As part of our ongoing and enthusiastic support of Georgian institutions of art and creativity, the U.S. Embassy co-sponsored the 2021 Tbilisi Photography Festival which opened this Wednesday

Published in Culture
Friday, 29 October 2021 11:36
As part of our ongoing and enthusiastic support of Georgian institutions of art and creativity, the U.S. Embassy co-sponsored the 2021 Tbilisi Photography Festival which opened this Wednesday at Tbilisi Photography and Multimedia Museum. In attendance was Ambassador Degnan who viewed the exhibitions and spoke to festival-goers about the unique power of photography to transcend borders and explore our shared humanity.
The festival included work from historic and contemporary artists from Georgia, America, and around the world. The event also featured a special exhibition entitled Made in the USA which offered attendees a profound glimpse into the United States' diverse history of struggle, self-determination, innovation, and perseverance. This exhibition was the culmination of a collaborative project between the museum and international photography agency Magnum Photos, and included the work of several pioneering American photographers, such as Leonard Freed, Elliott Erwitt, Bruce Davidson, Alec Soth, and Gregory Halpern.
 
Source: US Embassy Tbilisi, Georgia
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  • In the 30 years since, Georgia and the United States have grown to become steadfast strategic partners

    On December 25, 1991, in his holiday address to the people of the United States, President George H. W. Bush announced the United States' recognition of Georgian independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

    In the 30 years since, Georgia and the United States have grown to become steadfast strategic partners, cooperating across a broad spectrum of issues in the name of a Georgia and Europe whole and free and at peace.

    US Embassy in Georgia

  • Xinhua Headlines: A diagnosis of America's war mania

    A paratrooper conducts security at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 29, 2021. (U.S. Army Photo by Master Sgt. Alexander Burnett/Handout via Xinhua)

    WASHINGTON/GENEVA, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- Open any book on American history, and hardly can you find a long period of time when the country was not part of a conflict. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter simply referred to it as "the most warlike nation in the history of the world."

    There are historical, commercial, and geopolitical contexts behind the lust for wars, in which the United States has gained independence, interests, and influence. Over the past decades, the country has launched or engaged in wars all over the world in a never-ending endeavor to establish and retain hegemony.

    The United States, according to diagnoses of historians and scholars, has morphed into a perpetual war machine that feeds on and profits from warfare, with the mighty military-industrial complex at the helm and media complicit in justifying government policies and whitewashing its actions, leaving the war mania beyond cure.

    FEEDING ON WARS

    "Our nation was born in genocide," American civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his 1963 book Why We Can't Wait. "We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population."

    The United States was founded on 13 British colonies in North America where the indigenous, some of who helped the first Europeans to settle down on the continent, had lived for thousands of years. However, instead of acknowledging the rights of the Native Americans or Indians after the Revolutionary War, the federal government embarked on a century-long campaign to eliminate them.

    "We massacred them," Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, an American-Swiss historian and former United Nations independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, told Xinhua during an interview in Geneva, Switzerland. "We demonized the Indians. We call them devils. We call them wolves ... and it was a lot easier if you demonize your rival in order to kill them."

    In Westward Expansion under the so-called Manifest Destiny, a 19th-century doctrine that Americans were destined to expand across the continent, the United States extended its western border to the Pacific Ocean following a chain of land purchases and annexations, along with significant territorial gains after the Mexico-American War in the 1840s.

    "U.S. territorial expansion from 1789 to 1854 -- from sea to shining sea -- was the most rapid and extensive in human history," Paul Atwood, senior lecturer in American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, contended in a 2003 article titled War is the American way of life. "It was carried out by armed violence with genocidal results."

    In the 1890s, the United States began actively pursuing overseas expansion, decades after the Civil War put America's foreign policy objectives on hold, as senior government officials came to believe that their country is entitled to compete for "naval and commercial supremacy of the Pacific Ocean and the Far East," according to the late American historian Julius Pratt, who specialized in foreign relations and imperialism.

    The United States became a Pacific power after the 1898 war with Spain, with new territorial claims stretching from the Caribbean to Southeast Asia, and was elevated to a superpower after World War II. "We tell ourselves that we have emerged from this war the most powerful nation in the world," then U.S. President Harry Truman declared in a speech from the White House on Aug. 9, 1945.

    Over the previous decades, the militarily powerful United States has intervened in or waged a succession of significant wars, including the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War, while initiating or being involved in numerous overt and covert operations.

    The global "War on Terror," which the United States launched in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, was extended to an astonishing number of 85 countries between 2018 and 2020, and the world's sole superpower controls about 750 bases in at least 80 countries worldwide and spends more on its armed forces than the next 10 countries combined, studies have found.

    "This state of war is the norm in U.S. history," author and professor of political anthropology David Vine concluded in his 2020 book The United States of War: A Global History of America's Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State.

    According to the Congressional Research Service, a public policy research institute of the U.S. Congress, American troops have staged wars, engaged in combat, or otherwise invaded foreign lands in all but less than 20 years of its existence. "The people of the United States have arguably never been at peace," commented Nikhil Pal Singh, professor of social and cultural analysis and history at New York University.

    WAR MACHINE

    "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex," then U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower said in his farewell speech from the White House on Jan. 17, 1961. "The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist."

    Despite Eisenhower's warning, the formidable union of the military, private defense contractors, and the government has grown stronger and more entwined. Daniel Kovalik, adjunct professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh, told Xinhua during an interview via video link that the tremendous vested interest that the retired five-star Army general was talking about "was nothing compared to what it is today."

    According to Brown University data, the Pentagon has spent over 14 trillion U.S. dollars since the start of the Afghanistan War, with between one-third and half of that going to for-profit defense contractors. Meanwhile, over the last two decades, weapon manufacturers were estimated to have spent over 2.5 billion dollars on lobbying, employing hundreds of lobbyists per year.

    Furthermore, because of the revolving door, high-ranking Pentagon officials frequently leave their government jobs to work for defense contractors as lobbyists, board members, executives, or consultants.

    Kovalik said it explains why the U.S. war in Afghanistan, which ended after a hasty pullout in late August, lasted nearly 20 years.

    "Because the defense industry companies that make the bombs, that make the planes, that make the vehicles, and also the private military contractors that now are fighting the wars in lieu of public military personnel, they made trillions of dollars as long as the war continued," he expounded. "So they didn't care if the war was ever won, the goal was for the war to simply continue forever."

    De Zayas also chastised U.S. intelligence operatives and the media for spreading fabricated information and fake news to name and shame its targets and stoke public discontent before and during the intervention. National security, democracy, freedom, human rights, and humanitarianism are the themes of narratives they have sought to create and promote.

    "The idea is to anesthetize the population so that they accept regime change so that they accept a military intervention to achieve regime change," he said.

    In an article published by The Washington Post in September, Katrina vanden Heuvel, editorial director and publisher of U.S. magazine The Nation, suggested that "the military-industrial complex's sheer breadth of influence -- to the point where it might more accurately be called the military-industrial-congressional-media complex -- can make dismantling the system seem hopeless."

    DAMAGE TO WORLD

    The New York Times published in November an investigative report, disclosing that the U.S. military covered up the 2019 airstrikes that killed up to 64 women and children in Syria. The revelation came less than two months after the Pentagon acknowledged the last U.S. drone strike before American troops exited from Afghanistan mistakenly killed 10 civilians, including seven children.

    Unfortunately, such possible war crimes would likely be forgotten quickly because no one appears to be able to hold the United States accountable. When the International Criminal Court (ICC) was seeking to investigate American personnel for alleged crimes in Afghanistan years ago, the U.S. government responded by imposing sanctions on ICC officials and threatening more actions against The Hague, Netherlands-based tribunal.

    The civilian deaths, however, were only a drop in the bucket of tragic consequences from America's unchecked drone strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, and Yemen, and only a speck of the human toll inflicted by Washington's addiction to violence and war in pursuit of resources, geopolitical clout, and hegemony. The post-9/11 wars alone were reported to have killed more than 900,000 people.

    Meanwhile, the "endless wars" have wreaked havoc on many countries and cities, resulting in a tangle of political, economic, and social complexities that have obstructed the rebuilding and revival of economies and civilizations. "If we can't just overthrow you, we will destroy you," Kovalik said. "That's what the U.S. has done time and again."

    When the U.S. troops fled from the Vietnam War, they left a devastated land riddled with millions of land mines and unexploded ordnances, which had also been defoliated by millions of gallons of Agent Orange, a deadly herbicide that causes cancer, neurological damage, and birth defects. Since 1975, over 40,000 Vietnamese have died from the deadly remnants of war, and over 60,000 have been injured.

    In Afghanistan, decades of war have not only shattered the country but also traumatized its people. The International Psychosocial Organisation, a non-profit agency, reported in 2019 that 70 percent of the country's population needs psychological support.

    "Numbers certainly can tell us only so much. Quickly they can become numbing. Ultimately, there's no adequate way to measure the immensity of the damage these wars have inflicted on all the people in all the countries affected," Vine, also assistant professor at American University, stressed in his book.

    "International polls showed that world opinion regarded the U.S. as the greatest threat to world peace, no other country even close," renowned American linguist and foreign policy critic Noam Chomsky said during an interview with U.S. magazine CounterPunch in August.

    What Chomsky was referring to appeared to be a global survey conducted by the World Independent Network and Gallup in 2013, in which the United States had been voted by respondents from over 60 countries as the most significant threat to world peace, and a Pew poll in 2017 that showed 39 percent of respondents across 38 countries consider American influence and power a major threat to their countries.

    "America has never cared to help those we have pretended to 'save' by these wars. For that reason alone, America has never had the broad support of local populations that would have been essential for any kind of success in these misguided wars," Jeffrey Sachs, American economist and public policy analyst, wrote in an article published by The Boston Globe in September.

    "Our nation has been at war for centuries," Sachs continued. "Will the United States adopt a new foreign policy based on peace and problem-solving? That's the real question."

  • Colonel Chad Koenig, Commander, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) visited Georgia

    Mission Tbilisi welcomed Colonel Chad Koenig, Commander, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), who led a team from Washington to evaluate WRAIR’s efforts in Georgia.  WRAIR staff work closely with their Georgian counterparts at Lugar Center to monitor circulating and emerging infectious disease threats across Georgia and the region. The work this combined team does was integral in helping Georgia’s @NCDC respond to COVID-19.

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  • U.S. Embassy Statement on Supreme Court Appointments

    The U.S. Embassy is disappointed that, once again, Parliament is moving forward with Supreme Court appointments before it has completed an independent assessment of the previous waves of judicial reform, as Parliament’s leaders agreed to do.  We are also concerned that judicial appointments are proceeding without the participation of non-judge members of the High Council of Justice. While the High Council and Parliament have rushed through appointment of judges over the past year, there has been no action on non-judge appointments despite the positions being vacant for months. The people of Georgia, through the non-judge High Council members, are supposed to have a voice in the selection of these influential and important judges, who are being appointed to lifetime positions on the Supreme Court. The exclusion of independent voices from this process adds to the impression that Supreme Court judicial appointments are being made without meaningful transparency, accountability, or impartiality.

    Before any further Supreme Court judges are appointed, we strongly encourage Parliament to prioritize the appointment of impartial, independent, non-judge members to the High Council of Justice, and complete an independent assessment of the previous waves of reform by Spring 2022. Important work has been done since independence to strengthen Georgia’s judicial branch, with the assistance of the United States and others.  Georgia’s closest partners and supporters, as well as Georgia’s political leaders, are united in agreeing that judicial reform needs to continue. The goal now must be to build an impartial, transparent, merit-based judicial system that the people of Georgia can have full confidence in and that allows the full participation of the many qualified, ethical judges and lawyers who work with integrity to promote the rule of law.  

    US Embassy in Tbilisi

  • USS Mount Whitney and USS Porter Arrive in Batumi, Georgia

    By U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa / U.S. Sixth Fleet Public Affairs

    The Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) and Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) arrived in Batumi, Georgia for a scheduled port visit, Nov. 8, 2021.

    The port visit highlights an important relationship between NATO allies and vital Black Sea partner Georgia. Georgia has been a consistent and steadfast partner in promoting peace and stability in the region.

    Previously, USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) conducted a port visit in Batumi in February 2021. Legend-class Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton (WMSL-753) similarly stopped in Batumi in May 2021, after completing interoperability exercises with the Georgian Coast Guard.

    “Georgia plays a critical role in maintaining security and stability in the Black Sea and is a valuable NATO partner,” said Rear Adm. James Morley, Deputy Commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO). “We look forward to further enhancing the relationship between NATO and our Georgian counterparts here in Batumi.”

    U.S. Sixth Fleet (SIXTHFLT) and STRIKFORNATO personnel are embarked aboard Mount Whitney, operating as an integrated team. The interoperability between the commands, and their presence in the region, demonstrates the U.S. and NATO’s commitment to the Black Sea and to working with allies and partners to advance peace and prosperity in the region.

    While in Batumi, the ships’ crews will experience Georgian culture and traditions, while taking in the country’s rich history and interacting with local citizens.

    “This is my first ship and first deployment with the Navy and being able to visit Georgia is exciting,” said Cryptological Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Melissa Mitchell, a Sailor assigned to Mount Whitney. “I have always wanted to go to Georgia and experience the culture and cuisine.”

    While steaming to Batumi, Mount Whitney and Porter showed the power of joint operations by participating in the U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA) led Operation Castle Forge. Castle Forge provides a dynamic, partnership-focused training opportunity in the Black Sea and demonstrates the joint force’s combined ability to respond in times of crisis with a flexible, reassuring presence.

    Additionally, both ships partook in bilateral ship maneuvering drills, communication testing, and simulated exercises with ships from the Bulgarian Navy and Turkish Navies and were escorted into Batumi by the Georgian Coast Guard. These maneuvers, executed in accordance with international law, highlight the professionalism and skillful seamanship of all nations involved.

    USS Mount Whitney, forward deployed to Gaeta, Italy, operates with a combined crew of Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners in the SIXTHFLT area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.

    STRIKFORNATO, headquartered on Oeiras, Portugal, is Supreme Allied Commander Europe’s (SACEUR) premier, rapidly deployable and flexible, maritime power projection Headquarters, capable of planning and executing full spectrum joint maritime operations, primarily through the integration of U.S. naval and amphibious forces, in order to provide assurance, deterrence, and collective defence for the Alliance.

    SIXTHFLT headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.

    Vice Admiral Gene Black: Good Afternoon! I’m Vice Admiral Gene Black, Commander of the Sixth Fleet, Commander of Striking and Support Forces NATO. I’m absolutely thrilled to be here on behalf of the U.S. Navy, the Sixth Fleet, and my NATO team for Striking and Support Forces NATO. What an amazingly warm welcome here in Georgia. I’d like to introduce Captain Prochazka, the Captain of my flagship, USS Mount Whitney.

    Captain Prochazka: Good Afternoon and thank you for this warm welcome, the amazing ceremony, and the warm reception to your country and this amazing city.

    Captain Dan Prochazka: My name is Captain Dan Prochazka, I’m the commanding officer of USS Mount Whitney. The service members and civilian mariners from Mount Whitney are excited to explore the rich culture and history of Georgia to interact with the local civilians and to work with our military partners.

    Question about Georgia’s role in the Black Sea region and relationship with the country

    Vice Admiral Black: I think the importance of Georgia is clear when you consider that Secretary of Defense Austin recently visited I’m here representing the Sixth Fleet and the U.S Navy and NATO. You are a very important ally and partner in the Black Sea Region and we very much look forward to operating with you and visiting with you. And thank you, again for the wonderful, warm welcome.

     

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