Department of State

Department Of Redundancy Dept.
March 02, 2011

House Foreign Relations Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:  "We have to look at the budgets that we're getting, like the State Department budget, and we have to see what kind of project is redundant, is duplicative."

The Godfather of Middle Eastern Protest
February 17, 2011

[Guest post by Ezra Deutsch-Feldman.] With the sudden success of nonviolent revolution in Egypt, attention has turned to the seemingly ubiquitous influence of Peter Ackerman, a former investment banker who became something of an intellectual godfather to the Middle Eastern protest movements. His group, the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict, produced instructional videos for leaders of nonviolent revolutions, held conferences where would-be revolutionaries could meet and swap tactics, and even financed a video game meant to help organizers plan and practice grassroots uprisings.

The Failure of U.S. Aid in Egypt
February 04, 2011

If you go to the website of the U.S.

Making Sense of Tunisia
January 17, 2011

According to many media accounts, the protests that swept Tunisia, causing dictatorial President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia, were instigated by the gruesomely symbolic suicide in December of Mohammed Bouazizi, who some are calling “the father of the Tunisian revolution.”* In Tunisia’s choking atmosphere of unemployment, particularly among the young, Bouazizi had resorted to selling produce in the town of Sidi Bouzid.

Rating Obama
January 08, 2011

Almost exactly three years ago, as the battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton was splitting the Democratic Party in half, we asked a group of eggheads and eminences—mostly liberals—to write short essays for the magazine announcing who they would support in the 2008 election. Now, with President Obama’s popularity suffering and many of his supporters expressing frustration with his administration, we thought it would be worthwhile to return to the same group and ask: Do they stand by their endorsements from three years ago?

Game Changer
December 27, 2010

I confess that I’m torn. I had the same cranky reaction to Time’s Person of the Year choice as pretty much the entire Internet: It’s hard to see the calculation that makes Mark Zuckerberg more influential than Julian Assange in 2010. Still, there’s something about this conventional wisdom that’s annoying in its own right. When people riff about the impact of Wikileaks, you typically hear how it’s forever changed diplomacy or intelligence-gathering. The more ambitious accounts will mention the implications for journalism, too. All of that’s true and vaguely relevant.

Should the CIA Turn Against Pakistan's Spies?
December 26, 2010

The recent chief-of-station (COS) cover-shredding brouhaha between the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate marks an ironic and possibly important shift in the historic affection that Langley has had for Pakistan’s premiere intelligence service.

Wikileaks and the Cyberwars to Come
December 14, 2010

The childish panic that has swept the policy establishment over the past few weeks over the Wikileaks revelations themselves will soon subside.

Everything Is Data, but Data Isn’t Everything
December 07, 2010

This bumper-sticker headline, borrowed from the sociologist Pauline Bart, speaks beautifully to the latest Wikileaks outpour and the question of what it does and doesn’t mean.  The media theorist Lev Manovich has said that the definitive informational metaphor of our epoch is the database. The database is not just a metaphor, in fact—it’s a certification of what knowledge looks like and how it is to be gained. A metaphor is a carrier, a condensation of meaning. A database is a heap.

How America Misjudged Robert Mugabe's Bloodthirsty Regime
December 06, 2010

For Western journalists visiting Zimbabwe in the middle of the last decade, a background chat with U.S. Ambassador Christopher Dell was an opportunity not to be missed. A veteran Foreign Service Officer with a refreshingly informal, outspoken style, Dell could be counted on to deliver candid assessments of Robert Mugabe’s latest skullduggery, and of the hapless efforts by Zimbabwe’s opposition to get rid of him.

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