Showing posts with label Diplomacy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Diplomacy. Show all posts

July 16, 2019

Never Get In a Pissing Contest



I saw this and thought this was a clean version of "Never get into a pissing contest."  ;-)

(Credit Video: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 17, 2019

Wrong and Wrong

I thought this was a funny saying that my friend told me. 
I'd agree with you but then we'd both be wrong!

He said that he actually liked it so much that he got a sign with it and put it in his office. 

As they say, "Two wrongs don't make right."

If you think something is wrong, hold your ground--otherwise no one will be right. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 1, 2019

North Korea - No Deal!

This is sort of what I feel happened with North Korea and the U.S. at the Summit in Vietnam this week. 

We went into this thinking that the enticement of moving from war to prosperity, like with Vietnam, would set the stage for North Korea to see that truly, peace is the answer! 

But when there is no real trust between the people negotiating, then you get a lot of gesturing, but no real determination to make a commitment--like getting rid of those crazy nukes!

For now from North Korea's perspective, "one in the nukes is worth two in the prosperity"...and they aren't going to disarm so easily and give away what they consider their ace in the hole.  

High hopes, lots of drama, confusion and blame, and ultimately a big let down.

If North Korea would give up their nukes, and Iran would give up their pursuit of nukes...WOW, WOW, WOW, oh what a world that would be. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 20, 2019

Compromise = Winning

So this shutdown has really been an education in political dysfunction, bickering, and childish behavior. 

But when President Trump yesterday went on the air and provided a compromise solution whereby he gets funding for a 200 mile border wall/barrier and the Democrats get money for humanitarian relief at the border, high-tech sensors, and years of protection for 700,000 children that came to this country illegally (DACA) and another 300,000 for immigrants from designated countries that prevent their sage return (TPS)--it seems like everybody would come out a winner!

That's negotiation.  That's compromise.  That's diplomacy.  

When President Trump did this, I thought he really won the day, especially when the Democrats rejected his proposals and offered nothing in return or as an alternative. 

Even if the other side disagrees with the solution, they can and should offer what their version of a compromise/agreement would be and so on between the parties--this way, they can negotiate until both sides get to the magical compromise that everyone can agree to and live with. 

What I learned from this is that regardless of your political leanings, the side that shows flexibility and compromise and the desire to get something done, is the side that wins the argument, period. 

Those that want it all or are simply obstructionist and haters are the big losers in the debate. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 25, 2017

Falling On The Sword

Sometimes things happen that we don't agree with or like. 

We may even get blamed for them when we didn't do anything wrong. 

At times like these, there comes up inside of us a strong visceral feeling to speak up and out--to right the wrongs!

There are times when we can, but there are also times when it may be better to hold our tongue for another day. 

In the olden times, people that spoke out, often had their tongue cut right out in front of them--no questions asked.

These days, thank G-d, most people may not be that cruel, but still people get punished for speaking truth to power--when the power is tone deaf or possibly even behaving more as brutal dictators than as benevolent leaders. 

The problem for the average Joe is that there is no point in losing your tongue or even your head by acting rashly or imprudently.

Better to wait and plan for the right moment to be effective and stand with integrity for your ideals and what you know in your heart is right. 

Maybe even at times, we have to fall on our swords until we can make a strong and convincing case and change both hearts and minds to betterment. 

The point is not only to do what's right, but to make things right in the world around us.

Swords too often can come out swinging wildly, unless we carefully sharpen them and practice our lunges and cuts, and work to repair the wrongs in the world as soldiers of righteousness. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 20, 2017

The Easy Way or The Hard Way

So I like this quote by Carl von Clausewitz:
"War is an extension of politics by other means."

There is diplomacy and then there is war!

- Diplomacy is soft power--talking, persuading, negotiating, and compromise. 

- War is hard power--fighting/combat using kinetic or cyber-based means.

When diplomacy fails, then war is what's left to compel the enemy to come around to your way of thinking and do your will. 

As they say, there's the easy way or the hard way--that's the dual before the duel.

Either way it gets to resolution. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 15, 2016

Peace Through Strength

So this is what I've learned about conflict management...

Obviously, we are better off without conflict and to simply all get along--that's the ideal!

Now unfortunately, in real life there may be situations where we may have fundamental differences of opinions and goals, and at times these may seriously clash. 

What's good for you, may be bad for me (or vice versa)...that's called a win-lose situation. 

And when we don't see eye to eye and can't get along, then either we can try to work it out and that's where diplomacy comes in or at other times, we may have no choice but to take up arms and go to war.

Our first choice is diplomacy. Here, we sit down to listen and try genuinely to understand each other, and have empathy on others...life is not easy for anyone. 

Still we need to mesh what others want with what we need for our own wellbeing and progress, and that's where negotiation, compromise, and de-escalation come into play. 

Best case scenario, we come up with a win-win situation, where we can both walk away from the table with a respectable enough amount of what we each want and our egos still intact, so that that we can all go our merry ways and pursue our lives and live within our values and amidst security.  

However, in some cases, some may be so unreasonable, intractable, and their actions so aggressive, egregious, and dangerous as to threaten, harm, and violate the lives of others, that it's intolerable for it to continue any longer.

What's left when we can't put up and shut up, and when talk is exhausted, is to fight for what we believe in, for who we are, and for our right to live and prosper. 

Once, twice, three times and you're out of time and luck--we are seriously headed for a clash of persons and/or civilizations. 

Peace is better won without firing a shot, but when it's time to pull out the guns, they better be damn big and deadly ones. 

That is called peace through strength...where we have the guts and means to back up our position with force, if necessary. 

None of this bullshit of bringing a knife to a gunfight; instead, when we have no choice but to fight, we fight to win and everything is on the table. 

Peace is the preference, but if war is the only answer, then the other side may have unleashed hell, and that is what they will get from peace through strength delivered! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 8, 2016

Best Diplomacy Shirt

I took this photo in the Metro, so I apologize for the poor lighting. 

But never-the-less, to me, this wins for best diplomacy shirt. 
"Respect All
Fear None"
In dealing with others at home and abroad, we must respect everyone. 

And this is not just paying lip service to others while really giving a tacit nod to derision and divisiveness.

Rather we need to have genuine respect for all people, cultures, religions, freedom and human rights. 

At the same time, we must fear no one. 

We need to carry a big stick, as my grandfather used to say.

That along with plenty of carrots (but used strategically and not wastefully) to positively influence the good in others. 

The point is that disengagement, appeasement, and weakness benefits no one. 

Rather, it encourages violence, destruction, and refugees, and global disorder. 

It's time to stop fearing and running, and to make a firm stand for good and meaningful things that we really believe in.

We are not the police of the world, but we are smart, and good, and powerful, and will project and use that power wisely to ensure that good prevails over evil, always. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 11, 2016

7 Mind-F*cking Arguments

So my daughter took a training class in critical thinking at work. 

And she brought home an excellent handout from the instructor, Haywood Spangler, about how people try to get you to their point of view, but without any real solid reasoning behind it.

My mother-in-law calls this concept in blunt terms, mind-f*cking!

Here are some examples:

1) Genetic Fallacy - Rejecting an idea based on where or who it comes from, rather than the merits of the idea itself.  I call this one, you're an idiot, so your ideas are idiotic. 

2) Circular Reasoning - Restating the conclusion, rather than proving it. I call this hammering or going no where fast. 

3) Red Herring - Diverting from the real issue as a distraction. I call this the shell game. 

4) Ad Hoc Reasoning - Coming up with a reason to simply reject your every objection. I call this just say it isn't so. 

5) False Dichotomy - Oversimplifying a complex situation and making it into only black and white. I call this my way or the highway.

6) Slippery Slope - Supposing that if one thing happens then something else terrible must necessarily follow. I call this following the false causality. 

7) Band Wagon - Everyone is doing it, so you need to also.  I call this classic groupthink or be careful not to stand in front of a moving train. 

Basically, when someone is not taking with you, but at you and trying to make you just do what they want, period, then watch out, you are probably being gloriously mind-f*cked. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 21, 2016

A New Diplomacy In Town

A wonderful colleague sent me this really impressive photo.

This was one of my favorite of 3 aircraft carrier strike groups taken together (Abraham Lincoln, Kitty Hawk, and Ronald Reagan)--the 1st and the 3rd of which are Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarriers. 

According to the slides, there were literally 4 four nuclear submarines standing guard in the waters beneath, as well as a B-2 stealth bomber flying overhead.  

What I really liked the most though wasn't even the photos, but rather the motto for the carriers of:

"Over 90,000 tons of diplomacy...wherever... whenever..."

Diplomacy can be listening, negotiating, and compromise, but it can also be through the projection of the ultimate national and human strength. 

With a staggering rise in global terrorism, militaristic adventurism, and the proliferation of dangerous weapons of mass destruction, perhaps it's time to harden up on some of the soft power, and demonstrate as well the very credible hard power and resolve we have for protecting American lives, freedom, and human rights. ;-)

(Source Photo: here)

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May 22, 2016

Silence Or Violence

So when it comes to "Crucial Conversations," they unfortunately frequently end in silence or violence.

When the "stakes are moderate to high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong" that's when communication really seems to break down, rather than achieve their goals of working things out. 

Like when our lives are in danger and we have the adrenalin rush reactions to fight or flight, similarly with potentially "dangerous" communications, people become aggressive and abusive or shutdown and withdraw. 

When your afraid of a negative outcome, either you start hammering others with your ideas and opinions or you exit the conversation and seek safety. 

Either way, at this point, there's no real common ground, negotiation, compromise, or win-win to be easily had...in this pressure cooker poor excuse of a dialogue, it can basically become a tragic win-lose situation.

Perhaps, that's why there are mediators and neutral third parties that are often brought in to make people feel (relatively) safe again, help them be understood and to understand, and to find a negotiated peace or settlement. 

And what happens when even this doesn't work and communication and diplomacy fails?

Well that's when people and countries bring out the big guns and they essentially go to war to win what they hoped to achieve with dialogue. 

Now words are no longer the only choice, but all options are on the table, and that's when benign words can quickly turn into more drastic or deadly deeds (aka the children reframe of "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never harm me."

And there is always the thermonuclear option--people supported it with Japan in WWII and they say they would support it with a Tehran that violates the very generous nuclear deal they received.

Words are a prelude to a possible peace or an unwanted war. 

They can be the last chance to work things out the way we hope for.

And if words alone can't resolve the issue, then blood and treasure is spent and spilt to resolve the otherwise unresolvable. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 25, 2016

Who's Gonna Pay For That Wall

So presidential candidate, Donald Trump wants to build a wall on the southern U.S. border with Mexico to control immigration for homeland security and the economy. 

But more than that, he thinks Mexico should pay for it.

Today, on CNN was a response from Mexico's ex president, who said, we're "not gonna pay for that f****** wall!"

I was walking around laughing to myself for about 10 minutes--the zany and (un)predictable action-reaction in politics and diplomacy. 

You can't make this stuff up. 

Just an aside, but wouldn't you say Ex-President [of] Mexico instead of the Ex-Mexico President --Oops, who was working the captions at CNN today. 

What will be surreal and hilarious after this is if the "f****** wall" would really happen, and if Mexico would seriously end up paying for it. ;-)

(Note: This is not an endorsement for any candidate or party.)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 28, 2015

Indians and Palestinians

September 4, 1886, Geronimo, the last American Indian warrior surrenders to the United States and later after some time in prison, Geronimo converts and becomes a successful farmer. 

November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly votes 33-13 in favor of a partition from what was land prior under the control of Britain leading to the establishment of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948 at which time the surrounding Arab nations attacked and were defeated, and this replayed many times in 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982 and subsequent Intifadas.

Recently, I had a conversation with a lady who is a Lacota Indian and who happens to be a proud supporter of the State of Israel.

This is what she told me: 

"The Indians and Palestinians have a lot in common in that we both have to share land."

But, what is different is that we [American Indians] don't act like some [extremist] Palestinians teaching endless cycles of hatred and violence.

We don't go around knifing people, throwing stones, shooting, or blowing people up."

I had understood many people think this, but I had never heard anyone actually come out and say it--let alone a Native American Indian. 

Even now-a-days, I think we must admit that American Indians live in a challenging state in this country and certainly they deserve more and their standard of living should be vastly improved, but at the same time, they manage to live with all the immigrants that came to the United States from all over the world, and they do this in peace.  

Perhaps, in Israel, where there is tacit agreement towards an even better scenario--a two-state solution--with the real potential of peace, prosperity, and security for both Jews and Palestinians--the cycle of hatred and violence can end and should end. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Maryland GovPics) 

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September 18, 2015

Lights, Camera, Inaction

So the lights dim, the camera starts to roll, and what happens...

ACTION!


The show starts...actors spring into action, and the plot takes shape--we have a positive influence and impact on our fellow man and the world we live in. 


But there is a sorry alternative storyline.


Where after the lights and camera...nothing happens.


There is a eery silence and a weird INACTION!


Like the actors are asleep at the wheel, went off to play golf or to comedy night, or perhaps went home to momma, and are cowering, and hiding under their beds.


Is this the unfortunate state of our country today?


The world is our stage. 


As the sole superpower, the United States is the prime actor today.


We have our calling to go do good--to help, to save, and to bring peace and freedom. 


But lo and behold, what happens when we have a policy of inaction?


Where we want peace, but are not willing to do to much of anything for it or perhaps in spite of it. 


So how is our world faring today:


- In Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya, Sudan, and more, millions are dying and injured, while tens of millions are fleeing, displaced, or are in refugee camps, and chemical WMD are in use by Syria and ISIS, while our red lines were drawn and then withdrawn, and we don't know if we are training the opposition or throwing in the towel on the ground.


- ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Boko Haram, etc. are rampant and overrunning the Middle East and North Africa, killing, torturing, raping, destroying, and plummeting, as well as recruiting back in Europe and here in the States, amidst calls for attacks against us and our allies. 


- Russia takes Crimea and is resurgent in Eastern Ukraine and the Arctic, and antagonizing all around Europe with ever encroaching warplanes and warships, and militarizing and modernizing their formidable nuclear arsenal, and we stand up a new NATO rapid reaction force, while we are again surprised by Russia, now in Syria.


- China is expanding into the South China Sea, flexing it's economic and military muscle, and cyber attacking and stealing our vital government and economic information assets with relative impunity, while we trade with our partner and pivot this way and that. 


- North Korea restarts it's nuclear plant, readies for another banned missile launch, sinks South Korean ships, plants deadly landmines on the South's side of the demilitarized zone, and provokes toward a military confrontation, while we lick our wounds from the last broken agreements with them. 


- Iran has stymied the people's freedom movement, executed the opposition and homosexuals, builds toward a deadly nuclear and ballistic missile future, seeks the destruction of America ("The Great Satan") and Israel, is massively funding and arming their terrorist proxies to the tune of billions of dollars, and has gotten a get out of jail free card and sanctions lifting.


So what can we do?


Well in the past, we were a meaningful deterrent to countries and people doing bad things. 


We stood proudly and tall for human rights, freedom, equality, democracy, anti-proliferation, and sustainability.


We didn't have to fight everywhere to make our point--but just knowing that we were willing to stand for righteousness and justice often meant those with evil intentions stepping back and rethinking it.


Occasionally, we did have to put our blood and treasure where our mouths were, and perhaps we often did this too rashly and imprudently (when diplomacy or some saber rattling might have done the trick). 


However, the world cannot afford for us to be war weary or chase empty legacies of peace built on blind hope or a running away from our responsibilities. 


While the world burns, we can't be looking for Nobel Prizes instead of seeking out the fire extinguishers and medical kits to save and to heal. 


As it is so wisely stated: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."


Peace is not born of inaction, but of brave actors willing to do what is necessary to achieve all that is good and all that can be done. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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August 20, 2015

Fist With Parachute

I took this photo in Miami yesterday.

A fist attached to a parachute. 

Sort of a strange image of strength, fighting, and resolve with making a safe landing. 

Perhaps that's the intersection of defense and diplomacy.

Where we employ soft and hard power to achieve worthy goals and follow one's moral compass. 

My grandfather used to joke that he would come with the big stick if anyone bothers us. 

He, like my dad, was a very good man! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 18, 2015

Traits To Be Prez


The personality to be President:

1. Experience, Diplomacy

2. Direct, Honest, Strong, Results-oriented

3. Passionate, Dedication, Survival of the Nation

A short interview with Andy Blumenthal

(Source Video: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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June 13, 2015

A Delicate Balance

I love this desk doodad that I found in the gallery. 

Two guys perched at opposite ends of a strewn out ladder, balancing precariously on top of a sphere (maybe the Earth). 

Take a step forward or backwards and it can upset the balance of things and everyone falls down. 

Don't move--and you are in perpetual stasis--just balancing with the other guy so as not ruin the equilibrium of things, you're stuck in limbo.

Maybe this is the definition of either doing nothing and going nowhere or creating a lose-lose situation, where you try to benefit yourself at the expense of others and down you both go. 

What's the only way out?

You both have to step forward and advance together--create a win-win--the balance and fairness is maintained and both move closer to each other and the center of things. 

Climbing the ladder is really a balancing act with others you work with.

I tell people at work who get into it with each other, "listen, what's more important winning the petty argument OR building the relationship with the other folks who presumably you'll be working with for a long time to come?"

You may be able to talk or strong arm your way into getting what you want now, but do lasting damage to the relationship. 

Unless, it's a matter of right and wrong, make your best argument, but then be willing to compromise, especially if it means better teamwork and success in the longer scheme of things. 

Being task/goal-oriented is great, but drop the ball on being people-oriented and it's all be a big bust. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy  Blumenthal)
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January 14, 2015

Eye To Eye

I took this photo from a sticker plastered on the street corner in Washington, D.C. 

What I like about it, aside from it's cute, is that I see a message here about good communications and conflict management skills. 

Notice the eyes are different (one is green/yellow and the other is orange/blue)...like it's two people. 

But there is one mouth open, speaking between them.

This speaks to that while we may be talking to each other and even think we are saying the same thing ("violently in agreement"), we need to make sure that we are listening, understanding, and working through our differences--so at the end, we are both really "seeing eye to eye." 

While each of us is different, and we may never fully agree (and cabn "agree to disagree"), we can also negotiate and come to terms on a win-win course of action. 

Talk it out, bridge the gaps, and get to a place where we not only are able to see eye to eye, but can then go forward together and make it truly work. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 21, 2014

Graduation Day

So proud of Minna graduating from University of Maryland today. 

And in only 3 1/2 years...record time, while she worked an internship too.

With a major in communication, please G-d she will go out as the keynote speaker said, "the glue that mends broken dialogue" in society.  

Communications comes from community...from marketing and branding to public relations and diplomacy, communications is key in everything we do from vetting ideas, innovating, decision making, teamwork, and even social media. 

Lots of luck in your future and may Hashem bless you in all that you do.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 12, 2014

Everything Else Is Anticlimactic

We went to a Veterans Day Concert yesterday, and it was quite moving.

Before the music--60's and 70's (and some dancing)--started, there were a number of heartfelt speeches by distinguished veterans of the Vietnam War.

One lady was a nurse in Saigon working 16 hour days tending to the wounded and dying from the battlefield. She joined the army after 8 of her high school friends from her small hometown were killed in the war. The nurse told us how on the flight to Nam, they were told to look to the person on the immediate right and left of you, becuase one of you will not be coming home.

Another speaker was a special forces Army Ranger who was fighting in North Vietnam on very dangerous covert missions. He led many draftees, who he said had only minimal training, yet fought bravely on missions with bullets flying overhead and mortars and rockets pounding their positions. He described one situation where he knelt down to look at a map with one of his troops, and as they were in that psition half a dozen bullets hit into the tree right above their heads--if they had not been crouched down looking at the map, they would've both been dead. 

A third speaker was a veteran who had been been hit by a "million dollar shot" from the enemy--one that didn't kill or cripple him, but that had him sent him to a hospital for 4-6 weeks and then ultimately home from the war zone. He told of his ongoing activities in the veterans community all these years, and even routinely washing the Veteran's Wall Memorial in Washington D.C. 

Aside from the bravery and fortitude of all these veterans, what was fascinating was how, as the veterans reflected, EVERYTHING else in their lives was anticlimactic after fighting in the war. The nurse for example read us a poem about the ladies in hell (referring to the nurses caring for the wounded) and how they never talked about the patients in Nam because it was too painful, and when they returned home, they had the classic symptoms of PTSD including the hellish nightmares of being back there. 

Indeed, these veterans went through hell, and it seems that it was the defining moment in (many if not most of) their lives, and they are reliving it in one way or another every moment of every day. 

Frankly, I don't know how they did it being dropped on the other side of the world with, as the special forces Vet explained, maps that only told you in very general terms wherer you even where, and carrying supplies for at least 3 days at a time of C-rations, water, ammo, and more--and with the enemy all around you ("there were no enemy lines in this war; if you stepped out of your units area, it was almost all 'unfriendly.'"). One Vet said that if you were a 2nd Lt., like she was, your average lifespan over there was 20 minutes. 

The big question before we go to war and put our troops in harms way is what are we fighting for and is it absolutely necessary. For the troops being sent to the battlezone, everything else is just anticlimactic--they have been to hell. 

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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