The Foreign Service Journal, May 2018

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MAY 2018 15 M aps can help us make sense of a confusing world, and this month we showcase three interactive maps on useful websites that show different ways to view the world. “Freedom in theWorld” is Freedom House’s flagship annual report, assessing the condition of political rights and civil liberties around the world. Published since 1973, it ranks the state of freedom by population and by country, with supporting texts for 195 countries and 14 territories. This year’s report shows that 71 countries “suffered net declines in political rights and civil liberties, with only 35 registering gains.”The report also shows “an accelerating decline” in U.S. political rights and civil liberties. CIVICUS, which bills itself as “a global alliance of civil society organizations and activists,”monitors the state of civil society around the world and reflects its findings on a map. Its June 2017 report, “Civic Space in the Americas,” examines people’s right to organize, speak out and take action country by country. While civic space in the Americas is more open than in some other regions of the world, CIVI- CUS found that it is still seriously restricted in more than a third of the region’s countries. And for yet another way to “map” the world, look to the Matador Network’s depiction of cost of living around the world. Map enthusiasts may find a way to connect levels of freedom or restrictions on civic space with the cost of living in a particular country. Of course, those of you thinking about next year’s bids may also find this last map intriguing from a purely self-interested point of view. SITE OF THE MONTH: MAPPING THE STATE OF THE WORLD A farewell video made by several of the departing diplomats was shared widely online, as was a blog post, written by Anne Godfrey, the spouse of the current deputy chief of mission in Moscow. “Those of us left behind will stay tough and keep the mission going,” says Godfrey. “Last week we rallied around our friends and did what we could to help themmeet the deadline for departure. Next week, the halls of a building emptied of some of the finest people I have the privilege of know- ing, will be walked by some of the finest people I have the privilege of knowing. And we will pick up the pieces, carry on the work and continue to live here in this sometimes gloomy, but ever vibrant and enigmatic city.” State Makes Cuba Staffing Cuts Permanent O n March 2 the State Department announced that it would make the staffing cuts put in place last October at U.S. Embassy Havana permanent. Last September, State recalled 21 Americans fromHavana, all of whom complained of unexplained headaches, dizziness, hearing loss and other medical problems—their symptoms were blamed on some type of “sonic attack.” In October, with no answer to the mystery in sight, the department ordered all non-essential staff and family members to leave post. By law, the department was required to revisit the decision within six months and either send the diplomats back to post or make the cuts permanent. Former Secre- tary of State Rex Tillerson signed off on the plan to permanently reduce staffing. According to an April 2 report in the Daily Beast , researchers at the Universit y of Michigan say the problem could have been caused if a pair of eavesdropping devices were accidentally placed too close together in a home or hotel room, triggering a painful, high-pitched tone. The researchers submitted their findings to the State Department, but told the Daily Beast that they had not received a response. Don’t End the Iran Deal I n March more than 100 U.S. national security experts, including nearly 50 retired military officers and more than 30 former ambassadors, wrote a letter to the president urging him to remain in the Iran nuclear deal. The president set a May 12 deadline— the date by which he has to either waive sanctions against Iran or leave the deal— for the United States and its allies to agree on changes to address what he calls flaws in the deal. The letter, from a group called the National Coalition to Prevent an Iranian Nuclear Weapon, states that maintaining the U.S commitment to the Iran nuclear deal “will bring substantial benefits and strengthen America’s hand in dealing with North Korea, as well as Iran, and help maintain the reliability of America’s word and influence as a world leader,” while “ditching it would serve no national security purpose.” Signatories include well-known former State Department officials such as FSO