State Dept on French-Vietnamese Blogger Currently on Trial in Vietnam — Bonus Entry, the "Unless" Clause

This was in response to a taken question in the Office of the Spokesperson of the State Department on August 10, 2011:

Question: Do you have a comment about the French-Vietnamese lecturer and blogger who is currently on trial in Vietnam?

Answer: We are dismayed by Vietnam’s conviction of French-Vietnamese blogger Pham Minh Hoang to three years in prison and three years under house arrest. No individual should be prosecuted for exercising the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Vietnam’s prosecution of individuals for expressing their views contradicts the government’s commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Human rights are and will remain a key component of our relationship with Vietnam.

File away in the press clippings folder; might be useful as Exhibit A when the “Tigers” over at the State Department run after you and your blog.   

Of course, it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that the official response did not say anything about the “unless” clause.  What’s the “unless” clause?  It’s the “no individual should be prosecuted for exercising the right to freedom of opinion and expression” …. unless (INSERT reason here).

The following is a non-exhaustive list of possible reasons, in no particular order: 

No individual should be prosecuted for exercising the right to freedom of opinion and expression ….

—- unless your unofficial mockery written during off hours require cause your State Department bosses to take Xanax.

—- unless your blog tell stories about the leadership and management misimpressions of your boss.

—- unless your blog tell stories about the impression management strategy of your bosses ailing with promotiontitis.

—- unless you write about funny things reported in the media that talks about odd strange foreign policy misadventures and expense.

—- unless you write about a less than perfect life and private pains in your foreign adventures because didn’t you know that a shrink is always better than a blog?

— unless you write about countries with diplomatic relations with the United States.

Not sure the “unless” clause covers Bhutan and Taiwan, but it should should cover Cuba, Iran and North Korea. But before you make fun of Kim Jong Il’s hairdo, be sure to check with the North Korea desk for blanket permission to blog or tweet about the Korean Peninsula’s hair model of the century.

More later …

(This entry was originally posted on 8/17/2011; updated with “unless” clause)



State Department Seeks Advisors for South Sudan Armed Forces Transformation

Coat of arms of Southern SudanImage via WikipediaThe State Department has recently posted a solicitation for a contractor to “Enhance capacity of the South Sudan Ministry of Defense by providing a team of advisors, facilitating planning conferences, and procuring equipment.” The place of performance is Juba, South Sudan. The period of performance for the resulting contract will be “a base period of 12 months plus three (3) twelve (12) month option periods.”

Below are more details excerpted from the Statement of Work posted at

Office of the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and Bureau of African Affairs
South Sudan Armed Forces Transformation
Ministry Advisory and Training Team (MATT)
Statement of Work

During the last eight years, Sudan has been the highest-priority country in sub-Saharan Africa, and one of the highest U.S. priorities worldwide. The United States Government played a major role in brokering the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended the twenty-year civil war between the government in Khartoum (Government of Sudan) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), a southern Sudanese rebel movement. During his June 2005 visit to the United States, the SPLM Chairman John Garang appealed to administration and Congress for support to transform his guerrilla forces into a modern military.  Among other initiatives, the support outlined in this request for proposal addresses this appeal.

In January 2011, as stipulated in the CPA, citizens of Southern Sudan voted in a referendum for independence  from or unity with the North.  The overwhelming majority chose independence; on 9 July 2011, the South became the Republic of South Sudan (RoSS).  The Office of the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan (USSES), with the Bureau of African Affairs (AF) at the U.S. Department of State, plans to continue assisting in the transformation of the South Sudan Armed Forces (SSAF) from a largely guerrilla force to a military force operating under the RoSS’ Ministry of Defense (MoD).

The purpose of this Statement of Work (SoW) is to outline the requirements for advisors embedded in the South Sudan Minstry of Defense (MoD).  The advisors will be managed by the Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs, Office of the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan, and the U.S. Embassy in Juba. The purpose of the advisors is to provide support to the Minstry in the areas of policy planning, human resources, financial management, acquisition and procurement, military production, inspections, public affairs, and veterans affairs, or other functions as necessary, to enhance the Ministry’s ability to effectively manage the transformation of the South Sudan Armed Forces from a largely guerrilla force to a regular military operating under the MoD as the civilian authority within the RoSS.  As part of this assistance, the U.S. Department of State will support the Management Advisory and Training Team (MATT) in Juba, South Sudan to provide training and mentorship to MoD management staff and leadership.  The MATT will support the Ministry leadership, but will not be directly involved in the day to day decision making activities of the MoD.  Advisors will assist MoD senior management and staff at all levels, in their role as mentors and trainers, to perform key functions at appropriate standards.

The USG will work with Ministry of Defense to identify counterparts for each of the advisors listed in this Statement of Work. Contractors will report to the Minister or their ministry counterparts, but might also work with other South Sudan civilian agencies as required.

The overarching purpose of this initiative is to support the MoD with advisors in nine areas; 1) Defense Policy,  2) Human Resources (2); 3) Military Production; 4) Civil-Military and Public Affairs; 5) Inspections; 6) Finance and Budget; 7) Acquisition, Procurement and Logistics, and 8) Veterans Affairs. [Note that support to Human Resources will include two positions; one to focus on personnel readiness and management, and the second to focus on force planning and resource allocation.] To that end, this program will focus on enhancing the overall effectiveness of the MoD staff and leadership by addressing fundamental weaknesses in existing MoD staff procedures and planning efforts, and strengthening the MoD staff and leadership to effectively manage the transitioning guerilla force into a regular military through supporting effective staff policies and procedures.

Not only has the State Department got itself a new private army in Iraq, we now will also be training and mentoring the Ministry of Defense of the world’s newest country.

I’m sure we’re all relieved to learn about this.