Archive for January, 2012


Today’s seminar was very thought-provoking.  Although I have no current plans of pursuing a diplomatic career, it was interesting to learn how one goes about it.  For instance, the speaker, Jorge Fuentes Monzonis-Vilallonga (who was the Ambassador of Spain in Bulgaria), stated that careers in diplomacy have a number of ranks, like the military.  These ranks range from Secretary of Embassy, Chief Minister, and Ambassador.  However, I’m not sure that the military is the best institution to model diplomacy since the point of diplomacy is (or at least should be) peace.  Nevertheless, it was very interesting to see how diplomacy is used in the pursuit of peace.

Additionally, he mentioned that there were the following, different types of diplomacy:

Dilateral:  the most common and most traditional, these embassies are offices that opened in another country and are under the command of an ambassador (which includes all things political, economic, cultural, military, etc.).

Anomaly:  such as in Catalunya, Andalucia, and other communities, these embassies include Embassies of the State.

Multilateral:  recently created organizations gaining importance, such as, NATO, OSCE, ASEAN, Arab League, etc.

Ad Hoc Diplomacy:  Embassadors are appointed for special missions, such as, the conflict in Afganistan or the rescue of kidnapped citizens.

Itinerant:  visiting heads of state, prime ministers, and ministers that resolve problems between countries.

As stated on their website “Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization working in nearly 70 countries to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe.”  This organization was started in 1971 by French doctors and journalists.  It is a neutral, independent organization with no political, religious, or economic ties.  Furthermore, its core belief is that every human being deserves medical help no matter their race, nationality, religious or political beliefs, but rather that it is a fundamental right as a human being to receive medical care when needed.  This is truly and amazing organization and I urge everyone to watch the videos I have posted on this blog and, more importantly, to donate to MSF in order to keep their aid available to the many suffering people in our world today.

The entire concept of doctors not being restricted to borders should is a good example of how the world should operate.  The idea of borders is implicitly xenophobic.  It creates tribalism.  All people are the same and should be treated the same.  Doctors Without Borders is advocating equality.  Inequality is the underlying problem with this world.  It is a necessary component of capitalism.  Unfortunately, some doctors in the US discriminate against people even within US borders because they cannot afford to pay for healthcare.  This is also part of the capitalist system.

In this seminar, Xavier Giró spoke about the media and their involvement in conflict situations.  Although he commented on various aspects of this topic, I would like to focus on one that I find most interesting: criticism of the media in situations of conflict.

Many people still believe that a plurality of media sources exist in the mainstream, in competition with each other, with diverse perspectives and political opinions. Of course, quite the opposite is true. The concentration of media ownership has brought about the death of variety.  The narratives pushed by these mainstream media outlets are more or less the same with marginal degrees of differences in the political and economic discourse.

Furthermore, the mainstream media plays a vital role in manufacturing consent for wars.  Today the media is conditioning the US public for a war with Iran.  the mainstream media excludes antiwar voices and, in fact, even contributes to war.  The example of the role the media played in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are a perfect example of the media supporting war.

When it was discovered that Al Qaeda was responsible for the attacks, the press quickly framed the discussion around the question “Why do they hate us?”  They usually implied Muslims in general.  Without allowing for a rational debate or response, the media fell behind Whitehouse officials in promoting the absurd government line that they hate freedom, democracy, and the American way of life. Although it may be partially true, it ignores the dark history of western powers in the Middle East, fails to mention the United States support of brutal dictators, the Mujahedeen, the overthrow of democratically elected leaders, and so on. Those who challenged this assumption made by the media were frequently accused of being anti-American, sympathetic to the enemy, or out of touch with reality. This was done with the aim of discrediting their answers. The country rallied around the flag in a way I had never seen before. The Whitehouse took full advantage of this spectacle of patriotic arrogance, using jingoistic language, and George W. Bush declared, “You‟re either with us or against us in the fight against terror”.  Therefore, anyone who spoke out against the war was a potential enemy of the United States.

In short, the media contribute to conflict in many ways.  In the United States the mainstream media sacrifices it’s journalistic duty to question authority and power by establishing cozy relationships with the Whitehouse and Congress in order to gain media access.