Department of State

Sudan: Is a New Wave of Mass Crimes Underway?
June 14, 2011

As the July 9 date for the secession of South Sudan approaches, something very ugly is happening in Sudan. Northern Sudan has initiated a series of violent affronts on contested regions: the border region of Abyei last month, and now, South Kordofan, a northern state whose inhabitants mainly identify with the South.

Road Block
May 25, 2011

In his State Department speech last week, Barack Obama threw down the gauntlet to Benjamin Netanyahu. In the Oval Office a day later, and more fully in an address to Congress yesterday, Netanyahu picked it up and threw it right back.  The question now is whether this clash can be turned into a new understanding between the United States and Israel that improves the prospects for the two-state solution both parties say they want. To bring this about, Obama will have to make further tweaks to his approach and rethink his declared stance on Palestinian refugees, among other matters.

Doug Out
May 19, 2011

Serving as the ambassador to Malta should have been a breeze for Douglas Kmiec. A prominent pro-lifer and Catholic Republican who campaigned for Obama in 2008,the conservative turncoat had been rewarded for his efforts with the Mediterranean post in July 2009. Having previously worked as dean of Catholic University’s law school and as legal counsel to both Reagan and Bush Senior, he had some managerial chops.

No Entry
May 18, 2011

In 2007, a Russian businessman named Oleg Derapaska applied for a multiple-entry visa to enter the United States. Derapaska certainly had some impressive credentials—he is one of the richest men in Russia, with a fortune of $10.7 billion as of 2010, which he made initially by cornering Russia’s aluminum market. He is well traveled, and is the owner of a £25 million home in the Belgravia neighborhood of London. The State Department nevertheless turned him down (though it did grant him a one-time entry visa in 2009).

Truth to Tell
May 05, 2011

On March 10, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley committed the sin of speaking frankly. During a talk at MIT, he was asked by a researcher to explain the treatment of Bradley Manning. Though he did not think Manning’s treatment amounted to torture, as the questioner had alleged, and though he thought the commander at Quantico was acting within his legal authority, Crowley nevertheless said that the conditions of Manning’s detention were “ridiculous, counterproductive, and stupid.” Three days later, Crowley was out of a job. As a philosopher, I found his remarks fascinating.

Future Tense
May 05, 2011

In October 2008, a month after the collapse of Lehman Brothers—with the United States’s financial system seemingly about to buckle and Washington in desperate need of cash to prevent a total economic collapse—a State Department official contacted his Chinese counterpart about China buying U.S. securities. To his surprise, the Chinese, who had previously displayed an insatiable appetite for U.S. Treasury bills, suddenly balked at lending a hand. The reason, the Chinese official said, was the recent announcement of an impending sale of U.S.

Move Over, Muammar
March 22, 2011

How Reagan should deal with Qaddafi.

Failed Analogy
March 17, 2011

Those showers in Washington last week? That wasn’t rain. That was Dean Acheson, Averell Harriman, and the other architects of post-war American foreign policy looking down and weeping on us. Or worse. The heirs and custodians of their tradition never sounded so thick. In place of George Kennan’s 8000-word Long Telegram about the Soviet Union, the Obama administration’s consultant and its former State Department policy planning chief, Anne-Marie Slaughter, issued a forceful tweet about Libya.

Engagement Ring
March 03, 2011

Oilmen have feelings, too. Take the industry executive who lobbied the White House last year to lift the ban on U.S. corporations doing business in Libya. When National Security Council officials rejected his plea, he broke down and wept. The Libyans, he sniffled, were a gentle people. They deserved better. White House officials offered him a tissue. That was then. If proponents of warmer relations with Libya are shedding tears today, they are tears of elation.

Look Who’s Talking
March 03, 2011

The current wave of democratic uprisings in the Middle East is a welcome development. But it will almost certainly empower long-suppressed political parties inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood. That movement—whose slogan reads, in part, “Koran is our law; Jihad is our way”—presents several urgent challenges for American policymakers: How can political parties that seek Islamic law through holy struggle be cajoled and pressured to respect the rules of democratic politics? Is political Islam even compatible with open, civil societies?

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