Tom Miller is the President and CEO of International Executive Service Corps (www.iesc.org), a U.S. nonprofit that promotes economic growth and stability around the world through programs that support private enterprise, business organizations and public institutions. He was previously U.S. Ambassador to Greece, U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Special Coordinator for Cyprus at the rank of Ambassador in his 29-year career as an American diplomat.
Here is a throwback to ten year’s ago when QorvisMSL’S Matt J. Lauer was executive director of the commission on public diplomacy at the U.S. State Department. He discussed the Bush administration’s report on public diplomacy which was instrumental in updating America’s public diplomacy from the cold war days. Here he is on CNN’s “Diplomatic License.” Matt J. Lauer on Public Diplomacy Reform on CNN’s Diplomatic License
Chuck Conconi sat down with Bob Cusack, Managing Editor of the Hill Newspaper, to discuss the resignation of Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. Lawmakers and members of Shinseki’s own party called for him to step down under reports that VA hospitals falsified waiting lists.
“As a political story, this will fade. The problem that Shinseki had is that if members of your own team call for your head, you’re in trouble. A dozen Democrats called for his head. There will be congressional oversight on this issue,” said Bob Cusack. Continue reading »
WASHINGTON—May 19, 2014— The government of Equatorial Guinea has heavily invested its oil revenues in the country by focusing on improving education, developing human capital and diversifying its economy, Equatorial Guinea’s Ambassador to the United States, Ruben Maye Nsue Mangue, said in a recent interview with Focus Washington.
Ambassador Nsue Mangue called improved education one of his country’s most important accomplishments since independence. “Since 1979, the government committed to develop professional education and human development. When we gained our independence, we did not have any universities, but now we have two universities, and the president is building another university in the new town of Oyala.”
Education has been a top priority for the government. Equatorial Guinean has an adult literacy rate of nearly 100%–the highest in Africa.. Since 1979, citizens of Equatorial Guinea have received more than 500,000 scholarships to study in universities and professional and technical-training programs outside the country. This figure includes multiple scholarship recipients and people who have remained outside the country.
The West African nation has also experienced significant economic growth, and it has learned how to best use its oil revenues from the positive and negative experiences of other countries. Continue reading »
The awards are given annually to distinguished individuals for their efforts in strengthening the transatlantic relationship. Governor John Huntsman, Atlantic Council Chairman, opened the ceremony.
The 2014 Distinguished Leadership Awards honored the following individuals:
U.S. Secretary of Defense
Distinguished International Leadership
President, European Commission
Distinguished International Leadership
CEO, Airbus Group
Distinguished Business Leadership
Award-winning Musician, Humanitarian Activist, and Civic Leader of the Euromaidan
Distinguished Humanitarian Leadership
Commander, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and US Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) on Behalf of the Men and Women of ISAF and USFOR-A
Distinguished Military Leadership
On the latest episode of Conversations with Nicholas Kralev, author and Iran expert Barbara Slavin talks about the prospect of a long-term nuclear deal with Tehran, the possibility for U.S.-Iran reconciliation, and the likelihood of American diplomatic presence in Iran.
25 March, 2014; Washington, DC: After six years in the White House, it is not unfair to say that President Obama is politically inept in his relationship with Congress. If he thinks he has been having trouble dealing with recalcitrant Republicans on the Hill, what will he do in the last two years of his term if, as predicted, in November’s off-year elections the Republicans hold onto and build their majority in the House of Representatives and take over the Senate?
Even among his allies and supporters there is dismay over his recent nominations for Senate confirmation, such as Debo P. Adegbile, to head the Justice Department’s civil rights decision. He was resoundingly rejected by the Senate, with several Democrats joining the Republican opposition. There was intense criticism of Adegbile’s involvement in the legal appeals of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is serving a life sentence without parole for killing a Philadelphia police officer. Continue reading »
Republic of Zambia celebrates ‘Golden Jubilee,’ of independence marked by peaceful government transitions, strong opportunities for economic growth and investment, and lack of war and conflict
WASHINGTON– March 12, 2014 – “Achievements are many, but one that stands out is Zambia has managed to maintain peace and stability for the last 50 years,” Zambian Ambassador to the U.S. Palan Mulonda told Chuck Conconi during an interview on Focus Washington. “We have managed to have two government transitions peacefully, and our democracy, one can argue, is now firmly entrenched.”
As the Republic of Zambia celebrates 50 years of independence, the Ambassador paid tribute to the founding fathers of Zambia in their sacrifice and actions to secure the peace that exists today. “Zambia was created with a motto,” the Ambassador said, “this motto resonated very well. This was “One Zambia, One nation.” And what that means he explained, “was that as a nation, tribe, color, be it any form of distinction was never to be a factor.” Continue reading »
By James Borton
Vietnam is writing a new story and it is not about the wounds of war that Americans saw on the evening news when the last American citizens boarded the helicopter from the American Embassy rooftop in Saigon almost 40 years ago. It appears that the Obama administration, like earlier Washington administrations, is leaving this new chapter untranslated and unread.
In an interview last year with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung at the historic Waldorf Astoria, he reinforced the new chapter, when he stated, “ we will do everything we can to be an active, constructive and responsible member of the international community. All that is for the goals of peace, friendship, mutual respect, equality and win-win, and this is particularly true with our relations with the U.S. since they are based on that same policy.”
For the past year, Vietnam has pursued a purposeful diplomatic drive to usher in a new period of bilateral relations with the United States that included a visit by Socialist Republic of Vietnam President Truong Tan Sang with President Barack Obama at the White House, to Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s Harvard Executive Leadership class, and to the run-up last November of Mr. Dung’s formal address to the United Nations assembly.
Vietnam wants America to know that it is deeply engaged in forging a closer and comprehensive partnership with its once former enemy. Continue reading »
China’s President Xi Jinping made a rare public appearance on a popular Beijing street today, which is Day 6 of air so hazardous the city has been placed under a “pollution alert.”
Social media is lighting up with the news Xi strolled down Nanluoguxiang, known for selling “stinky tofu,” and most of the commentary positive:
“Breathing together, sharing the same fate,” read one post on Weibo, China’s Twitter.
Nanluoguxiang is packed with hip cafes and bars frequented by Beijing youth and tourists. Xi allowed several photos to be taken as he visited two homes, inquiring about living conditions.
Breathing bad air, without a mask, won Xi an enormous amount of praise online. “Right on! Big Xi didn’t wear a face mask!” wrote one blogger according to the South China Morning Post.
Chen Heng, owner of Chen’s Small Intestine Restaurant, posted a complaint that police were checking the area “like mad dogs” in the days leading up to the visit.
Cokie Roberts says that in the Washington in which she grew up there was a friendliness and camaraderie among the congressional political families because they lived in Washington and got to know each other.
The ABC and NPR news analyst, writer and author, Roberts said in a Focus Washington interview with Chuck Conconi that contemporary congressional families don’t move to Washington, “and as a result they don’t get to know each other.” She conceded that it is complicated when both work and the reality makes it very expensive to maintain two households. This situation then leads to the partisan rigidity so much a part of the current legislative debates. Continue reading »
Former Senator John Breaux said he felt that President Obama’s threat in the State of the Union speech that if Congress was going to be bogged down in partisan wrangling he would use the executive power of the White House to get what he wanted accomplished could have the effect of making everyone in Congress angrier and not be helpful. Continue reading »
On “Charlie Rose,” a conversation with Cui Tiankai. In April, he became China’s ambassador to the United States. He previously served as Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs. (Source: Bloomberg)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Vice President Joe Biden, both with 2016 presidential ambitions, have had a disastrous week that could negatively impact their White House ambitions. Bob Cusack, managing editor of The Hill newspaper, told Chuck Conconi in a Focus Washington video interview, that Defense Sec. Robert Gates sharp criticism of the vice president in his book, Duty, will probably help former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her presidential ambitions.
The criticism is so devastating for the vice president, Cusack explained, because Gates was attacking him on his foreign policy stands and that “goes to his perceived strength in foreign policy.”
As for Christie, Cusack said, he has been hurt by the seemingly small minded closing of traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge to allegedly punish the Mayor of Ft. Lee, New Jersey. He added, however, that if Christie’s contention holds that he didn’t know anything about it, then he could survive this and the voters may forget it since it’s a long way to 2016.
Sharing experience is the latest phase in a nearly 400-year-old partnership
Experts from the Netherlands have been busy offering advice to federal, state and local governments on how to manage water in the environment, according to Dutch Ambassador Rudolf Bekink.
In an interview with Chuck Conconi of Qorvis Focus Washington, Ambassador Bekink said that water—living with and managing water in areas in urbanized and agricultural areas—has been a major topic of discussion between Dutch and Americans. Continue reading »
The last of the candy corn is gone, your local coffee shop is starting to play holiday-themed music, and it’s finally starting to turn colder. All of this can only mean one thing… Thanksgiving season is upon us! Whether you’re looking for something to do with the in-laws or just going solo, here’s a list of the best holiday-centric activities in the D.C. area for the next couple of weeks.
- Thanksgiving Day Trot for Hunger
Looking for a fun and creative way to feed the hungry on Thanksgiving? This popular 5k fun run and family walk helps SOME (So Others Might Eat) serve more than 800 meals to the hungry every day of the year.
November 28, 2013, 8:30 a.m.
Beginning at Freedom Plaza, between 13th Street NW and 12th Street NW
- Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade
Kick off Thanksgiving week with a lively celebration in downtown Silver Spring. The family friendly event will include giant balloons, a variety of floats, and the Washington Redskins Marching Band. There will also be clowns, mounted police, costumed characters, fire engines, trained dogs, classic cars, South American dancing groups, and high school marching bands. Can’t wait for Christmas? Santa will be there with his elves and reindeer, as well!
November 23, 2013, 10 a.m.
Begins at Ellsworth Drive and Veterans Place and proceeds South on Georgia Avenue, ending on Silver Spring Avenue in Silver Spring, Maryland
- Mount Vernon by Candlelight
Each holiday season, a costumed guide will take you through George Washington’s historic estate along candlelit lanes. Characters from Washington’s time, including “Martha Washington” and “Nelly Custis,” will tell stories about how the Washingtons celebrated Christmas. After the tour, guests can partake in 18th-century dancing in the greenhouse, sing their favorite carols, and enjoy warm cider and cookies by an outdoor bonfire.
November 29 – December 22, 2013, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
23200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway
- Anchorman: The Exhibit
In partnership with Paramount Pictures, the Newseum presents “Anchorman: The Exhibit,” including props, costumes, and footage from the 2004 hit comedy, “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.” The exhibit features more than 60 costumes and hilarious props and a re-creation of the KVWN-TV anchor desk and news set. The long-anticipated exhibit is the perfect activity for the seasoned DC veterans who have already visited all of the classic tourist spots.
November 14, 2013 – August 31, 2014
555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
- Stroll through the National Zoo
What better way to entertain the kids and the adults all at once than with a good old fashioned visit to the zoo? If it’s particularly nippy out, sip some hot cocoa while you say hello to the animals. Did we mention that it’s free?
3001 Connecticut Avenue NW
- Remembering John F. Kennedy
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. Honor our 35th president on the 50th anniversary of his death with a visit to his gravesite, the “Eternal Flame” at Arlington National Cemetery. The Newseum is also paying tribute to his death with an exhibit, “Three Shots Were Fired,” and an original documentary, “A Thousand Days,” chronicling his presidency, family life, and death. The exhibit and film will be on display through January 5, 2014.
Arlington National Cemetery
555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
- Alexandria Turkey Trot
Burn off those extra calories before the big feast while doing some good on Thanksgiving with a 5-mile run/walk through the historic town of Alexandria in Virginia. The 38th annual trot is hosted by the DC Road Runners Club, a local group affiliated with USA Track & Field. Food donations support ALIVE!, a nonprofit organization serving Alexandria’s needy.
November 28, 2013, 9 a.m.
George Washington Middle School, 1005 Mt. Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, Virginia
- Holidays on Display
Interested in the history of the holiday season? Want a little perspective next time you’re watching the parade on Thanksgiving morning? Visit the National Museum of American History to see “Holidays on Display,” which opened on November 13 of this year. The exhibit examines the “art, industry, and history of holiday display across the United States” by showcasing objects from original displays, photographs, postcards, and illustrations, including items from Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Marshall Field & Company Christmas windows.
14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, on the National Mall
- Ice Skating at the National Gallery of Art
Sure, ice skating is always fun, but there’s something extra special about skating outdoors to a backdrop of the National Archives and the National Gallery’s magnificent Sculpture Garden. If you’re not in the mood to strap into some skates, come check out the scene while sitting at the Pavilion Café, located in the Sculpture Garden, where you can grab a bite to eat and a mug of something hot.
Mid-November through mid-March, weather permitting
Constitution Avenue NW, between 3rd Street NW and 9th Street NW
- National Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony
For the first time in almost 100 years, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah will overlap. Celebrate this rare event by attending the National Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony at the White House. Festivities will include a musical performance by the US Air Force Band, hot latkes, and donuts. The Menorah will be lit each night of Hanukkah.
November 27, 2013, 4 p.m., rain or shine
The Ellipse, at the NW end of the White House, near Constitution Avenue
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Miroslav Lajčák recently visited Washington, New York and Boston for meetings with the U.S. administration and the World Bank. He also spoke at the Atlantic Council and the Harvard University School of Law.
During his visit, Lajčák sat down with Focus Washington’s Chuck Conconi to discuss relations between the U.S., Slovakia and the E.U. In this exclusive Focus Washington interview, Lajčák lays out his vision for the transatlantic relationship and Slovakia’s desire to work with the U.S. on strengthening the Eastern Partnership. The Deputy Prime Minister stresses “the importance and uniqueness of the relationship” between Slovakia and the United States. Continue reading »
Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, talks about the different approaches America’s soldiers and diplomats employ in war zones, and what they have learned about each other in Iraq and Afghanistan
In spite of the concern about the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in 2014, Dr. Hakim Asher, a former Afghan official, said he remains optimistic that his country will be moving in the right direction and will prosper peacefully.
In an interview with Chuck Conconi on Focus Washington, a public affairs interview series, Dr. Asher, a visiting scholar at George Washington University and the former Executive Director of the Government Media and Information Center for Afghanistan, said, “The people of Afghanistan do not want the Taliban to return.” He explained that even in the 1990s, the Taliban did not control all of the country and certainly do not have the “momentum” they once had.
Religious extremists, he explained, are not unique to Afghanistan but reflect a “regional problem.” He believes that the future of Afghanistan will depend on America’s involvement, and expressed confidence that the Bilateral Security Agreement between the United States and Afghanistan will be approved and ensure the progress that has been made over the past 10 years will continue.
“The people of Afghanistan, the government, the political parties and all of the different groups are committed to keep the progress, to work for Afghanistan, and not let the Taliban return,” he said.
Dr. Asher expects that some U.S. forces will stay behind to help train Afghan forces. These forces, he said, “will be well-trained and they will be ready to tackle the challenges and problems, especially in the counter-terrorism area.” That will create an economic stability in which local business enterprises can prosper, he added.
That stability, Dr. Asher said, will create opportunities for investment in Afghanistan, a nation with more than $1 trillion worth of minerals. Other economically potential sectors include construction and agriculture. He said that because of significant investment in infrastructure over the past decade, there is must greater mobility throughout the country, a vital factor in attracting investment.
The Afghan government has also been working to attract outside investment, and, he pointed out, the Ministry of Mines and the Ministry of Finance recently passed laws to make foreign investment easier. Dr. Asher argued that the problem for potential investors is the media, “which do not actually show the real picture of Afghanistan.”
Britain’s ambassador to the United States, Sir Peter Westmacott, talks about the mission of British diplomacy, London’s heavy reliance on career diplomats, rather than political appointees, and the diplomatic role of the royal family
On the latest episode of Conversations with Nicholas Kralev, Kralev sits down with the chief U.S. Aviation Negotiator, Krishna Urs. Urs discusses the Open Skies agreements and other international airline accords, their impact on the flying public, and what diplomacy and travel have in common.
In an interview with Focus Washington, Will Dempster – Vice President of Qorvis Geopolitical Solutions – discussed how corruption and a failure to provide basic public services fueled unprecedented opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule in Egypt.
The Patriot Award Dinner brought together supporters, national media, entertainment personalities and leaders in business, communities and government to commend four individuals who exemplify the values and principles of the Society and the nation: retired U.S. Army General Peter W. Chiarelli, NFL Hall of Fame member Nicholas A. Buoniconti, military photojournalist Timothy Hetherington (posthumously), and renowned actor Tom Selleck.
On Friday night of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society Convention in Gettysburg, the Society hosted a free historic and commemorative concert at the Pennsylvania Monument on the Gettysburg battlefield. The “President’s Own” U.S. Marine Corps Band played, and the audience also saw joint performances with the West Point Choir. With this year marking the 150th anniversary of the Battle at Gettysburg, it was especially moving to see Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recite the Gettysburg Address. The battlefield evening ended with a spectacular fireworks show.
Three Veteran Heroes discussed courage and selfless service
There are four important things in life to remember, Medal of Honor recipient Colonel Leo Thorsness told Gettysburg Middle School students: Family, friends, faith and fun.
“Remember those four things, and you’ll be happy in life,” Thorsness said.
Medal recipients attended six local middle and high schools as part of the Medal of Honor Character Development Program on Friday, September 20, 2013. Medal of Honor recipients Command Sergeant Major Robert Patterson, Colonel Wesley Fox and Colonel Leo Thorsness talked to the sixth, seventh and eight grade students at the Gettysburg Middle School. The three recipients discussed their actions at war, what they learned from the experiences and what students should emphasize in life.
Medal of Honor recipients at the Gettysburg College Town Hall Forum, hosted by Fox News’ Chris Wallace. The recipients, Harvey “Barney” Barnum, Clinton Romesha and Salvatore “Sal” Giunta had a conversation with Wallace, and then took questions from the audience.
Ambassador Jacinth Henry-Martin became the Federation’s first appointed female Ambassador to the United States in 2011. Today, she joins Focus Washington’s Chuck Conconi to discuss current events, and the 30th anniversary of the countries’ independence.
Brian Miles Thacker, retired First Lieutenant of the U.S. Army and Medal of Honor recipient, said there is a weight associated with the historic medal he carries.
“It’s an ‘us’ award, not a ‘me’ award,” Thacker said. “We saved some, but not all. It’s those that didn’t come home that are the burden. I think of them every day.”
In a recent interview with John Reid for Qorvis’ Focus Washington, Thacker discussed the criteria of the Congressional Medal of Honor, his fellow medal recipients and the upcoming Medal of Honor convention, to be held in Gettysburg, Penn. September 19-21.