New Book- The Envoy: From Kabul to the White House

[by Mark Safranski / a.k.a  “zen“] The Envoy: From Kabul to the White House […] by Zalmay Khalilzad Just received a courtesy review copy of The Envoy, the memoir of Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, from Christine at St. Martin’s Press. Khalilzad was part of a small group of diplomatic troubleshooters and heavy hitters for the second Bush […] Read more »

Islamic State — hanging by a chad?

[ by Charles Cameron — light-hearted, almost science-fictional “butterfly-hurricane” question in geopolitics, with an Elkus follow-up ] . A scene from the 2000 Florida recount: Palm Beach County’s canvassing board chairman eyes a questionable ballot as Republican attorney John Bolton looks on. Image: Greg Lovett/AP ** Is the Islamic State an “unanticipated consequence” of Bush […] Read more »

Behind the Lens: Photographing the President in 50 Countries

Today, President Obama visits Kenya — the 50th country he has visited during his Administration. It’s also my 50th country traveling with the President.

To mark the occasion, as I did when the President visited his 50th state, I chose one photograph from each country that we’ve visited.

Traveling abroad with the President is very different.

Often times, I am at the mercy of the host country for access. Some countries are more accommodating to me than others. I am lucky to have counterpart official photographers in many countries who are extremely helpful to me in this regard. I of course try to return the help to them when they visit the White House with their head of state.

We’re also rarely in any one country for more than a couple of days, which gives us only a partial glimpse of each place. And because of security, the sites we are able to visit are often limited too.

All that said, we’ve had the incredible opportunity to visit the Pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge in the United Kingdom, the Great Wall in China, Petra in Jordan, and the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar (Burma). (So I really shouldn’t complain too much.)

I hope you enjoy this gallery. And stay tuned — we’ll be adding a photograph from Kenya and additionally, Ethiopia, following his visit next week.

Afghanistan, 2012

Boarding Air Force One at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Behind the Lens: Photographing the President in 50 States

This week, the President will visit South Dakota, marking the 50th state he has visited during his administration (as such, it's also my 50th state with him). To mark the occasion, I chose one photograph from each state that we’ve visited. This was not as easy as I thought it would be. With help from photo editor Phaedra Singelis, I tried to depict a variety of situations. Some are more lighthearted; some are sad, and some are poignant. Some are with the Vice President; some are with the First Lady, and a couple are with the entire family. A selection of photos are centered on policy, and others on politics. Some focus on the President as Commander-in-Chief -- others on his role as consoler for the nation.

I hope you enjoy this gallery. And stay tuned -- we’ll be adding a photograph from South Dakota following his visit there on Friday.

Alabama, March 7, 2015. Marching at the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Alabama, March 7, 2015. Marching at the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Alaska. Nov 12, 2009. Air Force One refueling at Elmendorf Air Force Base. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Alaska. Nov 12, 2009. Air Force One refueling at Elmendorf Air Force Base. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Arizona, Aug. 16, 2009. Viewing the Grand Canyon. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Arizona, Aug. 16, 2009. Viewing the Grand Canyon. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

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Maajid Nawaz and the Hadith Qudsi

[ by Charles Cameron -- coded signalling, or "a nod is as good as a wink" ] . ** Maajid Nawaz‘s An Ex-Radical’s Open Letter to ISIS Fighters: Quit Now While You Can! just published by The Daily Beast gives us an invaluable insight into the way a Muslim can skilfully address the “foreign fighters” […] Read more »

Gaza symmetries and asymmetries

[ by Charles Cameron -- "hatred of the other" viewed as a cognitive matter, and Richard Landes on the capacity for self-criticism ] . ** Nicholas Kristof has a post today for the NYT Sunday Review, Who’s Right and Wrong in the Middle East? — in which he explores the symmetries and asymmetries playing out [...] Read more »

Posts from my Coursera classes 3 — on knowing Shia from Sunni

[ by Charles Cameron -- Bush, Reyes and McCain as leading indicators of a difficult learning-curve ] . . Here’s another in my series of posts taken from MOOCs I’ve been participating in. This one comes from the Changing World Order Coursera MOOC from Leiden University, and deals with the knowledge senior US politicians have [...] Read more »

The ISIS flood in my twitterstream today 2: big picture

[ by Charles Cameron -- an attempt to "curate" the onrush of news, hitting the high points on a low, low morning ] . I have tried to keep the tweets here limited to their own texts, with illustrations only where essential, and without “parent tweets” and other encumbrances. Even so, it’s a long read [...] Read more »

Honoring the Legacy of Immigrants Serving in the Armed Forces

Each year on Veterans Day our country celebrates the men and women who have contributed to making our Armed Forces the finest the world has ever seen. The success of our military, and indeed, our nation as a whole, is rooted in the dynamism, courage an... Read more »

Republican Court Unpacking Plan Takes Judicial Manipulation to a New Level

Republicans in the Senate have made no secret of their efforts to block the President’s constitutional responsibility to appoint federal judges. They have filibustered unquestionably qualified nominees, like Caitlin Halligan. And their obstructio... Read more »