- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2007

Diplomatic blog

“We’ll see if this is gonna be another partisan hack job.”

That comment came from someone named “Joe,” who posted his thoughts yesterday on the State Department’s new blog, “Dipnote.”

Department spokesman Sean McCormack proposed the interactive Internet initiative because he wanted to know what people like “Joe” thought about American diplomacy and to explain to the public what foreign-service folks like him do. Judging by the responses on the blog’s first full day of operation yesterday, Mr. McCormack is getting his wish.

He created a buzz on the Web site (www.blogs.state.gov) with his first weekly question: “Who should be allowed to possess nuclear technology?” The question is especially timely during the week when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at the United Nations and denounced the West for suspecting the oil-rich Islamic republic is trying to develop nuclear weapons, instead of nuclear energy.

When “Michelle in Washington” posted her answer, you could almost hear her stomping her foot.

“I don’t believe anyone should be using/creating nuclear weapons or running power plants with nuclear energy,” she said.

Someone named “Chris” responded by essentially calling Michelle naive.

It is a “fairy tale to actually believe that a ‘Nobody-should-have’ approach is even remotely possible,” he said.

On it went, as bloggers responded to each other over the nuclear option.

Mr. McCormack, photographed sitting behind an immaculately clean desk, said in his welcoming message, “With the launch of Dipnote, we are hoping to start a dialogue with the public. More than ever, world events affect our daily lives — what we see and hear, what we do and how we work.”

“With Dipnote, we are going to take you behind the scenes at the State Department and bring you closer to the personalities of the department. We are going to try to break through some of the jargon and talk about how we operate around the world.”

He quickly added that the name, “Dipnote,” itself, is actually State Department jargon for a “diplomatic note” exchanged between an ambassador and a foreign official, usually a foreign minister.

No resorts

Russian Ambassador Yuri Ushakov avoided commenting on the state of relations between Moscow and Washington when he toasted former U.S. and Russian ambassadors at a cocktail reception this week.

“I believe there is no need to describe the current state of Russian-U.S. affairs,” he said. “All of you know what the conditions of our relations are.”

Referring to the gathering of the 10 ambassadors at a forum on two centuries of U.S.-Russia relations, Mr. Ushakov added, “I should say that the first 200 years are always the hardest.”

He congratulated the retired ambassadors for their dedication to their governments, especially during the Cold War years.

“Of course, all of them followed the guidelines of their governments, advocated the policies of their countries and served under challenging conditions — since Moscow and Washington are no resorts at all,” he said.

He noted that Anatoly Dobrynin, Soviet ambassador in Washington from 1962 to 1986, “is the world champion among ambassadors.” He served through the administrations of six American presidents and five Soviet leaders.

Mr. Ushakov also recognized Robert Strauss, U.S. ambassador in Moscow from 1991 to 1993 who unexpectedly became the last American envoy to the Soviet Union and the first to a newly independent Russia.

“Robert Strauss, during a single assignment in Moscow, managed to serve as ambassador in two countries at the same time,” he said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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