Photo of the Week: Recognizing Those Who Serve

Posted by Aaron C. Bruce
June 29, 2012
Deputy Secretary Nides Recognizes Service of FSOs

This week's "Photo of the Week" shows Deputy Secretary of State Thomas R. Nides presenting an Expeditionary Diplomacy Award to Foreign Service Officer Barbara Ann Bootes. Bootes and others were honored for their service in Afghanistan and Iraq. In recognition of Bootes and others, Deputy Secretary Nides said, "The work you've done in the Frontline States has forever changed the way we tackle new foreign policy challenges."

Deputy Secretary Nides continued in his remarks, saying, "The Secretary's vision of civilian power depends on our partners across the entire U.S. government. So, we recognize the service of...colleagues at USAID, Commerce, Agriculture, Justice, and other federal agencies who served alongside you in Afghanistan and Iraq. Your successes and your frustrations both give us real-life lessons that will improve future missions. Second, you set a new standard for engaging communities and advancing people-to-people diplomacy. You served your country in isolated places, often in dangerous circumstances, with few physical comforts. You reached people in places who have rarely seen Americans. You were true partners with Iraqi and Afghan citizens. You helped them reconstruct and reconnect with the great traditions and achievements of their societies."

In his conclusion, Deputy Secretary Nides said, "The Department understands your value, seeks you out, and rewards your contributions. Frankly, your courage helped redefine what it means to work for the Department of State. It helped you through daily visits to local communities, walking village streets, taking long convoy rides home, living under constant threat of deadly attack. And it impressed all of us. You did not just heed the call for expeditionary diplomacy. You led the charge. And, we couldn't be prouder."



Brian S.
Colorado, USA
July 5, 2012

Brian in Colorado writes:

In Afghanistan, State Department personnel are not involved in diplomacy. There are no US diplomats in Afghanistan. Bowing down to the god "Interagency," everyone is now an adjunct to kinetic military operations.

Here's an insight into what a diplomat in Afghanistan might do:
she or he would persuade the President to release some of the Taliban being tortured at Guantanamo, without preconditions.
This would in turn get the Taliban to agree to negotiations for a peace agreement.
Holbrooke may have been a loose cannon, and generally ignorant of local cultures, but at least he understood the point of diplomacy, which is NOT to bow down to the military.

If the War against the Afghan people still has a discernible purpose, and if someone can figure out the end state we want to achieve, it will take diplomacy to get there.
Current failures suggest that the DOS does not have any organic (internal) diplomacy capability. I'm free next month, if you'd like me to end the war.


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