Snapshot: Top Recipients of U.S. Assistance — FY1995, FY2005, FY2015

Posted: 1:35 am ET
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Via CRS:

In FY2015, the United States provided some form of bilateral foreign assistance to about 144 countries. The following identifies the top 15 recipients of U.S. foreign assistance for FY1995, FY2005 and FY2015. Assistance, although provided to many nations, is concentrated heavily in certain countries, reflecting the priorities and interests of United States foreign policy at the time (via – PDF)

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An American Diplomat in Poland With His Red “Baby”, a Fiat 126 From the 70’s

Posted: 1:32 am ET
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Below is a video from U.S. Embassy Warsaw featuring one of our consular officers driving around Poland in his Maluch, a Fiat 126 which was introduced at the Turin Auto show in 1972. The car was manufactured in Poland until 2000 and was exported to many Eastern bloc countries. In Poland, it is called  called Maluch, which means “small one”, baby or toddler. It is known as kispolszki (“little Polish”) in Hungary, Bolha (“flea”) in Slovenia, Bambino in Germany,  “Polaquito” in Cuba and Peglica (“little iron”) in Serbia.

This guy’s a natural, hey!  The video has walk on parts by other embassy employees, as well as the Ambassador to Poland Paul Jones. We don’t speak Polish but it looks like he’s having fun explaining why he loves his red “baby.” Apparently the Poles love him–the video is all over the local news outlets.  Already interviewed on the morning news, sounds like his language skills are also impressive.  Luv the matching jacket, Dan!

 

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JW v. @StateDept: IT Server Mystery Man Bryan Pagliano Pleads the Fifth (Transcript)

Posted: 1:28 am ET
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See the transcript below or read it here (PDF).

 

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We’re Out! Britain Votes to Leave European Union, David Cameron Announces Resignation #Brexit

Posted: 3:36 am ET
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AAFSW launches online resource, FSHub.org for the Foreign Service community

Posted: 4:21 pm ET
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The Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (AAFSW), the oldest non­governmental organization supporting the American diplomatic community and administrator of the popular Livelines hosted in Yahoo! Groups since 1998 has just launched its “crowd-sourced” online resource for the Foreign Service community. They rely on the FS community members to suggest relevant links and for volunteers to help keep the links current. Check it out at FSHub.org and help make it grow!

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Below is the announcement shared by the FSHub team:

AAFSW is proud to announce the launch of the Foreign Service Hub, FSHub.org, a user-friendly online source for all Foreign Service community resources.

In the past, AAFSW’s Board and other volunteers have often been frustrated by the lack of awareness in the Foreign Service community about the support resources available to help them, ranging from AAFSW itself, to FLO’s website, to specialized social media groups.

To attack this problem, Nicole Schaefer-McDaniel, Patricia Linderman and Lara Center proposed and obtained a Una Chapman Cox Foundation grant, and organized a survey and focus groups, together with Barbara Reioux and many other volunteers. Based on this input, they hired webmaster Nicole Spiridakis, designer Lauren Ketchum and marketing expert Trena Bolden Fields and developed a beautiful, streamlined site that is now ready for use.

FSHub.org is a free, open Internet site aimed at presenting all relevant Foreign Service resources. Of course, it will continue to expand and improve based on user input.

All readers are encouraged to:

–- Visit FSHub.org and use it often!

-– Tell others in the Foreign Service community about it, especially newcomers.

-– Suggest any new links, improvements and events to fshub@aafsw.org. (We know there is still a lot missing, especially with regard to other foreign affairs agencies — your input is needed!)

-– Consider joining our volunteer team to identify and maintain links in an area of interest to you (for instance, for singles, retirees, male EFMs, USAID, parents in DC, etc.). Contact us at fshub@aafsw.org

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More on the Syria Dissent Channel Memo, and Chasing Down Concerning Rumors

Posted: 4:21 pm ET
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According to Tuesday’s Daily Press Briefing, Secretary Kerry met yesterday with a small number, approximately 10 of the 51 signers of the Syria Dissent Channel memo for about a half an hour. The official spox said that “as you can imagine, the group is sizeable, so it wasn’t possible to meet with everybody. But he did have a collegial discussion with them this morning.” 

MR KIRBY: I’m – because the dissent channel memo and the contents of it are meant to be privately conveyed, so too I’m afraid are going to have to be the discussions around it. So I’m not going to be able to characterize the content of the Secretary’s conversation with them, because we want to respect the confidentiality of the process. It was, however – it was – I believe the Secretary came away feeling that it was a good discussion, it was worth having. He appreciated their views and just as critically their firm belief in their – in the opportunity that they have to express those views. And so they had a good 30-minute or more conversation.
[…]
MR KIRBY: Look, let me do this. So I can tell you a couple of things. He thanked them for expressing their views and for using the dissent channel. And he reaffirmed his strong belief in the value of the dissent channel, which we’ve talked about quite a bit here. So he thanked them for expressing their views, for using the dissent channel to do that. He made clear that he takes the dissent channel seriously and he took their views seriously, and also made clear that he read their message with sincerity. And, again, without talking about the specific detail of it, the Secretary also walked them through his own thought process with respect to this particular issue and the efforts that he’s been expending on this particular issue.
[…]
MR KIRBY:
 I didn’t say and I won’t speculate as to discussions going forward with respect to what we’re doing in Syria or decisions that may or may not get made, either as a result of this message or as a result of ongoing routine discussions that have been had and continue to be had on alternatives. So I’m not going to speculate about the role that this message might play one way or the other.

But if you’re asking me, was this just a show for the Secretary, the answer is absolutely not. I mean, it – certainly he wanted to thank them and pay respect to the process because this is an important issue. But he also didn’t waste time in terms of hearing them out and asking questions and listening to their views and asking them to expound on them further. I mean, that’s the way this Secretary likes to conduct meetings and discussions and to inform himself. And again, I think he found the meeting useful in that regard. But I wouldn’t begin to speculate one way or another what this conversation today or that message did last week in terms of altering, changing any of the thinking going forward.  As I said last week, nobody is content with the status quo on the ground and the Administration has been looking at other options with respect to Syria for quite some time. This is not new. And yes, some of those options have included the potential for military initiatives. Again, that’s nothing new. So all these things —

The full DPB transcript is here.

Meanwhile, we had to chase down a couple of concerning rumors related to the dissent memo. We heard an allegation about Congressional pressure for a) the memo and b) the names of the signers.  Apparently, “word on the street” is that the Front Office of a certain geographical bureau is “providing names to the Hill in exchange for unblocking some nominations.” We must note that this bureau’s two chief of mission nominees had their confirmation hearing on Tuesday, June 21. There were no indications previously or at this time that these two nominations are subject to a Senate hold.

A State Department spokesperson, on background responded to our inquiry with the following:

“The dissent channel message has been provided to the Hill, but we did not include — nor will we — the names of the authors.”

We do not even want to imagine what a Congressional committee can do with the names or hearings in a partisan fight, in an election year.  So that’s one rumor debunked.

We also heard that the subject of this uproar, which appears to have SBU marking (“sensitive but unclassified”) has now been “retroactively classified.”

A State Department spokesperson, on background also told us that the cable was transmitted on the highside, and was classified confidential by the authors.”

Thanks X for debunking this other rumor.

The draft version published by the New York Times contains the SBU marking. It appears that the final version went out as “confidential” and was transmitted via the classified system.  What we still don’t know and may never know is how wide was the distribution of this “Dissent Channel” message and who purposely let this piglet out of the pen. We are still at a loss as to the leaker or leakers’ motive/s and perplexed at the calculation of sending a public message to a President with less than six months left in office.

Here are more links to read:

Here’s an early summer bonus for the “security diplomats”!

 

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Burn Bag: Dissenting on Dissent

Via Burn Bag:

“Am I the only one who was appalled to see 51 FSOs, aka diplomats, aka the folks paid to figure out how to solve problems via negotiation and within the confines of international law, advocating a solution to the Syria crisis that does neither?  It seems the militarization of U.S. foreign policy is now complete.  Run, don’t walk to the nearest exit.”

Via reactiongifs.com

Via reactiongifs.com

 

 

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SFRC Hearings: Yovanovitch, Pyatt, Hall, Silliman, McKinley, Silverman, Perez

Posted: 2:54 pm ET
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Date: Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Time: 02:30 PM Location:
Senate Dirksen 419
Presiding: Senator Corker

Watch here

 

Panel One

The Honorable Marie L. Yovanovitch
Of Connecticut, A Career Member Of The Senior Foreign Service, Class Of Minister-Counselor, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To Ukraine
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The Honorable Geoffrey R. Pyatt
Of California, A Career Member Of The Senior Foreign Service, Class Of Minister-Counselor, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To Greece
Adobe Acrobat DocumentDownload Testimony


Ms.
 
Anne Hall
Of Maine, A Career Member Of The Senior Foreign Service, Class Of Minister-Counselor, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The Republic Of Lithuania
Adobe Acrobat DocumentDownload Testimony

Panel Two

The Honorable Douglas Alan Silliman
Of Texas, A Career Member Of The Senior Foreign Service, Class Of Minister-Counselor, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The Republic Of Iraq
Adobe Acrobat DocumentDownload Testimony

The Honorable Peter Michael McKinley
Of Virginia, A Career Member Of The Senior Foreign Service, Class Of Minister-Counselor, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The Federative Republic Of Brazil
Adobe Acrobat DocumentDownload Testimony

Mr. Lawrence Robert Silverman
Of Massachusetts, A Career Member Of The Senior Foreign Service, Class Of Minister-Counselor, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The State Of Kuwait
Adobe Acrobat DocumentDownload Testimon

Ms. Carol Z. Perez
Of Virginia, A Career Member Of The Senior Foreign Service, Class Of Minister-Counselor, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The Republic Of Chile
Adobe Acrobat DocumentDownload Testimony

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Dissent Channel Leak: Who Gains the Most From Flogging the Laundry Like This?

Posted: 3:46 am ET
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The most spectacular policy dissent within the Foreign Service happened  before the creation of the “dissent channel” and outside the then Secretary of State Dean Rusk’s “Open Forum Panel” (which was created in 1967).

According to retired FSO David Jones who wrote Advice and Dissent in the April 2000 issue of the Foreign Service Journal (PDF),  50 Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) sent a letter to then Secretary of State William Rogers in April 1970 protesting an anticipated invasion of Cambodia.

Mr. Jones cited Under Secretary for Political Affairs U. Alexis Johnson’s 1984 memoir, The Right Hand of Power:

In his book, Johnson acknowledges the legitimacy of the officers’ substantive complaint, but he faults their tactics in circulating multiple copies of the letter to secure additional signatures, which led to its leak to the media. Making matters worse, the letter hit the news just as the U.S. military assault was taking place in Cambodia.

Retired FSO Ted Eliot, Jr. who was then the Executive Secretary of the State Department wrote to the FSJ that the FSOs’ letter gave rise to “what was probably the greatest crisis of confidence ever between a President and the Foreign Service.” Nixon apparently instructed Secretary Rogers to fire all the signers. Secretary Rogers did not do that and instead had two of his most senior officers (U. Alexis Johnson and William Macomber, Jr.) meet with the signers. According to Mr. Eliot, during the meeting Mr. Johnson was told that the signers had not intended that their letter be made public. He told them, nonetheless, that it showed a lack of judgment on their part.

In February 1971, the State Department revised the Foreign Affairs Manual to give FSOs the freedom to dissent.

On April 6, 1971, the dissent cable that came to be known as the Blood Telegram was sent by U.S. Consulate General Dacca to the State Department.  In a transcript of conversation between Secretary Rogers and Henry Kissinger, then President Nixon’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, Secretary Rogers referred to “that goddam message from our people in Dacca.” To Kissinger, he complained, “It’s miserable. They bitched about our policy and have given it lots of distribution so it will probably leak. It’s inexcusable.” Whatever was the public embrace or pronouncement of support, it was never the same in private when it came to dissent.

(NOTE: Read Dissent From U.S. Policy Toward East Pakistan Cable (April 6, 1971); click here for the April 10, 1971 follow-up cable; click here for the State Department’s response drafted by Assistant Secretary of State Sisco and cleared by the senior leadership of the Department of State, USIA, and AID, to the charge made by the staff of the Consulate General that the U.S. had failed to condemn what it viewed as atrocities in East Pakistan).

No doubt Kissinger remembered this when he came to the State Department in September 1973.  A month after assuming charge of the Department, he issued his own guidance on the dissent policy. According to David Jones:

In October 1973, however, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (HAK) issued his own guidance about dissent. He said the dissent should be heard, but also expected “that all officers  will keep dissenting views in the channels provided for,” and observed that “expression of differing views will of course be subject to the ambassador’s control.” Kissinger’s less than wholehearted welcome of contrarian views may help account for the fact that the dissent channel, once it was established, did not stimulate an immediate burst of cable traffic protesting the war.

The Jones article was published in April 2000:

In the almost 30 years of its existence, the Dissent Channel has received over 250 messages, ranging from a high of 30 in 1977 to a low of 3 in 1997. Of the first 200 messages from 1971 to 1991, about 50 addressed “general,” non-foreign—policy topics such as housing allowance policy. None of the other 150 or so messages can be credited with reversing existing policy; instead, at best, the dissenting viewpoint may have received some senior level consideration. During the past decade, annual totals of contributions have averaged in the single digits.

Most of these dissent messages did not make the news or change official policy.  Ambassador Tom Boyatt who previously served as U.S. ambassador to Burkina Faso (1978) and Colombia (1980) and used the Dissent Channel to protest Kissinger’s interventionist policy in Cyrpus in 1974, however, cites the Yugoslavia dissent (Serbian ethnic cleansing) as may have been “the largest factor in changing our policy from dithering to intervening bringing about the Dayton Accords.”

Army colonel and later Deputy Chief of Mission in Sierra Leone and Mongolia Ann Wright, one of the three career diplomats who quit over Iraq, writes that she sent a dissent cable to Secretary of State Colin Powell expressing her “strong concerns about the Bush administration’s hot rhetoric about the need for regime change in Iraq and predicted the chaos that a U.S. invasion and occupation would have” in February 2003. Her dissent had “no effect on the Bush administration” and three weeks later on the eve of the beginning of the war on Iraq, she sent Colin Powell another cable –her resignation.

Former FSO Ron Capps says that he used the Dissent Channel to register his opposition to USG policy in Darfur, and like this newest message, his dissent was also leaked to the New York Times.

In September 2011, 2 FAM 070 was completely revised and includes this: “Freedom from reprisal for Dissent Channel users is strictly enforced.”  In the past, Dissent Channel cables were also marked “confidentialand “LIMDIS” for limited distribution. The FAM update in September 2011 notes that “Dissent Channel telegrams must not be labeled or identified by any other distribution caption (e.g., No Distribution (NODIS)Exclusive Distribution (EXDIS)State Distribution Only (STADIS), or Limited Distribution (LIMDIS).”  The draft version published by NYT is marked “SBU” for Sensitive But Unclassified. 

Leak Reactions

Ambassador Bill Harrop who previously served as U.S. Ambassador to Guinea (1975), concurrently to Kenya and Seychelles (1980), Congo (1987), Israel (1991) and as Inspector General of the State Department (1983) told us that the Dissent Channel is a major asset of the State Department, and the articulation of strong, emotional disagreement with U.S. policy toward Syria is a perfect example of how it was designed to be used. He cited several purposes of the Dissent Channel:

  • a pressure escape valve for officers in disagreement with policy
  • a channel to inform the Secretary of what his staff truly believes
  • a step short of resignation for those in deep opposition to policy
  • a vehicle for keeping staff dissent within the Department, not publicly expressed

Ambassador Harrop also has some strong words concerning the leak:

They jeopardized an important institution, the Dissent Channel. Assuming most were FSOs, they were commissioned by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Their oath of office is to protect and defend the Constitution, but they are not free to debate publicly with their president. If they wanted to go public they should have resigned.

Ambassador Chas Freeman who previously served as U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia  (1989) told us he used the channel in 1978:

— to make a contrarian case in “Open Forum Magazine” — a classified journal not circulated outside the Department of State — for sticking with Taipei and forgetting normalization with Beijing, when it appeared that the concept of strategic rapprochement with China had bogged down. As I hoped would be the case, this elicited vigorous rebuttals from more senior officers who would otherwise have been silent. There was no leak.

Ambassador Freeman also said that “the channel can only work if it is “internal use only,”  i.e., it does not become part of the political diatribe or embarrass the administration.”

Of course, we’d like to hear the battles that are fought inside the bureaucracy. But we also recognize that the intent of the dissent channel is to inform the administration of the day and that these policy disagreements are not for public consumption.

Ambassador Freeman  told Alternet: “Someone decided to leak it … for whatever irrational reason, an action as blatantly incorrect as it is most certainly politically and diplomatically counterproductive.” The Alternet author concludes that “the cable will not produce the outcome desired by the diplomats. But even so, it serves to bring U.S. politics into the domain of diplomatic procedures.”

Not/not good particularly given the perception of the politicization of the State Department and the Foreign Service in recent years. This NYT piece suggests that “the disclosure of the memo could roil the waters in an election year.”  Questions have already been asked if this leak is intended “to boost Clinton’s narrative that she wanted a more robust attack on Damascus as early as 2012?” And if this is “a campaign advertisement for Clinton, and a preparation for her likely Middle East policy when she takes power in 2017?”

In the Alternet article, Ambassador Freeman also cites what’s probably most notable about this case —  that the signatories are arguing for rather than against the use of force. Over the past 40 years, diplomats have used the “dissent channel” to caution against a rush to war. Now these diplomats are asking for an intensification of war.

Ambassador Dennis Jett who previously served as U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique (1993) and Peru (1996) told us “That there is distress over Syria is not surprising. It has become Obama’s Rwanda.” He further adds:

The dissent channel was set up to give people an opportunity to propose alternatives to existing policy without committing career suicide. I don’t know that anyone ever really thought that there was much of a chance over the years for policies to really be changed but it gave people a chance to blow off steam.  I think the dissidents had no illusions that their memo would move the president to act.  So they leaked it immediately with the hope that the publicity would. Or at least one of them did since the NY Times printed what they called a draft of the message.  It would have been preferable to give the system time to act, but I am sure the dissenters felt as much of a sense of urgency as of frustration

A trusted Foggy Bottom nightingale told us that he/she saw the earliest drafts of this memo but did not sign it because he/she “was convinced it was a waste of time.”

The nightingale also told us that he/she know most of the signers, “respect every one of them” and “hate” it that “they’ve been undermined by this having been released to the press.”

When asked about the leak, the nightingale says that  “at least among the signers they’re all saying none of them leaked it.”

We can’t say what happened individually, of course. But. Say, this is true — that none of the signers leaked the dissent message to NYT and the WSJ — who gains the most from flogging the laundry like this?

The NYT article went online after 6 pm EST on June 16.  The State Department spokesman acknowledged on June 17 that the agency received it the day before.  According to the FAM, the Director of Policy Planning (S/P), that is, Jon Finer who is serving concurrently as Secretary Kerry’s chief of staff is responsible for acknowledging receipt of a Dissent message within 2 working days and for providing a substantive reply, normally within 30-60 working days.

In this case, S/P was not even afforded 48 hours.  Did one of the 51 authors of the dissent memo leak it to NYT and WSJ at the same time it went to S/P?

And if the signers did not leak it, then who did?

Why?

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When Policy Battles Break Out in Public — Holy Dissent, What a Mess!

Posted: 8:26 pm ET
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Also see “Dissent Channel” Message on Syria Policy Signed by 51 @StateDept Officers Leaks NYT Publishes Draft Version of @StateDept Dissent Memo on Syria Without the Names of Signers from 

 

Here is the DPB for today, June 20 with the State Department spox answering questions about the “it’s good” response from Secretary Kerry — apparently, he wasn’t referring to the punctuation:

QUESTION: All right, let’s start with Syria. Earlier today, in one of the events that you just mentioned, the Secretary told our colleague Abigail that he had read the dissent channel memo —

MR KIRBY: Yeah.

QUESTION: — and that he – that it looked good to him, or he said something like, “It’s good,” and that he would —

MR KIRBY: Yeah.

QUESTION: — he was going to meet them. Can you elaborate at all?

MR KIRBY: Well, I don’t know how much more I can —

QUESTION: Well, what does he mean when he said it’s good?

MR KIRBY: I think – I think —

QUESTION: I mean, does that mean he agrees?

MR KIRBY: Well, I’m – again, I’m limited in what I can talk about in terms of the content of a dissent channel message. I think what the Secretary was referring to was the – that he did read it and that I – that he found it to be a well-written argument. But I’m not going to talk about the content. And as for meeting with the authors, he has expressed an interest in meeting with at least some of them. I mean, there’s a lot of them, so I don’t know that we’ll be able to pull off a single meeting with each and every one of them there, but he has expressed an interest in talking to them, and we’ll do that in due course.

QUESTION: So when you say it was a – what did you say, it was a well-presented argument?

MR KIRBY: What I – what I —

QUESTION: Well-written argument?

MR KIRBY: What I think the Secretary was referring to was that he read the paper and thought that it was – thought that it was well written, that it was good in that regard. I won’t talk to the content or his views of the content.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, without talking about what the actual content was, when you say it was well written or the argument is a good one, does that mean that he is prepared to – whatever it says, I’m not asking you about content – that he is prepared to make the case for those – for the positions that are articulated in this cable —

MR KIRBY: Well, two – two thoughts there. First —

QUESTION: — within the Administration?

MR KIRBY: Two thoughts there. First, as you know, the policy planning staff will be preparing a response, as is required. That response is not yet finished, and we don’t publicize – any more than we publicize the contents of dissent channel messages, we don’t publicize the response. But the response is being prepared. As for any espousal of the ideas before, during or after the fact of them being proffered in a dissent channel message, the Secretary very much keeps private his advice and counsel to the President on policy matters, and we’re going to – obviously, we’re going to respect that.

QUESTION: Well, since this became public last week, you will have noticed numerous articles, numerous – or numerous reports saying outright and suggesting strongly that, in fact, the Secretary agrees with many if not all of the points made in this cable. Are you not – are his comments today not indicative of that?

MR KIRBY: His comments today – I would not characterize his comments today as being indicative of a full-throated endorsement of the views in this particular dissent channel message. Again, I can’t speak to content. What I can tell you is a couple of things. One, obviously, whatever views, advice and counsel he presents to the President need to remain private, and they will. And so I won’t get into that. But then also, as I said Friday, he has made no bones about the fact that he is not content with the status quo in Syria. We are not content with the status quo in Syria. Too many people are dying, too many people are being denied basic life-sustaining material – food, water, medicine – and there’s been too little progress on the political track.

QUESTION: Yeah, but —

MR KIRBY: But if you also look – but if you also look at what else he said this morning – I mean, I know that Abigail shouted out a question, but if you look at the transcript of what else he had to say to those college students, he talked about how important it is that we continue to work through a transitional governing process in Syria, and that that is the best way forward – a political solution is still the preferred path forward.

QUESTION: Right, but when you talk about how no one – you’re not, he’s not, no one is satisfied with the status quo – this is a bit of what is actually going on on the ground in Syria – clearly, no one is. But this isn’t a question about the status quo on the situation in Syria. This is a question about the status quo of the policy. So are you not in a position to be able to say that the Secretary is not – that he doesn’t like the status quo, the policy status quo, the U.S. policy status quo?

MR KIRBY: Nobody’s happy with the status quo of events on the ground, and that is why —

QUESTION: Yeah, but what about the policy?

MR KIRBY: — but – I’m getting there.

QUESTION: All right.

MR KIRBY: That is why, as – and I mentioned this Friday – that is why we do consider – we are considering, we are discussing other alternatives, other options that may be applied, mindful that we are, that the current approach is, without question, struggling. But as the President said himself, none of those other options – be they military or not in nature – are better than – in terms of the long-term outcome, are going to be better than the political solution we’re trying to pursue.

QUESTION: Okay. This will be my last one. I – because I’m just a – the – so you – you’re – what you’re saying is that his comment, “It’s good,” refers —

QUESTION: Very good.

QUESTION: Sorry?

QUESTION: Very good.

QUESTION: It’s very good – sorry, it’s very good – that refers to how it was put together, like the grammar and the sentence structure, and not the actual content? Because that strikes me as being a bit —

MR KIRBY: No, I’m not saying he was talking about punctuation. I mean, I —

QUESTION: Oh, okay, so —

MR KIRBY: Obviously – obviously, he read the memo and found it to be a well-crafted argument, well enough that he feels it’s worth meeting with the authors. Now, what exactly did he find in Abigail’s shouted-out – quote, “Very good,” I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to him about every element of it. And again, I’m not going to talk about the content of it from here.

QUESTION: Well, so you can’t – you’re not in a position to say that the “It’s very good” means that he is prepared to make those same arguments within the – as the Administration deliberates?

MR KIRBY: No, I’m not prepared to – I’m not prepared to say that.

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