AFSA corrects Governor Perry’s "serious misunderstanding" about American diplomats


Texas Governor Rick Perry’s comments about members of the U.S. Foreign Service during a Nov. 7 radio interview (
reflect a serious misunderstanding of their role in promoting American
interests overseas.  Diplomacy is rightly recognized as the first line
of defense and a vital instrument for ensuring national security, along
with the military.  Foreign Service professionals carry out their role
with exemplary dedication all over the world, including war zones and
other dangerous regions.

Indeed, hundreds of American diplomats
have given their lives in the line of duty, including six ambassadors:
John Mein (Guatemala, 1968), Cleo Noel (Sudan, 1973), Rodger Davies
(Cyprus, 1974),  Francis Meloy (Lebanon, 1976), Adolph Dubs
(Afghanistan, 1979) and Arnold Raphel (Pakistan, 1988).  Other Foreign
Service professionals who have made the ultimate sacrifice at the hands
of terrorists or drug traffickers include Charles Robert Ray (France,
1982), William Buckley (Lebanon, 1985), Gary Durell and Jacqueline Van
Landingham (Pakistan, 1995), George Tsantes (Greece, 1983), Leamon Hunt
(Italy, 1984),  Barbara Green and Laurence Foley (Pakistan, 2002), James
Mollen and Edward Seitz  (Iraq, 2004), Barbara Heald, Keith Taylor and
Stephen Sullivan (Iraq, 2005),  and David Foy (Pakistan, 2006).  The bombings of our embassies in Beirut in 1983 and 1985, and in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998, killed scores more.

they are posted, American diplomats are dedicated to serving their
country, promoting U.S. national interests as articulated by our
country’s elected leaders.  Drawing on invaluable expertise accumulated
over decades of living and working in countries all over world, often
separated from family, they provide sound advice for policy decisions
regardless of which party is in power, in keeping with high standards of
professional excellence.  They serve at the pleasure of the president,
are confirmed by Congress and need the informed support of both branches
of government to be effective. 

In an ever more uncertain,
complex world our diplomatic personnel deal with the entire spectrum of
our interaction with the rest of the world.  So to keep America strong
and secure, we need more diplomacy, not less.  And we need more, not
less, support from our political leaders and citizens for their work to
defend and advance our interests abroad.

Very diplomatically put.  Hopefully, Governor Perry is paying attention. Of course, who can say if he’ll even remember any of this?

Question of the Day: Studying Arabic for 4 years and not ever getting to a 2/2?

Image via Wikipedia
The language shortfall at the State Department has been well documented in various reports of the Government Accountability Office.  We understand it’s hard, especially the more
challenging languages. 
But if an FSO has been studying Arabic for um, four years (about 176 weeks of class work) and does not ever get a 2/2 in speaking/reading proficiency, what happens?

The normal course of study and proficiency for super hard languages like Arabic and Chinese is 88 weeks for S-3/R-3 proficiency and 44 weeks for S-2/R-2 proficiency.

The more interesting question, of course, is how does one manage to get an extra 132 weeks to get to a 2/2 after already having 44 weeks and failing to get a 2/2?

Curious minds would like to know.

ConGen Quebec: CG Peter O’Donohue Visits Nunavut

Do you know where Nunavut is?  I didn’t. I had to look up the place. It turns out Nunavut comprises a major portion of Northern Canada, and most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.  It is both the least populous and the largest in geography of the provinces and territories of Canada. One of the most remote, sparsely settled regions in the world, it has an estimated population of over 33,000, mostly Inuit, spread over an area the size of Western Europe.

Well, our Consul General in Quebec checked out Nunavut in September. It looks beautiful and brrrr …… Photos below from post’s photostream on Flickr:

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
Photos from ConGen Quebec/Flickr

Via ConGen Quebec:

CG Peter O’Donohue and his wife Mary Linklater recently met with the Premier of Nunavut Eva Aariak at her Iqaluit office. They traveled to the Arctic Territory of Nunavut September 23 to 30, paying official calls in the capital of Iqaluit and also visiting the Baffin Island communities of Pangnirtung and Pond Inlet. Several hundred people attended the Nunavut Trade Show where a wide range of exhibits showcased the territory’s vast potential in the areas of minerals, oil and gas, fisheries, tourism, infrastructure and communications. Opportunities to do business in the territory are tremendous given its extremely rich potential in iron-ore, gold, diamonds, and many other rare minerals.

During stops in Pangnirtung and Pond Inlet, CG met with a wide variety of local officials, entrepreneurs, school administrators, workers, managers of a world renowned art workshop and a fish processing plant. Both hamlets are sited in extraordinary beautiful landscapes and each serves as a Parks Canada headquarters for an adjacent wilderness park (the Auyuittuq Park in Pangnirtung and the Sirmilik Park in Pond Inlet). As if on cue, a pod of five rare bowhead whales appeared in the Pangnirtung fjord during their visit.

You’ve been in Afghanistan too long without R&R when ….

US National Guard Photo by Sgt Russell Lee Klika

A Ttwenty-something development worker in Afghanistan writes about when you know you’ve been in Afghanistan too long without R&R.


— you start using Afghan insults against other expats.

—you know the pricing scale for contract killings in your city.

—you don’t scream when you find a toenail in your bread, you just pick it out.

—you find it kind of gross but not at all weird when the hotel reception clerk is staring at full-screen photos of dismembered corpses on his computer when you check in.

—you know how to walk in a burqa like an Afghan woman.

—you have a list of people you’d love to send phony Taliban night letters, and that list is four whole pages long. Single-spaced.

Check out her full list here.

Photo of the Day: Where can I buy a key chain for this?

From US Embassy Pakistan via Flickr:

NAS Vehicle Handover

This is supposedly a handover; can’t say from looking at the photo who’s giving what to whom. He’s holding the gigantic key with two hands, maybe he is giving it to her? And she seems happy to receive the key with one hand, or is she giving it to him?  What vehicle has a key as huge as that?  We’re still thinking what this means but we’d like to know where one can buy a key chain for this.

Simple lesson here – if you bother to take a picture, and bother to upload it online, please bother to put some caption.