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Posts Tagged ‘diplomacy’

…and counsel in private.” I’ve heard Bob say this any number of times, it’s a management strategy. You just don’t dress down your colleagues in a committee meeting. I’ve heard this wise advice as a young soccer coach to my son’s team. Don’t humiliate a child in front of his team, goes without saying, no? I’ve heard it while studying for an education degree; ask to see the student after class, or walk out into the hall with a disruptive or disaffected student. Never, ever lash out verbally in the classroom.

Not like the old days, when Sister Mary Claire felt just fine swatting the back of my knees in front of everyone. Which served its purpose well, I still hate chewing gum.

Well Bob has been trying to get this point – you compliment publicly, and counsel privately – across to Mr T, every time we heard some scathing news item about his first trip abroad, in particular his public critique of NATO… I could hear Bob grumbling in the background. Thank God Bob is not on Twitter, he’d probably blow a gasket like that angry cartoon character in Inside Out!

Let’s just admit it, we have a buffoon for a President. He rides on a golf cart in the streets of Taormina, Sicily, behind all the other G7 leaders as they walk together. He needs his own Pope-mobile cause he’s so tired. How many remember the outcry when Hillary stumbled to her car while working with the flu. The silence on the Right is deafening.

They walked the 700 yards from the traditional G7 group photo, taken at a Greek amphitheatre, to a piazza in the hilltop town, but Mr Trump stayed behind until he could take a seat in the electric vehicle,” The Times reported. It also noted that Trump arrived last for the photo as the 6 other leaders stood waiting for him.

And then, Mr T pushes the newest member of NATO out of the way for his photo op?! Forget about the French handshake (actually the French kiss hello but we all know that wasn’t happening), the flapping of Melania’s hand at his (“Stay away from me you crass, crass man”), we now know that Saint Angela can see the writing on the wall.

To think that he has managed so much destruction of foreign alliances in so little time is mind boggling. I believe Mr T is tired, and I think he wants to rule like Mr Putin, he knows that whatever he says or does will be forgiven by his adoring fans. No matter that his most triumphant feat of travel was getting “triumphant” arms deals with Saudi Arabia, a Sunni country with a history of civil rights abuses who sent their terrorists over here to learn to fly planes without landing them…to attack Mr T’s own emerald city and our Pentagon.

Trump enthusiastically participated in a symbolic funeral for the Arab uprisings by embracing repressive leaders such as Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. No activists, civil society leaders or intellectuals were present, and Trump explicitly disavowed any pressure to alleviate their suffering at the hands of abusive regimes. Arab regimes will have ample opportunity to continue their long practice of manipulating the discourse of terrorism to justify the wide-scale repression of civil society, independent media, and political dissent.   https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/05/22/what-kind-of-deal-is-trump-making-with-saudi-arabia/?utm_term=.fa7cef71dc03

Let’s not forget that Mr T made a deal, a 110 Billion dollar deal, for weapons/arms/defense so that our proxy war with Iran can continue unabated. Hawks can rejoice on the Hill, our leverage in parts of the Mideast is secure . But what about the Putin/Trump bromance? And what about Iran’s election of a moderate leader? Oh and that nasty story about Russia influencing our election. #whataboutheremails??!!

There was little fanfare this Memorial Day weekend when a judge dismissed the suit against Hillary over Benghazi deaths and her emails. Nor were there many pictures of her walking in the Memorial Day parade in Chappaqua, NY. Walking in the rain, not riding in a golf cart.

I have no doubt that Hillary’s experience as Madame Secretary, combined with her law degree and experience as a mother and FLOTUS, would have taught her eons ago that little golden rule about complimenting publicly, and counseling or criticizing privately. I also doubt that the current President can be taught anything about diplomacy, foreign or otherwise.

Meanwhile, on a happier note, the Bride and Groom stopped by on their way to a Cville wedding this weekend. The visit was too short, but the force in this marriage is strong!

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He sent his wife and child to the country so they could eat fresh strawberries. He hoisted the Union Jack above his residence, which he calculated was about three miles from a Federal garrison. In April of 1861, he actually boarded a dinghy in Charleston Harbor to get closer to the shelling of Fort Sumter.

Robert Bunch was the British Consul in Charleston, SC during the years of secessionist talk leading up to the Civil War, and I’m smack dab in the middle of reading the non-fiction novel by  Christopher Dickey, “Our Man in Charleston: Britain’s Secret Agent in the Civil War South.” I thought it would help me understand the city while we were visiting it, but I was wrong. http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-undercover-abolitionist-1437160470

Britain’s attitudes toward slavery were complex. In 1807, Britain and the United States had outlawed the trade, but unlike the Americans, the British were serious about it: The Royal Navy was charged with capturing slave ships off the African coast. In 1833, the U.K. freed all of the slaves within its empire. And yet, Mr. Dickey writes, “England hated slavery but loved the cotton the slaves raised [in the American South] and British industry depended on it.”

The African Slave Trade had been illegal for over 50 years. Now the North was enforcing the law, captured slave ships were being towed into the harbor for all to see; Dickey’s description of one is enough to make you sick. But Mr. Bunch was tasked with repealing the “Negroe Seamen’s Act,” which meant that any ship docked in the harbor, under any flag, must hand over every Black on board, free or not, to the jail until said ship left the port. The conditions of the prison meant that many men either died from disease or torture, while the lucky ones escaped to be captured and enslaved.

Still last night, during Hillary Clinton’s impressive marathon grilling on the Hill, I was struck by how many times she referred to Benghazi as a “19th Century posting.” So I wondered how present day Libya might compare to the pre-Civil War South. And it seems that communication is fraught with peril now, as it was then. That sense of distrust; Bunch (who was accepted by the aristocrats in the city, while he abhorred their sentimental reasoning for slavery) sent private couriers to Washington with his dispatches in code. He was a diplomat, a spy, and his own security force rolled up into one man.

All that badgering of Mrs Clinton, about how her email messages were received, if she was alone on the night in question, why Blumenthal had access, had she signed a waiver, if her diplomat had her private phone number…? It was maddening, and it was sad. Because it showed us, the American people, the antipathy, the malicious partisanship our leaders have wallowed in for so long.

I was reminded of Bunch’s “Smile of Indifference.” Hillary is our woman in Washington – a 21st Century presidential candidate, in a sea of Republican nonsense. “The frightful evil of the system is that it debases the whole tone of society — for the people talk calmly of horrors which would not be mentioned in civilized society.”  

The sign outside an H&M store in the Kress building

The sign outside an H&M store in the Kress building, Charleston

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Have you heard of the saying, “Don’t feed the cat?” Literally it refers to the alley cat who comes to your door, meows and looks starved and miserable but cuddly too, and so you give it some food. Just a few bites of your leftover fish maybe. This would be a bad move if you don’t like or want a cat in your life, because soon enough you’ll be hauling said cat to the vet and setting up a nice, cozy bed by the fire for her. She will rule the roost; you will own a cat.

Well, I’ve been thinking about this as it relates to our country’s policy on kidnapping. Like Great Britain, we don’t pay ransoms. We are not feeding these cats so to speak. The sheer outrage over the latest beheadings of American and British citizens has caused us to once again go to war – and not with a country. With a bunch of highly organized jihadists who would like to claim a stake of sand in the desert as their own, to rule with their own biblical/koran-like laws. And the reason we say ISIS and our government says ISIL is telling.

Is it ISIS the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or is it ISIL the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant? But as we learned from reading Gertrude Bell, nomadic cultures do not have borders. They roam freely according to the season and their history – borders were artificially drawn by the British when they left their Empire to the sands of time. And so our President has tagged this terrorist group with an “L” because the Levant is more fluid and denotes their mission if you look at their name in Arabic:

In Arabic, the group is known as Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.The term “al-Sham” refers to a region stretching from southern Turkey through Syria to Egypt (also including Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan). The group’s stated goal is to restore an Islamic state, or caliphate, in this entire area. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/06/18/isis-or-isil-the-debate-over-what-to-call-iraqs-terror-group/

al-Sham is translated into English to mean the Levant. It’s sounding a little more treacherous now, isn’t it? And I remember listening to an NPR piece about how European countries may say they are not paying for their kidnapped citizens, but their diplomats negotiate deals that fund certain Islamic charities and they launder money back to terrorist groups in this subversive, back-door way. Which is why many German and French hostages have been released over the years, and our people are not.

“Since 2003, at least 68 Westerners have been kidnapped in the vast Sahara.” http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29409361 When I read this BBC article I was shocked, not just by the numbers, but also to think my BFF’s daughter had worked for the Peace Corps in Mali and lived with a Tourig family. Aid workers, tourists and journalists are pawns in this senseless slaughter. And money talks, money funds their ammunition and their “soldiers,” Western money helps them to kidnap more Western citizens.

We may not be feeding the cat, but other countries are. Two Million per person! In Africa hostages are discounted, they were asking 10M for James Foley in the Middle East, although they may have accepted 5M…

“…Ransoms totalling at least $30m (£18.3m) have been paid since 2008 in connection with these kidnappings and that the going rate for a single Western hostage in the region (Africa) is now about $2m (£1.2m). Most of these hostages were citizens of countries that are believed to have paid ransoms….at least five Spanish, four Italian, two Canadian, two Austrian, two Swiss and two German hostages have been taken. Of this group of 17, one died of natural causes in captivity and the rest were released unharmed. Nearly all of them were aid workers or tourists.

It’s not fair, terrorist groups get 30M to fund what they do best, terrorize people, which creates that insane feedback loop of more and more kidnappings. And for those who don’t pay, a beheading on Youtube. I’m not a diplomat, and I have no idea how to stop this problem, except that maybe building schools, educating girls, and providing access to water, sanitation and basic health care needs might go further than drones dropping bombs. Maybe leaving Iraq and leaving Assad to his own devices, helped to create these black/flag/waving/zealots; but certainly, now that they have advanced to the edge of Turkey, we have to do something.

I’m writing this as I gently remove my Grand Cat from my laptop. It’s a good thing I love cats.   IMG_1263

 

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