Quote: I’m dead, but if you’re reading this, you’re not, so …

“What I don’t want this to be is a chance for me, or anyone else, to be maudlin. I’m dead. That sucks, at least for me and my family and friends. But all the tears in the world aren’t going to bring me back, so I would prefer that people remember the good things about me rather than mourning my loss. (If it turns out a specific number of tears will, in fact, bring me back to life, then by all means, break out the onions.) I had a pretty good life, as I noted above. Sure, all things being equal I would have preferred to have more time, but I have no business complaining with all the good fortune I’ve enjoyed in my life. So if you’re up for that, put on a little 80s music (preferably vintage 1980-1984), grab a Coke and have a drink with me. If you have it, throw ‘Freedom Isn’t Free’ from the Team America soundtrack in; if you can’t laugh at that song, I think you need to lighten up a little. I’m dead, but if you’re reading this, you’re not, so take a moment to enjoy that happy fact.”

Andrew Olmsted

Remembering Andrew Olmsted

From the Rocky Mountain News: Major Andrew Olmsted, who posted a blog since May 2007, was killed in Iraq on Jan. 3, 2008. Olmsted, who had been based at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, began blogging after his unit was sent to Iraq with the mission of helping train the Iraqi Army. A sniper killed Olmsted as he was trying to talk three suspected insurgents into surrendering. A sniper’s bullet also cut down Capt. Thomas J. Casey. They were in Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad.

Major Olmsted also posted at Obsidian Wings. Here is Freedom Isn’t Free to remember Andy Olmsted. Thank you. May you rest in peace.

Can we afford to be the ‘Bank of Afghanistan R Us’ in the next 15 years?

World Map, showing Failed States according to ...Image via Wikipedia

Below is an excerpt from the publication in SSQ authored by: Justin Logan, associate director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute and Christopher Preble, the director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute and author of The Power Problem: How American Military Dominance Makes Us Less Safe, Less Prosperous, and Less Free (Cornell, 2009): 

The American foreign policy establishment has identified a new national security problem. Over the past two decades, foreign-policy scholars and popular writers have developed the ideas that “failed states” present a global security threat, and that accordingly, powerful countries like the United States should “fix” the failed states. However, the conventional wisdom is based on a sea of confusion, poor reasoning, and category errors.
The essence of strategy is effectively balancing ends, ways, and means. Squandering scarce resources on threats that exist primarily in the minds of policymakers is one indication that, as Richard Betts has pointed out, “US policymakers have lost the ability to think clearly about defense policy.”79 The entire concept of state failure is flawed. The countries that appear on the various lists of failed states reveal that state failure almost never produces meaningful threats to US national security. Further, attempting to remedy state failure—that is, embarking on an ambitious project of nation or state building—would be extremely costly and of dubious utility. Given these connected realities, policymakers would be wise to cast off the entire concept of state failure and to evaluate potential threats to US national security with a much more critical eye.

Continue reading Washington’s Newest Bogeyman: Debunking the Fear of Failed States here from the Strategic Studies Quarterly.

Also read the Failed States Index. Note that the US is at war in #6 Iraq and #7 Afghanistan and has poured gazillions of dollars to another country occupying the #10 spot, Pakistan.   But there are other places “more failed” than where we have boots and money trees on the ground — Somalia, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Chad and the DAR, the top five countries in last year’s list. The 2009 list also includes Yemen as #18, Colombia as #41, China as #57 but does not include Mexico.  Seriously.

Table from Foreign Policy’s Failed State Index – view in full here.

I watch with grave concern as I see the news of climbing military and civilian deaths in Afghanistan and with unease as money continues to pour like honey into Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.  In a few days, on June 7, this war will complete its 104th month in Afghanistan.  It is now America’s longest war. Longer than Vietnam.  According to iCasualties, the military deaths as of  May 28 has claimed 1,007 souls. So many more wounded, so many more suffering the solitary stalker inside their heads. And all so very young it breaks your heart. 

Representative Schakowsky recently noted that “as of 10:06 on Sunday, May 30th, we will have spent $1 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan” and asked, “What have we bought for $1 trillion? Are we safer? As our troops and treasure are still locked down in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorists are training, recruiting and organizing in Somalia, Yemen and dozens of other places around the globe.”

The National Priorities Project which runs the cost of war counter in real time (site may still be down due to spike in traffic) has released a list of what you can get with $1 trillion (I had to count the zeros in a trillion – that’s 1 and twelve zeros):

Federal Funding For Higher Education — $1 trillion would give the maximum Pell Grant award ($5,500) to all 19 million U.S. college and university students for the next 9 years.

For $1 trillion, you could provide:
294,734,961 people with health care for one year, or
21,598,789 public safety officers for one year, or
17,149,392 music and arts teachers for one year, or
7,779,092 affordable housing units, or
440,762,472 children with health care for one year, or
137,233,969 head start places for children for one year, or
16,427,497 elementary school teachers for one year, or
1,035,282,468 homes with renewable electricity for one year
Taxpayers in the Borough of Brooklyn, New York will pay $9 billion for total Iraq and Afghanistan war spending since 2001. That’s enough to supply renewable electricity to every household in Brooklyn for 19 years.

Some food for thought and mental indigestion.

As a taxpayer who owes $118,152.00 as part of the US national debt, and whose minor child already carry a $42,098 share of the national debt,  I have some questions rattling in my brain: 

How many more times can we still swipe our national credit card before it is finally declined?

With soaring deficits and problems right on our doorsteps, right on our borders, how can this road be sustainable? How can we afford to be the ‘Bank of Afghanistan R Us’ in the next 15 years?

If we start selling national properties to pay for these wars, might we stop and think twice before we write any more checks to “fix” these failed states? 

The end.

A Warrior’s Poem: "Murder–So Foul"

by Sgt. James Lenihan
World War II Veteran (1921- 2007) and Purple Heart Recipient

I shot a man yesterday
And much to my surprise,
The strangest thing happened to me
I began to cry.

He was so young, so very young
And Fear was in his eyes,
He had left his home in Germany
And came to Holland to die.

And what about his Family
were they not praying for him?
Thank God they couldn’t see their son
And the man that had murdered him.

I knelt beside him
And held his hand–
I begged his forgiveness
Did he understand?

It was the War
And he was the enemy
If I hadn’t shot him
He would have shot me.

I saw he was dying
And I called him “Brother”
But he gasped out one word
And that word was “Mother.”

I shot a man yesterday
And much to surprise
A part of me died with Him
When Death came to close
His eyes.

The above poem was published in the Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) blog with the following notation:

While cleaning out their father Sgt. James Lenihan’s basement after he died, Brooklyn, N.Y. based Rob Lenihan and his sister, Joan Lenihan, found this poem that he wrote about World War II. Lenihan was assigned to the 413th Infantry in the 104th Infantry Division, U.S. Army, nicknamed “the Timberwolves.” He toured Europe fighting.

With the mantra, “nothing in hell must stop the Timberwolves,” the division was responsible for overrunning the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp, and was later recognized as a liberating unit by the U.S. Army’s Center of Military History and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Sgt. Lenihan was wounded in action and later received a Purple Heart. He never spoke with his family about the emotions he experienced during war, and they were very surprised to find this poem. Towards the end of Lenihan’s life, he actively sought out his old war buddies and described his time serving as one of the “worst and greatest experiences” of his life.

Officially In: Matthew J. Bryza to Baku

Map of the existing and planned oil and gas pi...Image via Wikipedia

On May 25, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Matthew J. Bryza to be Ambassador to the Republic of Azerbaijan. The WH released the following brief bio:

Matthew J. Bryza is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. He currently serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of European and Eurasian Affairs. He previously served as the Director for Europe and Eurasia at the National Security Council in the White House. He was also Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State on Caspian Basin Energy Diplomacy. Mr. Bryza has also served in Russia and Poland.

Mr. Bryza received a B.A. from Stanford University and an M.A. in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

If confirmed, he would only be the 6th chief of mission to Azerbaijan.  He would succeed career diplomat Anne E. Derse who was appointed to the US Embassy in Baku from 2006 until July 2009 (and now US Ambassador to Vilnius).

Related Item:

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, 5/25/10
Panorama-am |Senate Should Scrutinize Bryza Before Confirming him as Ambassador to Baku
APA: USA nominated Matthew Bryza as U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan

Officially In: Mark C. Storella to Lusaka

Street in Lusaka, ZambiaImage via Wikipedia

On May 25, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Mark C. Storella to be Ambassador to the Republic of Zambia. The WH released the following brief bio:

Mark C. Storella is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service.  He currently serves as the Senior Coordinator for Iraqi Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.  He previously served as Deputy Permanent Representative and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva.  Mr. Storella was also the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  His other overseas assignments include Rome, Paris, Bangkok and a previous tour in Phnom Penh.  In Washington, Mr. Storella worked on the NATO and Japan desks, and as Executive Assistant to the Counselor of the Department of State.

He received his A.B. degree from Harvard College and an M.A. in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

If confirmed, this would be Mr. Storella’s first ambassadorial appointment.  He would take over Michael Koplovsky, the Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. at the U.S. Embassy Lusaka.

Related Item:

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, 5/25/10

Reading Tips: New Reports from CRS, OIG and GAO

CRS — Iraq: Politics, Elections, and Benchmarks
| May 26th, 2010

Iraq: Politics, Elections, and Benchmarks (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)

Iraq’s political system, the result of a U.S.-supported election process, has been increasingly characterized by peaceful competition, as well as by attempts to form cross-sectarian alliances. However, ethnic and factional infighting continues, sometimes using key levers of power and seemingly undemocratic means. This was in evidence in the successful efforts by Shiite Arab political leaders to disqualify some prominent Sunni Arab candidates in the March 7, 2010, national elections for the Council of Representatives (COR, parliament), which will form the next government. Election-related violence occurred before and during the election, although not at levels of earlier years or at a level to significantly affect voting, except perhaps for Baghdad city.

With all votes counted, the cross-sectarian “Iraqiyya” slate of former Prime Minister Iyad al-Allawi unexpectedly gained a plurality of 91 of the 325 COR seats up for election. Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s State of Law slate came in a close second, with two fewer seats, and a rival Shiite coalition was a distant third with 70. The main Kurdish parties, again allied, won 43. Allawi’s slate had been expected to get the first opportunity to put together a majority coalition to form a government. However, Maliki and other Shiite parties—opposing what they claim is the mostly Sunni Arab base of the Allawi slate—are in extensive discussions to put together a coalition that would be able to determine the next government. To bolster his claim to remain prime minister, Maliki’s slate requested, and a court agreed, to a recount of votes in crucial Baghdad province; Maliki hopes the recount will deprive Allawi’s bloc of its plurality of seats. Another court’s disqualification (on “de-Baathification” grounds) of one winning and 51 losing candidates will require a recalculation of seat allocations, presumably to Maliki’s benefit.

CRS — Syria: Background and U.S. Relations
| May 26th, 2010

Syria: Background and U.S. Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)

Despite its weak military and lackluster economy, Syria remains relevant in Middle Eastern geopolitics. Syria plays a key role in the Middle East peace process, acting at times as a “spoiler” by sponsoring Palestinian militants and facilitating the rearmament of Hezbollah. At other times, it has participated in substantive negotiations with Israel. Syria’s longstanding relationship with the Iranian clerical regime is of great concern to U.S. strategists. As Syria grew more estranged from the United States throughout this decade, Syrian-Iranian relations improved, and some analysts have called on U.S. policymakers to woo Syrian leaders away from Iran. Others believe that the Administration should go even further in pressuring the Syrian government and should consider implementing even harsher economic sanctions against it.

CRS — Unauthorized Aliens in the United States 
| May 26th, 2010

Unauthorized Aliens in the United States (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has primary responsibility for administering and enforcing the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA),1 the basis of immigration law. Within DHS, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is responsible for immigration and naturalization adjudications and other service functions; Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is responsible for enforcing immigration law in the interior of the United States, among other responsibilities; and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is responsible for securing U.S. borders at and between official ports of entry.

It is unknown, at any point in time, how many unauthorized aliens are in the United States, what countries they are from, when they came to the United States, where they are living, and what their demographic, family, and other characteristics are. Demographers develop estimates about unauthorized aliens using available survey data on the U.S. foreign-born population. These estimates can help inform possible policy options to address the unauthorized alien population.2 According to recent estimates by DHS based on data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and other sources, the unauthorized resident alien population totaled 11.6 million in January 2008 and 10.8 million in January 2009.3 Using data from the March Current Population Survey4 and other sources, the Pew Hispanic Center has estimated the unauthorized resident population at 11.9 million for March 2008.5 In the case of both DHS and the Pew Hispanic Center, the 2008 and 2009 estimates are less than the corresponding estimates for 2007

Unauthorized aliens enter the United States in three main ways: (1) some are admitted to the United States on valid nonimmigrant (temporary) visas (e.g., as visitors or students) or on bordercrossing cards and either remain in the country beyond their authorized period of stay or otherwise violate the terms of their admission; (2) some are admitted based on fraudulent documents (e.g., fake passports) that go undetected by U.S. officials; and (3) some enter the country illegally without inspection (e.g., by crossing over the Southwest or northern U.S. border).

It is unknown what percentages of the current unauthorized resident population entered the United States in these different ways.

OIG | Embassy Tirana, Albania (ISP-I-10-36A)
| March 2010   [441 Kb]

Source: Office of the Inspector General (via state.gov) PDF

The front office is popular and respected, but its standing is lowered by a perception among American staff that, at times, it is too involved on behalf of locally employed (LE) staff in management and special immigrant visa (SIV) matters.

OIG | Embassy Chisinau, Moldova (ISP-I-10-40A)
| March 2010   [438 Kb]

Source: Office of the Inspector General (via state.gov) PDF

Under strong new leadership, the embassy is moving to correct past managerial weaknesses and deficiencies in management controls, including via a staff restructuring. There is consensus that these measures and other factors have greatly improved morale. Nonetheless, the two major management problems, space and physical security, continue to lie beyond its reach. The U.S. Agency for International Development-embassy consolidation has been partly accomplished but completion should be pursued expeditiously.

OIG | Embassy Pristina, Kosovo (ISP-I-10-38A)
| March 2010  [417 Kb]

Source: Office of the Inspector General (via state.gov) PDF

The justification for Pristina’s 20 percent danger pay allowance should be reviewed. Although ethnic tensions remain, much progress has been made in creating a democratic, multi-ethnic nation. Reductions in the United Nations (UN) mission and in the internal security Kosovo Force reflect both progress and the absence of the former wartime conditions.

GAO-10-721T | Iran Sanctions: Firms Reported to Have Commercial Activity in the Iranian Energy Sector and U.S. Government Contracts

| May 12, 2010 | Summary | Full Report

Source: Government Accountability Office (via gao.gov)

Based on our review of open source information, we identified 41 firms that had commercial activity in the Iranian energy sector between 2005 and 2009. Of these firms, seven had contracts with the U.S. government. From fiscal years 2005 through 2009, the U.S. government  obligated almost $880 million in contracts to these seven firms. [Footnote 7] U.S. agencies obligated almost 90 percent of these funds or purchases of fuel and petroleum products overseas. Thirteen of the  41 firms listed in our March 2010 report responded to our inquiries regarding their commercial activities in Iran, including two of the seven firms with U.S. government contracts. Since the report was released, four more firms responded, including one firm that noted it had not made a decision about finalizing its commercial activities in

GAO-10-505 | Palestinian Authority: U.S. Assistance Is Training and Equipping Security Forces, but the Program Needs to Measure Progress and Faces Logistical Constraints
| May 11, 2010 | Summary | Full Report
Source: Government Accountability Office (via gao.gov)

Although U.S. and international officials said that U.S. security assistance programs for the PA have helped to improve security conditions in some West Bank areas, State and USSC have not established clear and measurable outcome-based performance indicators to assess progress. Thus, it is difficult to determine how the programs support the achievement of security-related Roadmap obligations. U.S. officials attributed the lack of agreement on such performance indicators to a number of factors, including the relatively early stage of PA plans and capacity for reforming, rebuilding, and sustaining its security forces. Developing outcome-based indicators to measure and manage performance against program goals has been identified by GAO as a good management practice. Such indicators would help USSC provide objective and useful performance information for decision makers. State and USSC officials noted that they plan to incorporate performance indicators in a USSC campaign plan to be released in mid-2010.

One of the saddest comments ever received here…

Autumn CrispImage by KaJo 123 via Flickr
In April, I posted about the IT Consolidation at the State Department based on a published OIG review (read State Dept IRM’s IT Consolidation Gets a Screaming “F”): This week, this blog received exactly one comment on that post. I normally do not re-post comments. But I thought this one was different.

Gary  said…

Your quote,

“…if somebody had the courage to say “hey, this idea is full of sh*t.” But that’s only like, well like committing career hara-kiri, and nobody does that too often in the bureaucracy. Because when you “die” in a bureaucracy, you don’t necessarily get kicked out, you just get ignored in your cubicle until you, well — dry out, crisp as autumn leaves and get swept out by the char force one night when nobody is looking….”

That was me.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010 9:27:00 PM

“That was me.”

Three words, no fluff. That probably is one of the saddest lines I’ve ever received in this blog.

US Citizen born in Puerto Rico detained as illegal immigrant, what was DHS/ICE thinking?

Seal of the United States Department of Homela...Image via Wikipedia

NBC Chicago reports that an American citizen resident of the state of Illinois was detained for over three days and faced deportation despite an ID and a birth certificate on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant. Eduardo Caraballo, a U.S. citizen born in the United States was only released upon the intervention of his congressman, Luis Gutierrez. Excerpt below:

Caraballo was born in Puerto Rico, making him a natural-born citizen of the United States. He moved to the mainland as an infant, and now lives in Chicago. Last week, NBC reports that he was arrested in connection with a stolen car in Berwyn. Caraballo maintains his innocence. In any case, when his mother posted bail on Friday, he was not freed. “Instead of being released, he was told by authorities that Immigration and Customs Enforcement was detaining him because he was an illegal immigrant,” NBC reports.

Caraballo spent the weekend in the custody of federal immigration agents. When he presented them with ID and his birth certificate, he says officials were skeptical.
Rep. Gutierrez, a Chicagoan who is himself of Puerto Rican descent, is a long-time advocate of immigration reform.
“In Arizona, they want everybody to be able to prove they’re legally in the country. They want everybody to prove that they’re an American citizen. Here we had an American citizen, that the federal government… could not determine, for more than three days, his status as an American citizen. It’s very, very, very dangerous ground to tread.”
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office declined to answer specific questions about Caraballo’s case, but in a statement released Monday afternoon said that he was released once his citizenship was confirmed.

Had the reporters pushed harder, the Spokesman would have told them the case could not be discussed further due to the Privacy Act. Oops, wait! The Privacy Act of 1974 only protects American citizens and legal immigrants!

But this got me thinking – if it takes DHS/ICE over three days to confirm the identity of an American citizen when records are obviously available, how long would it take for that office to confirm a non-American’s identity? I’m thinking about some real bad guys here.  Below is a quick blurb of what DHS/ICE is tasked with:

“ICE is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, and the second largest contributor to the nation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (after the Federal Bureau of Investigation).”

It is the agency “responsible for identifying, investigating, and dismantling vulnerabilities regarding the nation’s border, economic, transportation, and infrastructure security.”

This man, Mr. Caraballo was arrested in connection with a stolen car. True or not, that is for the courts to decide. But under our laws, even individuals accused of crimes have rights not the least of which is the posting of bail.  In United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739 (1987), the Supreme Court held that the only limitation imposed by the bail clause is that “the government’s proposed conditions of release or detention not be ‘excessive’ in light of the perceived evil.”

The mother of the accused reportedly was not allowed to post bail.  According to the NBC report, Caraballo was “told by authorities that Immigration and Customs Enforcement was detaining him because he was an illegal immigrant.”

That must be because if you’re an illegal immigrant and allowed to post bail, you may not show up for your date in court? So all the confusion must have something to do with his birth in Puerto Rico?

Okay so — did ICE think he was an illegal immigrant because his birth certificate says he was born in Puerto Rico? And had ICE actually deported him, would they have sent him back to Puerto Rico?  Oh, no….

But, but — surely ICE officers know some basic facts about Puerto Rico?

That Puerto Rico, officially known as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (or “Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico” in Spanish — literally according to Wikipedia the “Associated Free State of Puerto Rico), is a self-governing, unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean Sea, east of the Dominican Republic and west of the Virgin Islands?

That during the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico was invaded by the United States and as an outcome of the war, Spain ceded Puerto Rico, along with Cuba, the Philippines, and Guam to the U.S. under the Treaty of Paris?

Didn’t know that, huh?

How about this — Puerto Rico’s head of state is the President of the United States, Barack H. Obama?

Or that Puerto Rico is represented in the United States Congress by a nonvoting delegate?

Finally, this one — a pass/fail for ICE officers — ever heard of the Jones-Shafroth Act of 1917 where Puerto Ricans were collectively made U.S. citizens by the United States Congress?

It’s no wonder that Ray Suarez recently lamented that “To be Puerto Rican is to be misunderstood.” He writes:

“After 93 years as American citizens, after 112 years after US forces took the island from the Spanish Empire, Puerto Ricans are still strangers to the vast majority of their countrymen.”

Pardon me? ICE knows that Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States?  Of course, silly me.  It must also know that Puerto Rico has enacted a New Birth Certificate Law last year aimed at “strengthening the issuance and usage of birth certificates to combat fraud and protect the identity and credit of all people born in Puerto Rico.”

“Under the new law, all Puerto Rico birth certificates issued before July 1, 2010, will be invalidated so that new, more secure certificates can be issued. Until that date, all birth certificates will remain valid.”

I supposed you want to give ICE a pass for almost deporting this guy?

This one also from the Government of Puerto Rico: “It is important to understand that there is no need to rush out and get a new birth certificate on July 1.  It is suggested that only people who have a specific need for their birth certificate for official purposes need request a new birth certificate right away.”

Why was he detained again?

DHS/ICE is in a dicy public relation situation here.  If the agency admits to an error relating to Mr. Caraballo’s birth in Puerto Rico, it would show a gaping hole in the basic knowledge of its arresting/detention officers.  If it uses the new birth certificate law as excuse/shield/defensive arts trick and consider the b/c presented invalid, it would seem the agency is 30+ days ahead of a law that has yet to take effect. If it’s neither of the above, it will be called names for detaining somebody based on his looks.  As Mr. Caraballo said: “Because of the way I look, I have Mexican features, they pretty much assumed that my papers were fake.”

ICE, of course, can always say — the guy was arrested on a Friday and was released the very next working day, which was Monday. But that might make us (and those bad guys) think that ICE stops working on weekends.  Also a thought — had the Congressman not intervene, and the press did not hear about this, which foreign country would Mr. Caraballo have called from? No, there is no US Embassy in San Juan.      

This puts DHS/ICE in a rather sharp kimchi. I supposed it won’t hurt to publicly apologized and take real measures to ensure that this does not happen again. Because this has happened before to Mark Lyttle who was deported to Mexico (and ended up in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala before he was repatriated to the United States by US Embassy Guatemala only to be re-arrested at another US port of entry). And Johann Francis who was deported to Jamaica. And they’re not the only ones. 


Be well and come back soon, NDS!

Our blog friend, NoDoubleStandards of Muttering Behind the Hardline has called it quits for now. He’s a good egg and I’m going to miss him a lot. No, the tigers did not get him or sneeze at him; he just wanted to “hang up the spurs for awhile.”

Adios, amigos | NDS  

Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Hard to believe it has been a year since I started posting to this blog.  It’s been fun.  I’ve touched on a lot of issues upon which I’ve wanted to rant for awhile and shared some thoughts on others that I hadn’t taken time to think through and articulate previously.
The time has come, though, I think, to hang up the spurs for awhile.  I admire so many of you who manage to post quality stuff day after day after day.  I admire the dedication and creativity.  I’ve run into a  point where I think I’ve accomplished what I want to with this forum and need to channel more of the energy I’ve poured into it into more tangible projects.  I’ve begun to get more involved in mentoring and recruiting and plan to focus more on those as creative outlets.
That’s not to say this blog will go away, or that I might not even post something on the rare occasion.  I haven’t decided.  I may come back at a later date with a whole new blog.
But I think for now, it’s best to walk away for awhile.  Seems like another quality FS blog pops up every day, and I look forward to continuing reading about all your experiences.
Thanks so much for reading the rants of a Foreign Service officer on the things that mattered to him.  That it mattered to you on occasion was a source of great satisfaction.
P.S.  Just in case you’re wondering, the tigers didn’t get me — or even growl at me.  It’s just time to exit stage right for awhile.  Take care of yourselves.

Be well and come back soon, NDS! 

FSO Margot Carrington’s Kabuki Diplomacy

Margot Carrington, the Principal Officer at our Consulate in Fukuoka, recently wrote for Z Notes, the official blog of the US Embassy in Tokyo run by DCM Jim Zumwalt. But, first, see the charming YouTube clip below of Ms. Carrington as Meriken Omaru in a Kabuki play. 

Below is Margot Carrington’s post from Z Notes:

Appearing in a Kabuki play is not what most people think of as the traditional role of a diplomat, nor was it what I expected to do in my capacity as the Principal Officer of the U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka. However, this “Kabuki Diplomacy” was surprisingly effective in reaching out to the people of Kyushu.
Despite having worked six years at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, I initially encountered a bit of culture shock when I arrived in Fukuoka. First, I had to contend with our local dialect of Hakataben and not knowing what yokinshatta (welcome) meant!
Here’s what I look like in real life.
When I was asked to appear in a charity performance of Kabuki featuring local leaders, I was concerned about how I would handle wearing a kimono on stage and having to learn so many difficult lines in ancient Japanese, which is even harder than Hakataben! However, with lots of practice, I was able to manage and found that the people of Fukuoka appreciated my efforts.
For months after the performance, people in Fukuoka called me by my stage name of “Meriken Omaru” and told me how excited they were that someone from the U.S. Consulate had taken the time to learn about this important Japanese art form. I was also able to forge strong ties with some of Fukuoka’s business and government leaders through this unforgettable experience. This led me to think that Kabuki Diplomacy could be powerful indeed.

Active links added above.  Care to translate Meriken Omaru’s lines?