Posts Tagged ‘Dipnote
Secretary Clinton’s first stop on her inaugural official visit to Israel was at the residence of Israeli President Shimon Peres. Completed in 1971, the building was constructed from pink granite, Jerusalem stone, and exposed concrete. But what makes the scene come alive is the display of artwork reflecting Israel’s rich cultural heritage – all of it creates a beautiful backdrop. After 60 years of diplomatic relations and friendship, this is the place where Israel would welcome the Secretary and where the Secretary would begin her very busy day in Jerusalem.
For those of us already at the site, waiting for the Secretary to arrive unites feelings of excitement and nervousness. The staff of the residence made final preparations; Israeli and international camera crews trickled in and set up their equipment. As with most visits of this kind, the visuals would be critical to communicating the messages the Secretary was expected to bring with her. With everything in place, the motorcade arrived and the Secretary was met by President Peres. They shook hands and kissed, smiled broadly, paused for photos, and headed inside. Their actual meeting was held in a room off the main hall with the principals and delegation members attending.
The Secretary and President Peres emerged 45 minutes later and proceeded to lecterns where they made short statements to the press. Both statements conveyed the seriousness of the issues that had been discussed – security, peace, the situation in Gaza – but also articulated the shared optimism of the present moment. President Peres expressed words of welcome to the Secretary on behalf of Israel. In turn, the Secretary talked about her numerous trips to Israel over the past 30 years and her close friendship with the country’s current president. More photos were taken as President Peres presented the Secretary with a small bouquet – a great shot! The Secretary then signed the official guest book and moved toward the door, escorted by President Peres, and followed by her delegation and the traveling press. Goodbyes were exchanged, the Secretary stepped inside her car, and the motorcade rolled out. The renewal of the Israeli-American diplomatic friendship was off to a warm and friendly start.
Here’s an interesting look at preparations under way for the arrival of Hillary Clinton in China tomorrow for the last leg of her phenomenally successful tour of Asia.
About the Author: Dan Piccuta serves as the Charge d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China.<!–Related Entry: “Preparing for Secretary Clinton’s Visit: From the Advance Team to Wheels-Up” by Deputy Political Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing Ben Moeling.–>
Arriving at work the other day I could not help but notice ahead a foreigner merrily pedaling his local Chinese bicycle (Flying Pigeon brand) into the U.S. Embassy compound just ahead of me. I laugh as I realize the foreigner arriving on the “bike of the masses” is our American SecState visit’s Overall Control Officer, Ben Moeling.
For those not familiar with how high level visits are organized, beneath the Chief of Mission (me) and his Deputy, the one person most responsible for every aspect of a visit’s planning and preparation is the Overall Control Officer. And, this being Secretary Clinton’s first trip as Secretary, and first visit in that capacity to China, we are approaching every site and event with fresh eyes — meaning more preparation, more details, and more effort. Ben probably has over 100 American and Chinese employees working on preparations of every aspect of the visit from the airport arrival to the tour of a highly-efficient natural gas-fired power plant.
So my first reaction is amusement as I consider the irony of the American officer (of 350 assigned here) with the biggest role and the most to do that day calmly pedaling his bike a few kilometers to work. And then another thought comes to me: how appropriate that for a trip on which we hope climate cooperation, energy efficiency and the environment will be key themes, the American officer charged to prepare the visit is doing his part with a “green” morning commute by bike.
NOTE: It’s interesting Hillary Clinton will be visiting a natural gas fired power plant in China. If we only knew she was so interested in natural gas, we’d have suggested she spend more time around Oprah years ago (just not on chili day at the Harpo commissary…nobody on Earth’s interested enough in natural gas to suffer through THAT. And we rode an elevator with Oprah once in 2006, so please know that comes from personal experience (and olfactory abilities still unrecovered)).
It’s also always so strange for us to listen to anyone who works in the State Department, Peace Corps, or other like-minded, internationally-focused branches of government or government-sponsored organizations because they all seem drawn from a handful of very liberal Liberal Arts schools that indoctrinate certain PC dogma and “green” newspeak into all who pass through those ivy-covered walls.
We will always believe riding around outside on a bicycle is ridiculous, no matter how much people in China are told to love doing that by their authoritarian government. People here in Chicago who ride the Lakefront paths are truly a breed apart — a crazed, pathological, dangerous breed (most of whom wear spandex superhero getups while racing at dangerous speed on the bike paths, shouting LEFT! LEFT! LEFT! as they try to zip past tourists who have no idea LEFT! means get out of the way, and not, “Hey, Anastasia, you left something behind, so stand still in the middle of the path and wait for me to bring it to you at dangerously high speed in my spandex supersuit”).
So, riding around on bikes is overrated (like most of what we were programmed to love and support at a liberal arts school). Taking the train or bus instead of driving a car is realistic and wonderful, and as far as we will reasonably go to ever “help the environment” and “go green”. Considering the fact that we’ve never owned a car, drink only tap water and never buy plastic bottles of anything, eat steak about twice a year and other meats twice a week, and rarely waste much of anything, we just can’t deign to listen to anyone in our government advocate riding around on bicycles all day, no matter how much the Chinese, or Americans working with the Chinese, claim to love it. We have to draw a line somewhere, and that’s it, folks. No bikes for us!
A billion Chinese people are wrong about all sorts of things, and bicycles are one of them.