• Life in the 21st Century State Department

    October 19, 2013

    Tags: , , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Embassy/State

    A recent post, Forbes: State Department Number Three Dream Employer, about how popular working for the State Department is among people who have never actually worked for the State Department, merited a follow-on. Here it is.

    Daniel Garrett was a political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Japan 2008-2010. The State Department decided he just wasn’t their kind of guy, and let him go. I have never met Dan, but his farewell to the Department of State and his advice to Japan bear quoting at length. People considering a career in the Foreign Service should also consider the price they’ll pay.

    Dan, if you’re out there, look me up. I want to shake your hand and buy you a beer. You dodged a bullet, and you should be proud that State pushed you out. Here’s what Dan said:

    I used to walk from the US Embassy over to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If the message I was to deliver was one I didn’t agree with, I used to walk a little slower, wondering if I was selling my soul for a diplomatic passport. Once, for example, I was asked to deliver a demarche about the US position on cluster munitions (basically that the new generation of these weapons was much safer). Japan, of course, has signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and the US has not. These horribly indiscriminate weapons (new generation or not) are rightfully banned. For Japan’s signature though to have any real meaning, it cannot allow its major defense ally to store them in Japan: to do so is to be complicit. The US position (as it is with landmines) is wrong and I apologize to the people of Japan for pretending otherwise.

    Once I was asked to deliver a demarche asking that Japan not support a U.N. resolution calling for research into the health effects of depleted uranium. As the children stillborn, or born deformed in Fallujah and elsewhere testify, depleted uranium weapons pose a horrible health risk even after their initial explosive destructiveness. The US position is wrong and I apologize to the people of Japan for pretending otherwise.

    Once I was asked to deliver a demarche to the government of Japan asking them not to vote in the U.N. Human Rights Council to accept the Goldstone report from the U.N. fact-finding mission to the Gaza conflict. Had this report been written by a US State Department Human Rights Officer (as I was) about a country that wasn’t a US ally, it would have been widely praised by the Secretary of State. The US position was wrong and I apologize to the people of Japan for pretending otherwise.

    Once, as a Human Rights Officer, I was approached by a Japanese group, the Victims of the Red Purge, asking that I deliver a letter to President Obama, asking for an official apology for this US occupation-instigated action that cost so many innocent Japanese their jobs and dignity. I wrote a cable which included their letter, to be delivered to Washington with the recommendation that the US move past this mistaken cold war overreaction and issue a formal apology. The Embassy however overruled my recommendation. In fact, US intervention in the domestic affairs of Japan to insure it had a loyal anti-communist ally, driven largely by a hysteric level of anti-communist demagoguery in US domestic politics, resulted in a profound warping of Japanese democracy, a warping which has persisted for a very long time. The US position is wrong and I apologize to the people of Japan for not being successful in obtaining both an apology and a formal statement that during the Cold War, while the US posed as a champion of freedom, and in some cases may have actually been so, in far, far too many countries and locales, it was deeply and criminally complicit in the suppression of many peoples who wanted that freedom, but were so unfortunate as to be under regimes that touted their anti-communist credentials.

    In my own defense, I did try to raise my concerns in various venues. I sent two Dissent Channel cables on climate change, and still recall with a smile the day in the Ambassador’s mahogany-paneled conference room sitting at his magnificently long table across from a solid line of sparkling medal-bedecked military officers when, following a presentation on anti-missile defense, I pointed out that numerous studies (including from our own Congressional Budget Office) have determined that anti-missile defenses don’t work and it seemed to me that we were doing little more than making Raytheon and other corporations and consultants, rich. Ah, the wonderful awkwardness of that moment as if one could almost palpably hear the air escaping from so many punctured pompous balloons.

    And this is where I now ask the people of Japan for help. My country is no longer the country I once knew, a country moving at least in the direction of providing opportunity for all, regardless of income. The tendency to paranoia and international law-breaking was always there, at a low fever, in clandestine and semi-clandestine actions around the world, driven by visions of American exceptionalism pandered onto an all too naïve public. Though I like to believe that there was the intention at least to make the world a better place, in fact these actions were frankly not just frequently amateurish and inept, they resulted in the suffering and death of many. Nor it seems, have any of the lessons been learnt.

    Since 9/11, the United States has adopted a national security policy that can most charitably be described as one of anaphylactic shock. Terrorism ranks with shark attacks in terms of real risk. We have, however, so over-reacted, and misreacted to the tragedy that we have become a danger both to ourselves and to others. We have squandered our treasure in the sands of hubris and misunderstanding, and I often wonder now if the real good that we do has become just a fig leaf to cover our obscenely over-muscled shadowhand-tattooed as it is with empty slogans- that wields death and destruction at the press of a button, but doesn’t know how to build, and doesn’t seem to have the slightest grasp of history. Out of the excesses of our fears, we have perverted our own Constitution, and become a surveillance state in which the government itself moreover has become, in the words of Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, a “government of the 1% by the 1 % and for the 1%.” With a populace mired in debt, befuddled by vapid corporate media-tainment, and worshiping mindlessly at the rat-race temple of empty consumerism, America is now essentially run by the type of military-industrial-political-banker cabal that President Eisenhower warned about.

    Japan please think twice, thrice about the things America asks you to do. Please be a good friend and send as much of our military home as possible. We cannot afford it anymore. Our poor are getting poorer, our education systems are falling behind, and our infrastructure is crumbling. Say that you are happy to work with us, but only if we find a way to either harness or rein in our greed so as to conserve and restore the earth’s natural systems which are all now rapidly being destroyed. Say that you would be happy to be our friend and ally in the greatest battle ever fought, the battle to preserve humanity and the earth from the now rapidly advancing onslaught of climate change. But do not get caught in the misguided adventurism of a decaying empire that is flailing about at phantoms, while the real dangers that haunts it, -climate change, environmental degradation, and the rapidly growing level of inequality of its own people- have essentially been sacrificed on the altar of a military-industrial-political-financial machine that is its own worst enemy.

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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...


      McGarrett: Book ‘em, Danno.

      Hawaii 5-0. That’s the number of shots Dirty Deedy had before the clown showdown at McDonalds.

      Hey, we’re the good guys.

      10/19/13 3:49 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Garrett: “Their concern is not really for the well being of Japan or even the well being of the great majority of Americans: they serve a government that has been captured from within by corporate elites. They serve an America where war criminals go free, where domestic and international laws are ignored when it suits the President to either use violence or invade what little privacy is left in our era of interconnected information technologies; they serve an America where it is a crime to be poor, and where the rich can steal unto themselves even more of the public good because they now control the politicians that write the laws and the judges that judge them and the police that beat what few awake protestors there are left into bleeding submission.” – See more at: http://japanfocus.org/-D_H_-Garrett/4006#sthash.dMqPXbiz.dpuf

      Spoken like a real Enemy of State

      10/19/13 4:05 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...



      In the running tally to determine “Is they corrupt or is they incompetent,” which column should this Snowden revelation be added:


      10/19/13 4:43 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      One of the interesting links Rich shared above to Mr Garrett’s site has this clip included, tucked at the bottom of the article:

      “By way of introduction to the complete Dissent Cable (November, 2009) which follows, let me quote from Stephen Glain’s excellent book, State Vs Defense: The Battle to Define America’s Empire. “The State Department’s dissent channel, a means through which Foreign Service officers may express constructive opposition to White House policy and air alternative views, languished under the Bush administration and show no signs of reviving itself; in February 2010, the president of the American Foreign Service Association linked the channel’s enfeeblement with ‘the continuing marginalization of the Foreign Service in the foreign policymaking process.’”

      - See more at: http://japanfocus.org/-D_H_-Garrett/4006#sthash.dMqPXbiz.oNg78yEl.dpuf

      The Dissent Channel needs new life breathed in. It also should be expanded to include State’s own Civil Service, which it does not

      10/19/13 6:54 PM | Comment Link

    • Helen Marshall said...


      Daniel Garrett, I am in awe of your letter. I opted to move to EST work to avoid the demarches about issues that I could not defend…but that didn’t work either once GWB announced that the US would not adhere to the Kyoto Protocol (or any other environmental agreement that caused any pain to the US). I can only hope that someone in Japan will read and circulate this letter…there are tens of thousands of citizens who want our military forces gone, to end the long nightmare of rapes and other assaults on Japanese citizens that are given a “get out of jail free” card. Time to say goodbye…we won’t say it so time for Japan to do so.

      I fear that bankruptcy may be the only way to end this empire.

      You may be wondering what next, but you have done a huge service to the world, and to the USG if it is wise enough to pay attention…

      10/20/13 6:16 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      When countries catch “diplomats” spying in their countries they kick them out. If Brazil, France, and all these “friendly” countries are really outraged the US is listening in on their official communications, they should break diplomatic relations with US and kick US out. Only then will the US listen.

      10/21/13 12:41 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      quote:”Daniel Garrett was a political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Japan 2008-2010. The State Department decided he just wasn’t their kind of guy, and let him go. I have never met Dan, but his farewell to the Department of State and his advice to Japan bear quoting at length.

      Advice to Japan notwithstanding, my hat’s off to this gentleman. But considering the Japanese government went to the US PTB in Japan post WWll to request their help in squelching the emerging story of 12 Japanese banking employees who were poisoned with a chemical derived from Japanese Biological/Chemical tests on human beings whereby the USG gained intelligence by virtue of the death of untold numbers of human beings, while covering up the entire story…I’d submit..Japan won’t give a flying fuck. After all..the USG let these Japanese pond scum off the war criminal hook after the war..to keep the world from learning about BW efforts of the USG..even as Nuremberg took place.

      quote:”Commander in Chief, Far Eastern Command (May 47): “Data already obtained from Ishii and his colleagues have proven to be of great value in confirming, supplementing and complementing several phases of U.S. research in BW, and may suggest new fields for future research…. the only known source of data from scientifically controlled experiments showing the direct effect of BW agents on man…. The BW information obtained from Japanese sources should be retained in intelligence channels and should not be employed as ‘war crimes’ evidence.” unquote

      Should not be employed as ‘war crimes’ evidence.
      right. Well, we all know where this led. Directly into Syria. Truth: The USG is the biggest War Criminal on the face of the planet now.

      In fact, I’d submit the USG used Japan’s “permanent detainment” playbook to create the insidious Guantanamo depravity that still holds human beings till the day they die just to let the whole thing ..fade away. Just like Sadamichi Hirasawa.

      quote:People considering a career in the Foreign Service should also consider the price they’ll pay.”unquote

      Price? That’s rich. How bout the price human beings on the wrong side of the USG foreign “policy” pay. Frankly, warnings aside, any idiot who decides to make an employment deal with State, after seeing what the last 60 years of USG Empire war crimes have occurred..deserves every soul destroying crap the Department of Ludicrous heaps on them.

      Demarche’s indeed. I got one for the USG. Actually..make that 100.

      10/21/13 12:48 PM | Comment Link

    • Lafcadio said...


      I’ve always had a little different take on this.

      I remember very well a big speech by Mary Ryan, in which she said that if you don’t agree with Department (her) policies, you should resign.

      While I appreciate principled dissent, such as provided by Mr. Garrett and PVB, personally, I think that the people who are fucking things up (e.g., Mary Ryan) are the ones who should leave.

      There’s a lot to be said for staying inside and laying the occasional ambush for the dipshits. Sometiems, they even get fired.

      Victories, although few and far between, are sweet.

      10/22/13 9:40 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      “I think that the people who are fucking things up (e.g., Mary Ryan) are the ones who should leave.”

      If all the people who are fucking things up at State left, the damn building would fall down.

      10/22/13 10:36 AM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      quote“I think that the people who are fucking things up (e.g., Mary Ryan) are the ones who should leave.”unquote

      How can one “fuck up” something that inherently carries out “policy’s” that are mandated by the Executive, Law created by Congress, and their own so called “mission”, that is already fucked up beyond human comprehension in the first place?

      To me, any person considering joining the State Department, should first look at what the USG is doing around the planet, as State is intrinsically the public face of foreign policy as seen by other sovereign nations. If you don’t like what the United States Empire is doing around the world..then why in the fuck would you want to..ahem..HELP THEM??????????????????
      On the other hand..this leaves only two other possibilitys…
      A. Either you don’t give a flying fuck and are just looking for a stable paycheck and possible retirement, or
      B. You believe State has a noble mission of which you want be part of.

      Whatever the case, we already know a good portion of State is filled with (A), to whom I would submit..what ever happens to you…too fucking bad. You made the choice to work for an inherently corrupt arm of the USG.

      To those who fall under (B)..I feel sorry for you for two reasons.

      1. Stupidity can’t be cured.

      2. See #1.

      10/22/13 11:10 AM | Comment Link

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