A week before the government shutdown began, the State Department awarded a $130 million contract to design and build a new embassy compound in the city of NouakChott in the West African nation of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, which lies between Mali and the Atlantic Ocean. The contract went to Caddell Construction of Montgomery, Alabama, after having asked for bids in December 2011:
Just a week before the government shutdown kicked in on October 1, the State Department awarded a five-year, maximum $5 million contract for custom handcrafted crystal stem and barware, according to a report in the Valley News, an online news site in Vermont (via Charlie Perkins).
Speculation ran high at the United Nations this week about whether or not President Obama and Iranian president Rouhani would shake hands. Ultimately, the two leaders did not as the gesture was deemed “too complicated” for Iran at this time, “given their own dynamic back home.”
At 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 was crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City by terrorists. Eleven years later on September 11, 2012, events unfolded in Benghazi, Libya, that would ultimately leave a U.S. diplomatic facility gutted and four Americans dead. As of 8:46 AM today, the U.S. State Department had not acknowledged either anniversary.
At this point, it’s risky and probably futile to try to understand the ad hoc decisionmaking and zig-zagging public rhetoric of the Obama administration’s handling of Syria. But even before Barack Obama shares his latest thoughts on the crisis with the American people, in television interviews today and a speech tomorrow night, a new proposal and the administration’s eager response suggest another zig (or zag) might be coming.
The New York Times reported on September 5 that the United States is widening plans for proposed strikes on Syria to punish the Assad government for its alleged chemical weapons attacks. The plans now reportedly include the use of aircraft in addition to cruise missiles:
Secretary of State John Kerry said that after U.S. strikes against Syria, dictator Bashar al-Assad will be able to "stand up and, no doubt, he'll try to claim that somehow this is, you know, something positive for him."
When it comes to North Korea, it’s helpful to keep a simple rule of thumb in mind: don’t trust anybody who refers to the country as the “DPRK.” (That would be the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” the country’s official – and yes, bleakly ironic – name.) Calling North Korea the “DPRK” is not only woefully misleading – there’s nothing democratic, republican, or people-oriented about the brutal dictatorship – but it also lends legitimacy to the ruling regime.
Mugged by Middle East reality, President Obama and Secretary Kerry seem finally to have awakened to the necessity to act—unilaterally and un-apologetically. That's heartening. Still, do they understand that the American action has to be decisive? After all, as the late Mike Scully put it, liberals sometimes get mugged by reality—but then fail to press charges. Will Obama press charges? And pressing the appropriate charges in this case means removing Assad.