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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An Achilles Heel for Saudi Wahhabis?

by Mark Woodward* On September first the British on-line paper The Independent reported on alleged plans by the Saudi Arabian government to demolish the Prophet Muhammad’s tomb and move his body to an unmarked grave. The Prophet’s tomb is located in the mosque he built in Madinah in the seventh century and is the second most important Muslim holy site. Millions of pilgrims visit every year.   The Independent’s story was based on a 61 page […] Read more »

President Obama Heads to Beijing, Kicking Off Trip to Asia and Australia

President Barack Obama steps off Air Force One to a red carpet welcome on arrival at Capital International Airport in Beijing

President Barack Obama steps off Air Force One to a red carpet welcome on arrival at Capital International Airport in Beijing, China, Nov. 10, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Over the weekend, President Obama headed to Beijing to kick off his sixth trip to Asia as President -- and his second trip to Asia this year.

The trip -- which will also include stops in Burma and Australia -- will underscore the President's deep commitment to his Asia rebalancing strategy, and will reiterate his firm belief that America's trade and investment ties to Asia are critical to our future economic growth and the creation of American jobs.

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ISIL Influence is Fueling Sectarianism in Indonesia

by Mark Woodward* [Editor's note: Yesterday there were news reports that an ISIL-inspired plot to bomb a Carlsberg brewery in Malaysia was foiled.] Iraq and Syria have become magnets for Indonesian jihadists in much the same way that Afghanistan was in the 1990s. Over the past five years support of Salafi jihadi causes has steadily declined.  But lately the exploits of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have injected new energy into […] Read more »

Four Maps that Explain Islam in Asia

Islam transcends the Middle-Eastern corridor with which most Westerners associate it, stretching from the western coast of Africa to the Pacific Ocean. It contains an incredible variety of different sects, beliefs, and traditions, most of which firmly reject the violent, intolerant, and jihadist tradition that groups like al Qaeda, al Shabaab, and ISIS represent. In […]

The post Four Maps that Explain Islam in Asia appeared first on American Security Project.

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What We Are Reading … June 26, 2014

Daily News Iraq helicopter crashes in airborne commando assault on Tikrit Oliver Holmes and Isabel Coles / Reuters Iraqi forces launched an airborne assault on rebel-held Tikrit on Thursday with commandos flown into a stadium in helicopters, at least one of which crashed after taking fire from insurgents who have seized northern cities. Government says […]

The post What We Are Reading … June 26, 2014 appeared first on American Security Project.

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President Obama’s Final Day at the G-20 Summit

President Barack Obama, with China's President Xi Jinping, delivers remarks prior to participating in their bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit, Sept. 6, 2013 in St. Petersburg, Russia. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson) ... Read more »

Aftermath of a Buddhist Shrine Bombing in Indonesia

by Chris Lundry On Sunday evening, August 4, a small bomb detonated at the Ekayana Buddhist shrine in West Jakarta, Indonesia (story here). The blast injured three people and damaged the building, although if the second bomb found at the scene had detonated the toll likely would have been higher and the damage worse; the bombing was timed to coincide with well-attended sermon. Immediate speculation centered on the act as retaliation for the Burmese treatment […] Read more »

Furnish on Pew findings re: Islam

[ Charles Cameron presenting guest-blogger Timothy Furnish ] . . I’m delighted to welcome Dr Timothy Furnish as a guest-blogger here on Zenpundit. Dr Furnish has served as an Arabic linguist with the 101st Airborne and as an Army chaplain, holds a PhD in Islamic history from Ohio State, is the author of Holiest Wars: [...] Read more »

Extremist Opposition to Indonesia’s Densus 88

by Chris Lundry It’s been an active 2013 so far for anti-terrorism efforts in Indonesia, but actions of the authorities continue to spur debate. On December 20, 2012, armed civilians shot and killed four members of the Indonesian Police Mobile Brigades and injured three others in Poso, Sulawesi. The police response was quick, and several suspects were rounded up and allegedly tortured, including some found innocent of the charges. But that was not the end […] Read more »