Men and Women for Others

Posted by Tara Foley
March 11, 2008
University of Chicago

Tara Foley serves as a Foreign Affairs Officer in the State Department's Office of WMD and Terrorism.

Hello Dipnote readers. It's been awhile. In the past few weeks, I've been fortunate enough to visit both of my alma maters, Boston College and the University of Chicago, to speak to students there about my work for the Department. At BC, I participated in a "Women in Diplomacy Panel," and at the U of C, a career panel for students in the Committee on International Relations masters degree program. Since several Dipnote readers have asked about my background, how I found my place with the Department, and why I choose to do what I do, I thought this might be a good time to share some of my history with you. Being invited to speak at my alma maters was an honor. It was inspiring to talk with students who are so passionate about and invested in their work. It also provided me the opportunity to look back on the past few years on my life, and think about how I got here, musing about my life on Dipnote (who would've thought?). So, as Lewis Carroll says, let's begin at the beginning...

Tuesday, September 11th, 2001 was something like my fourth day of college. That's not the whole story, but it is an important piece of it. I was sitting in a Fundamentals of Politics class that morning when the planes hit the Twin Towers, completely unaware of what was going on outside of our classroom. Later, I watched the events of the morning unfold on TV, and, as many Americans, grappled with so many questions, layered over feelings of confusion and loss. As a newly independent young adult, out in the world on my own for the first time, that day, in many ways, framed the way that I looked at the world, both as an individual and as a student of political science. It caused me to look at myself, and my country, in the larger context of the world, to ask questions, and to apply myself to some of the challenges we face as a nation. I started studying Arabic, and I added a Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies minor to my Political Science major.

I was fortunate that BC, a Jesuit Catholic school, is an institution that encourages students to think about their role in the larger world. One of the school's mottos reads, "Men and women for others," and I can't think of a better way to describe my path from Chestnut Hill to Washington . My education was rooted in the values of community and public service. We were constantly encouraged to think about our place in the community – whether the immediate group of friends and family, our nation, or our global society. My experiences at Boston College demanded that I think about my role in my wider communities, what I had to offer, and how I could contribute.

Throughout my time as a student, I took every opportunity to explore new ideas and interests – study abroad in Morocco and the UK, picking up a new language, a summer internship here at the State Department, community service in Boston, and cultural immersion programs in Nicaragua and Kingston, Jamaica. Experiences like these prepared me, as well as one can be prepared, for the work I do today. After BC, I went on to receive my Masters degree in International Relations from the University of Chicago . It was, as a professor warned me it would be, "academic boot camp." It was also a wonderful opportunity to continue to ask questions and cultivate my topical expertise. After Chicago , I was offered a Presidential Management Fellowship, a program specifically for people with graduate degrees wishing to enter the federal government. And that, along with the incredible support of family and friends, is how I find myself here, at State, and blogging on Dipnote.

To call myself an American diplomat is one of the greater privileges I've experienced in my life. It truly is such a rewarding career, one that is intellectually stimulating and constantly engaging. The experiences I've outlined here are just one perspective, but I think the lives we live do inform our world view, and help determine how we interact with the larger world. At BC, we were told to consider three questions in life: 1) What do you love? 2) What are you good at? and 3) What does the world need? Where these three answers intersect, we would find our vocation. Here at the State Department, serving my country and working in the wider world of foreign affairs, I believe I've found my answer. I am fortunate for the opportunities I've had, and I'm still learning. I hope that the students I spoke with at BC and at Chicago, as well as interested readers, will consider a career in public service, and join me in the experience.

Comments

Comments

Nobody
|
Pakistan
March 27, 2008

NB in Pakistan writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico -- Speaking very honestly, I didn't understand what was meant when I first read "Wang in Taiwan" posting. I read it again today and still cannot understand, let's call it lack of intelligence on my part. I also couldn't find the word "Pulizer" in the dictionary. Could you kindly help me out Eric. Thanks.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
March 28, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ NB in Pakistan -- NB,

Sorry for the runaround my typographical error caused you.

The Pulitzer Prize, pronounced / PULL-it-sar/ is an American award regarded as the highest national honor in print journalism, literary achievements and musical composition. It is administered by Columbia University in New York City.
(source: Wikpedia)

@ Wang in Taiwan -- Wang in Taiwan writes:

"The world person wants peace the life""The world person" also known as "the global citizen" wants peace the life.

Not some dream... the life.

The statement defines the totality of the human condition in an extremely precise and efficient use of words.

Not unlike poetry.

It speaks to a mindset that is far beyond the nationalistic in perspective.

At least that's how I interpreted what Wang wrote.

Nobody
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Pakistan
March 29, 2008

NB in Pakistan writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico -- Thanks Eric. Now I know about Joseph Pulitzer (1847 - 1911), a U.S. Newspaper Publisher who established the award. Thanks again.
Yes, I did try to think deeply on Wang's seven words and yes, they do say a lot more than my thousand words. Wow!

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
March 29, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Well don't put the cap on the pen just yet NB...(chuckle)...there's the little matter of how to get there from here that's giving folks fits trying to get right.

Some apparently feel that the cure to radical extremism is worse than the disease, or more specificly that the U.S. approach threatens Pakistan's integrity while "trying to save the word", as one politician recently remarked.

While I agree that a paradox exists when it is nessesary to apply force of arms to create peace, I think the fellow missed the boat on US intent. We arn't trying to interfere in internal political dialogue, we are trying to wake folks up and roust them out of a slumber because there's a fire burning in your house that's a danger to Pakistan as much as it is to your neighbors.

Really now, what are friends for?

So when we help put terrorists out of buisiness what happens?

Just ask the little girl in Afghanistan who saw for the first time, a famous picture of the Earth taken from the moon decades ago.

You think she considers herself a global citizen now? You betcha!

So I'll offer a suggestion to those in your country that are attempting to address the issue through dialogue w/ the people in the tribal areas.

Airdrop a hundred thousand photos of "Earthrise" with Wang's words as caption to it, just to see what effect it has on people's thinking there.

How's al quaida going to successfully counter what is self evident? Call it propaganda? Fine, let them try. They will fail just as they have failed across the board to achieve their agenda.

Folks in these remote villages will figure out that they are being invited to participate in the larger picture of existance.

And that may be their most imortant incentive to "awake" and boot al quaida out of their homes.

I may be wrong, but how much will it cost to find out if I'm right?

Less than the cost of two smart bombs I'd guess.

NB
|
Pakistan
March 31, 2008

NB in Pakistan writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico, Mar-29 posting. Your comments do trigger the thinking process. However, you will have to excuse me for a day or two to write in detail because my index finger is sore & I'm finding typing a bit painful if not impossible. Will write soon. Best Regards.

NB
|
Pakistan
April 3, 2008

NB in Pakistan writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico -- Sat Mar 29 posting. My, my, my!!! Eric, this is really touching, especially the sentence about the little girl in Afghanistan as a result of putting the terrorists out of business. But Eric, good man, the question is whether the terrorists are really out of business in Afghanistan? Well, partially, yes. Just yesterday, at the NATO summit conference President Bush was asking for more NATO troops.

I also recall from the blog "Should U.S. engage Hamas in the Middle-east peace process?" that it was U.S. policy not to negotiate with the terrorists. However, the U.S. does negotiate with the FATAH leaders. In my opinion, this is the organization that laid the foundations of the present day terrorism. So, why is the U.S. negotiating with its leaders? The answer is simple.

Some time back the FATAH leaders were persuaded, perhaps by the Saudi rulers and Anwar Sadaat of Egypt, to shun terrorism publicly and adopt the peaceful path of negotiation, which they did. Today, as a result, and due to ceaseless U.S. efforts there has been quite a lot of success towards achieving a peaceful solution.

I believe that the U.S. insistence on shunning terrorism publicly and sincerely following a peaceful path as a pre-requisite to any negotiation is a valid one. With Hamas and Taliban in Afghanistan/Pakistan this approach might perhaps work. However, I have doubts that such an approach will ever work with alqaida.
Perhaps, your idea of dropping leaflets might work towards changing the thinking process of the sympathizers (the tribal elders and the mullahs) both in Afghanistan and Pakistan and with continued efforts in this direction we might have success in isolating the terrorists and eventually cornering them with no escape route.

Eric, good man, I don't even know what a smart bomb is let alone how much it costs. However, I know this much that in Pakistan only the Pakistani government can undertake the task of dropping leaflets using helicopters. Perhaps Ms. Foley could use her good offices to persuade the Pakistani government in this respect.

Best Regards.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
April 8, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ NB in Pakistan -- NB, Who's job is it to put terrorists out of buisiness anyway? The Taleban were not rendered homeless in Afghanistan by U.S. hands, we simply helped the Afghan people lberate themselves.

The Taleban were given the option of fully cooperating with U.S. intent to seek justice upon those responsible for 9/11, and are now reaping the results of having chosen otherwise.

How is it I am forced to wonder, when the U.S. helped the Afghan people gain their freedom from Taleban rule using only some 410 U.S. folks on the ground to coodinate air strikes with the Northern Alliance, why is it that the entire Pakistani military cannot solve it's own internal terrorist threat?

This isn't about negotiation, it's about making realizations, and choices based upon them. So I'll just get to the heart of the problem, and how I see it being resolved, permanently.

Circumstances for jihad:

Mufti Rafi Usmani heads Darul Uloom Karachi, one of Pakistan's most respected religious schools, or madrassas.
(source) URL:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4711003.stm

"Islam does not allow killing of innocent civilians and non-combatants under any circumstances," he said in an interview with the BBC News website.

"To begin with, jihad is not incumbent on all Muslims and a call for jihad can be given only under special circumstances," he said. Mufti Usmani says that even in such circumstances, jihad is obligatory only on as many Muslims as are required to defend the community under attack.

"If Pakistan is attacked but its army is sufficient to deal with the threat, then Pakistani civilians are under no obligation to join jihad," he said.

According to three top scholars interviewed by the BBC News website, jihad can only be called in the following circumstances:

If a Muslim community comes under attack, then jihad becomes an obligation for all Muslims, male and female, in that community

If that particular community feels it cannot fight off attackers on its own, then jihad becomes incumbent on Muslims living in nearby communities

If a Muslim ruler of a country calls for jihad, then it is incumbent upon the Muslims living under that ruler to join the jihad.

---End Excerpt

When one examines this through the eyes of logic, there are a number of things that are revealed.

Terrorists, in their methodology have been killing innocent Muslims, In Iraq, London, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kashmir, USA, (9/11), Kenya, Lebanon, and a host of other nations in many attacks over the years.

These attacks against civilians. ..innocents, regardless of any so-called intended target or purpose, political or otherwise are in direct violation of the Islamic code of conduct of Jihad. (Defined above.)

These attacks have placed Muslim communities at risk, both directly and indirectly, taking innocent life, and causing political unrest within the religion of Islam.

The targeting of Mosques, the division attempted between Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam, as well as the direct threat to the teachings of Islam, also represent a threat to "the community" as a whole.

5.If a Muslim community comes under attack, then jihad becomes an obligation for all Muslims, male and female, in that community

If that particular community feels it cannot fight off attackers on its own, then jihad becomes incumbent on Muslims living in nearby communities

If a Muslim ruler of a country calls for jihad, then it is incumbent upon the Muslims living under that ruler to join the jihad.

6. The community is under attack. Jihad is an obligation.

7. It is self evident that all communities are being attacked, all peoples, all civilization. Jihad becomes incumbent on Muslims living in all communities.

8. Muslim rulers of Afghanistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, and many others have joined the "war on terrorism" the global jihad against terrorists which includes as it's allies, and brothers in arms those nations that are not Muslim, but have significant Muslim populations within their sovereign boundaries.

9. These non-Muslim nations, including the U.S. recognizing the risk to all peoples in their lands including Muslims, have called for solidarity in this fight from all Muslims of true heart and mind.

10. Let their be no hiding place, no sanctuary given, no sponsor of terror, no terrorist left once this jihad is justly called for by all Muslims of true faith, and finished.

NB
|
Pakistan
April 10, 2008

NB in Pakistan writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico -- Apr-08 posting.

As I said in my posting of Apr-02 people like the person you mention in your posting should be educated in what they themselves purport in order to change the thinking of the masses. Please don't blame me personally for all the problems of the world. I wouldn't even hurt a mouse.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
April 11, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ NB in Pakistan -- NB,

My apologies if you somehow got the impression I was blaming you personally for anything. Not the case my friend.

Just as America is not behind all the ills of the world as some folks try to make us out to be, neither are we capable of "saving the world" all by ourselves.

When I consider the difference (by definition) between a terrorist and a freedom fighter, The targeting of civilians, and the methods employed may serve. The philosophy behind our revolution, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, was born from resistance to oppression with "live free, or die." being at the core of it. As Hamid Karzai put it years ago,
"..this is the Afghan jihad, the true jihad, to be free to live in correctness with one another. That jihad lies in one's heart, the struggle to live a correct life, in the eyes of the Creator of all." ( as best I remember the quote).

And it is apparent to me that Islam must meet that internal challenge posed by the terrorist who clokes himself with an honorable religion, and twists its precepts to justify the murder of innocents.

I tried to fill the big hole in the Ayatollah's logic, simply because he seemed to be passing responsibility off to others to provide the solution when it requires a much deeper examination of what is required of the umma to end terrorism by those that claim to practice Islam.

It is a far braver person that walks a path of peace in times of conflict than the one who clings to his weapons in fear and rejection of a better path to their own existence by denying other's right to exist.

Recognizing this, the U.S. works with folks that have made that fundamental realization, for without it there can be no basis for negotiation.

There comes to mind something I read in the Koran once regarding a young man who came to Mohammed to ask his permission to join Jihad.

"Who is more deserving of my honor, my father or my mother he asked.

"Your mother." Mohammed said.

"Who then is most worthy?""Your Mother.""Who then?""Your father, now go home and take care of your mother." Mohammed replied.

I believe NB, that this may represent the basis of a renassance within Islam today if it be taught in the madrassas.

It seems to me that Mohammed had a fair sense of humor, a lot of compassion for the human condition, and was above all, a family man.

Well, that's a Buddhist perspective on the founder of Islam for whatever it may be worth to anyone reading this.

By the way, I've enjoyed our discussions and value your input NB.

I'm no expert, nor diplomaticly articulate. I'm just a house painter. A trade that gives me way too much time to think about things as I'm creating a nicer environment for people to live and work in.

Best Regards,

EJ

NB
|
Pakistan
April 16, 2008

NB in Pakistan writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico -- Apologies not necessary. It must have been one of those bad days for me. Just as I misread Mr.Wang's seven words, I misread your posting too. In fact please accept my apologies.
EJ, any madrassa or school is only just as good as its teachers. Educate 1000 teachers and you will have educated 100,000 people. I don't mean bookish education, I mean education of minds whereby the teachers can bring out law-abiding civilized citizens. This, of course, is a long term jihad but in my opinion a sure recipe for peace that could be enjoyed by our children and great-grand children.

Take care of yourself EJ. Best Regards.

NB
|
Pakistan
April 16, 2008

NB in Pakistan writes:

Dear Ms. Foley:

Can one write to you something that's not to be posted on your blog, decent of course?

Best Regards.

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