Gen. McMaster, U.S. National Security Advisor, Addresses AJC Global Forum

June 5, 2017 – Washington, D.C. – On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the Six-Day War, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, the U.S. National Security Advisor, addressed the AJC Global Forum on the lessons of that conflict for today.

General McMaster, who taught military history at the U.S. Military Academy, said that history teaches humility by showing that what appear to be unprecedented challenges can in fact present opportunities.

That was the case in 1967, he noted, when Israel faced “a desperate situation” as Egypt stationed all seven of its army divisions in the Sinai, and its Arab allies massed their troops to Israel’s east. The Israelis, however, seized the initiative and launched a preemptive attack that drove back the enemy and achieved a stunning victory, one that was incorporated into U.S. military planning under the name of the Air-Land Battle doctrine.

One lesson of the war and its aftermath, he continued, is that “threats to our security do not remain static. They evolve.” Israel today faces “sophisticated terrorist organizations—Hamas and Hezbollah—funded and aided by antagonistic nation states,” while ISIS strives to capture and hold territory, and Iran acts through “its terrorist proxy network,” ramps up its ballistic missile capability, and takes provocative action “in the Gulf, working to keep its Arab neighbors perpetually weak and engaged in sectarian conflict.” In the face of these new challenges, he said, “Israel has adapted and performed amazingly well” because it “consistently recognized and acted on opportunities when others may have seen only difficulties.”

“That creativity and ingenuity should be a model for us today, on and off the battlefields,” McMaster declared. “No matter how dire situations look, opportunities are present.” He specifically pointed to the emerging rapprochement between Israel and a number of Arab states in response to the jihadi threat in the region as an example of turning adversity into opportunity as “their interests are converging.”

He also summarized the accomplishments of President Trump’s recent visit to the Middle East and Europe. Its goals, he said, were “to reaffirm America’s role in global leadership,” “to continue building key relationships with leaders,” and “to promote a message of unity among the followers of three of the world’s great faiths.” Specifically, he noted that Mr. Trump got the more than 50 leaders of Muslim countries he met with in Riyadh to agree “to cut off the financing for extremists and prevent them from hijacking and perverting their religion,” a pledge he said the Administration intended to monitor.

McMaster acknowledged that there is “healthy skepticism, due to the failure of past promises and the fact that many of these countries have been sources of terrorist funding and the propagating of extremist Islamist ideology.” But he emphasized that “none of us, the President least of all, will be impressed by mere words.”

In Israel, said McMaster, the President “reaffirmed America’s rock-solid alliance with our closest military ally,” and emphasized to the Palestinian Authority leadership the need to counter terrorism.

And then in Rome, President Trump “affirmed America’s commitment to defend religious freedom, combat religious persecution, and cooperate with the Vatican on humanitarian missions.”

Arriving in Brussels, continued Gen. McMaster, President Trump “reaffirmed America’s unbreakable commitment to our NATO allies,” and finally in Sicily, he urged the G-7 to cooperate against terrorism and counter North Korean aggression.

This was the second consecutive year that the AJC Global Forum was addressed by the U.S. National Security Advisor. In 2016, Susan Rice, appointed to the post by President Obama, was a featured speaker.

The AJC Global Forum, taking place June 4-6 in Washington, D.C., is the advocacy organization’s signature annual event, bringing together more than 2,500 participants from across the United States and 70 countries around the world.

General Mattis: The hope of the side

It’s the topic du jour. How far will the US withdrawal go and how will it affect the US-led, rules-based, global order that has served the world so well for 70 years?

US President Donald Trump campaigned on an America First platform and in the White House has matched deeds to words. First there was the pull back from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Last week came the announcement the US would pull out of the Paris climate agreement. What next? On Saturday at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis sought to reassure, speaking of his country’s ‚enduring commitment to the security and prosperity of the region’.

But for many, the most telling moments of the session came after the speech and during the Q&A. Lowy Institute Executive Director Michael Fullilove asked Secretary Mattis a pointed question on the rules-based order in which, Dr Fullilove noted, ‘President Trump appears to be an unbeliever’.

Citing the TPP, Paris, and alluding to the Trump administration’s often disparaging attitude toward NATO, Dr Fullilove asked: ‘Why should we not fret that we are present at the destruction of that order. Please give us cause for optimism General’.

When the answer came, it was illuminating. The assertion that fresh approaches should be expected from a new president was not unexpected. It was what came next that caught the room’s – and soon after the world’s – attention. Secretary Mattis said the US will remain an international leader (‘Like it or not, we are part of the world’). He said the nation had learned from its isolationist phase between the World Wars of the last century about what a ‘crummy world’ it would be ‘if we all retreat inside our borders’.

Finally, and most surprisingly, Mattis ended by paraphrasing a quote generally attributed to former British PM Winston Churchill.

To quote a British observer of us from some years ago: Bear with us. Once we have exhausted all possible alternatives, the Americans will do the right thing.

So, we will still be there. And we will be with you.

This quote, followed by a reassurance that ‘we are standing with the NATO allies 100 percent’, was quickly picked up by the world’s media including the Washington Post, Bloomberg and The Economist in this blog post which noted ‘there was something heartbreaking about the questions posed by the audience to the defence secretary, a lean man with a craggy face, the cropped silver hair of a Marine, and a laconic speaking-style.’

You can watch an edited version of the question and answer exchange below. Video of the full plenary session is available here at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue site.  A transcript of the session is here.  

Readout of Secretary Mattis’ Meeting with Thai Deputy Defense Minister General Udomdej Sitabutr

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Press Operations

Release No: NR-204-17 June 3, 2017

Secretary of Defense Spokesperson Cmdr. Gary Ross provided the following readout:
 
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis met June 3 with Thailand’s Deputy Minister of Defense General Udomdej Sitabutr on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, a major annual forum for key leaders in the Asia-Pacific region, to discuss security challenges and opportunities.
 
The two officials reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen the 184-year-old U.S.-Thai alliance, and exchanged views on regional and bilateral security issues.
 
They reviewed the broad range of U.S.-Thai defense cooperation and Thailand’s continuing contributions to regional security.  The Secretary and General Udomdej also discussed ways to continue strengthening the defense trade relationship.
 
Secretary Mattis invited General Udomdej to visit Washington, and extended an invitation to Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan to visit as well.
 

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Teen Posted on Instagram and the Next Thing He Knew, a Doctor was Invading His Body

In March, police in Dar es Salaam, acting on orders from Tanzanian Deputy Health Minister Hamisi Kigwangalla, arrested 19-year-old William (not his real name) for posting a video on Instagram that led the deputy minister to believe that William was gay.

Opening ceremony – 60th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Niamey, Niger, May 8, 2017. 

© 2017 African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Homosexual conduct carries a life sentence in Tanzania, though until recently, the law has rarely if ever been enforced.

The police interrogated William about his sexual history.

Then they took him to a government hospital where, William said, a doctor forcibly subjected him to an “anal exam,” purportedly seeking “proof” of his alleged homosexual conduct.

“One police officer stayed in the room” during the humiliating examination, William said in an interview. “It was painful.”

The kind of physically invasive “test” that William underwent should not take place in the 21st century.

It was invented nearly 150 years ago by a French physician who believed that anal examinations could demonstrate signs of “sexual deviance.”

His unsubstantiated theories were roundly dismissed by the next generation of French doctors, and continue to be rejected by medical experts.

Sadly, forced anal examinations seem to have found a home in parts of Africa. Human Rights Watch has identified cases in which medical practitioners, at the behest of police or prosecutors, have carried out these unscientific tests in the past five years in at least seven African countries that criminalise consensual homosexual conduct — Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zambia.

Rights violations related to sexuality

But there is new hope that African countries may discard this outdated practice. The biannual meeting of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights wrapped up in May in Niamey, Niger, with commendable advances in its approach to human-rights violations related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Among them, the commission introduced its official legal guidance (General Comment No 4) on the right to redress for torture victims, which describes forced anal testing as sexual violence that amounts to “a form of torture and other ill-treatment.”

It condemned such examinations as prohibited under article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. As every country in Africa has ratified this treaty (except Morocco, which is expected to do so soon), it is now time for all African countries to heed the Commission’s guidance on the application of the treaty.

Commissioner Lawrence Mute of Kenya, chair of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa, also presented a report that echoes the UN Special Rapporteur on torture in affirming that forced anal testing is “medically worthless and amounts to torture and ill-treatment.”

The report highlights the worrying use of anal exams of suspected gay men in Tanzania and Tunisia in December 2016, and in Kenya in 2015.

Teen Posted on Instagram and the Next Thing He Knew, a Doctor was Invading His Body

In March, police in Dar es Salaam, acting on orders from Tanzanian Deputy Health Minister Hamisi Kigwangalla, arrested 19-year-old William (not his real name) for posting a video on Instagram that led the deputy minister to believe that William was gay.

Opening ceremony – 60th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Niamey, Niger, May 8, 2017. 

© 2017 African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Homosexual conduct carries a life sentence in Tanzania, though until recently, the law has rarely if ever been enforced.

The police interrogated William about his sexual history.

Then they took him to a government hospital where, William said, a doctor forcibly subjected him to an “anal exam,” purportedly seeking “proof” of his alleged homosexual conduct.

“One police officer stayed in the room” during the humiliating examination, William said in an interview. “It was painful.”

The kind of physically invasive “test” that William underwent should not take place in the 21st century.

It was invented nearly 150 years ago by a French physician who believed that anal examinations could demonstrate signs of “sexual deviance.”

His unsubstantiated theories were roundly dismissed by the next generation of French doctors, and continue to be rejected by medical experts.

Sadly, forced anal examinations seem to have found a home in parts of Africa. Human Rights Watch has identified cases in which medical practitioners, at the behest of police or prosecutors, have carried out these unscientific tests in the past five years in at least seven African countries that criminalise consensual homosexual conduct — Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zambia.

Rights violations related to sexuality

But there is new hope that African countries may discard this outdated practice. The biannual meeting of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights wrapped up in May in Niamey, Niger, with commendable advances in its approach to human-rights violations related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Among them, the commission introduced its official legal guidance (General Comment No 4) on the right to redress for torture victims, which describes forced anal testing as sexual violence that amounts to “a form of torture and other ill-treatment.”

It condemned such examinations as prohibited under article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. As every country in Africa has ratified this treaty (except Morocco, which is expected to do so soon), it is now time for all African countries to heed the Commission’s guidance on the application of the treaty.

Commissioner Lawrence Mute of Kenya, chair of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa, also presented a report that echoes the UN Special Rapporteur on torture in affirming that forced anal testing is “medically worthless and amounts to torture and ill-treatment.”

The report highlights the worrying use of anal exams of suspected gay men in Tanzania and Tunisia in December 2016, and in Kenya in 2015.

Atlantic Council Launches the Final Report of the Task Force on the Future of Iraq

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WASHINGTON, DC – The Atlantic Council releases today the report of the Task Force on the Future of Iraq chaired by Ambassador Ryan Crocker and convened by Senior Nonresident Fellow Dr. Nussaibah Younis.

Click here to read the full report.

The report offers a strategy for how the United States can build on the success that the Iraqi government and its coalition partners have had in liberating areas once occupied by ISIS, in order to bring about a lasting defeat of the extremist group and to and secure US national security interests in Iraq over the long term.  

The report demonstrates that a stable Iraq is critical to US national security interests because:

–          A secure Iraq will limit the capacity of terrorist groups both in Iraq and the wider Middle East
–          A strengthened Iraq will be better able to resist Iranian interference
–          A economically vibrant Iraq will reduce the influence of radicalism, and will strengthen regional economies including key US allies such as Jordan

In pursuit of a strong and stable Iraq, the report recommends that the United States:

–          Publicly commits to engaging in and supporting Iraq in the long term
–          Focuses on improving governance, thereby strengthening the legitimacy of the Iraqi government
–          Strengthens the Iraqi economy, by encouraging economic reform and international investment
–          Continues training and equipping Iraqi Security Forces beyond the defeat of ISIS
–          Mediates between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government

By pursuing these steps, the Task Force hopes that the United States can secure its national security interests and those of Iraq, and prevent the country from becoming vulnerable to resurgent extremism in the future.

Frederick Kempe, president and CEO of the Atlantic Council, says of the report: “Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Nussaibah Younis lay out a persuasive case for US leadership in Iraq, both to ensure that considerable past US investments are not wasted and to take much-needed action against groups such as ISIS perpetrating heinous violence that affects the region as well as the United States and our friends and allies.

Amb. Crocker and Dr. Younis, along with Task Force members and senior advisers Mr. Geoffrey Batt, Lt. Gen. Mike Barbero, Amb. Feisal al-Istrabadi, Gen. David Petraeus, Prof. Michael Gunter, Ms. Manal Omar, and Mr. Ahmed Gutan, are available for interview. For more information and interview requests, please contact Nancy Messieh at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Task Force on the Future of Iraq brought together the world’s most preeminent experts on Iraq to address the underlying drivers of conflict in the country, and to map the ways in which the country can realistically tackle the problems that have enabled the rise of violent extremism and conflict. The primary goal was to equip policy makers in Iraq, the United States, and the international community with evidence-based tools that they can use to help stabilize Iraq, to initiate a comprehensive reconciliation process, and to help prevent future conflict.

The Atlantic Council is a nonpartisan organization that promotes constructive US leadership and engagement in international affairs based on the central role of the Atlantic community in meeting today’s global challenges. For more information, please visit AtlanticCouncil.org and follow us on Twitter @.

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U.S. National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. McMaster to Address AJC Global Forum 2017

May 30, 2017 – New York – Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, President Trump’s National Security Advisor, will address the AJC Global Forum 2017 on June 4.

The AJC Global Forum, which will take place June 4-6, in Washington, D.C., is the advocacy organization’s signature annual event, bringing together more than 2,500 participants from across the United States and 70 countries around the world.

“General McMaster is central to formulating the Trump Administration’s approach to foreign and national security polices,” said AJC CEO David Harris. “We are honored that he will address the AJC Global Forum, especially so soon after the president’s first overseas trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, NATO and the G-7 summit. We shall look eagerly forward to his insights on President Trump’s worldview and international initiatives.”

Other world leaders confirmed to date to address the AJC Global Forum include:

Among the previous U.S. national security advisors to address the AJC Global Forum have been Dr. Condoleezza Rice and Ambassador Susan Rice.

AJC, founded in 1906 and with headquarters in New York, maintains 22 regional offices across the United States; ten overseas posts; and 34 international association agreements with Jewish communities.

Director-General calls for investigation into killing of magazine publisher Wai Yan Heinn in Myanmar

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, has denounced the recent murder of print journalist Wai Yan Heinn, in Yangon, Myanmar.

“I condemn the murder of Wai Yan Heinn,” said the Director-General. “It is essential for freedom of expression, freedom of information and rule of law that the authorities investigate this crime and bring its perpetrators to justice,” Ms Bokova added.

Wai Yan Heinn, editor of independent weekly Iron Rose, was found dead from stab wounds in his office on 16 April.

The Director-General of UNESCO issues statements on the killing of media workers in line with Resolution 29 adopted by UNESCO Member States at the Organization’s General Conference of 1997, entitled “Condemnation of Violence against Journalists.” These statements are posted on a dedicated webpage, UNESCO condemns the killing of journalists

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Media contact: Sylvie Coudray, s.coudray@unesco.org, +33 (0)1 45 68 42 12

UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”

AES New York Convention Advance Registration Opens

AES New York Convention Advance Registration Opens

For Release: May 26, 2017

AES New York Convention Advance Registration Opens

The Audio Engineering Society has opened online advance registration for its 143rd International AES Convention, taking place October 18 to 21, 2017, at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. The largest professional audio education, networking and gear exhibition of the year, this fall’s AES Convention will offer a comprehensive and expansive professional media and entertainment production program, three full days of pro audio gear exhibitions and presentations, and a world-class series of events and experiences to take attendees to the next level of audio prowess.

Not only does advance registration offer the lowest pricing available on technical program All Access badges, but, for the 30 days prior to June 17, Exhibits-Plus registration is complimentary – a $75 value. In addition, AES New York 2017 will be co-located with the NAB Show New York 2017. Registration, at any level, for AES New York 2017 will give attendees access to the NAB Show New York exhibition floor and the content in the NAB Show New York’s Core Package (also a $75 value). In an increasingly multimedia-driven world, the 300+ exhibitors expected to showcase video production tools on the NAB Show New York exhibition floor will complement the 300+ professional audio exhibitors that are regulars on the AES New York exhibition floor, offering media professionals the potential for a broader experience.

“AES Conventions have a rich tradition of driving progress in audio technology and application, notes AES Executive Director Bob Moses. “While this year’s convention takes place alongside the NAB Show New York, it remains an independent gathering of a global community of audio professionals and students – end users, manufacturers, researchers and scientists. The NAB Show New York is focused on the production and distribution of mainly video content. It’s a natural fit that these two organizations collaborate and cross-pollinate, developing new workflows and business models and creating new opportunities for our communities.”

The full four-day AES New York 2017 technical program lets attendees Listen, Learn and Connect via presentations covering the latest audio research and via workshops, tutorials, technical tours, and student and career development events spanning a diverse array of audio topics, all led by the world’s leading audio experts. This year’s AES New York convention will also feature an expanded program of special events and exhibition floor stage presentations – ranging from broadcast audio to recording, live sound, virtual reality and more – open to all attendees. Full program details are in development now. Visit www.aesshow.com to see what’s in store and register today for the ultimate pro audio experience, AES New York 2017.

AF proposes 1,600 personnel increase to command support staffs

WASHINGTON (AFNS) —

The Air Force plans to increase commander support staff manning across the force by 1,600 by fiscal year 2022 increasing total authorizations to more than 6,300.

Currently, the personnel increase calls for 170 officers, 469 enlisted and 961 civilians with all civilian hires authorized for fiscal 2018.

The increase in CSS manning ties directly to the Air Force chief of staff’s first focus area — revitalizing squadrons. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein announced this focus area within the first month of his tenure, and appointed Brig. Gen. Stephen L. Davis, the director of Air Force manpower, organization and resources, as lead of this initiative.

“Squadrons are the core unit of the Air Force,” Davis said. „We must ensure they have the support required to accomplish the mission and support their Airmen. This is one step of many we plan to take to help revitalize Air Force squadrons.”

One of the first milestones of revitalizing squadrons was the reduction of additional duties for Airmen across the Air Force. A comprehensive review of duties under the direct control of the Air Force resulted in the elimination, reassignment, or reduction of 29 of 61 additional duties identified under Air Force Instruction 38-206, “Additional Duty Management.”

While this lessened the workload for the majority of Airmen within the service, many of the duties were realigned under CSS. In August 2016 the Air Force committed to ensuring CSS requirements are funded and positions filled as quickly as possible within budget limits.

The new positions will be prioritized by need across the Air Force. Some of the more than 1,975 active-duty squadrons are already fully manned while others are minimally manned. The Air Force will work with major commands to assess areas of greatest need and prioritize manning.

Davis said the manning increase is key to re-establishing the CSS to full capability.

The CSS provides critical support to the squadron, but not all of these positions were fully funded in the past,” Davis said. “We’re fixing that and will also add new positions to increase the level of CSS support for many squadrons. Fully funding the increased CSS requirement is a key element in revitalizing Air Force squadrons.”