Insider Quote: Top State Dept Official on Doing Less With Less

“People talk about doing more with less… […] What we are going to have to look at is doing less with less.”

Quote from top State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity
in State Department cutbacks won’t affect work in Iraq, Afghanistan
Stars and Stripes, Published: March 24, 2012

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Chew on This: US Embassy Oman Celebrates 4th of July (in February) with Fast Food Sponsors

We’re late on this but last month, the US Embassy in Oman celebrated the 236th year of the independence of the United States of America. We were once told that heat is the reason for these early 4th of July  celebrations at various overseas posts, even at one EUR post. And we bought that until we saw then Ambassador Eikenberry eating ice cream at a 4th of July in Kabul.

Here is a note from Ambassador Richard J. Schmierer via FB:

The U.S. Embassy marked the 236th year of the Independence of the United States of America with a festive celebration on the Embassy grounds on February 28, 2012. Timed in conjunction with the U.S. President’s Day holiday which is celebrated each February, the event featured a ceremony by the Embassy’s Marine Color Guard and food and beverages from ten American franchise outlets. I had the honor of welcoming the official delegation of the Government of the Sultanate of Oman, led by the Honorable Shaikh Khalid bin Sultan bin Saif al-Hosni of the Majlis al-Dowla, and the Chief of Protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, His Highness Sayyid Mohammed bin Salim al Said (pictured center and right above). The event highlighted this year’s 40th anniversary of the establishment of the first U.S. Embassy in Oman, which was opened on November 1, 1972 on the seafront in Old Muscat. More than 500 guests joined us for this year’s celebration.

The embassy’s Flickr account includes two sets from the event including 564 photos here, and 150 photos here. Unfortunately, both sets are photo dumps with none of the photos appropriately labeled.

Even with no captions, the photos below are clear as day, of course, since they all feature popular American fast foods. The brief explanation above makes it sound like the fast foods were on exhibit, doesn’t it?

Ambassador and Mrs. Richard J. Schmierer
Photo from US Embassy Muscat/Flickr

Ambassador and Mrs. Richard J. Schmierer
Photo from US Embassy Muscat/Flickr

Ambassador and Mrs. Richard J. Schmierer
Photo from US Embassy Muscat/Flickr

Ambassador and Mrs. Richard J. Schmierer
Photo from US Embassy Muscat/Flickr

Ambassador and Mrs. Richard J. Schmierer
Photo from US Embassy Muscat/Flickr

Ambassador and Mrs. Richard J. Schmierer
Photo from US Embassy Muscat/Flickr

Ambassador and Mrs. Richard J. Schmierer
Photo from US Embassy Muscat/Flickr

We’re missing three sponsors.  We think the more appropriate term should really be sponsors since these American fast food outlets served food and beverages to 500 guests during the Independence Day event.

This is a troubling trend that seem to have started in the 1990’s when embassy officers were sent out to recruit sponsors for the embassy’s July 4th celebration.   It this sounds cheap, well, because it is …. especially if you’re the designated diplomat with the begging bowl. We heard that it’s not fun, but that if you’re good at it, they let you put it in your EER.

Domani Spero

Alec Ross on the “Dark Arts” of Social Media, and Yo! No Clearances!

Alec Ross, the Senior Advisor for Innovation at the Office of Secretary of State was featured last week in a piece over at The Next Web and has, of course, some innovative things to say about social media at the State Department:

“We set up the program overnight, with no meeting no clearances and no budget,” he explains. “We thought it was a good idea that might raise a few hundred thousand dollars but, after using the ‘dark arts’ of social media, we raised $35 million in just two weeks.”

Best of all, no clearances!

Alec Ross Photo by State Department

Then over at The Hill, they had a strange conception that social media is becoming ‘mainstream’ at the State Department.

Wu de tyen aaah!* Whoever gave them that idea?

Domani Spero

* Dear God in heaven