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Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first

time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program

and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material. Between now and this spring,

we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a

nuclear-armed Iran; secures America and our allies—including Israel; while

avoiding yet another Middle East conflict. There are no guarantees that nego-

tiations will succeed, and I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear

Iran. But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will

all but guarantee that diplomacy fails—alienating America from its allies; and

ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again. It doesn’t make sense.

That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo

this progress. The American people expect us to only go to war as a

last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.

—President Barack Obama


State of the Union Address, Jan. 20.


MARCH 2015



The Foreign Service

on the Small Screen


ith the CBS series “Madame

Secretary” renewed for a second

season, and a whole host of programing

in development in which the Foreign Ser-

vice plays a role (see Talking Points in the November 2014 FSJ ), diplomacy is a hot

topic in Hollywood. In fact, this summer

HBO will premiere a new half-hour dark

comedy series, “The Brink,” in which the

Foreign Service features prominently.

In “The Brink” a rogue general seizes

control of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons,

and it is up to three “disparate and

desperate men” to save the planet from

World War III. Tim Robbins plays U.S.

Secretary of State Walter Larson; Jack

Black portrays Alex Talbot, who HBO

describes as “a lowly Foreign Service

officer;” and Pablo Schreiber takes the

role of Zeke Tilson, “an ace Navy fighter


HBO ordered the series immediately

after viewing the pilot and will produce

10 episodes. With HBO doing the produc-

ing, the quality of the show is likely to be

top shelf.

It remains to be seen how audiences

will feel about the series, of course, but

the pre-season press seems to make one

thing clear: in Hollywood’s opinion, the

Foreign Service is the CIA’s neglected



USA Today

Jack Black described his

character—that “lowly” Foreign Service

officer—as “a wannabe CIA dude, a bit of

a doofus, a bit of a stoner.” Ouch.

—Debra Blome, Associate Editor

2014: Not the Year

for Children


he year 2014 was particularly

devastating for many of the world’s

children. According to a report from UNI-

CEF, those living in conflict areas such as

Contemporary Quote


the Central African Republic, Iraq, South

Sudan, Palestine, Syria and Ukraine suf-

fered atrocities ranging from kidnapping,

torture and rape to child slavery and

other crimes.

The report, “The State of the World’s

Children in Numbers,” contains a number

of dramatic statistics. For instance, of the

2.2 billion children globally, “an estimated

230 million children live in countries and

areas affected by armed conflicts.”

In Gaza, 538 children were killed as

a result of the 50-day Israeli-Palestinian

conflict during the summer. There were

1.7 million Syrian children living as refu-

gees. At least 5 million children aged 3 to

17 were unable to return to school follow-

ing the Ebola outbreak.

In a Dec. 8

New York Times


UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake

commented: “Never in recent memory

have so many children been subjected to

such unspeakable brutality.”

The report notes, “Data do not, of

themselves, change the world. What mat-

ters most is that decision-makers use the

data to make positive change.” UNICEF

is conducting campaigns targeted at

treating malnutrition, administering

polio vaccines, improving access to safe

drinking water, getting children back

into school and providing safe learning


The full 2014 report can be down-

loaded at


—Brittany DeLong, Assistant Editor

SIGAR: Information on

Afghan Security Forces

Now Classified


n late January, Special Inspector

General for Afghanistan Reconstruc-

tion John F. Sopko released the latest quarterly report on the status of the U.S. reconstruction effort in Afghanistan, cov


ering October through December 2014.

The report zeros in on the “still-elusive

goal” of coordinating aid to Afghanistan

as the United States and NATO scale

down and reorient their activity in what

they have termed the “Decade of Trans-

formation” (2015-2024).

SIGAR has launched a project to iden-