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American diplomats shun "hardship posts"in third world countries
Thursday, 04 March 2010 06:17
by Matthew Nasuti

The U.S. Department of State has labeled virtually every non-European country a “hardship post” for American diplomats. Last year, the State Department told auditors from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) that American diplomats deserve extra money for having to live in such harsh and uncomfortable environments.

American diplomats receive a generous base salary and on top of that, are eligible for supplemental money under four general criteria. They may get “danger” pay for having to live in a dangerous country; they may get a cost of living allowance if a particular country is unusually expensive; they may get a housing allowance and they may receive hardship pay (which is called a hardship differential). It is this last category that is the most controversial.

The State Department has taken each foreign country and calculated how harsh and uncomfortable it is for Americans to live in that country.

This calculation has nothing to do with the danger or cost of living in the country, but is extra pay to compensate for having to live under, what the diplomats perceive to be, substandard conditions. The State Department has created eight hardship groupings:

0% extra pay: This group includes France, Great Britain and Germany.

5% extra pay: This group includes Jordan and Malta.

10% extra pay: This group includes Turkey, Bahrain, Brazil, Kuwait and Qatar.

15% extra pay: This group includes Egypt, Russia and Mexico.

20% extra pay: This group includes Saudi Arabia, Somalia, China, India and Yemen.

25% extra pay: This group includes Lebanon, Nepal and Pakistan.

30% extra pay: This group includes Kenya and Cuba

35% extra pay: This group includes Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Iraq.

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All of this extra money means (for example) that American diplomats posted to Iraq earn in excess of $150,000.00 per year. They are provided with all their food and accommodations, and they have access to their own swimming pools, health clubs, nightclubs, bars and American restaurants. In addition, they receive anywhere from 30-50 days vacation per year (depending on seniority).

The underlying assumptions for the hardship differential are questionable. First of all, the more dangerous the country is, the more likely the American diplomats are to confined themselves to their Embassy “bubble” complexes, which take on the appearance of being “little Americas.” In these self-contained private worlds they have all the foods, clean water, electricity and other amenities that one would have in America. The “hardships” that diplomats face are therefore zero.

In non-dangerous countries, the diplomats still lead privileged lives. They have more money than 98% of the residents of most Third World countries they are posted to, so, as part of the privileged elite, they are spared many of the difficulties of day to day life.

On balance, living in any country presents a mix of good and bad. For example, while Beijing in the summer has substantial pollution, the balance is that one is living in an historic capital, surrounded by incredible wonders, in a vibrant country with endless travel opportunities.

Another example concerns Israel. While Tel Aviv is not considered a hardship post for U.S. diplomats, Jerusalem is considered a hardship, which does not make any sense. To anyone who has ever visited Jerusalem, it is a joy to be there, not a hardship. Apparently, living in close proximity to Arabs is a hardship for American diplomats.

An example of the “severe” hardships American diplomats face is detailed at www.aafsw.org. It is an unofficial American foreign service website. Patricia Linderman, in her article “Hardship Posts for Beginners,” describes her recent posting to Havana, Cuba:

“By definition, hardship posts present unusually difficult or unhealthful conditions or severe physical hardships. These may include crime or other violence, pollution, isolation, a harsh climate, scarcity of goods on the local market and other problems. These hardships are real. At my last post, Havana, our community faced surveillance and harassment by a hostile host government, parasitic infections, burglaries, six-month delays in receiving shipments, and the occasional scorpion in the living room.”

Ms. Linderman goes on to describe how the American diplomatic community responded to all this by withdrawing from Cuban society and spending most of their time with each other. Some American diplomats seem fearful of their local population when they should be embracing it.

Historically, the primary purpose for having a foreign service (as opposed to a consular service) is to meet foreigners and to explain and promote ones country. Diplomats are supposed to love foreigners and have a curiosity for other cultures. There is nothing in Ms. Linderman’s Havana account about the wonderful El Malecon waterfront walk, the warm Caribbean climate or whether she enjoyed the Mojito, which is a signature Cuban cocktail made from local rum, mint leaves and lime juice. There is no mention of the wonderful Old Havana area and Obispo Street or of the poet Jose Marti (1853-1895) who was inspired by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and wrote a poem in Versos Sencillos, whose lyrics were used in the famous Cuban song Guantanamera.

Calculating that one country has more hardships for an American diplomat than another country seems subjective and disrespectful. Being different from America is not something negative. Each country has its own unique attractions, history and culture. This reporter believes that most Third World countries have better tasting food than one would find in Germany or Great Britain, but to pampered diplomats, who refuse to learn the local languages and are hostile to non-European cultures, Third World countries seem confusing and inhospitable.

One of the latest GAO audits of the U.S. State Department is particularly damning. It is entitled: “Department of State: Persistent Staffing and Foreign Language Gaps Compromise Diplomatic Readiness.” It was released in late 2009 and should have set off alarm bells with the Obama Administration. Instead it was apparently ignored. The GAO found that the State Department continues to have problems staffing its hardship posts and U.S. diplomats do not strive to learn local languages. The shortfall in foreign language expertise was found by the GAO to be alarming. GAO auditors met with senior State Department officials and came away from their meetings pessimistic that the State Department would ever reform.

Part of the reason for the GAO’s gloom is that it has been reporting this problem for years. In its May 3, 2006, report it found major deficiencies in the State Department filling its overseas posts with language-qualified diplomats. The State Department promised reform then, but the effort floundered because American diplomats do not want to be posted to many Third-World countries. Those that are posted are sent for one or two years at the most. These short rotations, lack of interest in learning the local languages and a lack of contact with the local public translate into superficial expertise and influence. This helps to explain the failure of American public diplomacy.

The State Department, faced with the fact that it has a diplomatic staff that is deficient in foreign languages, had two choices. Either mandate that all foreign service officers be fluent in at least one and preferably two languages, and base promotions on learning the more difficult languages, or arbitrarily limit the number of diplomatic positions at each embassy for which local language skills are required. It chose the latter, labeling them as “language designated public diplomacy positions.”

Unfortunately for the State Department this gimmick has not worked. In many cases, it cannot even fill these positions with qualified officials. The GAO reported in November 2009, that the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security was continuing to suffer from systemic mismanagement and one result was 53% of its language-designated positions were not properly filled. This is slightly higher than the State Department average.

The State Department has two additional special categories of extra pay that highlight how dysfunctional the Department is. The American government pays its diplomats to learn foreign languages other than Spanish and French. It is called “language incentive pay.” As set out above, the State Department should be penalizing diplomats who refuse to learn another language instead of rewarding them for learning a skill that they should be anxious to have.

The final category of extra pay is called “service need differential pay.” American Diplomats are eligible for substantial extra pay if they remain in Third World countries more than two years. This is double-hardship pay. It is considered an extreme hardship to live outside of Europe or America for more than two years.

In contrast to American diplomats, al-Qaeda personnel seem to speak the local languages and dialects and seem to mix easily with local populations in all those countries diplomats shun. So while American diplomats sit in their embassy forts hosting tea parties for themselves and lamenting their hardship for not being posted to Europe; their adversaries are on the march.

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Comments (44)add comment

Bonnie said:

Hard to know where to begin. First, you write that "In these self-contained private worlds they have all the foods, clean water, electricity and other amenities that one would have in America. The “hardships” that diplomats face are therefore zero." I am the spouse of a foreign service officer, I've lived in many "hardship countries" and even when there is a commissary, it is usually no bigger than a 7-11. And the prices are three tiems higher. I can't work in most countries, so the "big salary" you report, is not that big when you realize that his salary in America is half of our household income while overseas, sometimes is part of our household income (I work whenever I possibly can) but sometimes it's all we get. That amount fluxuates wildly. So the cost of food matters. But aside from that tangent on salary and the triple cost of commissary food, the availability of one overpriced 7-11 in an entire country is not exactly "all the food ... one would have in America." Far from it, my friend. Far, far from it. And locally, say in Bangladesh, all the food is contaminated by live sewage or sprayed with viscious pesticides that other countries have outlawed as wildly dangerous. We bleach every leaf of every vegetable we buy in countries like that. So we also eat bleach. Just sayin' is all, that that is not quite "just like in America." Out side my gate in Dhaka there were usually three lepers and a guy with no arms and no legs. It was very, very sad. They had to beg to live. My kids could not ride bikes, scooters or other things kids in America could do and my kids were sick about 70% of the time with, at the least, mild nausea, stomach cramps and or diahreah. At worst, and several times, my young children were hospitalized with askaris worms, shigellosis, and one form of e-coli that literally almost killed my daughter. So forgive me for not accepting that in our "American Bubble" life was just like it was for you.

I love the life we lead. I say all of the above because you are so dreadfully offensive and out of touch and need to be corrected. But I will also say that you are right, on the score that life overseas is wonderful. We do what we do 1) to serve our country 2) to see wonderful and new places 3) because my husband finds his work rewarding 4) because our children are now really citizens of the world and for many, many other reasons. But to belittle the hardship and to not understand that this extra money is sometimes the difference between finding one's balance by getting out of Dhaka from time to time. You can almost get used to the fact that human feces runs down an open drain that runs along the outside of your house's gate, but you never quite get used to the smell. Sometimes you need to get away. If that offends you, don't do it. But tell me that it's a glorious American bubble? That's absurd.

I could tear into many parts of your article. I chose the firs tone I came to. For instance, we don't speak the language? How do you know that? My husband studied Russian for months before we got to Moscow. I did too. I speak French, Spanish, Bulgarian, Lithuanian and enough German to shop and be polite. My Lithuanian is conversationally fluent, if not grammatically attractive. I am not more linguistically talented or high achieving than very many others in the Foreign Service. Your statement, sir, offends me. We speak langauges. We love our postings. But we also need to survive, and keep our children alive, while serving our nation. Back off, Jack. You don't know what you're talking about.
March 04, 2010
Votes: +67

Kelly Bembry Midura said:

It's not all about the Green Zone
Looking at the author's profile, it appears that he has been to Baghdad and now thinks he knows all about State Department hardship posts. The Green Zone is nothing whatsoever like the rest of the hardship posts that we experience in the Foreign Service. I could go into more detail, but I really think that's the reason for his completely misinformed point of view. My family has served four hardship tours in Latin America and Africa. On the whole, a good experience, but in my opinion, Mr. Nasuti should serve several years in the developing world WITH HIS FAMILY before he even begins to comment on what daily life is like for diplomats in those places. I believe that State is hiring lots of new officers--now's his chance! Africa awaits!
March 04, 2010
Votes: +28

Heather Harper-Troje said:

The above comments pretty well cover anything I would say. This article is so offensive to FSOs and their families, and the inaccuracies in it are startling. As the wife of an FSO I get frustrated by the inaccurate stereotypes that exist about our lives, articles like this one add to those stereotypes. When we were posted to Guinea we had many, many wonderful cultural experiences--no doubt about it. I feel our children are richer for those experiences and they have very fond memories of Guinea. But it just isn't that simple. We also had several health scares with our children that could not have been handled in country had they been worse, watching your kids suffer is torture and anyone who says our lives are a piece of cake would do well to remember this. We had to watch our dog die slowly from a parasitic infection that the vets were unable to diagnose much less treat. Because of the skin sores associated with it we were unable to fly her out of the country for treatment so we took care of her the best we could with the help of vets back home but, in the end, she still died a painful and slow death. She was a member of our family and she suffered because we lived in a country with no vet care, might seem small to some people but her death and suffering broke our hearts. We were confined to our house for weeks at a time because of civil unrest and violence (to the point that there was so much gunfire on the streets that I wouldn't even let the children play in our yard) and, ultimately, there was an evacuation which separated our family for 4 months. Was our life there still easier than 99.9% of the people who lived there, absolutely. But, as has been pointed out, we still dealt with all the things that one deals with when living in a country like there. I love our life, I wouldn't trade it for the world, I think the benefits to our family far outweigh the negatives. But it isn't easy to live in many of the places where we have embassies and consulates and I challenge anyone who says it is to actually go do it. I challenge them to uproot their children every 2-3 years, help them settle into a new life in a new country in a new school with new friends and teachers and languages, etc. Then watch them thrive and grow and learn to love their new country-only to rip them out of it again in 2-3 years. Benefits, absolutely. Easy and pampered--hardly.
March 04, 2010
Votes: +26

Daniel Hirsch said:

State Vice President, American Foreign Service Association
Have you ever awoken in the middle of the night to find your baby daughter in a coma, dying of malaria? Awoken to the sound of automatic weapons fire in the street outside your house? Been shot at (on five separate occasions in three continents)? Stepped over dead bodies as you walked down a narrow alleyway too narrow to walk around them? Had worms and malaria simultaneously?

I have. And many other Foreign Service members have had similar experiences.

A few weeks after the Foreign Service lost four of its own in an earthquake in Haiti, I find your article entitled: “American diplomats shun hardship posts in third world countries” not merely to be appallingly inaccurate, but, under the circumstances, incredibly disrespectful.

My name is Daniel Hirsch. I am the Vice President of the American Foreign Service Association, the professional association which represents American diplomats. I am also a Foreign Service member myself, who served in Mali, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, Uzbekistan, Nigeria, India, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia and Turkmenistan, before returning to Washington, a city which, incidentally, is considered a hardship post by some other countries and organizations due to its oppressive humidity.

In addition to the above, in Mali, when the Niger river flooded, dead animals used to line my road to work. When they got hot enough, they exploded. In Mozambique, there was a war on, and we could see and hear nightly mortar fire from some embassy houses. When landing in Maputo in those days, we could tell we were getting close by the columns of black smoke from trucks burning on the road to South Africa. In Uzbekistan, my telephone was bugged and my comings and goings were overtly followed. In India, I lived in a city which the WHO ranked seventh in the world for air pollution. I also learned that my own apartment had been specifically targeted by Bin Laden’s organization (then not yet known as Al Qaida).

Don’t get me wrong. I loved every day of my experience overseas. For as long as I can remember, I have loved to travel, and still do so. That’s why I joined the Foreign Service. Like every other Foreign Service member I know, I genuinely enjoy meeting with people from other countries, immersing myself in other cultures, tasting other foods, seeing things one does not see at home. Overseas, I shop in local bazaars, eat in the same cafeterias as our local employees, travel widely throughout my countries of assignment and, like every other FS member I know, I have friends in every country in which I have served.

As for languages, every Foreign Service Officer, in order to get tenured, needs to have full proficiency in at least one foreign language. I speak French, Portuguese and Russian fluently and can make myself understood in Spanish, Italian, Bambara and Hebrew. When I meet with local officials to conduct Embassy business, I nearly never speak English and rarely need an interpreter.

It is certainly true that not every employee gets as much language or other training as might be desirable in every case, and there is, as GAO indicated, room for improvement. But to paint the entire Foreign Service as linguistically ignorant or culturally insensitive is absurd.

With regard to salary and benefits, American diplomats do not get paid what many poor or middle class citizens of some of the world’s less affluent countries get paid, nor do they live in houses comparable to those housing the poor or middle class of those countries. Like diplomats of every other country, American diplomats are well-educated professionals, whose salaries, benefits and housing should be compared to those of similarly well-educated and professional citizens of the countries in which they serve. I have yet to see a residence or lifestyle of a Foreign Service member that exceeds in opulence that of a successful businessman, politician, doctor or lawyer in the countries to which they are stationed.

As for schools, swimming pools, the (often sole) American cafeteria, etc, not only do most diplomatic entities have equivalents, but so do members of the military, people who work for multinational corporations, employees of the United Nations, and others who serve their countries, companies or organizations in lands away from home. My brother is 16 years younger than I, works for a private company in Washington and makes a great deal more money than I do.

The men and women of America’s Foreign Service serve the people of the United States in nearly every country on earth; at war, at peace, friendly, hostile, developed, developing, healthy and unhealthy. The factors used to calculate “hardship” include health factors, pollution, availability of goods and services, availability of foodstuffs, medicines, recreation, difficulty in getting around and many other factors. Similar benefits are paid by most other diplomatic services, by the UN, World Bank, and don’t even compare to those paid by many private firms. To imply that these labels somehow correspond to a unique attribute of the Foreign Service is misleading, irresponsible, and does no service to the reputation of your fine publication.

Daniel M. Hirsch
State Vice President
March 04, 2010
Votes: +47

Glen Roberts said:

As an active-duty US Military Officer who has had the pleasure and privilege to serve for the past 24 months at the State Dept alongside a cadre of dedicated and professional Foreign Service Officers and staff members, I strongly disagree with the contents of this article, and find the authors' comments to not only be wholly uninformed, but also offensive in nature to an entire profession of people. FSO's do amazing work every day, around the globe, under the most arduous conditions. Having served multiple long-term deployments in places such as Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, my own personal experience has been that US Foreign Service Officers and staff are voluntarily performing extremely difficult jobs on the ground, in most cases having been there long before US military forces arrive, almost always staying long after we depart, and usually serving without the blanket of security that the author describes above. I won't even address the hardships that the families of these American heroes endure, without complaint, in support of their loved one who has chosen a life of service. Instead, I wholly concur with the comments of Bonnie and Heather above. I am extremely proud to serve alongside the professionals who comprise America's Diplomatic Corps. And, lastly, I remain mindful of a quote by President Theodore Roosevelt from 1894: "Criticism is necessary and useful; it is often indispensable; but it can never take the place of action, or be even a poor substitute for it. It is the doer of deeds who actually counts in the battle for life, and not the one who looks on and says how the fight ought to be fought, without himself sharing the stress and the danger."
March 04, 2010
Votes: +20

John said:

Where is this privileged and elite FS and where do I sign up?
The mind numbing ignorance in this article is enough to give you a hemorrhoid, and I hesitate to even bother to respond. I'd like you to go visit any number of the U.S. diplomatic posts worldwide outside the Green Zone. Live for a year in (everyone's favorite "historic capital") N'djamena, in the middle of mind numbing poverty, human rights abuses, and on and off again civil war, live in a house in which entire systems may fail repeatedly (what will it be today? Plumbing? Water heating? Electricity? Oh look, my cabinets just collapsed because termites ate them. How wonderfully cultural) and go to work with the knowledge that a rocket may come through the roof of your embassy office. Or perhaps sunny and beautiful Kathmandu, which is indeed one of those countries that "has its own unique attractions" which include historic religious sites and world class trekking alongside a violent Maoist insurgency, repeated "strikes" (which translate to "if you show up on the road, we'll throw bricks at you and shoot your tires out"), and an populace often so hostile towards foreigners that you run the risk of being beaten by a mob if you end up in a fender bender, in the wrong place at the wrong time, or if Prachanda simply wakes up in a poopy mood. It also includes water that can kill you if you get as little as a drop in your mouth while showering (or make you feel like you wish you were dead while spending 20 hours a day either sitting on or hugging a toilet -- ever blacked out from dehydration on the commode, only to wake up two hours later, suddenly a temporary cripple because your legs went completely numb? I have, and let me tell you I felt very "privileged and elite" at that moment, and even more so when hooked up to IV fluids shortly thereafter) and disease that can kill you if not treated by adequate western medical care within very short order. Ever have to live with the debilitating fear that hits you when your child has a disease that has been virtually eradicated in the developed world, forcing an immediate medical evacuation? Many, many of us have. The majority of us who have served at posts such as these would have smacked Mother Theresa's mama for "self-contained private worlds" in which we received "all the foods, clean water, electricity" one would need. Hell, I know people who would've simply been happy if they could get into the shower without getting a jolt of electricity from faulty house wiring (true story), have a single solid bowel movement, and could eat something other than dal bhat for the 25th time that month or a carrot that doesn't taste like it has been soaked in a Clorox wipe. Wait, it's time for your transfer to your next post in the historic capital of Port au Prince, poorest country in the hemisphere...or perhaps sunny, vibrant Karachi...the examples go on and on. Furthermore, the very nature of the job requires us to live and interact with the local populace. Most FSOs speak the local language, and all of us get out, interact, live…

Mr Nasuti, you wouldn't last a month in 95% of the posts in which the men and women of the Foreign Service and their families live and work. As a whole, we all love this life, we love the experiences, we love the people we meet in our travels, and we will look back fondly at all of it. But do not confuse this love with a grasp of the reality we all deal with daily that disease, crime, and in many cases terrorism are a constant and real threat to us and our families. Living for two, three, often four years in a foreign country is significantly different than a short visit staying at the local Marriott or a jaunt down the El Malecon waterfront walk sipping a mojito, knowing full well you're on a plane back to the USA in less than a week. Thinking otherwise telegraphs your mind-numbing and willful ignorance of the world at large.

March 04, 2010
Votes: +20

Karla Solomon said:

Wow, are you completely unknowledgable about the foreign service life.
"First of all, the more dangerous the country is, the more likely the American diplomats are to confined themselves to their Embassy “bubble” complexes, which take on the appearance of being “little Americas.” In these self-contained private worlds they have all the foods, clean water, electricity and other amenities that one would have in America. The “hardships” that diplomats face are therefore zero."

It is true that the State Department tries to ameliorate the conditions in other countries to keep their staff and families as safe and healthy as they can, but that doesn't mean that there are no "hardships". My friends have a lovely house, but can't be out of it between sunset and sunrise because of the prevalence of violent crime and carjacking in Guatemala. I will have a decent place to live in Moscow, and probably will be spied on and followed, plus I will come close to being killed in chaotic traffic, inhale large amounts of pollution, get food poisoning multiple times. Last time we lived there, there were bombs going off in random places, and the theater siege by Chechen rebels. Of course I also get the expenses of setting up house in a new country every couple of years, and the challenges of keeping myself and our children psychologically balanced despite being uprooted and starting our lives over every few years (being far from family, starting out without friends, finding new work for the accompanying spouse, setting up new daily routines, doing all grocery shopping in a foreign language).

There are lots of good things about the foreign service life, and I'm happy to do it, but don't even try to tell me it's easy and we don't deserve what help we get, or that my husband who works 12+ hour days doesn't deserve vacation time.
March 04, 2010
Votes: +12

Jeff Bridges said:

Mr. Nasuti,

It appears you have an interesting history with the State Department. Getting fired seems to have made you unable to gather facts and coherently communicate a well-informed opinion.


Focus on your lawsuit instead of seeking to distribute misinformation about the fine diplomats that serve the United States of America. If you want to focus on religious history and your beliefs that is fine. I can have an excellent discussion with you. You are not the only person who has studied Arabic (Iraqi/Gulf dialect) nor are you the only one who has studied Aramaic, nor are you the only one who has studied religious history. You seem to have some sort of strange vendetta. I would argue this vendetta is not best pursued by attacking the fine Diplomatic Corps, but what do I know? My name is not Matthew Nasuti.

I guess I expected better-informed and more respectful arguments out of a former Air Force officer.
March 04, 2010
Votes: +22

FSO said:

The other folks have rightly identified the many flaws in your article, and I won't repeat those points here. However, I think it is disingenuous to write such a piece without identifying your history with the Department of State and your clear bias. Anyone with a basic command of Google can learn that you were employed by the Department of State in 2008, when you were fired after only 2 weeks for disruptive behavior. You then filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel, which denied your many claims. You appealed, filing an Individual Rights Action. Denied again. You then appealed to the MSPB. Denied again. The final decision of the MSPB is quite an entertaining read.

Against this background your credibility and motive is suspect. Especially so when you fail to disclose your history to your readers. Shame on you.

112 M.S.P.R. 587
March 05, 2010
Votes: +22

Retired FSO said:

I guess since you lost your frivolous lawsuit against the State Department, you decided to find other ways to malign the Department by attacking the hard-working FSOs. I served a year in Baghdad. I left my husband and two teenage sons at home to serve my country in a war zone. Yes, we lived in the Green Zone, but people were killed and injured on the Embassy Compound during my time there. Incoming IED prevented us from getting a decent night's sleep. We worked 12 or more hours a day, 6-7 days a week. And we were all volunteers and we did it because we believed in serving our nation. You know nothing about Foreign Service life. Shall I tell you about the various tropical diseases my family and I suffered? or how my youngest son was born via c-section with local anesthesia because the doctor who claimed he knew how to do a spinal block messed it up? or how my husband had to be evacuated from post three days after our wedding because there was a "credible" threat that the Colombian cartels were going to assassinate some American family members? How dare you! "Hosting tea parties?" Seriously?! You're beneath contempt. Get a life and get over the fact that the State Department decided you were not fit to serve in Iraq. You would have made life miserable for everyone around you. Move on.
March 05, 2010
Votes: +17

Tim said:

Ignorant and Arrogant
Ignorant and arrogant is the only way to describe this b.s. Such unadulterated crap is to be flushed. At least twice.
March 05, 2010
Votes: +7

Nathan said:

The most vocal critics of the foreign service are those who have either been fired or couldn't pass the oral assessment.
March 05, 2010
Votes: +11

huh? said:

To sum up what everyone is really trying to say:

You, sir, are a douche bag. Now please go get a clue.

And that's keeping it real!
March 05, 2010
Votes: +7

WTF said:

The author of this article is clearly a dumbass. And you can quote me on that.
March 05, 2010
Votes: +6

Patricia Linderman said:

My article, "Hardship Posts for Beginners," was aimed at preparing diplomatic families for some of the difficulties they might face abroad, since we do NOT live in isolated compounds in most places, and we really do face hardships, as the other posters here have eloquently stated.

It is also not at all true that we tend to remain isolated from the local population and environment. Cuba is, in fact, a very unusual case, since Cubans faced trouble with their own government if they became too friendly with Americans. We were frustrated and saddened by this separation. I certainly did enjoy mojitos, the Malecon, Old Havana, José Marti’s poetry, and much more — in fact, my family extended our assignment there from two years to three, with no extra pay as you seem to imply. However, my article was focused especially on preparing people for hardships, not the many joys of living in another country, which I think are more obvious.

We definitely do "love foreigners and have a curiosity for other cultures," or we wouldn’t be doing this. I can understand why hardship differentials can seem offensive, but they are common practice among diplomatic services and international businesses from many countries, not just the United States.

Patricia Linderman

currently in Guayaquil, Ecuador, a hardship post because of the high crime rate and hot climate ... but we love the friendly, family-oriented people; centuries-old indigenous cultures; fresh tropical fruits; fishing villages on unspoiled beaches; and much more.
March 05, 2010
Votes: +11

fso said:

I had him pegged for an unsuccessful tester
Turns out he's much, much more. Kind of like having a bitter ex-girlfriend/boyfriend write your match.com profile.
March 05, 2010
Votes: +6

Retired FSO said:

"Mr. Nasuti is recognized by the U.S. State Department as an expert in reconstruction. It hired him last year as a Senior City Management Advisor to one of its Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq." Um, no. They did not "recognize" you as an expert. You were hired as an advisor. Then they fired you before you completed the two-week training because of inappropriate/disruptive behavior. Don't call yourself an expert or a "State Department official," as you have done in other blogs/website. You are misrepresenting yourself!!!
March 06, 2010
Votes: +11

Robin Martin said:

Is this the caliber of discourse the foreign service engages in?
So name-calling and mocking are the primary response by our esteemed foreign service to this article? As someone who has had numerous contacts with consulates/consuls around the world, I say this article sadly hits the mark more than it misses. These comments are what you get from many foreign service when you have a sincere problem and take it to an American consulate abroad. I have never served in the foreign service. I have only dealt with them on site, with small and large issues, and it has always, always been a disappointment. I have had many good experiences with the U.S. government including the IRS, USPS, and even the US Army. The arrogance, callousness, presumptuousness and dismissive attitude I have seen in the foreign service I can only attribute to people who don't really want to be where they are and have little incentive to hide it. The comments here expose that dirty underbelly quite well.
March 06, 2010
Votes: -23

Retired FSO said:

Give us examples...
Robin: Gives us examples of what you're talking about. What is a "sincere problem?" Unless you give specifics, it's impossible to know whether the reaction was proper or improper. We've all had issues with people who serve the public (store clerks, government workers, etc.), but when someone attacks an entire group of people by claiming they sit around and have "tea parties," he should expect some backlash from the dedicated public servants that constitutes most of the Foreign Service.
March 06, 2010
Votes: +8

avatar singh said:

american foreign policy is not determined in washington or by american diplomats but in london by the enlgish parasites.
american foreign policy is not determined in washington or by american diplomats but in london by the enlgish parasites.

it is england which is the main evil influence behind america making its foreign and economic policies.

31st jan.2007.
What so called democracy really mean for the rapacious anglosaxon race(yes it is a race war by parasitic Anglo-Saxons against the rest of the world)

it is very important to realize and understand the trickery of the english race in manipulating usa to wage wars on behalf of britain which gains most from Iraq war and any war that usa imposes on the third world and even on Europe.

Here are some of the writings done years ago to give a global picture of what is REALLY happening in the world and by WHOSE agency.
The modus operandi of Britain is to make country and regions unstable and install british stooge with explicit instruction to bring the money -looted ones -to Britain from where it is not going to go anywhere else.
Some oligarch Jews (like thee criminal U.K.-based fugitive oligarch Boris Berezovsky)
were the stooge of British in Russia and they brought so many ill gotten money to uk. So did the Kuwaitis-who brought 4 billions of pounds within a week of first Iraq war problem in august 1990 -so has continued the massive loot of the rest of the world by the English .race through this money protection racket . It is money protection racket in the sense that those eliete’s money is protected only when it is made to be lodged in British London banks. The witness, who appeared on the Rossiya channel with his face hidden and was referred to as Pyotr, accused 61-year-old Berezovsky of killing Alexander Litvinenko because the former security officer knew how the exiled tycoon had obtained political asylum in Britain in 2003. This thief boris berezosvky is a terrorist as well who calls for violet end to Putin-the president who is one of the most loved of his countrymen compared to any in the world.
As someone said “We live in a world where criminals are good guys and patriots are villains: where Berezovsky is a liberal "human rights" activist and Putin is a moral monster.” that putin who is one of the most popular leader of any in the world.
say even if Russia destroys usa then if Britain or rather england is allowed to exist then the english parasitic dog race will ,by very parasitic nature, will try to disrupt Russia or other countries' existence. therefore instead of attacking usa or poland it is best policy of Russia to attrack and destroy to the whole of england which must be evaporated to a rubble.
IN '88 when Dalai lama, at the height of Tibetan disturbances, visited west, the then british prime minister refused to meet Him. Later on with the demise of Russia and usefulness of China gone and with manipulation to keep power in Hong Kong somehow intact, the same british media and government ,like dog, started barking at China. It is interesting that amnesty international selectively targets those very countries( as it did china after cold war) who are out of favour (because they would not be a british stooge) of the british media and govt. This is not surprising as amnesty international is the creation of british govt, and british media. england with the most appalling record of human rights in last 200 years of her evil rule, needed some organisation to keep the others from charging england off her past and current evil practices. In other words it went for aggressive posture in propaganda war so that others can be demoralized and stopped from pointing out the real evil which is england. That is why amnesty international is one armour of the british lies to exploit the rest of the world. Amnesty international must be ignored and an independent human watchdog (which england will simply ignore) created. One purpose of amnesty international is to create an atmosphere for hatred towards the would be victims of british exploitation so that a victim could be blamed to have deserved the consequences. That is why ,now amnesty international sometimes threatens China, sometimes India and etc.

Mrs Margaret Thatcher, Britain's so called iron Lady, refused to receive the Dalai Lama during his UK visit in the late-1980s for fear of offending his Chinese oppressors. Perhaps the iron in her was wrought iron, much given to bending in the heat.

In fact Britain is running a protection racket in the world through the help of american army-(because Britain is a third rate country with fourth rate army so it cannot do it on its own).
What Britain does is let the other countries be made instable (Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan etc) then let the british stooge be installed there-those people who have no following in own country and with strict instruction to those stooges that they will bring the money to britan,-that is how London has enriched itself in last 15 years after fall of soviet union. Billions of soviet money have flown illegally to London and the british court -kangaroo court if ever there was any -have not let the money go citing “it will harm england’s balance of payment”?
That is why british media gets incensed if the traitors like soviet spies are not left safe in Britain -because then the whole business of protection money racket and money that Britain gets is in jeopardy. That is what explains influx of foreign money to London and how London has overtaken new York in stock market. Forget about service industry -british are the most ill mannered race what service can they provide except protection racket on back of american arms? Britain is looting even usa. Through it is usa which has worked hard (through illegal invasions ) to make other countries unstable so that Britain can get money from protection of stooge elites of those countries..
the modus operandi of Britain is to make country and regions unstable and install british stooge with explicit instruction to bring the money -looted ones -to Britain from where it is not going to go anywhere else.
Some oligarch jews were the stooge of British in Russia and they brought so many ill gotten money to uk. So did the Kuwaitis-who brought 4 billions of pounds within a week of first Iraq war problem in august 1990 -so has continued the massive loot of the rest of the world by the English race through this money protection racket . it is money protection racket in the sense that those elite’s money is protected only when it is made to be lodged in British London banks.

This is how the british and Americans now conduct their battle for "hearts and minds" – by making local satraps so widely and deeply despised that they are totally dependent on their Washington overlords for their sheer physical survival. The real "benchmark" the Iraqis have to display to the Americans' satisfaction is an infinite capacity for obedience.”

“In the aftermath of President Abraham Lincoln's defeat of the London-backed slave-holders' Confederate insurrection, the London-linked New York faction of U.S. finance unleashed a predatory looting of the physical assets of the territory formerly ruled by the defeated Confederacy. That operation, which was described then as "carpet bagging," is a term that pointed to the style of the personal baggage, in which the travelling, locust-like predators carried their personal effects.”

A very famous news mogul-Mr.Rudolph Hearst (Jewish proprietor of he the Hearst newspaper chain ))- had been stopped from running for American presidency in 1916 because he was suspected by the English that
might not have been inclined to rescue england in the 1st world war. Anyway, the southern constituency was pressing hard for america to come to rescue england who was staring defeat and thus loosing the prospect of enslaved nations who would have been feed from defeat of england. America did come to aid of england and it was called end of isolationalism. But this end of isolationalism would be tolerated only when it suits english interest against others and not in case of others like freedom for Irish people in northern Ireland (an occupied part of Ireland).and that British agent Wilson intervened on side of Britain in name of spreading democracy at point of gun! Woodrow Wilson was re-elected in 1916 on a promise to stay out of the Great War.
Think of that-Britain was looting two third of the world at the time and killing starving millions of people-and this Wilson comes to Britain rescue in name of protecting democracy! And that is exactly what these bastards mean when they utter democracy-that is a code word for them to attack other countries for furtherance of british interest. Then if two millions Iraqi are killed -starved -it is price worth paying. Somebody can legitimately ask than what to do with 60 millions English people and then it would be worth the price to save the world from English rapacity.
“The First World War was by far the bloodiest conflict in human history up to that time. Schwartz and Skinner noted, “Woodrow Wilson proclaimed a war for democracy against ‘Prussian dictatorship,’ but that was propaganda. Germany had civil rights, an elected parliament, competing parties, universal male suffrage, and an unparalleled system of social democracy.” Germany was far more democratic than either the British or French empire.”

“The significance of the revived promotion of Marx's name is located in the process, directed from London, by Prince of Wales Edward Albert, for clearing the way for "A New Seven Years War" on the European continent, through a series of measures, including the ouster of Germany's Chancellor Bismarck, the assassination of France's President Sadi Carnot, the Dreyfus case, the British launching of Japan into wars against China, and the London-steered assassination of U.S. President William McKinley. The McKinley assassination had the crucial function of shifting control of the U.S. Presidency from the U.S. traditional orientation of friendship toward both Bismarck's Germany and Russia, by putting the U.S. Presidency in the hands of a dutiful nephew of a Confederate spy, Theodore Roosevelt, and, a bit later, a fervent champion of the Ku Klux Klan, London's asset Woodrow Wilson. It was only with the election of President Franklin Roosevelt, that the U.S. Presidency fell again into the hands of a true U.S. patriot, as the death of Franklin Roosevelt put the Presidency back into the hands of a Wall Street tool and Churchill accomplice, Harry S Truman.”

An Anglophile to the core, ku kulx klan stooge Wilson didn't care about the fate of the Russians. His concern was in keeping German forces split along two fronts. The payoff worked: Russia's provisional prime minister Aleksandr Kerensky kept the Russians involved in the war.

In 1916, Woodrow Wilson was re-elected to the presidency chiefly on the strength of a slogan: "He kept us out of war." By 1917, the peacenik prez was leading the charge against Germany, jailing antiwar activists, and exhorting Americans to fight a "war to end all wars." In 1940, Franklin Delano Roosevelt told the voters: "I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." Behind the scenes, however, he was maneuvering to do just that – and by the end of 1941, we were fighting a two-front war, embracing "Uncle" Joe Stalin as a fellow "anti-fascist," and planning the internment of the Japanese-American population.

“ When this English edition of Professor Stanislav Menshikov's book has been printed, Russia's President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin will have delivered his landmark May 10, 2006 "state of the union" address. The President's address will have marked the probable close of what had been the demographically murderous, greatest carpetbagging swindle in history. The carpetbagging which Professor Menshikov's book describes, is the post-1989 looting of the territory of the former Soviet Union, a looting that, in fact, has also been the predatory ruin of most of the East European territory of the Comecon outside Russia then and now.”-from
March 07, 2010
Votes: -13

Matthew Nasuti said:

Matthew Nasuti
From the Author
My article was based on data uncovered by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). None of these facts are disputed by the U.S. State Department. Those objecting to my article have not addressed any of the GAO's findings. It reflects poorly on the Foreign Service that the level of discourse in these comments is so poor. The Foreign Service, like society as a whole, is composed of exemplary hard-working people and some who just complain (and who should be working elsewhere). There is no place for name-calling. It is unprofessional. As a former U.S. Air Force Captain, who was stationed overseas and who has lived in five different countries, my feeling is that American and NATO troops in the field suffer actual hardships. In contrast, most people in the foreign service simply have inconveniences. If you disagree, that is your choice.
March 07, 2010
Votes: -29

Project Humanbeingsfirst.org said:

Beneficial Cognitive Diversity
Yes I am very disturbed by the pay-differentials noted by the US GAO. The exercise of the white man's burden upon the 'untermenschen' through the coveted Foreign Service of the superpower should be more equitable in paychecks, I quite agree.

Is it possible that those lower-ranking cadre serving in the superpower's Foreign Service aren't fully informed of their real diplomatic mission? Permit me to enlighten you by 1) encouraging you to read your predecessor empire's writings; and 2) inviting you to ponder the role your mission plays from the eyes of those whom you govern by proxy. Below is my two cent contribution to the education of US Foreign Service Personal - an education one cannot purchase for a million dollars at Georgetown School of Foreign Service even if Prof. Carroll Quigley was still living and delivering his famous lectures on history today. And yet, it is also trivial to acquire this education when one is not unduly saddled with the 'white man's burden' in the new empire.

Lesson-1 - The Big Picture: A super-power's foreign service is primarily an instrument of exuding its hegemony; the pay differential primarily reflects that quantitative differential in the white man's burden in different geographical location (otherwise as you have duly noted, it makes no sense); many of the diplomats' inability to speak the local vernacular is as pertinent to their performing their daily duties as Lord Babbington Macaulay's was when he awarded India the generous gift of the English language without himself knowing the local vernaculars of Arabic, Persian and Sanscrit by claiming:

“I have no knowledge of either Sanscrit or Arabic. But I have done what I could to form a correct estimate of their value. ... I have never found one among them who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia. The intrinsic superiority of the Western literature is indeed fully admitted by those members of the committee who support the oriental plan of education.”,

and his legatees today worldwide have their CIA managed intelligence officers and the hierarchy of field controllers speak all the local languages in every dialect, and do all the requisite mixing, influencing, orchestrating, infiltrating, coup d'état-ing, and blackops-ing as needed to leave the diplomats very clean hands, and conscience, so that they may continue on with their white man's burden without undue guilt.

Lesson-2 The Job Description: The Diplomatic mission's primary job function is to engage with the mostly English-enabled rulers and their coterie of lackeys among the local influence peddlers, who have been selected to govern on behalf of the hegemons as per Lord Macaulay's architecture:

“We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern, -- a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.”

This is done, inter alia, by inviting their carefully cultivated indigenous house negroes to lavish Embassy parties, overarchingly projecting the corrupting-power and corrupting-luxury which is both enviable and feared by the locals, to enable the ongoing cajoling/influencing of the local quislings and opinion-makers to do the masters' bidding while maintaining the aura of both supremacy and invincibility.

Anyone in the Foreign Service pay who is un-familiar with the aforementioned palpable mission that is entirely written in empiricism, is either a low ranking staffer/janitor and hasn't a clue what he or she is doing under the patriotic banner of serving their country in the foreign land of hardships, or, is a senior ranking liar spinning “beneficial cognitive diversity”.

The latter spinning has evidently succeeded – judging from the number of comments this psyops article has attracted on a website where most articles would be lucky to get even one comment. Why is this succeeding, and why is this a psyop? Well, the psyop is succeeding because it is an “Opra Winfrey” special edition – irrelevant nonsense which typically attracts the American audience. This article is now among the most read on Atlanticfreepress with 21 comments (before mine). And it has zero content pertinent to the mission of this website – that being, to my understanding, providing an alternate worldview and its analyses which remain un-expressed in mainstream presses. And why is this a psyop of introducing “beneficial cognitive diversity”? Just look at the last paragraph. It is the raison d'être for the entire article unless its author is an imbecile (a premise I refuse to accept for anyone attached to empire). It perpetuates the core lie of empire wrapped in a new verbose guise, diplomatic hardship:

“In contrast to American diplomats, al-Qaeda personnel seem to speak the local languages and dialects and seem to mix easily with local populations in all those countries diplomats shun. So while American diplomats sit in their embassy forts hosting tea parties for themselves and lamenting their hardship for not being posted to Europe; their adversaries are on the march.”

Poor Foreign Service! They think the entire world is full of idiots ready to dance the 'house negro' to the beat of their white tambourine. The colonized and indoctrinated minds may well be, but certainly not here at Atlanticfreepress. Some can actually think quite independently here. And some are even well-read in imperial statecraft (never mind the indoctrination). Perhaps even as well read as the senior diplomats themselves who know exactly what they are doing overseas. See this for the US Ambassador to Pakistan, Ms. Anne Patterson's service to empire:


Here are some insider-pictures of the US Diplomatic mission wining-dining the Negro Pakistani press:


Here is a view from the Pakistani Intelligence apparatus, the ISI, of US role in Pakistan, specifically that which led to the judicial assassination of its elected Prime Minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Excerpt is from “Profiles of Intelligence”, 1996, Brig. Tirmazi, Chapter 3. It is lengthy and rather than reproduce it here, it can be read here if curious:


And I am sure everyone can identify their own favorite 'untermensch' nation/people and find the unvarnished exercise of primacy, hegemony, which, as Zbigniew Brzezinski un-apologetically noted in the very opening sentence of his book the Grand Chessboard – American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives – is the age-old practice of truism: “Hegemony is as old as mankind.”

Brzezinski then went on in the rest of his 1996 book to set the American foreign policy agenda for the coming 21st century, concluding:

“In brief, the U.S. Policy goals must be un-apologetically twofold: to perpetuate America's own dominant position for at least a generation and preferably longer,...”

And Zbigniew Brzezinski wasn't being original, or even pompous, at all. He was merely re-echoing Diplomat extraordinaire, George F. Kennan, the man whose ideas kept the world at the brink of annihilation like “two scorpions in a bottle” (Robert Oppenheimer) where it was deemed only “sublime irony” that “safety be the sturdy child of terror and survival the twin brother of annihilation” (Winston Churchill), while fighting proxy warfare in impoverished indigent nations in the name of détente with what became known as the “Truman Doctrine”.

Certainly no one in the US Foreign Service except its most humble janitors – perhaps being the only ones earning their honest keep without staining their hands in blood – will be unfamiliar with the most famous contribution to America's Foreign Affairs: “Review of Current Trends, U.S. Foreign Policy, Policy Planning Staff, PPS No. 23.”

“We have about 50% of the world's wealth, but only 6.3% of its population .... In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming, and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction .... We should cease to talk about vague and - for the Far East - unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”

I'll just stop now – I can quite extemporaneously teach at the School of Foreign Service if the calibre of its diplomats is genuinely betrayed in this article. However, quite the contrary, the article is a rather feeble psyop, of attempted “cognitive infiltration” as examined in this comment. And I hope its author can take my plebeian comments back to the bosses and have them prepare better discourses for "cognitive infiltration" because the target audience here at Atlanticfreepress is a tad too smart for this “al-Qaeda personnel seem to speak the local languages and dialects” crap. They of course do, but for the field officers of the Western intelligence apparatus which tactically cultivates/controls that Hegelian Dialectic of "Islamofascism". Its strategic manufacture however, for the continual exercise of “a high degree of doctrinal motivation, intellectual commitment, and patriotic gratification”, is in Washington, along the famous pathways of such august private foundations as the Council on Foreign Relations, American Enterprise Institute, The Rand Corporation, et. al. Please do take the time to watch both Zbigniew Brzezinski, the man behind President Obama and the former National Security Advisor under President Carter, and the current US Secretary of State, Ms. Hillary Clinton, admit of the immense influence that these private un-accountable foundations wield upon the superpower's foreign policy formulations (if you don't mind just scrolling down halfway directly to the two pertinent videos):


With Regards,

Zahir Ebrahim
Project Humanbeingsfirst.org
Sunday, March 07, 2010
March 07, 2010
Votes: -12

avatar singh said:

how america was colonised again by england after napoleaonic war and how america is still englan'ds slave country.
How britain got hold on america after american independence-----This all started soon after Napoleonic war when in 1812 The english again attacked america in her southern flanks and the day was saved only because of some French navy mercenaries and French speaking population of Louisiana and such states along with non-english origin americans. But the english invaders infiltrated among that population of Southern america which today calls itself bible belt (whose god has always been english royalty and who worship only stolen money).By 1850 to 1860 England attacked erstwhile friend (in Napoleonic war) Russia in Crimea along with erstwhile foe (now controlled by unpopular english stooge) France.-how the same pattern is so predictable in case of this intrusive, cancerous exploitative race called english and anglo saxons. At that very time England was actively supporting the slave exploitation, in fact all the big plantation owners were english derived and they owned loyalty not to flag of United states of america but to England. -in other words they were agents of foreign country who wanted to keep south america occupy as foreign power again. The civil war in america was not only supported with money and arms by england but rather england was the instigator of american civil war in order to keep whole of america enslaved and if not possible at least those parts (South) where it could call upon filial loyalty. It was truly a war of race-not against whites and blacks but against anglo saxons versus blacks, Irish, other European peoples .The same would be repeated in future. The confederacy was a traitor to america-a british agents; but ironically that same confederacy flag today is being propagandised by their descendents as symbol of american independence and patriotism. Having lost the proxy war england resorted to the one thing it specialises-terrorism and misinformation. Abraham Lincoln was murdered by the person very sympathetic to british cause. (against Napoleon england had sent several terrorist squads-that is why Napoleon had to declare Himself an Emperor to maintain the clear line of succession to protect glorious French Revolution). It is very interesting that most of the american presidents assassinated were those whom England did not want being elected. By the end of civil war ,instead of disinfranchasising the british supporters (of southern states) and taking away their land or at least redistributing evenly the stolen land, the american govt. was persuaded by britain to spare them and let those southern traitors keep all the stolen land so that drug (tobacco) and cotton would be of assured supply to england. Of course by that time because of fall of Napoleon (brought about not by military might but by conspiracy to embroil the Europeans among each other( conspiracy hatched in London-that was the only english contribution to napoleons' fall-forget waterloo where Austrians and Prussians had contributed most militarily):consequently england got free reign to exploit the rest of the world and amassed wealth. With that new loot the english shopkeepers started not only factory but also bought titles (Always a purchasable item in england) and started giving themselves high sounding titles and names. With that they started the rumour that english people had class and aristocracy and america could rub some off it if it was willing to ply right and play right. During that period england started propaganda of herself being friend of america though in britain news it hardly gave any importance to americans except with contempt.
When the first world war came, england had already infiltrated in the american decision making process.( Though some of southern traitors had fled to Canada, most had remained to slowly spread their cancerous tentacles in American govt. The first world war had been started by england to destroy Germany and Russia at the same time. England had got envious of germane prosperity (by 1870 Germany without an empire had taken over england in industrial).Encyclopaedia Britannica writes (anyone can verify that) about Bismarck that Bismarck was aggressive in domestic policy but very peaceful in foreign policy because he did not interfere with Others' empire making process. Try telling that to the then French and Austrian peoples. This only shows how the mind of england and anglo saxon race works even today. The same encyclopaedia hardly gives any credit of roman empire to Romans or Italians saying it was an world empire so Italians ((even of Rome) had little to do with. Take all the credit for a bandit cum shopkeeper's empire (british which lasted 100 to 150 years but no credit to Romans for an empire of much better quality and longer duration. anyway during 1st world war the slogan of england was freedom for world from German aggression who wanted to take away world. This was from a shopkeeper's country who had imposed devastating assault on the whole world not only economically and politically but also environmentally. The evil was giving a slogan to be spared! Though the main intention of Germans was against Russia (to which england had secretly given support) on england@s backstabbing Germans took decision to sort out the English as well. With all the resources of empire (men and arms not to speak of money) England could not do anything against Germans who had been embroiled (as was planned by england-Belgium's sovereignty was an excuse) on two fronts. This shows the inferiority of English military power at the height of her power (but then it never won war on strength but through indiscreet looking spies. What Hitler said of Jews was all wrong, it never applied to Jews. Hitler was barking at wrong tree. What Hitler said of Jews applies only to english race and not to anybody else. The Jews in freemasonry are english agents-in freemasonry are many peoples other than Jews. in fact freemasonry is shopkeeper@s race (english) spy machinery as are all the british journalists who are still working-after clearance from british spy service-mm5-as british spy. The Jews got all the blame because their very small fish-main mastermind of international ring to take over world for its own geed use has been england’s and no one else. Anyway ,English army and navy were so ineffective against German might that by 1917 england was loosing the war. Then come the immense pressure to declare war against Germany by america. -in name of democracy. before that democracy word had not been used to defend anything. Now facing defeat england started talking of democracy just as it started talking of democratic reform 99 years after ruling Hong Kong-an year before departure. Democracy from then will mean not what it is supposed to mean in dictionary meaning-but a special kind of system anywhere in the world which protects english interest and which allows england to exploit others race. A very famous news mogul (Jewish proprietor of hertz news group)) had been stopped from running american presidency because he might not have been inclined to rescue england in the 1st world war. Anyway, the southern constituency was pressing hard for america to come to rescue england who was staring defeat and thus loosing the prospect of enslaved nations who would have been feed from defeat of england. America did come to aid of england and it was called end of isolationalism. But this end of isolationalism would be tolerated only when it suits english interest against others and not in case of others like freedom for Irish people in northern Ireland (an occupied part of Ireland).and that British agent Wilson intervened on side of Britain in name of spreading democracy at point of gun! Think of that-Britain was looting two third of the world at the time and killing starving millions of people-and this Wilson comes to Britain rescue in name of protecting democracy! And that is exactly what these bastards mean when they utter democracy-that is a code word for them to attack other countries for furtherance of british interest. Then if two millions Iraqi are killed starved -it is price worth paying. Somebody can ask than why not kill 60 millions English people and it would be worth the price to save the world from English rapacity.
But american intervention was not decisive-Russian winter was As it would be another war 20 years later. But the pattern had been set-up for america to make her polices to suit english interest not only in domestic policy but also in foreign affairs. IN fact in pursuing such policy America is acting against the home countries of majority of her citizens. But who says in democracy majority rules . Who says in democracy peoples have choice. Democracy as practised and refined by the british media propagandists is any system of government -even by a psychotic like yelstin in Russia-which benefits british business and gives jobs to british people at the same time making pauper and slave ,stooge of english interest. Between the two world wars, in United states, even before the rise of Hitler in Germany the british agents and british sympathisers (who used to keep a photo of queen Victoria in '20s as object of worship) started a terror of murder, killings and what not against not only the blacks but also Catholics. This is how british always operate. first let be it white versus blacks. then whites versus Jews. all one at time otherwise victims will be forewarned and retaliate . then white versus white Catholics. then whites versus white Germans. They do like that in nations they do to peoples.--- only if the people realize that and finish these parasites off once for all! Those very confederacy flag bearers had recruited a lot of other whites to their cause and later on they would attack those whites also whose origin did not look like from england-one by one. Those same racists were the first to pressurise america to join 2nd world war for saving britain. so their racism was and is not for white race but for a shopkeepers’ race derived from Phoenicians (no European) and who the world knows by the name of English and anglo-saxon race. From the 1st day of 2nd world war America secretly supplied arms and supplies. british spitfire and other british arms were low quality useless junks-american plane along with Japanese Mitsubity and German planes were the real weapons of 2nd world war-but then british and anglo saxon media would like you to believe otherwise. Rest we know. With 80 % of German's forces on winter Russian soil, even then Germans were more superior in might and valour then the english who simply were conniving how to embroil others in the war rather than fight themseselves. Israelis in last 50 years have won spectacular victories (without assistance of UNO sanctions agents enemies, unlike some (in 48 war Israelis Massesmitchs plane destroyed RAF plane flown by english( fighter) pilots who dared raid against Israel). Then british threatened Israel with dropping atomic bomb over Israel. But Israelis do not celebrate so much (even 30 anniversary of taking of Western Wall in 67) with military band and show and do the english with their tartly shows of crap british war machine.
March 07, 2010
Votes: -10

give me a break said:

give me a break
Dear Mr. Nasuti,
Your "article" is so riddled with errors it's impossible to take it seriously. And you are taking the GAO report grossly out of context in order to grind your axe.
Frankly I am shocked that the Atlantic Free Press would publish such an inaccurate piece. Does the publication not employee any editors? Or have any commitment to the truth? A press may be free, but that does not mean it publishes journalism.
Best of luck in your future endeavors.
March 08, 2010
Votes: +12

LL said:

Axe to Grind
"From the Author
...As a former U.S. Air Force Captain, who was stationed overseas and who has lived in five different countries, my feeling is that American and NATO troops in the field suffer actual hardships."


Your article reflects your ignorance about the Foreign Service, your ignorance about wage determination for civilian officials working abroad, your animosity towards your former employer, and your fundamental failure to differentiate between civilian and military personnel.

As a former U.S. Army Infantry Captain, who spent 3 years in Baghdad (1 year military and 2 years in the State Department), I know hardship better than you. I've spent more time in the mud than you; I've starved more than you; I've spent more time delirious and sleep-deprived than you. I've been under a few hundred rocket/mortar attacks, and I've patrolled the streets of Baghdad and Mahmudiyah with my rifle and machine gun at the ready.

And unlike you, I've been on both sides of the fence. The hardships endured by the Foreign Service might be different from the danger that military forces experience, but let's compare apples to apples. The members of the Foreign Service are civilians, and their pay and hardship should only be compared to the pay and hardship experienced by other civilians.


March 17, 2010
Votes: +13

Corey Mondello said:

Who says Government doesn't work?
Works well for these folks.
March 17, 2010
Votes: -4

Corey Mondello said:

Wahhhhhh I dont like my job!!!!

wwwahhhhhhhhh....I have to work in a dangerous place....waaahhhhh.

NO YOU DONT !!!!!!
March 17, 2010
Votes: -10

clumsy consul. said:

Deeply saddened by this post.
Just over a year ago, I was chatting over the internet with a good friend who was serving in a poor African country. He had so many potential employers in the world, but this is where he’d ended up, after working hard to gain fluency in the obscure local language and the American immigration law he was there to uphold. My always lively, always positive colleague was clearly beaten down by the abject poverty he saw around him every day and the separation he felt from the local population. He had been sick since arrival – digestive problems, hallucinations – and I was lonely. We talked a lot about whether it was worth it, and we agreed: we have America to come home to, at least, but they don’t. It is our job to keep America safe and well, and to help others whenever we can, we said. What we’re doing out here helps to build good relations, to promote democracy, to combat terrorism, piracy, disease, I said. And you’re amazing at it, with your language skills, your disarming way of talking to people, your ease at making friends across any cultural divide there is. “Keep your chin up,” I urged. “I would, but I’d probably get a rash,” he responded, with a smile I could see from across the continents.

He came home two months later, his battered body in a casket, his life taken by someone he had thought was his friend. Service at that post (25% hardship pay, 0% danger pay) cost him his life.

For all his many talents, my intellectually and emotionally gifted friend was in no shape to become a soldier, and neither am I. I am a clutz and a terrible driver. I can’t even aim in darts, let alone with a gun (though I’ve tried), and although I am a pretty fast runner I’m not much for carrying heavy things. In short, I would be a disaster with a weapon on the battlefield – no good for either myself or my country. But I can learn languages quickly and well. I’ve been told I write effectively, and I find it easy to connect with people from other cultures. I have an active interest in foreign policy and human rights and a knack for finding information. I hope I am – I strive always to be – a good Foreign Service Officer, someone Americans would be proud to know is representing them overseas. I am lucky to serve where I do, but I have enormous respect for my colleagues who are working in horrifying conditions - psychologically as well as physically - and I know that what I do here, in a friendly country (one that is fighting bravely with NATO in Afghanistan), counts.

The idea that only those who carry the guns are “really” enduring hardship or serving their country is a pernicious myth. It is tied in with the idea that the only work worth doing overseas involves bullets or bombs. But tell that to those Americans whose family members are imprisoned or killed overseas and need the help of persuasive, creative, culturally sensitive diplomats to get them medical treatment or help bring them home. Tell it to any American immigrant who ever wanted to invite their family to a wedding or a birth of a child, or to anyone who’s ever wanted to travel overseas. Tell it to any company that has ever benefited from investment in a foreign country. Tell it to the Americans who believe in providing quality foreign aid to the world’s poor or victims of horrible disasters, and want their tax dollars to be distributed fairly, effectively, and accountably. Tell that to anyone who wants America’s foreign policy to be based on a deep understanding of what is going on in other countries. Tell that to anyone who believes that America is misunderstood by foreign governments and by foreign publics, and believes that by deepening mutual understanding we can build better partnerships, empower good people, and create a safer, better world. Tell that to the staff of professional project managers, financial specialists, logistics coordinators, security specialists and so many others – all professional diplomats – who make life possible for everyone at our embassies and consulates. And tell that, please, to anyone who believes that the brave women and men in our military shouldn’t be fighting alone in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else, but side by side with the friends and partners with whom years of diplomacy and mutual understanding have build a relationship.

Tell that, if you can, to the Foreign Service Officers and their families who have sacrificed so much – of their life, liberty, and pursuit of personal happiness – so that you can pursue yours. I bet you can’t, and I hope you won’t. The injury hurts plenty, but it is the insult from our fellow Americans that hurts the most.
March 18, 2010
Votes: +9

AC said:

This author is an embarrassment; Atlantic Free Press, I'm disappointed in you
Nasuti got fired from the State Department and apparently finds no other purpose in life than to bad-mouth his former employer. He sued for wrongful termination and lost. I bet that's when these articles started. This isn't the first one.

Mr. Nasuti: You give journalists a bad name. You are an embarrassment to your country and your nationality. I pity you. You need to grow up and face reality. Just because you were not up to par in your contract position with State doesn't give you the right to write lies about State and its employees. Show some respect. Cite sources. Make an attempt to follow at least something in journalism's code of ethics. I guess that's too much to expect from someone like you. How very sad.

Atlantic Free Press: I'm disappointed that you allowed this person to publish in your name. It tarnishes your reputation.
March 18, 2010
Votes: +5

Yacouba Diarra said:

Don't forget the RPCVs!
Speaking of hardship, it's worth noting that a good third of FSOs are also returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), most of whom spent two or more years living in mud huts, speaking obscure languages, suffering constant gasto-intestinal infections - and all this without getting paid.

Cheers to all the FSOs who served in the Peace Corps!

-Yacou D.
March 18, 2010
Votes: +2

Matt Nasuti said:

From the Author
Dear Boys and Girls;
Thanks to all the brave souls who wish to insult me but are afraid to leave their names. I would like to correct one smear. I was hired by the State Department as a Senior City Management Advisor. The Department recognized me as an expert in this field. What happened in 2008, is that I uncovered a series of serious safety problems within the FACT (Foreign Affairs Counter-Terrorism) course. I had OSHA (West Virginia) conduct a workplace inspection and in its October 2008, report it confirmed I had uncovered a "health-serious" situation. OSHA then directed the State Department to fix the problems. Essentially everyone who attended the FACT course in 2007-2008 probably suffered some permanent hearing damage to their receptors above 2000 hertz due to DS instructors intentionally exposing trainees to damaging levels of combat noise (weapons fire and IED blasts), without providing hearing protection. Also trainees at the firing range were not always being provided with the required double-hearing protection set out in DS regulations (ear plugs + ear muffs) - one by itself will not attenuate the noise sufficiently. The hearing damage that the trainees suffered is not apparent today, but will help to accelerate hearing loss in later years. The State Department was not happy that I went to OSHA. I only went to OSHA after the Bureau of Diplomatic Security refused to fix its training programs. The State Department, to-date has refused to notify its Foreign Service personnel of the October 2008, OSHA findings. It refuses to order audiometric exams for all those it injured and refuses to treat those it has injured. You folks need to learn the facts. I was the one looking out for you. The FACT course is now a lot safer than it was. No one in the Foreign Service would ever think of even saying "Boo" to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Well I did and I did it for all of you. Your welcome.
March 18, 2010
Votes: -7

Janel H. said:

"Your welcome"? Get a proofreader.

You're welcome.
March 18, 2010
Votes: +1

Emilie said:

I agree that the article is mean-spirited, that the GAO reports are taken out of context, and that the author does a disservice to a generally underappreciated group of patriotic Americans.
March 19, 2010
Votes: +2

Juan A. Alsace said:

ePRT Team Leader
Yo Matt,

Here I am, by name, offended by your condescension ("boys and girls" indeed). Having just completed a year on a FOB in Iraq - lousy food, mud, heat, IEDs - and having served in garden spots like Karachi, I'm pretty sure I have a pretty good taste for life outside European capitals. But even when living in places like Istanbul or Quito, I and my family immersed ourselves in the opportunity presented to us, and did our level best to both promote U.S. foreign policy interests AND convince our hosts that most Americans aren't like you.

March 19, 2010
Votes: +7

Mary T. said:

Thank you, Mr. Nasuti
Dear Mr. Nasuti -
I want to thank you for your service to the American people, however brief, and for writing this article. It presents an opportunity, not for ad hominem counter-attacks, but for opening up a channel for eloquent testimonials about actual life in the Foreign Service. Many people have told their stories here. This is a valuable service, not just for Mr. Nasuti, but for anyone doing a google search or sharing on facebook, etc.

Please permit another story:
The father of my children is currently serving in Iraq (his 4th unaccompanied tour), but not in Baghdad or the Green Zone. He gladly meets locals every day, and tries to be a 'good face' of Americans; that is the FS way. He celebrated Halloween with local children (and gave out candy I purchased and sent), he cooked American foods on Thanksgiving, he trouble-shoots computers at local schools, and many other things, because this is what they do. He volunteered for this hardship tour, but there were so many FS volunteers he was passed over the previous year. If you ask any of them why they step up for this duty, they will tell you "it's what we do."

But enough about him. How many times does the 'accompanying spouse' grab her/his children's hands, take a deep breath, step once more into the breach and move to yet another remote location, conquering the fear of illnesses, loneliness, dislocation, unemployment, suspicious or hostile locals, and limited language mastery? All the time. It's what we do, 'backwards and in heels'. Many times the only Americans folks in the big world will meet are the spouses and children. Every day we put on the brave face and try out our Estonian (or Urdu or Portuguese) in the streets, markets, schools and everywhere. We have to learn our way around, quickly. And in another 2 - 3 years we do it all over again, in a radically different environment. That is, unless someone in the family has an emergency and has to be medevac-ed, causing crises, dislocation and financial hardship.

I had to laugh at your disparaging reference to "tea parties" -- I have attended and hosted more than a few! The "fortress" mentality that you describe does not reflect at all the reality. Nobody in any business environment would question the validity of networking events, conferences, or 'in-service' days. The Embassy events, including "teas" resemble those scenarios. They provide important networking opportunities: information exchange, community organization, and mission planning occur at those events. Much of the most vital functioning is sub rosa; "play groups" or "women's clubs" may appear frivolous, but you would be surprised how much diplomacy is forwarded by these groups. I don't think I've ever attended a function at any of our overseas posts that didn't include some locals. Sometimes 'hearts and minds' are won this way.

A word about one of your main concerns: language proficiency. You do have a point, but it is misdirected. The problem of foreign language mastery reflects the linguistic reality (English is the lingua franca, followed by French) of world diplomacy. Diplomats are rotated regularly in the FS, and to devote the years of study necessary for mastery of many radically different languages presents a logistical and budgetary challenge, as it keeps diplomats in training in the U.S. for long intervals. That said: please see the languages mastered by FS members in the posts above!

Again, thank you very much for this article. It is a great opportunity to set the record straight, and one thing should be clear: the Foreign Service life is not for everyone.

Mary T.
March 19, 2010
Votes: +5

Anat said:

If you can't fight us - please join us
Firstly, thank you for looking out for us and for having the courage to do what we don't! As a former HR Manager I know that certain jobs are done better by consultants than by insiders.
Secondly, sounds to me that there is an issue of "grass is greener on the other side" here. We do have it good in the FS service. Unlike many people I know, we love our jobs, we love our lives, even our challenges are interesting. Unfortunately for us, we pay a much higher price for all this goodness than most people do for the good things in their lives. Since it's always so much easier to see how better off the neighbor is, it is mostly the positive sides of our lives that are portrayed - which I guess is a good thing as well. The FS needs more people, so please Mr. Nasti, take the FS exam, and tell all your friends to take it too, and then come and join us. It's better if you come with a friend, because the first year in any new place is always the most difficult one and if you join with a friend, it helps with the loneliness. Just one other tip - it is rare to pass the exam the first time - but don't let that discourage you - if you study for it for another year and take it again, you have a much better chance of passing. And you can take the exam as many times as you want.
I am looking forward to having you join us and helping us from within! Anat
March 19, 2010
Votes: +0

Matt Nasuti said:

To: Mary T from the Author
Dear Mary T:

Thank you for your comments. We are free to disagree with each
other. That is a good thing. In my view you still fundamentally
do not understand my position. If I have been unclear, it is my
fault. It is undoubtedly true that thousands of FSOs speak at least
one other language. The GAO report does not dispute this, nor do I.
The GAO found that FSOs (in too many cases) do not speak the
local languages or dialects of the country they are in. My position
is that the DoS does not appreciate how crucial it is that they do
speak these languages/dialects. My position is (for example) that the
next group of 40 FSOs deploying to Pakistan should spend six months
in training before hand. 10 learning Urdu/Hindi, 10 Balochi, 10
Punjabi and 10 Sindhi. Even this is inadequate as it does not cover
all the major languages of Pakistan. My view is that it is 100%
vitally important that this advance training happen. It is not
happening. The DoS has a $50 billion budget. It has enough money to
do this. We have to be able to talk to everyone. That is 1/2 of the job.
I know for a fact that locals will be very impressed, especially
minority groups, if you can speak to them in their language. I have
been to five different language schools. I believe that each country's
language is a partial key to who they are and for reaching common ground
with them. That is my experience. Yours may be different.

March 20, 2010
Votes: -2

Tim Dabim said:

A part of the language training 'problem' you may not be considering
One reason not mentioned that led to the conclusion of the GAO report authors was a shortage of personnel. The Foreign Service has been short-staffed for a long, long time. It takes time, as you point out, to adequately train an officer in a language; during the time required, there is one less officer in the field, one fewer position filled. If you have a football team of 22 players, and 14 of them are out during a game, either someone plays without rest or training or the game is forfeit. The Foreign Service has been in a similar situation - previous leadership had decided it was more urgent to have people out in the field, engaging, even in a limited way, than it was to bring them back to the States for more training.

Under the current leadership, and with the help of Congress, the Foreign Service is enjoying a hiring "surge". Because there will be more officers on the "bench", officers will be able to spend more time training before they go to their assignments. I think if you did some research, you might find that to be the case now. The State Department has also made a lot of self-training tools - including language training tools - available, free of charge, for members of the Foreign Service 'family', officers and family members. I know many of my colleagues have taken advantage of these online tools to get a 'jump' on their language training.

Finally - you may not be considering the languages that entry-level officers may be arriving with. In my entry cohort, every single new officer spoke at least one language to a reasonable degree of fluency. Many spoke more than one; some spoke five or six. And these languages ran the gamut from Spanish and French to Arabic, Chinese, and Russian. And many were former Peace Corps volunteers with at least some language ability in some very localized dialects.

I think you'd find that the State Department takes this criticism you have regarding language very seriously, and has taken firm, concrete actions to make sure that officers are adequately trained before sending them on to their assignments.

The rest of your criticisms - about how easy FSOs have it - I find to be wildly off the mark. Entry level officers working on a visa line have more real-life responsibility than I ever did in 20-plus years in private industry (I worked in software). The consequences of a late software release? Some lost revenue and a little marketing embarrassment. The consequences of refusing a visa? Potentially life-changing for both the applicant and for the officer doing the refusing. I have colleagues who've received death threats because they said no.

To say that this is a life of ease is just a complete, complete misunderstanding of the types of threats and stresses faced by Foreign Service Officers and their families every single day.

To my colleagues who've weighed in here - thank you and my thanks to your families for your service and sacrifice, and for sharing your stories.
March 20, 2010
Votes: +2

Thomas Robbin said:

While not as poorly written and rambling as other of your efforts, your inability to see the big picture and almost exclusive reliance on straw man argumentation leaves one with no other perception of you than as lacking both credibility and insight. It is not surprising that you have such a long list of failed careers; I would imagine it quite difficult to hold a steady job given the fractured personality you manifest in your diatribes.

I look forward to the day (soon on the horizon, given your track record) when we can all refer to you also as a former author of opinion pieces.
March 20, 2010
Votes: +1

Matt Nasuti said:

From the Author
To: Tim Dabim:
Diplomats are supposed to be expert at analyzing words, as each word can be important. I never said FSOs have it "easy." Easy is a relative term and there is no way for me to know each person's story. I have repeatedly said that some countries are much more difficult to live in than others. I said that diplomats have it easier than most people in many countries in which they are posted and in my opinion too many countries are designated as hardship countries (and in addition, putting such a label on any country is not very diplomatic). Regarding being understaffed, a DoS IG report from Fall 2009, (for example) found that the Baghdad Embassy appears to be massively overstaffed. Reading between the lines, the IG seemed to be speaking of 400+ positions. The IG refused to give a number. The GAO never mentioned that understaffing was a contibuting factor in the lack of local language skills.

For additional comments, the Kabul Press ran a sequel to this above article and the Atlantic Free Press has just republished it within this website:

1. American troops suffer hardships - American diplomats have inconveniences
by Matthew Nasuti Since the publication of the article “American Diplomats Shun ‘Hardship Posts’ in the Third World,” this author has received some amazing feedback from former and current members ...
March 20, 2010
Votes: -4

Mary T. said:

Dear Matthew,

Not necessary to clarify, I thought your points were very clear, and I support your right to make them even if we disagree. Thankfully we live in a Web 2.0 world, where it is possible to respond, but I wonder if people responding with vitriol forget that comments on the Web essentially live forever.

To your points:
You will find a general agreement on the importance of language capability in the Foreign Service (and all Foreign Affairs agencies), so I'm not sure we "agree to disagree", but if disagreement is your aim, then I would say that your conclusion and proscription for solving the problem reads like "ideal world" thinking.

Ideally, we should "be able to talk to everyone", but practically speaking, there are, according to the 1991 census, over 1,570 "mother tongues" in India alone. When you list 4 languages for Pakistan and toss off "even this doesn't cover the major languages", you must be aware that you are wildly understating the case, as there are dozens and dozens. But where your argument descends to reductio ad absurdum is when you say it is "crucial" that DoS officials master languages/dialects. A quick web search yields the number of major languages, nearly 7,000, and dialects, nearly 70,000. For example, here is a list of Romance Languages and dialects:
I can tell you that if you try out your Auvergnat in France, they will fall about laughing. I speak Parisian argot (studentspeak), but I would never use it in a diplomatic setting. Do you see what I'm getting at? It is not always appropriate on the ground.

Websites listing American dialects (e.g. http://www.pbs.org/speak/seato...nvarieties) include, among many others, Ebonics. Imagine a diplomat from Geneva, trained according to your mandate, coming to the U.S. and trying out his Ebonics.

I think your "ideal world" reasoning also falls apart here:
"My position is (for example) that the
next group of 40 FSOs deploying to Pakistan should spend six months
in training before hand. 10 learning Urdu/Hindi, 10 Balochi, 10
Punjabi and 10 Sindhi."
That would be absolutely great if it could be guaranteed that said Balochi speaker would use Balochi for more than one 3-year tour, otherwise you are describing a budgetary sink-hole that the American people would never accept. That said, a surprising number of FSOs pick up regional languages/dialects in their own time, at their own cost. Veteran FSOs could tell you some funny stories about trying out their Xan or Catalan. Maybe a mark of a 'veteran FSO' is the willingness to endure embarrassment and discomfort in shifting environments!

You cite the GAO conclusion that the DoS is 'understaffed', but my opinion is that it is underfunded, and has been for years. Still, I hold out hope that the current Administration (appointing a power-hitter like Sec. Clinton) emphasizes the value in a diplomatic, rather than primarily military, solution to world problems.

"The DoS has a $50 billion budget. It has enough money to
do this." -- you said. Wow! $50 billion dollars just for language training! That's a lot!
Just ribbing you a bit, Matthew. Surely you know that the $50 bil. figure you quote (and I'm starting to want you to reference your data. Websites? Which ones?) covers operations for something like 300 - 400 embassies and consulates worldwide. Here's a list: http://www.usembassy.gov Some of those Embassies are the size of a small city, like in Cairo, and some consulates are just a handful of Americans working with a staff of dedicated local nationals. All overseas operations are exceedingly expensive to run (especially in the last few years sites have been hardened, which is annoying for everyone but unfortunately necessary). A word about the local nationals (aka FSNs): Almost without exception FS folks will speak fondly of the incredibly dedicated staff of locals working for Americans overseas. It is important that we pay them, and pay them well. Their salaries sometimes break the ceiling in developing countries -- you could say that they "have it easier" than their countrymen, but in many cases, "having it easier" means they deal with the hostility and suspicion that involves working for Americans, sad to say.

Matthew, I think what may be causing some of the vitriol is your statement that FS folks lead "privileged lives". This is a bittersweet irony for many FS people. In the many years I've known FSers, I never met any American working in embassies and consulates who was wealthy, unless he/she came in with it. When we were posted to DC we were below the poverty line. Diplomacy is a veneer, and if you meet enough diplomats from around the world, you will find that diplomats from some of the poorest countries want to give the appearance of splendor in dress and manner. Americans don't get it right, a lot of times. For example, if you visit embassies/consulates of other countries, you will immediately be offered something to drink or eat. Not so at US Embassies, unless the office staff digs into their pockets to pay for it, as they often do.

You should not be swayed by the appearance of the thing, or of one thing only, as your one experience would appear to reflect. I'm remembering that old story of the sightless scholars describing an elephant -- in your case you felt the rear end and concluded that it defined the whole animal.

However, I like your passion and your rigorous defense of your points. It is important to question, always. I never feel threatened by that. I hope that you will continue to observe DoS operations, and I am completely confident with about 20-30 years experience, you will come to entirely different conclusions.

All the best to you,
Mary T.
p.s. I am not a DoS employee, but I think they should hire me, don't you? :)
March 21, 2010
Votes: +3

Matt Nasuti said:

To: Mary T
India has 35 official languages - we should speak them all.
Pakistan has 6 - we should speak them all.
There are not 7,000 major languages. There are about 300
languages which are spoken by 1 million people or more.
We should speak them all.
It is the responsibility of the DoS to provide the right
incentives for FSOs to learn these languages. Maybe that
means deploying for a 4-year tour. Perhaps that means extra
language pay and quicker promotion for leaning a difficult lanugage.
Even if you double the Foreign Service, I see little interest
by most FSOs in learning anything beyond the 40 or 50 most popular
languages. I was at the FSI's language center in 2008, it was
pitiful. There should be a whole foreign language learning center
similar to a college campus. If the GAO looks at this issue again
in two years it will have the same criticism, which is that an
insufficient number of diplomats speak the local languages of the
countries to which they are assigned. We are in a global war against
al-Qaeda, you can bet that the other side speaks all the local dialects.
Despite Mr. Dabim's comments, this has nothing to do with money or staffing.
There is simply no corporate will to push forward and learn even the top
300 languages. I was repeatedly told by DoS officials that diplomats are assigned interpreters and do not need to know the local languages. That is
not acceptable. I would like to compare the DoS language effort vs. that of the CIA, I'll bet the CIA appreciates the importance of knowing the local dialects and the risks and bad practice of relying on interpreters.
March 21, 2010
Votes: -2

Brian Dear said:

I'm not afraid to leave my full name, as the author has accused others. My first question is when the author first failed the Foreign Service Exam. My second question is whether or not the author is aware of the threat of terrorism under which State lives in Jerusalem. One could argue that a place is or isn't a "hardship" post, but as far as danger pay, the author is sadly ignorant. I'm not sure of his current of former clearance level, nor his involvement with threat assessment, but US diplomats are continual targets from some very bad people. Just a few weeks ago, state had an attempted kidnapping of two diplomats in Africa, less than two weeks ago two US Citizen employees of Consulate Ciudad Juarez were ambushed and killed. As far as hardship, you have China in the 20% category. Once again, your ignorance is astounding. You cited Beijing as a specific example. It, along with Shanghai gets a 15% hardship differential. That due to many things, but one of which is the pollution which exceeds "safe" levels by over 500%. I'm sure you've never lived in China, so you wouldn't have the first clue. The hardship differentials are not paid because Americans are somehow weaker.. they're paid to provide a lifestyle comparability to a similarly ranked federal employee in Washington, DC. Without the extra pays, housing and education allowances, it would be pretty difficult to convince a qualified and trained professional to hang out in Calcutta or Nepal for three years. Ever been to those places? Quit grinding your ax. Looking at the other articles you've written makes it clear that you have a systemic problem with State as opposed to an objective view. Perhaps you ought to look at a cost-benefit analysis of State's operation as opposed to a similar analysis of military operations. Perhaps you ought to interview some locals who received a visa to come to the US for medical care -- or an American citizen who got evacuated from a disaster area. Or maybe some school kids who had the chance to do a fully-funded educational exchange in America. Do your research, be a journalist, not an ax-grinding hack.
March 22, 2010
Votes: +2

Matt Nasuti said:

From the Author
To all readers; ignore the spin you have read above. Many of these people have their own agenda. Read the facts for yourself. Here is just a partial reading list of the true facts:
1. "Department of State: Persistent Staffing Problems and Foreign Language Gaps Compromise Diplomatic Readiness." U.S. Government Accountability Report GAO-09-10467, September 24, 2009.
In the summary: "State has long had difficulty staffing its hardship posts overseas" State has also faced persistent shortages of staff with critical language skills, despite the importance of foreign language proficiency in advancing U.S. foreign policy and economic interests overseas."

2. "EXCLUSIVE: U.S. Envoys hesitate to report bad news." The Washington Times, September 19, 2009. Interviews with Ambassador Thomas Pickering, Susan Johnson - President of the American Foreign Service Association, Ambassador Francis Ricciardone and former career FSO Patricia Kushlis.

3. "How a Lone Diplomat Compromised the Hunt for Bin Laden" The New York Sun, March 25, 2005. A story about Ambassador Nancy J. Powell, currently the Director of the American Foreign Service. The article is based on investigations by U.S. Congressman Mark Kirk.

4. "Audits: Afghan Aid Lacks Accountability" USA Today 2/2/09

5. "Were ArmorGroup Allegations Quashed?" (by the State Department's Inspector General). Report by CBS News Sept. 29, 2009

6. "USAID Steers No-Bid Haiti Contract to Politically Connected Firm of Bill Clinton Fiend" - FOX News by James Rosen Feb. 16, 2010.

The problems within the State Department are persistent, serious and damaging to U.S. security interests. This is a finding of the GAO and many others. Many of those who have commented on my article have tried to defect attention away from these real problems by attacking this author. That is a tried and true tactic for deflecting blame. Do your own research. SIGAR/SIGIR, the GAO and others have audited the State Department year after year. Despite critical audit reorts, the problems persist, little changes and no one is ever held accountable.
March 22, 2010
Votes: -4

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