Aug 3, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 44 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Truth be told, The Scrapbook leans toward agnosticism on the question of diplomatic relations with Cuba, which were broken off in 1961 and restored last week, with much fanfare, by the Obama administration. Since 1977, the United States has had an “interests section” in Havana that is larger than some of our embassy complexes around the world, and the Cubans have had an “interests section” inside the Swiss embassy in Washington. With luck, from our perspective, a bigger and better American embassy will mean a bigger and better CIA station in Havana.
Nor will the “normalization” of relations mean very much beyond words—and, perhaps, a partial relaxation of the economic embargo. The Washington Post ran a long story on the ceremonial reopening of the Cuban embassy, which featured remarks by the visiting Cuban foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez, largely composed of a lengthy complaint about the Platt Amendment (1901), which once governed U.S.-Cuban relations and was repealed 81 years ago. If we needed a reminder that the aging Castro regime is still very much in charge on that unhappy island, Señor Rodriguez’s bumptious speech provided it.
What intrigued The Scrapbook was the Post story by Karen DeYoung. For some reason, it failed to mention that among the Americans in attendance at the ceremony was the famous actor Danny Glover, whose perspective on the subject may be summarized by his view that “one of the main purveyors of violence in this world has been this country”—and by “this country,” of course, he does not mean Cuba. More interesting still was the photograph that accompanied the Post story, showing a middle-aged woman holding aloft a heart-shaped sign that read “To Cuba With Love.” Here is the Post caption, in its entirety: “Medea Benjamin of Washington joined those celebrating the raising of the flag at the 16th Street mansion that houses the Cuban Embassy.”
As The Scrapbook feels constrained to point out, “Medea Benjamin of Washington”—actually, Susan is her real name—is no ordinary citizen with a casual interest in foreign policy but the ubiquitous, customarily screaming, face of Code Pink, the all-woman, hard-left political organization best known for its affinity for totalitarian regimes, and for shouting down American public figures ranging from Condoleezza Rice to Barack Obama.
It is no surprise that Medea Benjamin would be publicly demonstrating her fealty to the Communist dictatorship in Cuba. What is surprising is that the Post should have failed to mention—indeed, seems to have deliberately omitted—the better-known names among the handful of enthusiasts who appeared at the reopened Cuban embassy last week.
Or perhaps not. The last time The Scrapbook saw Karen DeYoung was in 1978, when she was hanging out with Strobe Talbott in the lobby of the Havana Riviera Hotel. Karen DeYoung is now senior national security correspondent for the Washington Post, and Strobe Talbott is president of the Brookings Institution. The revolution has come home.
12:05 PM, Mar 20, 2015 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
Countries that choose to host North Korean embassies (the United States is, quite rightly, not among them) take a real risk. Not only is the regime that they serve a horror show, but many of the country’s “diplomats” are literally criminals. When not conducting “diplomacy,” they engage in money laundering, counterfeiting, and drug trafficking schemes.
7:14 AM, Jan 28, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
The U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, the largest and most expensive in the world, cost at least $700 million to build by the time of its completion in 2009.
4:54 PM, Jan 13, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Ted Cruz released this statement in favor of moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to that nation's capital, Jerusalem:
Hosted by Michael Graham.10:33 AM, Sep 3, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on President Obama's recent remarks about making the terrorist group ISIS a "manageable problem."
Or is it a U.S. 'residential compound'?8:13 AM, Sep 1, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Here's video reportedly of Libyan rebels swimming (and doing a belly-flop) in the U.S. embassy pool in Tripoli:
And here's the raw video from the embassy:
7:22 AM, May 2, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the staff of the U.S. embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Thursday as part of a seven-day trip through Africa.
Why are the Benghazi killers still at large?Jan 27, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 19 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES and THOMAS JOSCELYN
Months and months ago, when Barack Obama could be bothered to say anything at all about the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, the president promised to bring the perpetrators to justice. That was before White House spokesman Jay Carney dismissed the attacks as something that “happened a long time ago.”
It’s been 16 months. The U.S. government has neither captured nor killed a single participant in those attacks, which left Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead.
10:52 AM, Dec 3, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
At the end of September, the federal government's fiscal year was drawing to a close, the threat of a shut down was increasing, and the State Department was shopping for art. Four contracts were awarded in the last two weeks of September, including $1,000,000 for a granite sculpture by Irish-born artist Sean Scully to be installed at the new U.S. Embassy in London. Notice of the awards was posted Sunday afternoon of Thanksgiving weekend on the Federal Business Opportunities website.
10:25 AM, Nov 25, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
The terrorist attack against the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012, awakened renewed interest in the security of overseas consulates and embassy facilities. A recent report by the State Department's Office of the Inspector General spotlights some major concerns regarding the safety of American diplomats and staff in Minsk, Belarus, as well as the security of communications. The report notes that some progress has been made during the last year, but more remains to be done.
1:14 PM, Oct 10, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
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:
5:54 PM, Sep 10, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
A few hours before midnight in Iraq as September 11 approached, the U.S.
2:46 PM, Aug 21, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
This week, the State Department announced that, in "an important symbol of our enduring friendship with Benin," construction has begun on a new $178 million embassy complex in the small West African nation, a neighbor of Togo and Nigeria. As is often the case in the construction of new U.S.
1:49 PM, Aug 15, 2013 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
The U.S. government’s decision to shutter more than 20 diplomatic facilities earlier this month was based on intelligence showing that al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri was in contact with multiple subordinates. And that intelligence undermines a widely-held assumption: Many have argued that Zawahiri, and other senior al Qaeda leaders, hold little sway over the international network that fights in al Qaeda’s name.
'Environmentally-sustainable.'3:25 PM, May 21, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The State Department today announced the dedication of a new "environmentally-sustainable" embassy in Bujumbura, Burundi. The cost of the building project is $133 million.