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January 09, 2005

The Continued Decline of American Soft Power

A "Blog by career US Foreign Service officers... Republican... in an institution (State Department) in which being a Republican can be bad for your career -- even with a Republican President! Join the State Department Republican Underground" announces:

The Diplomad: The "Turd" World And The High Priest Vulture Elite : Many years ago, as we prepared our return to a tough posting in the Far Abroad after leave in the States, our son asked, "Do we have to go back to the 'turd' world?" That phrase, "redolent" with the wisdom possessed only by children, has stayed with me over these passing years. My son was right about the 'turd' world. What tips you off that you have arrived in a poor country, a truly, genuinely dirt-poor corner of the Far Abroad, is the smell. As you leave the airport, you notice a special "exotic" odor of rotting vegetation, garbage, and feces combined with a slight whiff of smoke. Once you're there a bit, you no longer notice. When you leave and come back, it slams you all over again. The kid was right: we had been and still do live in the "Turd World."...

Could all FSOs who don't like the countries that they are posted in please leave the Foreign Services immediately? We really do not need to be represented abroad by anyone like this. We don't need it at all.

Posted by DeLong at January 9, 2005 02:26 PM

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One devoutly hopes this is not in fact written by FSO types. "Nobody knows you're a dog," after all. It reads like LGF in slightly less vitriolic language.

Posted by: Linkmeister at January 9, 2005 02:37 PM

Even Kipling had higher standards...

"Take up the White Man's burden.
Send forth the *best* ye breed...."

Posted by: Davis X. Machina at January 9, 2005 02:51 PM

Brad, this post was neither fair, balanced, nor reality-based. The guy explicitly says--unless he added his disclaimer after you linked him, which doesn't appear to be the case--that he's in a bad mood. Moreover, nowhere does he say or imply that he hates the country. He just says that it smells. Everyone I know--and most of my schoolmates have spent time overseas--agrees that poor countries tend to smell. One qualifies as diplomatic merely by not *saying* that where it can be overheard. It would be multifariously insane to require our diplomats to love their postings warts-and-all; even citizens of a country shouldn't be required to love it warts-and-all, as we all agree when the country is America. And finally, the quoted paragraph has nothing to do with the rest of the post; it's not like the guy is arguing for this as a thesis. He's just venting. You do your readers a disservice by suggesting that the quoted paragraph is a serious position in need of rebuttal. There are lots of legitimate reasons to pick on the Diplomads, but this wasn't one of them.

Posted by: AndyB at January 9, 2005 02:59 PM

Actually I would agree with that sentiment- I have been to numerous third world countries, and most of them have serious sanitation problems. Everything that I took to Pakistan was unusable in America- Apparently the section of the country that I was in believed in using dung as a fuel- quite the pungent way to wake up in the morning... To say that a region smells poor is simply a statement of fact... Hopefully this problem will disappear as these countries enter the modern age...

Posted by: jd at January 9, 2005 03:04 PM

So if your job is representing the US abroad, don't 'vent' in public by calling the countries where you work shit. Is that really such a high standard to hold a diplomat to?

Of course it isn't a seriously held position in need of rebuttal -- what would it mean to say that calling developing countries shitty was a seriously held position? It's unacceptably offensive rudeness from someone whose job is, at least partially, not to offend.

Posted by: LizardBreath at January 9, 2005 03:06 PM

Actually, he spends the post jumping up and down not on the "Turd World" (whose poverty he expresses sympathy with at the end of the post) but on the "High Priest Vulture Elite" of the UN who supposedly do nothing whatsoever to alleviate the misery of the Turd World during its crises. He also fulminates about how most of the effective aid in the tsuanmi crisis supposedly came from the "fascistic warmongers" Bush and Howard, without bothering to mention the fact that Bush had to dragged kicking and screaming into providing more tsunami aid than half of Spain's contribution -- and that we still have provided only 70% as much as Japan.

Then we move on to his penultimate paragraph:
"Who are the victims? Well, of course, the tax payers of the First World come immediately to mind. But really, after all, for us it's just money. Money comes and goes. The big victims of the HPVE are the world's poor countries who pay with the lives of their children; who get diverted by HPVE mumbo jumbo and its promises of aid and technical assistance from taking actions to develop their own countries and fend off the HPVE." Interesting. So he's saying that the real horror of the UN is that it demands that the First World should continue to provide large amounts of aid to the Third World -- at the same time that he spends the rest of the column yelling that the the US and Australia are to be praised for the huge amount of aid they provided to the tsunami vitcims?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at January 9, 2005 03:23 PM

Were this a signed comment, the foreign service officer would be properly dismissed. At least, I surely hope so. This is a disgrace.

Posted by: lise at January 9, 2005 03:41 PM

It's probably hard to find diplomats that are both anti-intellectual and like foreign countries.

Posted by: Unstable Isotope at January 9, 2005 03:52 PM

[another comment spam makes it through...]

Posted by: at January 9, 2005 03:52 PM

Read some of the other entries, dear Lise. This blog is a steam escape valve for the small sprinkling of Ann Coulter enthusiasts in the foreign service.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at January 9, 2005 03:52 PM

Diplomad scares the living shit out of me. I want to believe that people who actually do this stuff are some sort of super-grownups who always know better than I do, and the notion that my safety may depend on a guy like this chills me to the bone.

Posted by: imag at January 9, 2005 03:54 PM

Dream on, Imaq. To quote Sen. Moynihan: "God help us when the American people find out how little we actually know about what we're doing up here." Which, when you apply even a little elementary logic, is not exactly surprising.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at January 9, 2005 04:04 PM

Good riddence Bruce.

Posted by: JC at January 9, 2005 04:07 PM

The person who has been quoted is being disingenuous when he rails against the HPVE. I am from one of the
countries he calls the "turd world" (and believe me
what he said is offensive. I wonder whether he would make similar disparaging comments about inner city areas in the United States itself and get away with it ?), and I would much rather have the so-called "HPVE" of the UN to deal with. Their worst sin is venality and corruption, while "aid" from developed countries is used as leverage against the recepients in policy matters. Also, it is a dirty secret that most governmental "aid" usually comes with strings attached, the value of which is greater than the value of the aid itself.
This is something which the state dept person chooses to ignore. If he is really an employee of the state department, he is either naive or plain dissembling. The aid doled out by the US govt and other countries does a lot more damage than good.

Posted by: anon at January 9, 2005 04:08 PM

Diplomad is quite a guy. I wonder what he drives to work and where the little Diplomad-in-the-making goes to school. I'm thinking the vehicle is probably quite nice and the school isn't, you know, native.

The UN bashing is pretty standard stuff. It sounds like Tony Soprano bitching about the other gang's presence in his turf, actually.

Getting into the FS just requires answering the test questions the right way -- different sort of Bell Curve is all.

Posted by: Aunt Deb at January 9, 2005 04:10 PM

Sorry Bruce. That was for David Blumgart. I won't be missing him.

I am of the opinion that it is just plain rude and offensive, but no big deal from a plebs like us. But this dick is in the FSO. That's the issue.

Posted by: JC at January 9, 2005 04:11 PM

Brings back vivid memories of riding in the back of a deuce and a half on the way to a firebase after arriving in Vietnam. Quite a flashback, better than most.

Landing in Hawai'i has the same effect: air redolent with pineapples mixed with jet fuel, although the feces smell isn't there.

Even France has its own peculiar smell when stepping into the air outside the arrivals terminal at Charles de Gaulle.

Maybe this was just a bit of transference manifesting itself on the part of the FSO who, no doubt, has served in places where our paternalistic attitude towards the "natives" has been very explicit and very unwelcome.

I know cops who feel this way about Harlem precincts and Bed-Stuy.

Posted by: matt at January 9, 2005 04:22 PM

"We really do not need to be represented abroad by anyone like this. We don't need it at all."

Well, keep in mind that a lot of people in the Bush Administration -- and, judging from their comments, a lot of the people who contribute to Diplomad -- don't think we need to be represented abroad at all, period.

[So why did they ever join the Foreign Service, then?]

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at January 9, 2005 04:27 PM

Admitting a country smells like poo and loving it are not incompatable. China's night soil operations keep it reeking of human waste long after your nose gets acclimated. Still, me and many other foriegn visitors love it.

Posted by: green apron monkey at January 9, 2005 04:45 PM

Having watch with astonishment and not a little horror the Diplomad advocate an attack on Cuba recently, I have to say that I hope to God those people don't have important jobs. They suck.

Posted by: praktike at January 9, 2005 04:49 PM

I remember living in Taiwan back in 1987/88. It was even then a very prosperous country, although it has made a lot of progress since. It certainly smelled like sewage, but that was just the "cho dofu", "stinking tofu" the street vendors were cooking. I never could bring myself to eat the stuff, although by all accounts it is pretty good. It ain't always the sewage you're smelling.

Of course, here in Oklahoma if you get caught behind a cattle car on the highway in the summer when the temperature is hovering around 100 F, it can be pretty strong too.

Posted by: aiontay at January 9, 2005 05:20 PM

Yeah... My dad always gets nostalgic feelings when he smells cow dung, because it reminds him of being downwind from the feedlot in Nebraska.

Posted by: Matt McIrvin at January 9, 2005 05:35 PM

Of course, it IS interesting that the Diplomad can't quite seem to make up his mind in this piece on whether or not he's actually sympathetic with the godawful poverty of Third Worlders -- any more than he can make up his mind whether the trouble with the UN is that it isn't providing "aid and technical advice" to the Third World efficiently, or whether the trouble is that it thinks we should provide them at all and thus distract Third Worlders from the task of "developing their own countries".

Still, at least this particular entry on that blogsite is less cretinous than the hysterical apery I saw on a lot of entries from the site's first month in Aug. 2004. As I say, this thing is a hangout for the tiny sprinkling of F.S. employees who admire Ann Coulter.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at January 9, 2005 06:17 PM

Sounds like the stretch of road that connects Michigan with Illinois, or the stockyards in Omaha, or the bits of Eastern Colorado dotted with Cow Factories, or the pig country of Southern Ohio. Work stinks.

Also, resorts sometimes, like horse-rich Mackinac Island.

The guy has no romance left. Doesn't it seem like Republicans are born burnt-out? He deserves a permanent vacation.

Posted by: dennisS at January 9, 2005 06:21 PM

The child is right. Cleanliness requires vast amounts of capital - invested in sewers, drains,plumbing,loos, disinfectant, cleaning materials, etc., etc.Poverty means these resources just don't exist. Facts is facts - doesn't mean you can't do your job.

Posted by: Sudha Shenoy at January 9, 2005 06:25 PM

"[So why did they ever join the Foreign Service, then?]"

Why, so that they could have the pleasure of telling all the rest of the world what to do, Brad.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at January 9, 2005 06:26 PM

“Also, it is a dirty secret that most governmental "aid" usually comes with strings attached, the value of which is greater than the value of the aid itself.”

“The aid doled out by the US govt and other countries does a lot more damage than good.”

If so, then I suggest these countries do the obvious, don’t accept the aid. Does this include the funds that immigrants to the US from these countries send back home?

Posted by: A. Zarkov at January 9, 2005 06:38 PM

A.Zarkov, the reason these countries don't turn down the aid-with-strings is that the game is rigged in a way a bit like the way ground cover plants distort their environment.

I can give you a couple of examples that I hope won't be misread as mere anti-Americanism. When decolonising, one French and one British ex-colony decided to cut ALL the strings with one fell swoop: Guinea and Burma (now "Myanmar"). Both decisions caused an immediate loss of what had been a going concern, in the way of unsupported infrastructure and - a generation on - cultural transmission, with less of an educational and political system. Yet we know that wasn't a mere consequence of separation, since places like Madagascar had been coming along quite nicely, vringing in their own development until the outer world started to overshadow them.

But you can't turn round and say the USA was special from never being imperialist, either; in these respects it was just as imperialist as anyone else, I merely chose to use examples from the admittedly imperialist countries. That was just me being diplomatic, but I could easily produce US examples.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence at January 9, 2005 07:27 PM

jd writes: "Apparently the section of the country that I was in believed in using dung as a fuel"

It's not because of "belief", they use it because it's their best, and possibly only, option for fuel.

It would be more accurate to say "Apparently, the section of the country I was in did not believe in starving."

Posted by: Jon H at January 9, 2005 07:37 PM

I think the core of the problem is that this guy's attitude suggests he has contempt for the poor nation where he was stationed, rather than compassion for the people who are living there.

It's like there's as assumption that the stink and filth are part of their natural state of being, and not something that could be alleviated. Or even should be.

Posted by: Jon H at January 9, 2005 07:42 PM

My god! All this is much ado over nothing.

All the State Department needs to do is provide a set of plastic clips to its nasally sensitive diplomats. Or add it to their allowance so that they can buy cheaper, colourful ones that they sell in the Smelly World.

Posted by: Nitin at January 9, 2005 07:53 PM

"Turd world" is a term used regularly by an offensive talk show host called Michael Savage. Is it possible that diplomad is really Mike Savage pretending to work for the foreign service? Maybe someone with lots of time on his hands can analyze the writing styles of the two...

Posted by: Mbubu at January 9, 2005 08:16 PM


I’m not sure I understand what you mean. You have to be more specific and factual before I’ll believe that we victimize countries by providing them aid. If we do then we should stop giving them aid.

Posted by: A. Zarkov at January 9, 2005 08:38 PM

There are cultural variations in hygiene. For example the Japanese mothers change their baby’s diapers something like three times as frequently as American mothers. Restaurants in northern Europe are generally cleaner than American restaurants. I found German hotels to be particularly clean, even the cheap ones I stayed in. Many third world countries are pretty filthy, that’s just a fact of life.

Posted by: A. zarkov at January 9, 2005 08:49 PM

"You have to be more specific and factual before I’ll believe that we victimize countries by providing them aid"

There is a very simple reason why this may happen: the recipients of aid within the country (typically the government) may have no interest whatsoever in the welfare of the "country", that is society as a whole. As a drastic case, there is an interesting paper by Acemoglu, Robinson, and Verdier on the role of foreign aid in stabilizing kleptocratic regimes:

"Kleptocracy and Divide-and-Rule: A Model of
Personal Rule
Many developing countries have suffered under the personal rule of “kleptocrats”, who
implement highly inefficient economic policies, expropriate the wealth of their citizens, and
use the proceeds for their own glorification or consumption. We argue that the success
of kleptocrats rests, in part, on their ability to use a "divide-and-rule" strategy, made
possible by weakness of the institutions in these societies. Members of society need to cooperate
in order to depose a kleptocrat, yet such cooperation may be defused by imposing
punitive rates of taxation on any citizen who proposes such a move, and redistributing
the benefits to those who need to agree to it. Thus the collective action problem can
be intensified by threats which remain off the equilibrium path. In equilibrium, all are
exploited and no one challenges the kleptocrat. Kleptocratic policies are more likely when
foreign aid and rents from natural resources provide rulers with substantial resources to
buy off opponents; when opposition groups are shortsighted; when the average productivity
in the economy is low; and when there is greater inequality between producer groups
(because more productive groups are more difficult to buy off)."

(available on Daron Acemoglu's website

Posted by: Konrad at January 10, 2005 06:35 AM

It's a sad, sad fact that the more over-seas experience you have, the harder it is to get in the FS or get security clearance. It's thought by the FS to be much better if you've never left the US or met a foreigner. You're much less likely to go native that way, or even sympathize w/ the locals. In my experience FS officers are very often petty functionaries at best, fools at worst. (Not all, of course, but very many). They are also strongly encouraged to not make friends or contacts w/ the locals, or to get to know them much- again, one might start to sympathise w/ them too much. Better to just stay in the embassy and talk to other americans. You can see this first hand if you visit a US embassy and see the locals applying for visas being treated like animals. Very disgusting.

Posted by: Matt at January 10, 2005 10:40 AM

The story about the "turd" world is cute, in itself. It's the complaints it evolves into that constitute a red flag. Bad day or not, if the country sticks, the UN stinks, everybody stinks – that guy isn't prepared to do his job. Don't let this guy kid you. The State Department has plenty of conservatives in it. Most of them wouldn't, I suspect, adopt "Diplomad" as a pen-name. If this guy is mad about something, as a constant state of affairs, he doesn't belong in a "people" business. And he shouldn't be responsible for taking care of my interests overseas.

Something as simple as body language is a real problem. You may master the speech, but you can't be a natural at the local body language if you didn't grow up in the culture. State doesn't leave FSOs in place long enough even for a rough approximation of the local gesture. If you compound the problem by letting your bad attitude show through, you're a dead loss as a diplomat – they guy across from you knows you have a cob up your backside just from your posture.

I regret to inform you that this Diplomad guy probably isn't going to quit. There is a culture (and a retirement system) at work that encourages him to stay. Remember that, other than the entrance requirements, the mix of attitudes inside the State Department is not all that different from that in other educated circles. That is to say, there are up-tight, well-educated, narrow-minded idiots in the Foreign Services, just as surely as in any other walk of life. They do offend their hosts, to the detriment of their mission.


I am mystified by your experience of FSOs. Where abouts were you?

Posted by: kharris at January 10, 2005 12:06 PM

Matt's comments, if true, explain a lot about the screechy (and frequently semi-literate) comments one sees from other contributors to the Diplomad site. One might call them the Foreign Service Freepers.

To repeat, however, the really interesting things about Chief Diplomad's "Turd World" piece are that (A) he can't quite seem to decide whether he sympathizes with the poverty of Third Worlders or detests them, and (B) he can't seem to decide whether he hates the UN for being inefficient and corrupt in providing aid and technical assistance (an argument for which there is a considerable case, as Anne Applebaum says in her Oct. 13 Post column), or whether he hates it for saying that aid and technical assistance should be given to Third Worlders AT ALL and thus "distracting them from building their own countries".

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at January 10, 2005 01:58 PM

Strange world.

Amazing--someone with first hand knowledge says the UN is what we all know it to be and every "liberal" here wrings his or her hands with a lament no different than long gone, forgotten Daschel. "I am deeply hurt"

The point of the piece is that the UN is hurting when it should be helping.

Posted by: Moe Levine at January 10, 2005 02:12 PM


I was in the Peace Corps in Russia from 99-2001. The more in interacted w/ the embassy staff, esp. the FSO's, the less respect I had for them. I took, and passed, the written FS exam but didn't sit for the oral (went to grad school instead) as I could not bear the idea of working w/ such people. Now, some of my ex colleagues are FSO's, and it's sad to watch them degenerate. Of course there are good FSO's, but as someone else mentioned, they stay in one place such a short time that they hardly get to know it- I think this is largely for fear of them going native, and becoming sympathetic to the locals. So, you end up w/ lots of people who spend there time in the embassies w/o much real contact w/ the locals. Very sad.

Posted by: Matt at January 10, 2005 05:13 PM

The point of the piece, Moe, is that he can't make up his mind whether the UN SHOULD be helping the Third World. That's one of his points, that is. The other point is to sneer at all the rest of the world for not beginning to mtch "America's and Australia's contibutions" -- although Bush had to be dragged kicking and screaming over the course of a week into providing more than half as much as Spain was, and although we still have contributed only 70% as much as Japan and 43% as much as Australia. (By the way, Canada today matched the size of our contribution. But don't despair: today's Gallup Poll describes 45% of the American people as saying we've already given too much. Nice to see that we're still the most generous people on Earth, as Ronald Reagan kept assuring us.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at January 10, 2005 05:40 PM

Yeah, moe, it is pretty amazing that when America wants something to fail, doesn't pay for it, refuses to support it, and actively undermines it, it doesn't work.
Maybe we could spy on them some more, after violating rules we made to ensure fairness because we didn't think we had to abide by them. Genius. or should it be jeenyus?

Posted by: bigfoot at January 10, 2005 05:50 PM

Strange World:

Our FSO wrote:

"As the hours wore on, however, and I nervously doodled in my note pad, shifted in my chair, looked at my watch, and thought about all the real work I had to do that evening . . .

"For many in Europe and among the New York Times crowd, helping maintain these mad vultures substitutes for genuine action, "The UN is on the job!" In addition, for many senior bureaucrats and minor politicians, there is always the hope that if they play the game right, they, too, can join the High Priest Vulture Elite: We see the ranks of the HPVE full of Scandinavians and leftist Americans, and the occasional pompous Euro-Brazilian, all of whom parlayed mediocre domestic careers of lip-biting humanitarian symbolism into well-paying tax-free sinecures in the HPVE.

"Who are the victims? Well, of course, the tax payers of the First World come immediately to mind. But really, after all, for us it's just money. Money comes and goes. The big victims of the HPVE are the world's poor countries who pay with the lives of their children; who get diverted by HPVE mumbo jumbo and its promises of aid and technical assistance from taking actions to develop their own countries and fend off the HPVE."

My 2 cents--this is the kind of front line info one needs to make some reasoned judgment of the whole mess. It is no different than the soldier asking the Sec of Defense about HumVee armour.

Being a distant and remote observer, I am not about to dismiss the observations. It seems to be a very far critique of any Bureaucracy. Try this link for some insights. http://www.tinyvital.com/Misc/Lawsburo.htm#thrash


Posted by: Moe Levine at January 10, 2005 07:50 PM

"The big victims of the HPVE are the world's poor countries who pay with the lives of their children; who get diverted by HPVE mumbo jumbo and its promises of aid and technical assistance from taking actions to develop their own countries and fend off the HPVE."

Once again: Is he saying that the UN is lousily inefficient at providing aid and technical assistance to the Third World, or is he saying that ANY attempt to provide aid and technical assistance to the Third World is wrong because it "diverts them from taking actions to develop their own countries"?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at January 11, 2005 12:11 AM


Sorry you didn't get on with the Embassy types, but I can assure you many FSOs are not like the ones you met. And I suspect that, had your buddies who joined State gone into law, or saddled up with an investment bank, or taken any number of other highly competitive jobs, some would also have "degenerated." The pursuit of success often comes at a cost to one's humanity...but not always and not for everybody.

Posted by: kharris at January 11, 2005 04:23 AM

"The big victims of the HPVE are the world's poor countries who pay with the lives of their children; who get diverted by HPVE mumbo jumbo and its promises of aid and technical assistance from taking actions to develop their own countries and fend off the HPVE."

What I think he's saying is that UN Aid is
1) inefficient--it costs a lot for the benefits it provides
2) ineffective--it is directed in unproductive ways
3) distracting--it keeps many of the people who otherwise be doing things that would actually help from doing them, and diverts them into trying to get what they can from the UN system.

In other words, it's kind of like a big-city school system. It costs a lot, provides a poor eductation--but since it exists, the kids go, which prevents them going to something better.

Posted by: SamChevre at January 11, 2005 06:23 AM

>>Also, it is a dirty secret that most
>>governmental "aid" usually comes with strings
>>attached, the value of which is greater than
>>the value of the aid itself.
>>The aid doled out by the US govt and other >>countries does a lot more damage than good.

>If so, then I suggest these countries do the
>obvious, don’t accept the aid.

If I were to suggest the equally obvious -- our countries should not PROVIDE the aid -- various UN functionaries born in Scandahoovian nations formerly dominated by Nazis and Communists would sneer at my capitalist stinginess.

The problem is a diplomat is professinally constrained from speaking truth. Teenagers, however, are not. Far from it. I wonder if, were a poll conducted among the offspring of foreign service workers, nations like Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and Paraguay be more popular -- or would they prefer Japan, Holland, and New Zealand?

Maybe only childless bachelors should be assigned to "turd world" posts, lest their tactless dependents start up a war?

Posted by: Pouncer at January 11, 2005 09:26 AM

"Dragged kicking and screaming to contributing 70% of Spain's pledge."

Yet another tiny-minded partisan trying (and failing) to score cheap political points, this time, for shame, attempting to use the tsunami's human misery as a club.

Please realize this isn't about us, it's about the people we're trying to help. Let's look at the facts, shall we?

Today is Jan 11. The USS Lincoln battle group has been on station providing active relief services (fresh water distillation capacity of 90,000 gals/day, mobile airfield, surgical wards, engineering and construction facilities, global communications uplinks, airlift capabilities, and more than there is space here to list) since its arrival off Sumatra Dec 31.

The Tsunami struck December 26, so deduct a minimum three-days for the battle group's transit from Hong Kong, probably four to account for the slower escort ships. That leaves 16 days (and counting) of active service aiding survivors in Sumatra, at an operating cost for the battle group of $6M/day, leaving the US in-kind contribution alone at $96M so far. We passed Spain's pledge on Jan 7. And, more importantly, our pledge is there, on the ground feeding and sheltering people rather than sitting in Kofi Anan's in-box.

That's aside from the initial $35M aid pledge, and that's for Sumatra alone. I'm excluding the cost of the Bonhomme Richard amphibious assualt unit dispatched to Sri Lanka, or the 8-9 USAF C-130s providing Airlift capability to Southern Thailand out of the American base at Utapao, 42 tons of supplies in one day alone. And those are just the relief operations of which I'm aware.

The UN relief operation has amounted to this point of airlifting in "coordinators" and "managers", arranging lodging and catering services for same in comfortable lodgings in Jakarta and elsewhere, carping about the "stinginess" of the US relief efforts, and attempting to claim the credit for the heavy lifting being done by the Diggers, Japanese, Singaporeans, Malaysians, Kiwis, Americans and others.

Where it matters, in the actual boots-on-the-ground saving of lives, the UN has yet to make an appearance. Diplomad and its contributors are rightly pointing this out. At last, a breath of fresh air from Foggy Bottom.

Deal with it.


Posted by: furious at January 11, 2005 06:11 PM

Actually, I was being too kind in referring to the UN as "airlifting" in their pampered bureacrats to help. That implies noise and jump seats and discomfort.

More like the Unocrats flew business-class on Singapore Airlines into Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur, and are chauffered back-and-forth to catered "co-ordination" meetings in air-conditioned White Land Rovers.

Great work if you can find it, and as the sexual abuse of Congolese refugees at the hands of UN relief workers demonstrates, lots of fringe benefits, besides.


Posted by: furious at January 11, 2005 06:24 PM

Thank you all from the Diplomad! Love us or hate us, we don't care, just keep reading. BTW, dear Mr. DeLong, the point of being in the Foreign Service is not to love the countries to which you are assinged but to serve the one country you should love, the USA.

[No. The point of being in the Foreign Service is to be *diplomatic*. We have other people--other agencies--to be non-diplomatic when we need them to be.]

And to those of you who believe the UN does anything other than spend your money on nice hotels, conferences, and luxury 4x4s, keep sending your money to the UN -- the Hiltons, Sheratons, and Hyatts of this world appreciate it. Cheers, The Diplomad

Posted by: Diplomad at January 12, 2005 03:31 AM

The fact that many people are reading Diplomad should leave us with one option: We have an obligation to debunk his lies.

His bitterness toward the U.N. is fuelling cynicism that weakens the relief effort, and he offers no other option for mitigating the suffering other than cheerleading for western militaries.

All we have to do is read about the ongoing relief efforts and hyperlink. www.wfp.org. How do his arguments stand up against live video footage of aid arriving?

Posted by: Steve at January 12, 2005 09:21 AM

Er, "Furious", for all your attempts at misleading (and totally irrelevant) purple rhetoric, you make no attempt to even try to disprove my elementary facts. Japan, with a smaller GDP than the US, has sent 43% more money to the relief effort. Canada (population 1/10 of ours) fully matched our spending two days ago. Australia (population also 1/10 of ours) has sent 2.3 TIMES as much as we have. And Bush, as I say, delayed a week before he could be dragged kicking and screaming into contributing more than half as much as Spain has. Now, you can argue that the contributions of those other countries (including the Howard government?) are going to the UN and thus being largely wasted, but if so that's a mistake in strategy on their part -- NOT a display of tightwaddery, since they're going to lose the money anyway. Our behavior, on the other hand, is due to tightwaddery.

To steal Brad's commonest line, why oh why do I need to keep explaining this sort of thing to adults?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at January 12, 2005 03:51 PM

**someone with first hand knowledge says the UN is what we all know it to be**

No, it's someone who chooses to write pseudonymously at a blog that could be anywhere. The author's remarks may indicate familarity with the Foreign Service, but don't prove his/her claim. At best it's gossip and hearsay. It might be pure fiction. And you credit the author with "first hand knowledge"? Do you believe Belle Du Jour is a real call girl, too? Sheesh, how gullible are you?

Posted by: Paul at January 14, 2005 11:12 AM

Please Send Email Support - My Iraq Page
I worked for KBR a subsidiary of Halliburton. I was injured and they refuse to pay me unemployment compensation OR pay for my medical bills. I would appreciate it if you would put some pressure on these people to make them do the right thing as nobody seems to care about me at all. Here is my web page: My Iraq Page www.geocities.com/redcrosscerts2004/mypage.html

Posted by: screwedinIraq at January 15, 2005 07:02 PM

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