Welcome to Dipnote

Posted by Sean McCormack
September 25, 2007
Sean McCormack During Morning Press Gaggle

Welcome to the State Department's first-ever blog, Dipnote. As a communicator for the Department, I have the opportunity to do my fair share of talking on a daily basis. With the launch of Dipnote, we are hoping to start a dialogue with the public. More than ever, world events affect our daily lives--what we see and hear, what we do, and how we work. I hope Dipnote will provide you with a window into the work of the people responsible for our foreign policy, and will give you a chance to be active participants in a community focused on some of the great issues of our world today.

With Dipnote we are going to take you behind the scenes at the State Department and bring you closer to the personalities of the Department. We are going to try and break through some of the jargon and talk about how we operate around the world.

We invite you to participate in this community, and I am looking forward to stepping away from my podium every now and then into the blogosphere. Let the conversation begin.

PS - We're new at this. It looks like we broke our own rule and used State jargon in our blog title. "Dipnote" refers to a diplomatic note. It is one of the many ways in which governments formally communicate with each other.

The dictionary definition of a diplomatic note is: "A formal communication between an ambassador and a minister (usually the foreign minister) of this host government or another ambassador."



Michael M.
West Virginia, USA
November 9, 2007

Michael writes:

Any sensible discussion of U.S. diplomacy, of the type presented for public consumption, without acknowledging countless U.S. actions well hidden from the American people, worldwide and for decades, would be tantamount to playing a child's game of hide and seek. In reality, this myriad of actions, with verifiable results, by a secret, well funded U.S. army of specialists, are always committed against and within nations unable to defend against U.S. influence in their internal affairs and self determination. And the American public and taxpayers have not only consistently been the unwitting financier, but the portion of Earth's population least aware, of often protracted, brutal campaigns through a combination of apathy and the culture of compliance by the mainstream U.S. media.

Created in 1947, largely as a result of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the CIA was to be the central clearing house to analyze information from all U.S. intelligence agencies, to be presented in a workable form to the political and military leadership to predict and prevent any future threat to national security. Also "endowed" with the vaguely worded mission statement "to carry out any other actions as deemed fit by the president of the United States", born was the CIA, the epitome of powerful, motivated and secretive government power, with little effective congressional oversight, far from public knowledge, and easily cloaked under the umbrella of "national security interests". "Battling and deterring the spread of communism" was the oft applied justification until recent years, but subservience to U.S. economic interests was the primary impetus, without fail. And dictators are far easier to control and preferable to a democracy, as long as the dictator remains cooperative.

In pursuit of mission and specializing in everything from propaganda campaigns, arming, training and equipping local forces, crushing labor unions and independent news media, training secret police forces in population control and overthrowing duly elected leaders was considered business as usual and a job well done. Failure in the mention of kidnapping, torture and murder/assassination would be, again, engaging in a child's game; see, hear and speak no evil.

But the very real consequence of these U.S. government sanctioned actions is no game, whatsoever. The entirety of the current fanatical Islamic disdain for the U.S. can be traced directly back to U.S. actions in the Middle East, almost exclusively by the CIA. The overthrow of president Mossedeq in Iran in 1953, while installing and supporting the Shah for 26 years in his place, supporting, arming and training an immense army in Afghanistan against the invading Soviets throughout the 80's, and actively supporting Saddam Hussein, (for the duration of his usefulness), are prime examples, yet far from a complete picture. Significant U.S. financial support and seemingly blind endorsement of Israeli policies and actions against its Arab neighbors will continue to be a major factor in any relations between the U.S. and the Muslim world, forever.

Beginning with the seizure of American hostages, (now admitted to have been CIA operatives for the U.S. embassy), in Iran in 1979 to the U.S. embassy bombings in Tanzania and Zaire, the bombing of the USS Cole and right up to the attacks of 911, to those unable, (or unwilling), to connect the dots, U.S. actions will continue to confound the hopeful and inflame hatreds on all sides.

District Of Columbia, USA
November 9, 2007

Sarah in Washington, DC writes:

I am a Foreign Service officer. I work hard. I have served in hardship assignments. I love my country. I don't think I am elitist or whiny. I believe that most people in the U.S. do not really know what the Foreign Service does or how. Their ideas regarding the work and makeup of our small service come mainly from media: movies, television series and occasional news coverage. I have never seen in the media (think The Game, JAG, etc.) a realistic portrayal of an Embassy or of the Foreign Service. We are a mixed bag like any other organization.

I fundamentally disagree with U.S. policy in Iraq. Despite that disagreement, I volunteered two years ago for TDY in Baghdad and was there for slightly over two months. I left the Green Zone when doing my job required it and did what I thought was needed as long as I was there. I would have stayed longer if needed.

I am on the list to go to Iraq now. I continue to disagree with U.S. policy, but if chosen, I will go.

That said, it is clear to me that an officer who disagrees fundamentally with a policy he/she is required to support professionally will experience a higher level of stress and will be more likely to suffer PTSD than others around them. I recognize that not all of the people who refuse to go to Iraq are whining cowards or effete elitists. Some of them have honest disagreements with our policies and goals there. I believe they deserve respect for taking a stand against assignment to Iraq. I don't know if there are complaining shirkers among the group, but I know from communicating with many other prime candidates that many have sincere doubts about the value and ultimate chances of success of American policy in Iraq.

District Of Columbia, USA
November 9, 2007

Robert in Washington, DC writes:

@ Michael in West Virginia -- Michael, you are entitled to your point of view, but should understand that it is offensive and insulting to most of us in the Foreign Service who have seen first-hand how the day-to-day practice of U.S. foreign policy acts in defense of freedom around the world. Sometimes defending freedom requires force, in either the Cold-War historical context of some of the examples you cited, or in the current context where we are facing terrorist organizations whose members would not think twice before committing acts of mass murder in our or our allies' cities.

So, you can "blame America first" or come to understand that the United States has world-wide responsibilities and does not shy away from facing up to those responsibilities. One under-publicized example is that we contribute half, yes half, of the worldwide amount of funding to AIDS prevention and treatment. But to test my assertion in a more general sense, ask almost any leader in the civilized world who they would call first in a crisis, and in almost every case it would be the USA--our President, our Secretary of State, or our Embassy in their country. A good recent example was the Asian Tsunami a few years ago. The fastest and most effective delivery of aid was by the U.S. (and Australian) military. I could go on and on, but the basic point is that the view of the world from a U.S. diplomat’s point of view is usually one of shouldering responsibility--preferably with allies, but sometimes doing what's necessary first and waiting for allies to catch up. I don't think you'd find much disagreement from among my colleagues no matter what their political leaning.

New York, USA
November 10, 2007

Ronald in New York writes:

Dear Mr. McCormack:

Pakistan? Let's admit we have spent billions in a failed effort to buy Osama's capture. Let's admit that we have failed to engineer a behind-the-scenes coalition Musharraf-Bhutto government. Let's admit that President Bush, the self-proclaimed "War President", will fail to convince Musharraf to take off his military uniform. Let's admit that we have failed to take advantage of the counter-narcotics and AIDS opportunities and challenges facing the people of .

Afghanistan? Why do we accept narco-traffickers in theKabul parliament. How do we support Taliban warlords in the Karzai government? Why are we pushing for chemical spraying of the opium crops in Helmand; when we know the enviro-health crisis this will cause?

Myanmar? Why do we still call it Burma?

North Korea? Why do we release seized bank funds?

Saudi Arabia? Why do we ignore their role in 9/11?

Iran? Why didn't we help with their drug problems in the

1990's? Why are we targeting Natanz?

Russia? Why did we punish them post-cold-war?

Iraq?:Why did we attack the country and not the leader?

China? Why do we allow dangerous products into U.S?

Please respond.

Florida, USA
November 10, 2007

Jose in Florida writes:

Not only the United Nations, but all of us on earth are responsible for overpopulating the planet and as we do it, destroying fauna and flora, exhausting all the mineral resources, polluting the seas and rivers and risking the death of millions by hunger and disease.

Of course we have to take care of the sick, shelter the homeless and feed the hungry, but that is only trying to cure a sickness by taking care of the symptoms and totally forgetting the root, the cause of what is causing every problem we have, including of course, violence, crime and ignorance.

The United Nations must lead, before it is too late, a world wide campaign to control the overpopulation of the globe, creating in first place a conscience of what we are all doing to the planet by overpopulating it.

The remedy is not through legislation and law enforcement like it was tried in China: this has to be voluntary and free, it has to come from the realization that we are destroying our planet earth.

Please understand this before it is too late, the food and energy supplies in every area of the world will last only for hours if any disaster, natural or man made, strikes. And then what millions or billions of hungry and desperate people do? Kill each other? Eat each other?

We must understand that the main and only problem that we really have in the world is overpopulation.

The main direction of all UN efforts must be directed to control it or... else.

Michael M.
West Virginia, USA
November 10, 2007

Michael in West Virginia writes:

@ Robert in Washington, DC -- I certainly appreciate your response and I value the opinion of any learned, experienced student of history. And you, too, are entitled to your opinion, although lacking broad historical foundation. I have always placed a high value on the truth, regardless of the smell, especially about the truly significant matters. And hard, verifiable results of U.S. government actions thoroughly trump the glorious hype and fluff carefully crafted for an apathetic, gullible, uninformed U.S. public, further poisoning cultural mythology. In the complex arena of relations between nations, a sanitized, redacted version of events and carefully manufactured motives are always portrayed by the victorious, for consumption of the masses. The complacent U.S. media has been, is, and will continue to be a particularly powerful tool in any well-planned, bait-and-switch venture by key, powerful U.S. officials with a desire to exert U.S. military power. Hidden, often dark agendas at the forefront are always revealed, but only after time, e.g.: the Spanish American War, WWI, WWII, the Korean "military action", and the Vietnam "conflict".

The "Pentagon Papers" reveal the level of deceit employed in order to militarily involve the U.S. in Vietnam. The "Downing Street Papers" give compelling insight into the grand agenda shared by Britain and the United States in their designs for the Middle East in its entirety, beginning with Iraq.

If you are of the impression that Saddam Hussein blatantly and suddenly invaded Kuwait in 1990, against the objections of the US, and that no broader, secretive U.S. agenda was being fulfilled, I'm sorry, but you would be mistaken.
Likewise, if you are of the impression that post 911, key U.S. officials did not carefully contrive a campaign of fraudulent allegations based largely on fear and vengeance, and repeatedly assault the American mind in order to occupy Iraq in furtherance of empire and oil, you would also be mistaken. Of particular interest is that the key "benchmark" that is required by the U.S. from Iraq, is that the Iraqi nation sign over the rights to eighty seven percent of it's oil capacity for 30 years, largely to the U.S. oil giants.

To echo the central point that I made in my last posting, any debate of "U.S. foreign policy" or "U.S. diplomacy", sans the recognition of powerful, well hidden and very effective U.S. black-ops that actually achieve the results and fulfill U.S. objectives, often with stunning intimidation, violence and brutality, is to engage in merely a polite discussion. But a discussion framed in utter banality. And under the often vague, all encompassing umbrella of "strategic interests" the CIA and with its various, well funded and extensive black-ops tentacles at it's disposal have accomplished in secret, what the U.S. Diplomatic Corps can not.

The fact remains, the crux of my assertions dealt with the extensive body of evidence by which the U.S. government asserts it's will on those nations not able to defend against such influence, in the quest of U.S. interests. Your seeming defense of these U.S. actions was your assertion that the U.S. displays benevolence and compassion in the event of natural disasters. As a nation, we have. And do. Yet by comparison, these U.S. aide programs are superficial by any sensible comparison to the underhanded, and are largely intended for public consumption and for PR purposes on the world stage.

And to claim a U.S. desire to promote freedom and democracy worldwide, implying a desire to support independence is clearly contradicted by a myriad of practical results. "Baby Doc" Duvalier in Haiti, Batista in Cuba, Branco in Brazil, Botha in South Africa, Ngo Dihn Diem in Vietnam, Marcos in the Philippines, Martinez in El Salvador, Papadopoulos in Greece, The Shah of Iran, Pinochet in Chile and Franco in Spain are but several examples of dictators, all openly supported and often equipped by the United States government.

And if you choose to label my post as "blame America first" in nature, could it be that the myriad of examples that I cite are founded on sound, un sanitized reality?
In closing, it might be very telling, in that the U.S. congress took it upon itself in 1976, to legally forbid the CIA, in particular, to 'cease and desist in the assassinations of foreign leaders and officials in pursuit of political or military agendas'.
Interestingly, and noticeably absent from the directive, were terms and actions to include, subterfuge, sabotage, kidnapping, torture, use of propaganda, political destabilization, assembling, training, arming and motivating rebel forces, various support mechanisms for recognized dictators and political overthrow on foreign soil.

We Americans have quite a way with words.

District Of Columbia, USA
November 11, 2007

Peter in Washington, DC writes:

I've been bidding on Iraq positions for over a year. I'm also the only bidder for the past six months on my old position, but the only thing I get from HR is silence. Go figure. If I was fluent in Arabic or Chinese I would probably be assigned to Greenland, but that's another story. I'll gladly do an out of cone excursion tour and take the slot of anyone that is directed to go and doesn't want to.

BTW - Duty on a PRT or at a REO may be somewhat austere, but life at The Palace in Baghdad is pretty good for a "War Zone". 4 Hots-and-a-Cot; living in an air-conditioned trailer with Internet and cable TV; access to a huge swimming pool and a great gym; a movie theatre and a PX, etc. OK, OK. I know, it's not perfect. They closed down the Lock & Load; KBR overcooks the crab legs and burns the steaks on Sunday (no I'm not joking), and the Baskin & Robbins ice cream is too soft in the DFAC, but tell that to a Marine or Soldier eating MREs everyday. Your odds of getting hit by a runaway truck coming down the hill in Rosslyn are better than being hit by a rocket or mortar in the Green Zone. It's not the military. Quit whining ... or quit.

Illinois, USA
November 12, 2007

Alma in Illinois writes:

Can you do something about the white print on black background? I run out of "eyes" trying to read this blog, and I would like to read it.


Dominican Republic
November 13, 2007

Rex in Dominican Republic writes:

I'm eager to read your blog, but for the life of me, I can't seem to separate the tiny white letters from their inky black matrix. The "comments" against a charcoal background are more legible, but just barely. I suggest a larger or bolder font if you intend the text to emerge from darkness.

November 13, 2007

Steve in Peru writes:

I agree that reading on black background is very tiresome. Please find more user friendly color. Thanks.

New York, USA
November 13, 2007

Ronald in New York writes:

Dear Mr. McCormack:

Good morning!...I agree with all bloggers who request changing to black ink on a white background....this white on black is killer on the eyes....also, please bring back the USIA.

Thank you.

California, USA
November 15, 2007

Dollie in California writes:

I agree with the color complaints.

New York, USA
November 17, 2007

Ronald in New York writes:

What should U.S do.......?

1- Stop creating these global nightmares by picking autocratic-militaristic-undemocratic-bombastic-lesser-than-two-evil-surrogates.
2- Stop pouring more gasoline on the fire when our despotic surrogate dictators behave in ways we have been paying them to behave in.
3- Stop paying to prop them up and paying to take them down. Just stop throwing billions at a bad investment.
4- Stop asking what U.S. should do, when you know exactly what U.S. should be doing; and have already done.
5- Start dealing with the real problems in the former Soviet states: Education, Health, Human Security, Narcotics, Arms, Nuclear, and human-trafficking.
6- Start admitting that the chaos in Pakistan is a reaction to our missteps in that country.

( P.S.: Thanks for the black ink on white paper!)

J.Michael H.
November 17, 2007

Michael in Russia writes:

While the site design is elegant, I agree with the people who say that reading white on black in small font size is tiring.

Can anyone tell me where to find a list of hardship posts?

North Carolina, USA
November 17, 2007

Dana in North Carolina writes:

I'm going through the FSO application process and am very curious as to some of the initial assignments/posts I might be offered if I succeed in the application process. How grueling is the oral review? Any other advice would be helpful and I'd really love to hear some stories of your "first post as an FSO" ... the website's job descriptions are OK, but I'm guessing they're a little whitewashed.


Oregon, USA
November 17, 2007

Laura in Oregon writes:

Title of security briefing paper presented to Condi Rice on August 6, 2001:

"Bin Laden Determined to Strike In U.S"

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Andre O.
May 5, 2008

Andre in Jerusalem writes:

I've noted the arrival of this blog with interest. Would you be able to answer a question about how we got here? I think the idea is great, but the obstacles in the way (convincing the rest of the organization to support the effort) must also have been impressive. I'm particularly please by the copyright notice which allows others to use your information... it's something many official blogs are reluctant to do.

My own site is about combatting racism online (as it relates to the Middle East conflict). I find there is just so much anti-American and Anti-Israel content online and hardly anyone responding. I do hope your blog (as it develops) will comment on some of these issues affecting the blogosphere and perhaps give us all a little good news from time to time that we can (thanks to your copyright policy) share with others.

All the best with this endeavor.

May 5, 2008

Raz in Israel writes:

Let's be realistic, and apply a clear, unbiased grasp of un sanitized U.S. history. The term "U.S. Diplomacy", without fail, is the euphemism for the public's perception that the U.S. is a civilized country, valuing human rights, self-determinism and democracy. The reality is, and history clearly and repeatedly reveals, that the U.S. values none of these in actual practice. The true way that the U.S. exerts its influence on other nations is through the well-funded, covert efforts of our CIA and the various black-ops tentacles at its disposal. Thwarting any seeds of democratic reform, (1) carrying out vigorous. propaganda campaigns,(2) the crushing of labor unions,(3) and overthrowing legitimate governments, (4), the CIA is the epitome of secretive, under-handed government power, applied often with stunning brutality, free of effective oversight and far from the knowledge of the U.S. public. In pursuit of U.S. economic and strategic interests for 60 years, worldwide, (once the hype, hyperbole and propaganda is stripped away), the U.S. is clearly and demonstrably the leading terrorist nation in the world. Patriotism is a grand tool protecting a house of cards based on a grand lie. Indifference, ignorance, media control and false pride protect the perpetrators.
And most importantly, if you don't, (or refuse to), connect the myriad of past U.S. covert actions, particularly in the Middle East, directly with the attacks of 911, you are among the immense population of 'ideal Americans' carefully groomed and most prized by your government.

A good start on a blog. As for my feedback:

-The U.S. has a diversity of citizens. Foreign Service employees, who are very hardworking and motivated, do not necessarily reflect that diversity. Please do more to hire FS candidates with cross cultural communication skills and who have actually lived in those countries for some time. Focus on outreach to communities in the U.S. that have the background and the skills to articulate American ideals and perspectives.

-Work with the UN to ensure they have more accountability at all levels of their organization.

November 19, 2007

Iatragenic Nukes.....

OK....please tell me that you are ahead of the curve on loose-nukes from the Russia, Afghan, Pakistan (FSU) routes.

Since 1994, the specter of a nuclear suitcase bomb has been growing. Now, with the destabilization of Pakistan, and the confluence of AQI, Drug and Arms gangs, and other criminal factions, we need to be especially pro-active.

It seems too clear that the more anti-nuke pressure we put on bad actors and criminal-regimes, the greater the chance of a loose-nuke or small atom bomb. Against the backdrop of the recent GAO report on the TSA failures to intercept bomb components, I'd say we were well on the way to a mega-9/11. Where's the intelligence, and what's being done?

Daniel S.
November 19, 2007

[NOTE: This commment was moved from the entry: "What It's Like To Be Secretary Rice's Chef on Overseas Missions.]

Yonaton in U.S.A. writes:

Dear Sean,

What will it be like when Rice is shown to be 100% wrong?

She mistakenly calls Hamas a "resistance" when they themselves admit they are terrorists. They send dozens of rockets a day into civilian areas. They are evil. Why does she just does NOT 'get it'?

And Fattah is just as bad, because they too want to destroy Israel, and then the West; and they attack Israelis and kill Americans, just like Hamas. They do NOT want peace, nor do they want reconciliation. They want Islamic Domination of Israel, and then the World.

It was the "Palestinian" Arabs (when Arafat's Fatah was in charge) who gave us airline hijacking, and suicide bombers. If not for them, 9/11 would not have been possible. How can she, and Mr. Bush, take themselves seriously when they rightfully fight terrorists everywhere else, but support the mother of all terrorist entities at the expense of not only our allies, but ourselves?

It boggles the mind!

Also, I've heard that Ms. Rice claims that most Israelis support her foolish ideas. But then I read that quite a few more Israelis oppose them.

Is she really that out of touch with reality? Does she think that just by telling people what she wants to be true that it will be? What kind of a twilight zone is she living in?

She wants Israel to give up the "West Bank" which is really Judea (named for the tribe of Judah) and Samaria, which is the heart of the heart of Biblical Israel. The so-called "Palestinians" have NOTHING to do with any of the land of Israel, let alone our heartland! And she claims to "know her Bible?!" Oh, please!

If I were assigned to be Ms. Rice's "Chief Of Overseas Missions" I would not only respectfully decline to serve, because there WILL come a time, and soon, that Ms. Rice's policies will be shown to be utter folly, not only for Israel, but for the United States. But then I would turn and run from her as fast as my feet could carry me, because if she keeps this up, she is headed for a fall of Biblical proportions.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad tiding, but "facts is facts."

G-d help us all!

Michael M.
West Virginia, USA
November 22, 2007

Michael in West Virginia writes:

In response to Yonaton:

I would invite, even challenge you, (or anyone else for that matter), to suggest any logical and effective method by which a Lebanese or Palestinian voice would be heard, on any matter of substance, regarding the heavy handed, often brutal way that they are treated by vastly more powerful and influential governments. And any action by Israel is a default action by the United States. To overlook or ignore this central concept is to miss the whole of the matter and would result in a discussion of remarkable banality. Choose carefully the aspects of history that support your case, ignore significant facts and ugly truths and all can be well with your reasoning.

Validate middle eastern history through only the Jewish religious texts and it's so simple that the average 6th grader will validate your assertion. A broader, meaningful view will make it more complex.

However, I find that most with hardened mindsets about such matters don't seek the truth. They seek only those parts of the larger puzzle to support a personal viewpoint. With an often amazing ability to overlook and even ignore significant aspects of the unsanitized historic record. The uncomfortable truths - from both sides.

Your claim that "they" want to destroy Israel and the West, and that they do not want peace is utterly myopic and simplistic. When a population is consistently treated as badly as they have been, expecting that no response will eventually come from extremists is unreasonable. Remember our radicals like Washington, Jefferson and Franklin? Throughout history, humans tend to object, slowly at first, with increasingly violent methods, to being deprived of basic human dignity. For refusing to toil in the fields while their oppressors live a life that they can only envy.

I further invite you to cite one instance of violence by any person or group of the Muslim faith that wasn't in direct response to overt, covert or draconian actions by Israel or the West by default. What Muslim person, group or government ever threatened the life or property of any American, without first being the victim of violence in a quest for Islamic oil or land?

What person or persons of the Islamic faith ever influenced an American election? Overthrew an American administration/government? Imposed sanctions against the American population resulting in hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, most of which were women, children and infants? Toppled a duly elected leadership to install and actively support a brutal dictator for decades?

If truth is an important matter to you, that would begin with a cogent, sensible grasp of the events leading to this point in history.

Start with the sixty year history of the United States CIA. Regarding Saddam Hussein, the once valued and important U.S. ally, educate yourself as to the when, how and why he became not in US interests any longer. Remember WMD? Remember the alleged Iraq/al Qaeda connection? Remember the nuclear allegations, complete with images pounded into the American brain about mushroom clouds over American cities?

Did you believe the claims then? Do you still?

New York, USA
November 28, 2007

Nosh in New York writes:

Just signed on.

Dominican Republic
December 7, 2007

Matt in Dominican Republic writes:

"Harty's Downfall"??

I think not. Those of us who have had the privilege of knowing and working with Assistant Secretary Maura Harty (even on the periphery, like myself) know better than to listen to the ravings of Joel Mowbray. Let's face it; there are those who face complex and difficult issues and there are those who write about it. Even lower down the food chain are those who criticize. Rather easy work if you can get it.

Let's put that editorial hack on the back burner for a moment, if you will oblige me. I challenge anyone to face down the huge, almost impossibly contradictory Foreign Policy goals (Secure Doors/Open Borders? WHTI?) and still be standing at the end of the day. Maura Harty did it, and did it very well. No, it wasn't easy and not everything worked the way it should. When does it ever? What is the sign of her leadership and perseverance is that the Bureau of Consular Affairs has come out on the others side alive and well. I had the great pleasure of becoming a regular correspondent of Mary Ryan's after her retirement and never, never heard her utter a disparaging word about the circumstances of her departure. She was a lady, and a class act at that. Maura Harty is cut from exactly the same clothe. How fortunate for us that when circumstances demanded strong, creative leadership after 9/11 we had Mary Ryan and Maura Harty. How fortunate for America.

Mr. Mowbray attacked Maura and Mary Ryan; two people for whom I personally owe a tremendous debt. These were my mentors and their example of leadership, and to an even great degree, their humanity, are things I will take with me through my career as a Foreign Service Officer. In circumstances when I've been faced with a difficult decision I would often ask myself "What would Mary do?" or "Which answer would Maura think is best?" In both cases I have in the past been able to write them an e-mail and always, without fail, receive a reply. That's the kind of family Consular Affairs has always been, thanks to our leaders. Now that Mary has passed and Maura is leaving us, I hope Mr. Mowbray doesn't spend too much time gloating over his venomous little editorials. For me, and for many others in Washington and around the world, Mary and Maura will continue to be an inspiration and guide our decisions.

So take THAT Mr. Mowbray.

December 9, 2007

Morton in Canada writes:

In "The Times of Israel", he wrote his famous "Letter to the World from Jerusalem":
I'm not a creature from another planet. Like yourselves, I'm of flesh & blood. I'm a citizen of my city, a part of my people.

Not a diplomat,I don't have to mince words,please or persuade you. I owe you nothing. You didn't build this city,live in it, defend it when they came to destroy it. We'll be damned if we'll let you take it away.

Jerusalem existed before New York. When Berlin, Moscow, London,& Paris were miasmal forest& swamp,here was a thriving Jewish community. It gave the world what you nations rejected ever since you established yourselves- a humane moral code.

Here the prophets walked, their words flashed like forked lightning. Here a people who wanted only to be left alone, fought off heathen would-be conquerors, bled& died on the battlements, hurled themselves into flames of their burning Temple rather than surrender& when finally overwhelmed by numbers& led away into captivity, swore that before they forgot Jerusalem, they would see their tongues cleave to their palates, their right arms wither.

For two pain-filled millennia, while we were your unwelcome guests, we prayed daily to return to this city.3 times a day we petitioned the Almighty: "Gather us from the4 corners of the world, bring us upright to our land, return in mercy to Jerusalem, Thy city, & swell in it as Thou promised." Every Yom Kippur& Passover, we fervently voiced the hope that our next year would be in Jerusalem.

Your inquisitions, pogroms, expulsions, ghettos into which you jammed us,forced baptisms, quota systems,genteel anti-Semitism,& the final unspeakable horror, the holocaust (& your terrifying disinterest in it) have not broken us. They may have sapped what little moral strength you still possessed, but they forged us into steel. Do you think you can break us now after all we've been through? Do you really believe that after Dachau & Auschwitz we're frightened by your threats of blockades& sanctions? We have been to Hell and back- a Hell of your making. What more could you possibly have in your arsenal that could scare us?

I have watched this city bombarded twice by nations calling themselves civilized. In 1948, while you looked on apathetically, I saw women & children blown to smithereens, after we agreed to your request to internationalize the city. It was a deadly combination that did the job- British officers, Arab gunners, and American-made cannon.& the savage sacking of the Old City-the willful slaughter, the wanton destruction of every synagogue and religious school, desecration of Jewish cemeteries, sale by a ghoulish government of tombstones for building materials, for poultry runs, army camps, latrines.

& you never said a word.

You never breathed the slightest protest when the Jordanians shut off the holiest of our places, the Western Wall, in violation of the pledges they had made after the war- a war they waged, against the decision of the UN. Not a murmur came from you whenever the legionnaires casually opened fire upon our citizens from behind the walls.

Your hearts bled when Berlin came under siege. You airlifted "to save the gallant Berliners". But you didn't send one ounce of food when Jews starved in besieged Jerusalem. You thundered against the wall the East Germans ran through the middle of the German capital- but not a peep out of you about the wall that tore through the heart of Jerusalem.

& when that same thing happened 20 years later,& the Arabs unleashed a savage, unprovoked bombardment of the Holy City again, did any of you do anything?

The only time you came to life was when the city was at last reunited. Then you wrung your hands & spoke loftily of "justice"& need for "Christian" quality of turning the other cheek.

The truth - you would've preferred the city be destroyed rather than have it governed by Jews. No matter how diplomatically you phrase it, the age old prejudices seep out of every word.

If our return to the city has tied your theology in knots, perhaps you'd better reexamine your catechisms. After what we have been through, we're not passively going to accommodate ourselves to the twisted idea that we are to suffer eternal homelessness until we accept your savior.

For the first time since the year 70, there is religious freedom for all in Jerusalem. For the first time since the Romans put a torch to the Temple, everyone has equal rights (You prefer to have some more equal than others.) We loathe the sword- but it was you who forced us to take it up. We crave peace, but we are not going back to the peace of 1948 as you would like us to.

We're home. It's a lovely sound for a nation you willed to wander the face of the globe. We're not leaving. We're redeeming the pledge made by our forefathers: Jerusalem is being rebuilt. "Next year"& years after,until the end of time- "in Jerusalem"!

Florida, USA
December 12, 2007

Hugh in Russia writes:

I have a suggestion with respect to the recent cancellation by China of U.S. Navy visits to Hong Kong. Since this is not working out with the Chinese, I suggest that we shift the proposed next quarter's visits to Kaohsiung. Since all parties recognize that there is only one China, this will keep the visits in China, and will allow our sailors to see a different part of the country. It will also put a significant infusion of cash into Taiwan and display our even-handed interest in all of China.

I suggest that EAP discuss it with Defense and then broach the topic at our next meetings with China.

December 13, 2007

Steve in Iraq writes:

For those of you contemplating an assignment in Iraq who are looking for both a challenging and rewarding experience that offers the opportunity to explore Iraq through electrical grids, sewer systems, farmers fields, homes of tribal leaders, political awakening, fledgling governments and a host of other activities you may never have dreamed of becoming involved with, then the ePRT may be the job for you. It is a job opportunity that encourages flexibility, creative thinking and will certainly tickle your imagination. All questions welcome!

Florida, USA
December 24, 2007

Rick in Florida writes:

Dear Beloved Honorable Godly Intelligent Lovely Miss United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. What I want to know is why is the media not saying that we are winning in Iraq and Afghanistan and that we have captured the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi and Afghan People, Because our enemy flees with great fear! and there needs to be credit where credit is due. I ask you Miss Rice to brag boast and show off, because this will help the Republican party and give the President the honor and respect he deserves and plus it will make you look great, which you already are.

Dipnote Comment:This entry was originally posted under the entry "Behind the Scenes: Italian President Visits U.S."

United States
December 20, 2007

Jerris in U.S.A. writes:

What does the State Department have to say about the alleged rape of that woman by the State Department employee recently conveniently reassigned to Washington? How long will the Department of State keep it under the rug? More ethical guidance from the White House?

Dipnote Comment: This comment was origionally posted under the entry "Is the U.S. Doing Enough to Protect Consumers From Potentially Harmful Imported Products?"

United States
December 24, 2007

James in U.S.A. writes:

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays,

What is the State Department going to do if Israel attacks Iran possibly manifesting in the next world war as a result (please access the following URLs)?:



Looks like Senator Barack Obama is beholden to the Israel first crowd as well based on his response to the recently released Mearsheimer/Walt book (www.israellobbybook.com)as the beginning of the following piece from the American Conservative magazine conveys:

The Lobby Strikes Back:


I would like to know why my comment was never responded to by Tara Foley (via the comments section of the following blog entry URL of hers):


James in U.S.A. writes:

Dear Ms. Foley,

I would like your thoughts on the Mearsheimer and Walt book (http://www.israellobbybook.com) about how the pro-Israel lobby (AIPAC, JINSA, PNAC, AEI) pushed US to attack Iraq and has been doing similar to get US to attack Iran next. Do you think that the US will go to war with Iran sooner rather than later in accordance with such (Scott Ritter also conveyed that AIPAC is pushing for US to attack Iran in his 'Target Iran' book - see the following youtube at your convenience)?:

Israel's influence of US policy & the Israeli lobby:


Even Colin Powell conveyed that the 'JINSA crowd' was/still is in control of the Pentagon (via JINSA/PNAC/AEI associated Dick Cheney whose wife is a fellow up at AEI where PNAC was based as well) for Washington Post correspondent Karen DeYoung's new bio book about him - simply look up 'JINSA/Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs' in the index:

A War for Israel? Colin Powell seems to think so:


Additional about Mearsheimer/Walt via the following URL:


Congresswoman Jane Harman was asked about the Mearsheimer & Walt book during a townhall meeting this past Saturday in West Los Angeles (see the following URL):


Respected intelligence author/writer James Bamford discussed the 'A Clean Break'/war for Israel agenda on pages 261-269/321 (http://tinyurl.com/2wltaw) of his 'A Pretext for War' book (the paperback version of 'A Pretext for War' includes an additional section about the ongoing AIPAC espionage case that has mentioned Secretary Rice and David Satterfield who handles Iraq for the State Department and has been associated with the USS Liberty attack cover-up as well - see http://tinyurl.com/2xtjtz - as the pro-Israel biased US media for the most part is not covering this either). Bamford also wrote the following 'Iran: The Next War' article for Rolling Stone magazine which mentions the AIPAC espionage as well:

Iran: The Next War:


AIPAC and the Neocon (War for Israel) agenda (AIPAC espionage case mentioned):


The Mearsheimer and Walt book (look up 'CBS News' in the index) and the Bamford 'A Pretext for War' book both convey that US support for Israel's brutal oppression of the Palestinians was a major motivation for the tragic attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993 and on 9/11 (look up 'Israel as a terrorist motivation' in the index of 'A Pretext for War'). The additional section about the AIPAC espionage in the paperback version of 'A Pretext for War' mentions Stephen Green (look his name up in the index) who was a consultant for the FBI because of the various books and articles that he has written to include the following 'Serving Two Flags' piece:

'Serving Two Flags':


Colin Powell's former assistant (Lawrence Wilkerson) in the US Army and at the State Department was mentioned in the latest counterpunch.org article by the retired CIA couple (Kathy and Bill Christison):

The Teflon Alliance with Israel (by Kathy and Bill Christison):


Dipnote Comment:This comment was originally posted under the entry "Thanks for a Great Start in '07, Here's to '08."

California, USA
December 28, 2007

Tristan in California writes:

What is the State Department's next diplomatic move in Pakistan in the wake of Bhutto's assassination?

Are you doing to push for the elections to go ahead as scheduled?

Does the White House have any relationship with Sharif and/or his party?

Dipnote Bloggers: @ Tristan in California -- We will do our best to provide you specific answers to your questions soon. In the meantime, you might find these links useful:·Assassination of Benazir Bhutto·Remarks After Signing Condolences Book for Benazir Bhutto·Daily Press Briefing



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