Giving Thanks 2016: Around the Foreign Service

Posted:1:14 am ET

 

 

 

Related posts:

Happy 241st Birthday and Thank You @USMC! #HappyBirthdayMarines

Posted: 6:19 pm PT

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Because the #2016Election Is Not Scary Enough … Happy Halloween Voters! Get Your Ballot!

Posted: 1:33 pm ET

 

A shoutout to U.S. Consulate Halifax who did their Halloween party with a reminder to overseas Americans on how to request their absentee ballots.  The Federal Voting Assistance Program includes information for the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) and the Federal Write-in Ballot (FWAB) to cast your absentee ballots. Go do it!

Bonus tweets from Palmerston and the White House:

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A Shared Love For Jazz: Kyrgyz Republic’s Jazz Band ‘Salt Peanuts’ Performs at the Kennedy Center

Posted: 12:06 am ET

 

The Republic of Kyrgyzstan declared its independence from the Soviet Union on August 31, 1991. The United States recognized Kyrgyzstan’s independence on December 25, 1991. Diplomatic relations were also established on December 25, 1991, when President George H.W. Bush announced the decision in an address to the nation regarding the dissolution of the Soviet Union.  The American Embassy in Bishkek was established on February 1, 1992, with Edmund McWilliams as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.

This year, the Kyrgyz Republic celebrates its 25th Independence Day and 25 year of diplomatic relations with the United States. Below is Kyrgyz’s Salt Peanuts performing at the Kennedy Center on September 10. A shared love for jazz, have a listen — they’re awesome!

 

 

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Greetings and Celebrations: Happy 240th Independence Day #America

Posted: 12:16 pm PT

Back home, the State Department will host a fair for the diplomatic community in D.C. Deep-fried Oreos apparently included. Photos please!

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AmConGen Dhahran’s 7 Second-Video Freaks Out Folks Who Do Not Get the Foreign in the Foreign Service

Posted: 3:42 am ET

The United States Consul General in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia is career diplomat, Mike Hankey. He was assigned to post in  July 2014 accompanied by his wife and their two sons.  According to his official bio, he joined the Foreign Service in 2001, and has “led teams to build deep and productive ties with political, economic and media partners across the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.”  His bio says that in Egypt “he advanced the President’s agenda to engage Muslim communities” and “promoted economic development in northwestern Iraq, American consular and commercial interests in Yemen, and media professionalism in Nigeria.”

Mr. Hankey received his Bachelor’s Degree in international affairs and journalism from George Washington University and his Master’s Degree in second language education from Indiana University. He speaks Arabic.

Like most Foreign Service families, Mr. Hankey and his family are “all in” in their current post in Saudi Arabia. That means they went out and explored their “host country” and did not hide in their USG-provided housing commuting only to the office and back and eating only Pizza Hut and KFC.  USCG Dhahran’s FB posts include photos of them in a camel farm, attending a festival, wading in a wadi and camping in a desert. And oh goodness, eating foreign food — they cooked sheep in the sand!

But how awesome is that?

On June 5, US Embassy Riyadh tweeted a 7-second Ramadan greeting featuring Mr. Hankey and his two young sons wearing the traditional Saudi male dress — a white colored Thobe (thawb), an ankle length garment with long sleeves and tunic shape, and a headdress (a large square cloth, white or red called the Gutra, a small white cap that keeps the Gutra in place called the Tagia, and a black cord called Igal that keep the whole thing in place). See more here.

 

First the good news! Yes, there is a Twitter account that tweets only Great Government Tweets!

Here are some local reactions appreciative of the gesture:

Here are some reactions from folks who apparently do not get the foreign in the Foreign Service.  Hometown diplomats, you’ve got your jobs cut out for you.

By the way, eating haggis doesn’t turn one Scottish.

Speaking a foreign language is not un-American.

Wearing foreign clothing is not dangerous to one’s health or sense of well being.

Here’s a bonus, Americans diplomats in Pakistan learning the Paktun dance moves.

 

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#MemorialDay2016: “If you forget my death, then I died in vain.”

Posted:7:18 pm ET

 

J. Kael Weston, the author of “The Mirror Test: America at War in Iraq and Afghanistan,” was a State Department official in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 to 2010.  Newsweek writes that he spent more time in Iraq and Afghanistan than any other State Department officer, including two and a half years in the Iraqi hellhole of Fallujah. He wrote The Graves of the Marines I Lost for the New York Times. Excerpt below:

While in Iraq and Afghanistan, I witnessed military officers and enlisted soldiers, at all ranks, being held accountable for their decisions. I have yet to see that happen with Washington policy makers who, far removed from the battlefields, benefit from our collective amnesia about past military and foreign policy failures.

The commander in chief and the senior military brass should leave the manicured grounds of Arlington and visit some of those places where most of America’s war dead are buried: farm towns, immigrant neighborhoods and working-class suburbs. At a time when fewer and fewer of us have any real ties to the military, how better to remind the nation that our troops are not just faceless volunteers, but people who live next door?

Over the last four years, I have visited a dozen such cemeteries. One was in Newcastle, Wyo. (population 3,532, according to the last census), where Staff Sgt. Brian Bland was laid to rest on a hill overlooking an oil refinery and a Pizza Hut. His granite headstone is shaped like a mountain peak.

Outside Cherokee, Iowa (population 5,253), at the Galva Veterans Memorial, I stood at Cpl. Nathan Schubert’s grave, next to his father’s, surrounded by green cornfields and grain silos. Etched on his headstone are pine trees and pheasants in flight.

In Menard, Tex. (population 1,471), I located Capt. Paul Christopher Alaniz, buried alongside his mother. Colorful ceramic tiles adorned his grave’s concrete plot, hand painted by his wife and children with the words “Love” and “Papa, Happy Father’s Day” and “A classy tie for a classy guy.”

I visited each one because I was directly involved in the decision that led to their deaths.

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Secretary Kerry Takes Questions From @StateDept Kids at Take Your Child to Work Day

Posted: 12:32 am PT

On April 28, 2016, Secretary Kerry took questions from State Department kids who participated in the Take Your Child to Work Day in Foggy Bottom. Ben. F. Franklin was in attendance. Last year, Secretary Kerry also allowed himself to be quizzed (see Foreign Service Kids Grill Secretary Kerry During Take Your Child to Work Day).  Below is an excerpt from the Q&A:

 

QUESTION: Okay. Hi. Once you’re finished being Secretary of State, what are your plans?
SECRETARY KERRY: Honestly, I don’t know yet. I really don’t. I’ve begun to kind of occasionally have a thought cross my mind about it, but I’ve got too much work to do between now and then. We have another nine months, I guess, or so, and I just – and first – and I’m not allowed. I’m not allowed to talk to a company or something like that while I’m Secretary, which is a good rule. So I’ll think about it starting the day I leave. (Laughter.) Okay?
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: What do you suggest? Do you got any ideas? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Not really.

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QUESTION: So what did you, like – what made you think that you wanted to be Secretary of State?
SECRETARY KERRY: Not becoming president of the United States. (Laughter, applause.)
Actually, I’ll tell you the truth. I’m going to tell you the truth: When I was running for president of the United States, I actually said to my staff, “The best job in the government is actually not president, it’s secretary of state.” That’s what I said, and I still – believe it even more now. Thank you.

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QUESTION: On your plane, do they have, like, beds and stuff? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, you’re opening a very, very sore subject. (Laughter.) Because, yes, there is a bed – one bed. You can probably guess who gets it. (Laughter.) The plane – it’s a great plane, and the Air Force does an extraordinary job of flying us around the world. As you know, I have flown now more than a million miles since I’ve been Secretary, and we’ve been to over 81 countries. But I have to tell you it’s an old plane that is – and it’s tough on the staff, because the seats aren’t as modern and don’t go far as back, and you can’t lie down. And so for me, I can actually lie flat, but nobody else on the plane gets to lie flat unless you lie on the ground, bring a futon – and I haven’t seen a lot of people do that on this plane. So hopefully over time we can fix that up a little bit. But there is one bed.

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QUESTION: Hi. I’m Savannah. I’m nine. And I wanted to know who you’re going to vote for president for 2016. (Laughter and applause.)
SECRETARY KERRY: Okay. So I’m going to give you a half answer, okay? I’m not allowed to get into politics, and I don’t get into politics, but it is well-known that I work for President Obama, President Obama is a Democrat, I was elected as a Democrat to the Senate, and I served and I ran for president of the United States as a Democrat. So you can count on the fact I will be voting for the Democrat, okay? (Applause.) Thank you.

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US Embassy Bangkok Celebrates Songkran Festival

Posted: 2:55 am ET

 

U.S. Embassy Bangkok put out a video of its Songkran festivities with Ambassador Glyn Davies asking a few American officers to sample some Thai “summer foods.”

 

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Photo of the Day: Happy Lao New Year 2559

Posted: 1:05 am ET

 

Lao New Year, the most widely celebrated festival in Laos is known as Songkran or “Pi Mai” and celebrated every year from April 14 to April 16. On April 9, the US Embassy in Laos celebrated Lao New Year with offerings of flowers and fruits. Post also made a video but it’s only posted on FB so we’ll make do with this photograph:

Via US Embassy Vientiane:

via US Embassy Laos/FB

via US Embassy Laos/FB

 

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