February 2013 Archives

February 27, 2013

Senate Republicans gave President Barack Obama hell for announcing on January 7, 2013, that former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel, in photo below, was his choice for Secretary of Defense. He replaces Leon E. Panetta, the 23rd Secretary of Defense.

The Republicans also gave Mr. Hagel, professor at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and chairman of the Atlantic Council, hell for speaking his mind on Israel, Iran and the Middle East during speeches and interviews over the years. See Fred Kaplan’s January 6, 2013, article in Slate headlined “The Real Reason Republicans Hate Hagel.”

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February 25, 2013

Will Asia Get Priority in Obama’s Second Term?

Richard Weitz,director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis and a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, analyzed President Barack Obama’s Asia policy in an insightful article in The Diplomat headlined “Obama 2.0 Confronts Asia.”

“Obama has clearly resolved to make Asia his priority region on the foreign-policy front,” he contends. “He has spent more time in East Asia than in any other foreign region. Most Asian leaders have welcomed Obama’s reelection, though the political transitions in China, Japan and South Korea increase uncertainties over how long such views will prevail.”

I think he should publicly devote more time to sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.

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February 24, 2013

I highly recommend George Washington University professor Dane Kennedy’s article in the February 24, 2013, online edition of the Boston Globe headlined “Behind Africa’s The Last Blank Spcacesexplorers, Muslim empires on the make: How Tripoli, Egypt, and Zanzibar rode 19th-century European expeditions to profit.”

The author of “The Last Blank Spaces: Exploring Africa and Australia,” said, “When we look at Africa today, it is impossible to ignore the many ways Europeans transformed the continent, not least the political and economic problems they created and left Africans to sort out. But it would be a mistake to trace the roots of Africa’s current condition entirely to the European impact.”

Mr. Kennedy opined: “This is especially apparent when we look at those pith-helmeted explorers who entered Africa as self-styled agents of European agendas. For all their heroism and hubristic claims of discovery, the signatures they left on the continent were not necessarily their own.”

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February 23, 2013

Iran, P5+1 to Start Talks in Almaty on February 26

The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, also known as P5+1, will start a new round of talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on February 26, 2013, over Iran’s nuclear program, which has been the source of considerable tension between Iran and the West for several years. See “Kazakhstan will host Iran-P5+1 talks due to neutrality: MP.”

Wendy_R._Sherman, U.S. Under Secretary for Political AffairsThe Iranians, who are under extreme pressure from the United States and Europe to shut down their nuclear program, are  expected to take part. On February 19, 2013, Seyyed Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for Asia and Oceania, told Iran’s Press TV that things may be different from the last meeting held in Moscow in June 2012.

“We have to wait and see what approach the other side adopts in the upcoming talks,” he said. See “Talks in Kazakhstan could be different if P5+1 proves goodwill, Iranian official says.”

The U.S. delegation is led by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy R. Sherman, in photo above, who left for Almaty on February 23, 2013.

The five permanent members of Security Council are:China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom

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February 21, 2013

Kerry’s ‘Listening Tour’ Gets Underway February 24

On his first trip abroad, which gets underway February 24 and ends on March 6, 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry “will travel to the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar,” according to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. See “Secretary of State John Kerry's Travel to Europe and the Middle East” for what will be discussed during the visit to each country.

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February 20, 2013

[Editor’s Note: Below are the major points of a foreign policy address that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in photo below, delivered on February 20, 2013, at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. The university was founded by Thomas Jefferson, the U.S’ first secretary of state and the fourth U.S. president. Mr. Kerry’s response to his introduction by Senator Tim Kaine has been omitted along with his recognition of several persons and organizations in the audience. The entire speech can be found on the State Department website, the source of this excerpt.) 

Why Kerry Delivered Speech at University of Virginia

Some might ask why I’m standing here at the University of Virginia, why am I starting here? A Secretary of State making his first speech in the United States? You might ask, “Doesn’t diplomacy happen over there, overseas, far beyond the boundaries of our own backyards?”

Secretary of State John KerrySo why is it that I am at the foot of the Blue Ridge instead of on the shores of the Black Sea? Why am I in Old Cabell Hall and not Kabul, Afghanistan? (Laughter.)

The reason is very simple. I came here purposefully to underscore that in today’s global world, there is no longer anything foreign about foreign policy. More than ever before, the decisions that we make from the safety of our shores don’t just ripple outward; they also create a current right here in America. How we conduct our foreign policy matters more than ever before to our everyday lives, to the opportunities of all those students I met standing outside, whatever year they are here, thinking about the future. It’s important not just in terms of the threats that we face, but the products that we buy, the goods that we sell, and the opportunity that we provide for economic growth and vitality. It’s not just about whether we’ll be compelled to send our troops to another battle, but whether we’ll be able to send our graduates into a thriving workforce. That’s why I’m here today.

I’m here because our lives as Americans are more intertwined than ever before with the lives of people in parts of the world that we may have never visited. In the global challenges of diplomacy, development, economic security, environmental security, you will feel our success or failure just as strongly as those people in those other countries that you’ll never meet. For all that we have gained in the 21st century, we have lost the luxury of just looking inward. Instead, we look out and we see a new field of competitors. I think it gives us much reason to hope. But it also gives us many more rivals determined to create jobs and opportunities for their own people, a voracious marketplace that sometimes forgets morality and values.

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St Lucia Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony told the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)Summit in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on February 18, 2013: “The truth is that our relationship with Europe is becoming even more and more one-sided, with Europe seemingly having its way at ever turn on every occasion.” See “Anthony: Caribbean’s Relationship With Europe “More and More One-Sided”

Flag_of_CARICOM.svgAlexander Britell, writing in the Caribbean Journal, quoted Mr. Anthony as saying, “Europe had its way with bananas, sugar and EPA [the Economic Partnership Agreement] and now it is having its way with differentiation.”

According to Mr. Britell, “’Differentiation’ is part of a proposal by the EU (European Union) to change the way it determines its aid, particularly to the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP).”

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February 18, 2013

UN to Get Syrian War Crimes List in March 2013

On February 18, 2013, the independent international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic announced that, “A confidential list of individuals and units believed to be responsible for crimes against humanity, breaches of international humanitarian law and gross human rights violations will be submitted to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at the close of the commission’s current mandate, in March 2013.” See “Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic.”

According to the commission report, dated February 5, 2013, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s (in photo below)Bashar al-Assad:

Government forces and affiliated militia committed the crimes against humanity of murder, torture, rape, enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts. War crimes and gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law — including arbitrary arrest and detention, unlawful attack, attacking protected objects, and pillaging and destruction of property — were also committed.

Anti-Government armed groups have committed war crimes, including murder, torture, hostage-taking and attacking protected objects. They continue to endanger the civilian population by positioning military objectives inside civilian areas. Where armed groups carried out bombings in predominantly civilian areas, it had the effect of spreading terror and amounted to the war crime of attacking civilians. The violations and abuses committed by anti-Government armed groups did not, however, reach the intensity and scale of those committed by Government forces and affiliated militia.

The report contends that, “Both Government-affiliated militia and anti-Government armed groups were found to have violated the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, to which the Syrian Arab Republic is a party.”

According to the commission, “Government-affiliated militia used children under the age of 18 in direct hostilities. Children under the age of 15 actively participated in hostilities as part of anti-Government armed groups, conduct that constitutes the war crime of using, conscripting and enlisting children.”

The commission’s conclusion: “… the only solution to the Syrian conflict is a political one, based on the framework set forth in the final communiqué of the Action Group for Syria of 30 June 2012 (Geneva communiqué) (A/66/865-S/2012/522).”

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February 17, 2013

Obama, Abe to Meet in U.S. on February 22, 2013

“Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made his first overseas visit to Southeast Asian countries (on January 16, 2013). Very soon, he will make the more usual pilgrimage from Tokyo to Washington (on February 21, 2013), to meet U.S, President Barack Obama (on February 22, 2013),” notes Simon Tay, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs in a February 18, 2013, opinion piece in the South China Morning Post. Mr. Abe will depart the U.S. on February 24, 2013. Mr.Tay asks:

What should he say to Obama as both begin their new terms in office? What do other Asians hope the two long-standing allies will focus on? The expectation - or fear - is that the conversation will turn to the other Asian giant not in the room: China.

Mr.Tay, who teaches international law at the National University of Singapore, lists several issues he thinks the two leaders should discuss. If you interested in his perspective, please see

Abe and Obama must reassure Asia of their agenda for peace and growth.”

Mr. Obama spoke with Mr. Abe on February 13, 2013, after it became known that North Korea had conducted another nuclear test. See “Obama speaks to Japan's Abe about North Korea's nuclear test.”

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February 14, 2013

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

At the November 28, 2011, annual summit in Washington, D.C. between the European Union and the United States,  a “U.S.-E.U. High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth” was assigned the task of laying the foundation for trade talks between the two allies. See the group’s final report.

U.S. President Barack Obama made reference to the talks in his February 12, 2013, State of the Union address. This is what he said:

Now, even as we protect our people, we should remember that today’s world presents not just dangers, not just threats, it presents opportunities.  President_Barack_ObamaTo boost American exports, support American jobs and level the playing field in the growing markets of Asia, we intend to complete negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership.  And tonight, I’m announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union -- because trade that is fair and free across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs.  (Applause.)

The Staggers, the New Statesman’s rolling politics blog, noted in a February 14, 2013, analysis that:

Full negotiations on a deal looking not just on the elimination of tariff barriers but also on harmonising regulatory and technical standards for products could generate 2 per cent of GDP on its own. EU officials think that, by itself, a US trade deal could translate into €275bn per year for the European economy and two million new jobs.” See “EU-US free trade talks show why Britain is better off in.
Meanwhile, on February 13, 2013, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), which is part of the Executive Office of the President, issued a “Fact Sheet” on the talks. According to the press release:
A successfully negotiated Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership would aim to boost economic growth in the United States and Europe and add to the over 13 million American and European jobs already supported by transatlantic trade and investment. In particular, the Partnership would aim to:

• Further open markets to grow the $459 billion in U.S. goods and services exports to the EU, our largest export market, which already supports an estimated 2.4 million well-paying American jobs.

• Strengthen rules-based investment to grow the world’s largest investment relationship. The United States and the EU already maintain a total of nearly $4 trillion in investment in each other’s economies, supporting nearly 7 million jobs.

• Tackle costly “behind the border” non-tariff barriers that impede the flow of goods and services trade.

• Seek to significantly cut the cost of differences in regulation and standards by promoting greater compatibility, transparency, and cooperation.

• Enhance cooperation on the development of rules and principles on issues of global concern, including on market-based disciplines for State-Owned Enterprises, combating discriminatory localization barriers to trade, and promoting the global competitiveness of small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Ambassador Ronald Kirk heads USTR, which is “responsible for developing and coordinating U.S. international trade, commodity, and direct investment policy, and overseeing negotiations with other countries.”

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The U.S. Role in Afghanistan After 2014

Professor Juan Cole writing at Informed Comment on February 13, 2013:

President Obama announced Tuesday that he would pull some 34,000 US troops out of Afghanistan over the next year, about half of the force that is in the country now. US forces are going into a support role this spring, but one suspects they will be doing more than that till they leave, given the sad shape of the Afghanistan National Army.

I totally agree. For more, please see: “America at Peace? Obama Halving US force in Afghanistan, winds down War.”

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February 13, 2013

‘Is China ready to go to war over a pile of rocks?’

“Is China really ready to go to war over a pile of rocks?” asks Adam Minter, Shanghai correspondent for Bloomberg World View, in a February 13, 2013, article headlined “China Shifts Ever So Slightly on Debate Over Islands.”

His answer: “Six months ago, it certainly felt that way. Now, not quite as much.”

The Chinese call the “pile of rocks” Mr. Minter is referring to the Diaoyu Islands. The  Japanese call them the Senkaku Islands. According to Mr. Minter:

The small archipelago (five islets and three rocks), located 90 miles northeast of Taiwan, is notable only for the oil, minerals and fish that allegedly lie beneath it and the intense emotions and claims that surround it.

He noted that both Chinese and Japanese public opinion were inflamed by the dispute. According to China. Org.Cn, “Chinese ships continue patrolling Diaoyu Islands.”

I highly recommend Mr.Minter’s analysis of this issue, which may seem remote and inconsequential to many Americans, if they know about it at all. Nevertheless, war or the threat of war between these two major Asian powers could potentially have significant economic, diplomatic and military consequences for the United States and its Asian allies, if diplomacy is overtaken by war. 

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February 12, 2013

The U.S. Africa Command’s Urgent Mission

The New York Times reported February 11, 2013, that “the Pentagon's Africa Command now finds itself on a more urgent mission: confronting a new generation of Islamist militants who are testing the United States' resolve to fight terrorism without being drawn into a major conflict.” For more, please see “The Pentagon's Africa Command Finds Itself Confronting a New Generation of Islamic Militants.”

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Is Qatar a Threat to its Neighbors?

“For most Western governments and officials, the influence of Qatar emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani's government is seen as broadly positive. Qatar's neighbors are uneasy, however, Reuters correspondents Peter Apps and Regan Doherty reported February 12, 2013. For more, please see “Rising power Qatar stirs unease among some Mideast neighbors.”

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February 10, 2013

Will West Africa Become NATO’s Next Battlefield?

“Africa is in deep trouble and Ghana will likely not escape this trouble in the long run,” writes John Amponsah at GhanaWeb in an article headlined “Why Ghana and West Africa have fallen into NATO’s deadly trap.”

Mr. AmponFlag_of_Ghana.svgsah said, “The trouble in Mali signals the beginning of a much wider series of conflicts that could easily engulf other nations, plunging more and more of the continent into turmoil. Some forces external to Africa are bringing chaos to our continent, so that out of that chaos, a new order, their order, will emerge,” he asserts. “The chaos will take the form of many wars in different parts of the continent which are seemingly unconnected on the surface level but at the root level have common influences.”

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Senegalese Court to Try Former Chad President Hissene Habre for Crimes Against Humanity

Hissene Habre is the name of a former African head of state I have not thought about in years. I would not be mentioning it here if I had not come across an article on Al-Jazeera’s website written by Chandra Lekha Sriram, a “Professor of Law at the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies,” who “conducts research around the world on international criminal justice and transitional justice. According to Professor Sriram:

On Friday, after more than two decades, proceedings against former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre begin in Senegal, with the opening of investigations by the Extraordinary African Chambers in that country.

”This is indeed an extraordinary event for at least two reasons,” she contends. “First, it marks the first time in which a national court  anywhere has tried the former head of state of another country for serious international crimes.

“Second, it represents (perhaps) an alternative to the increasingly static debate over international justice in Africa, represented most starkly by the resistance not only of Sudan, but of many African States Parties to the Statute of the International Criminal Court, to the arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.”

Professor Sriram added:

What we might be seeing is a shift from the narrative of Habré as an African Pinochet, and international justice and the ICC as neocolonial, to the fruition of one possible model for "African solutions to African problems.
For more, please see "

Africa's Pinochet" or the beginning of "Africa's solutions"? Also see Human Rights Watch’s post headlined “Senegal: Hissène Habré Court Opens.”

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February 9, 2013

Glenn Greenwald, a columnist who analyzes “civil liberties and U.S. national security issues for the Guardian of London, has provided the most insightful critique of President Barack Obama’s “authority” to order the assassination of U.S. citizens associated with Al-Qaeda or some other organization. See “Chilling legal memo from Obama DOJ justifies assassination of US citizens.

Mr. Greenwald (in photo below), a former constitutional lawyer in the U.S., writing in a February 5, 2013, column opined:

The most extremist power any political leader can assert is the power to target his own citizens for execution without any charges or due process, far from any battlefield. The Obama administration has not only asserted exactly that power in theory, but has exercised it in practice. In September 2011, it killed US citizen Anwar Awlaki in a drone strike in Yemen, along with U.S. citizen Samir Khan, and then, in circumstances that are still unexplained, two weeks later killed Awlaki's 16-year-old American son Abdulrahman with a separate drone strike in Yemen.
Mr. Greenwald adds: ”Since then, senior Obama officials including Attorney General Eric Holder and John Brennan, Obama's top terrorism adviser and his current nominee to lead the CIA, have explicitly argued that the president is and should be vested with this power.”

The former Slate columnist’s analysis is lengthy but worth reading, especially if you seek a perspective contrary to that of the Obama Administration.

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February 8, 2013

‘France is in its Comfort Zone in Mali’

Former Senegalese Prime Minister Souleymane Ndiaye, writing in an article first published in the Senegalese newspaper Le Pays au Quotidien, and translated into English by Bhakti Shringarpure, according to the Guardian of London, which reprinted the article in  Warscapes, asked Senegalese novelist and intellectual Boubacar Boris Diop,(in photo below) the following question, among others:

“Can the situation in northern Mali be viewed as French neo-colonialism in Africa in action?

Boubacar Boris Diop: Yes and no. With Mali, France is certainly in its comfort zone and, with the exception of Nigeria, the countries involved on the ground are part of its former colonial empire. In the end, though, it should be viewed through the logic of global war. The model is really based on the US invasion of Iraq. In addition, the French interventions in Africa have always happened somewhat casually, almost without thinking, while this is one marked by councils of war at Elysée Palace and has been designed as a big media spectacle. French politicians are watching the polls, and the ministers of defense and foreign affairs have never been this forthcoming.

I highly recommend the article, which provides an informed perspective commonly found primarily in scholarly journals in the United States. To read more, please see “French intervention 'will cost Mali its independence.'”

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February 7, 2013

The African Union’s Dilemma

Al Ahram English columnist Gamal Nkrumah reports that, “The best that can be said for the convergence of African leaders on the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa for the 20th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union on Sunday [January 27-28, 2013] is that it could have been much worse.” He added:

The Mali conflict topped this week’s AU summit agenda. The AU Peace and Security Council focused almost entirely on Mali. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a 16-member-state grouping that includes Mali, and its armed wing ECOMOG, last week pledged 3,300 troops, but under pressure from France, ECOWAS has now decided to increase the number of ECOMOG troops deployed in Mali to 6,000.
Mr. Nkrumah said, “Several key African states are regarding military intervention in Mali with grave reservations. However, a grand bargain was unobtainable given the political reality of a deeply divided AU and the hegemony of former colonial power France and other imperialist powers. On political grounds, the AU got the better of a mediocre bargain in Mali.”

For more, please see “African Friends and Foes.”

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February 6, 2013

Can Nigeria Justify Intervention in Mali?

‘Since the campaign by the French Army to free Northern Mali from the iron grip of the Islamic fundamentalists began a few weeks ago, the Nigerian government has been labouring profusely to justify the entry of its troops into the fray,” according to Dele Agekameh, writing in Nigeria’s Premium Times. See “Mali, Not Afghanistan.”

The article offers an insightful analysis of the Malian crisis from  an African Perspective.

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Military Might Won’t Solve Malian Conflict

Jeffrey Feltman, pictured below, the United Nations’ under-secretary-general for political affairs, told a conference convened in Brussels, Belgium, on February 5, 2013, to discuss the state of affairs inJeffrey_D_Feltman Mali, said “Ultimately, the success” of “support to the Malian people will depend on the effective combination of our political and security efforts.”

According to the UN News Centre (UNC), the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other regional bodies took park in the conference.

UNC noted that, “Northern Mali has been occupied by radical Islamists after fighting broke out in January 2012 between Government forces and Tuareg rebels. The conflict uprooted thousands of people and prompted the Malian Government to request assistance from France to stop the military advance of extremist groups.”

Mr. Feldman said, ““Stabilization will be a long and difficult endeavour. Unity of effort and purpose must guide us.”

See “At Brussels conference, UN stresses need for dual-track approach to stabilize Mali.”

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February 5, 2013

What Is Hillary Clinton’s Diplomatic Legacy?

Al-Jazeera takes a look at former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s diplomatic legacy.” How did the US secretary of state change the country's foreign policy during her time in office?” the online publication asks in a February 5, 2013, article.

For Al-Jazeera’s version of the answer, please see ”Hillary Clinton’s Diplomatic Legacy.”

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‘54 Nations Collaborated in CIA’s Rendition Program’

The Open Society Foundations project known as the Open Society Justice Initiative has issued a 216-page report titled Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition.

The report asserts that “as many as 54 foreign governments reportedly participated in” U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operations against Al-Qaeda operatives and suspected Al-Qaeda collaborators in various ways during the so-called “War on Terror,” which was launched after Al-Qaeda attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.

It’s worth reading.

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February 4, 2013

Karzai: ‘I’ll Remain in Afghanistan After Term Ends’

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is quoted in the February 3, 2013, edition of the Guardian of London as saying he will not leave Afghanistan after his third and final term as president concludes in 2014.

"I don't feel any danger at all, none. I am in my country, and safe and sound," he said. See Hamid Karzai: 'I have to be at the frontline of hardship and hard work .

Sticking around after his term ends may not be a good idea given the number of people in his family who have been killed over the years, and the assassination attempts he has survived.

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February 2, 2013

February 3-8 is Diplomatic Week in Jamaica

“As Jamaica prepares to celebrate Diplomatic Week with heads of mission from around the world, it is opportune for an assessment of whether the country has adjusted its foreign policy agenda in keeping with 21st-century complexities, and how much sway the country has in the Western Hemisphere,” The Gleaner of Jamaica observed in a February 2, 2013, editorial headlined “Editorial - Will Jamaica Find Its Voice?”The publication quoted imageSenator A.J. Nichols, Jamaica’s minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade as saying the aim of Diplomatic Week is "to update heads of mission on government policy touching on foreign trade and external affairs; to highlight the work and service of diplomats and their contribution to the cordial relations that exist between Jamaican and other countries; to facilitate deeper bilateral relations on issues of mutual interest; and to promote cultural exchange and mutual understanding."

For more on Diplomatic Week, see the Jamaica Observer’s article headlined “February 3-8 is Diplomatic Week.”

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‘Bosnia Could Easily Become a Failed State…’

“Though Bosnia is no longer the bloody war zone it once was, it still faces many issues that have hindered its post-conflict recovery and yields cause for concern,” contends Dana Terry in a January 31, 2013, article in Seton Hall University’s Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy. See “Why Bosnia and Herzegovina Should Not Be Ignored.”

Ms. Terry, a first year Masters candidate at the Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations, “There are still Bosnian-Serb radicals who seek to undermine the terms of the 1995 Dayton Peace agreement by advocating secession from the already fractured state. If this issue is ignored, Bosnia could easily become a failed state vulnerable to falling back into the same cycle of bloody ethnic conflict,” she warns.

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U.S Urged to Try More Diplomacy in Africa

Inter Press Service News Agency’s Jim Lobe reported on January 30, 2013, that “as Washington broadens its military “footprint” in the Sahel region of Africa, U.S. analysts are urging the administration of President Barack Obama to devote more effort to diplomacy, especially in Mali.” He noted:

In particular, they are calling for Washington to press for a swift transfer of power to a democratically elected government in Bamako which can then reach out to rebel Tuareg forces in hopes of driving a wedge between them and Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) and other armed Islamist groups that, until this week, controlled northern Mali for most of the past year.
"And,” Mr. Lobe added, “they insist that the U.S.-backed French-led offensive that drove AQIM and its allies out of three key towns in northeastern Mali over the past 10 days will not be sufficient to secure the France-sized region indefinitely without some kind of settlement between Bamako and the Tuaregs.

To read more, please see “Washington Urged to Stress Diplomacy in Mali.”

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