behalf of America's interest and values and on behalf of the job creation that we need here at home.”

The advancement of women is always a fundamental priority of U.S. foreign policy. On December 15, Secretary Clinton hosted “The Women in Public Service Project,” which will identify and educate a new generation of women committed to public service, create an infrastructure of support and mentoring, and help enable more women to enter public service and political leadership.

Secretary Clinton also held bilateral meetings with UK Foreign Secretary Hague, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed, President of Bosnia and Herzegovina Komsi, President of Kosovo Jahjaga, Australian Foreign Minister Rudd, and Danish Foreign Minister Sovndal. In each meeting, Secretary Clinton and her counterparts discussed a wide variety of bilateral, regional, and global issues.

Upon learning of the death of Vaclav Havel, Secretary Clinton said, "...His death is a loss for the Czech Republic and for human rights defenders around the world. He was an inspiration to me and I was proud to call him a friend."

In other news, Under Secretary Robert Hormats participated in the U.S.-EU Transatlantic Economic Council, or TEC, which helps strengthen U.S.-EU economic ties by promoting innovation, streamlining regulations, and eliminating barriers to trade and investment. He also delivered the keynote address at the 5th U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum, which he called a key opportunity to engage Chinese counterparts on important Internet-related issues -- such as international standards, intellectual property protection, cyber security, and Internet freedom.

While December 10, International Human Rights Day, marked the end of the annual “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Acting Assistant Secretary David Robinson discussed how the Department of State continues to work with partners inside and outside the U.S. government on a daily basis to prevent and respond to gender-based violence among some of the world's most vulnerable people.

To help put a face on the global fight against hunger, Ambassador Ertharin Cousin traveled to Guatemala on her third Media Tour as Ambassador to the UN Agencies in Rome in an effort to show international journalists the diverse work the United States and UN agencies are doing on the ground around the world.

In educational and cultural news, Senior Advisor Suzanne Hall discussed the launch of the Department of State's first mobile-based English learning program in Tunisia, and Vice Consul Andrew Zvirdin described how the U.S. Embassy in Majuro supports education in the Marshall Islands. The Office of Art in Embassies (AIE) is collaborating with the Department of Defense on a historic exhibition of inspired photographs from overseas service, "Serving Abroad...Through Their Eyes." If you are a current or former military, civil, and Foreign Service officer, you can submit a photo for this special exhibit.

In Africa, Public Affairs Officer Omar Cardentey highlighted the inauguration of the new U.S. Embassy compound in Djibouti, which plays a vital role in promoting stability in the Horn of Africa. Meanwhile, Foreign Service Officer Tom Weinz discussed the importance of local counterparts to both the site surveys and the Pacific Partnership mission itself as the Pre-Departure Site Survey team finished its work in Indonesia.

In Afghanistan, Assistant Program Manager Kate McFarland highlighted a U.S.-funded program that offers new hope for Afghanistan's landmine survivors. Secretary Clinton will deliver remarks at the release of the To Walk the Earth in Safety Report on December 19 at 10:30 a.m. (EST), and will later that day deliver remarks on "Women, Peace and Security" at 2:30 p.m. (EST). You can watch a live webcast of her remarks on www.state.gov or here on DipNote.

In the mean time, be sure to check out the tips to help prevent becoming a scam victim from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services aims to protect U.S. citizens overseas, but also provides protection to U.S. citizens who are at home, being victimized from abroad.

I'd like to thank all of you for your feedback and comments this past week, and I'd like to wish you a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season.



Virginia, USA
December 19, 2011

Jen in Virginia writes:

Wow, what a busy week for the State Department! I'm glad to hear of Secretary Clinton's participation in the Women in Public Service project.

West Virginia, USA
December 19, 2011

Dr. G in West Virginia writes:

Great summary.

And a safe, healthy, and happy Holiday Season to You too at DoS.

Abraham B.
December 19, 2011

Abraham T.B. in Ethiopia writes:

I am not an American citizen; nor do I live in the United States. However, I have always admired your country, your commitment to democracy and the three pillars of your constitution. I have also read that the contemporary constitutions of the world are effectively copied from the constitution of the United States. I believe you have all the momentum you need to be a great nation as you have been so far. I read on a local newspaper today that the American government has adopted a new foreign policy that places it in direct confrontation with the Russian Federation and communist China. I am sure your government has highly qualified advisors and think tanks, as they call them, and you my have reasonable grounds to adopt such policy. There are protests in the US, there is dissatisfaction among a number of citizens of your nation and there is a tangible situation where your country is no more the pivotal role player in the economies of many parts of the world, such as Asia. China is the second largest economy of the world and is even engaged in lending the US.

I do not have expertise opinions to give on this matter though I think that the US should not give in to communists and anti-democratic regimes in its economic status. The US should now concentrate on building its economy and dealing with its internal problems. I have been told that the US alone has spent around three trillion dollars in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I am not sure how much of that is true but why should America incur such huge amount of expenses while every body else seems to be minding its own business. Many people in my country, including me, wish for America to continue to lead the world. That will happen if only the US deals with its internal problems and concentrate on building its economy and mending the damages so far sustained. I would say that the government of the US during WWII was very wise in staying away while the powers of Europe were in war. That is how it should some times be. This is the world, not heaven. Not many are going to say “America has done this for us”. That is what president Bush Junior said to his allies in Europe during the war in Iraq. America saved the European economy in the aftermath of the World War II. But were Europeans by the side of the US during the war in Iraq? Not as much as they should have been. I believe the war in Iraq was necessary. At the same time I believe that America has paid a lot of price for that. I read on the news and the internet that the congress is being accused of indecision. I also hear that the members of the congress are concerned with the stands of their parties and of being electric, their political benefits rather than the good of the nation.

Dear sir/madam,
Do not waste what God has given you. God has blessed your nation. Do not waste that. Save your country from collapse. Convince countries to allow American companies to engage in investments. China has basically controlled the African economy. Is it because China produces better quality? I do not believe so. I think the US has placed unnecessary barriers as opposed to investment opportunities in third world countries where there obviously is virgin natural resource. What about China? Chinese investors are, for example, engaged in my country in basically all fields. Why should American companies not engage in businesses as such? Where has China gotten all its hard currency reserves from? I believe it must have been from its international trade transactions. If the payroll tax cut, for instance, should be approved now, and if that is in the interest of the nation, why should it be postponed for two months? As I said, I am not an American and one may tell me that this is none of my business. However, I have a message to the incumbents: not all people of the world have a blessed nation as the United States. Do not waste what you have. Thank God for what He has given you and get back on track. We want America to continue with its leadership role in world politics. Our Prime Minister once said: “Globalization was intended to serve the westerners. But China has benefited the most out of it. If China – a nation of huge market within itself - manages to reach to a point where its population begins to earn as much per capita income as in the case of the US, China will have had as large economy as the economy of the US and all European nations altogether.” We consider America as a symbol of democracy, civilization. We also admire America’s forefathers for your faith in God.
Thanks for reading;

Louisiana, USA
December 19, 2011

Scott in Louisiana writes:

Thanks for providing the link to "Innovation and the Global Market Place" program. I enjoyed watching this interview and would not have known about it without reading your excellent summary.

West Virginia, USA
December 20, 2011

Pam in West Virginia writes:

After this historic week of troop withdrawal from Iraq my hat goes to those brave diplomats left behind. I wish them the best and they are real heroes.

President Obama Speaks to Troops at Fort Bragg, NC
December 19, 2011


Latest Stories

January 19, 2017

What We Got Right

With a new administration taking office this week, it is natural to assess the inheritance it will receive from the… more