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View Diary: Idiocy at the State Department (85 comments)

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  •  But it is fundamentally their job (1+ / 0-)
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    to talk to people who are the current movers and shakers in those countries.

    It is the job (or should be) of CIA operatives to get out into the street, talk to the workers and organizers and activists and students and street gangs and religious cults to find out what the hell is really going on that the elites our diplomats are forever talking to either don't know, discount, or don't tell them.

    Much of our US diplomacy is not flattering because much of our foreign policy is not flattering. When your policy is to let your corporations steal resources from other countries then you are going to have a lot of stuff you aren't proud of.

    "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

    by Orinoco on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:43:44 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Who says so? (1+ / 0-)
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      Obviously it's important for diplomats to talk to movers and shakers. But just them?  It's also important to talk to other people.

      If an alien came to earth and asked the U.S. Congress what was going on in America, he'd learn that the U.S. is being run by a Kenyan Muslim socialist and that the principal function of government is to ensure that everyone has a gun. He'd do well to ask elsewhere.

      The movers and shakers in Honduras, to take one example, include oligarchs who have used death squads, run narcotics, and operate sweatshops. One would learn much more about the situation in the country by talking to an illiterate Garifuna fisherman than by spending many hours talking to the elite.

      The CIA and State are deeply integrated. That's problematic, because human rights monitors, labor rights monitors, and others with important information that the US ought to be listening to may hesitate to talk to the embassy for fear that it will get back to the police/military.

      •  But is an illiterate Garifuna fisherman (0+ / 0-)

        going to talk to someone from a foreign embassy? Or would he be more likely to open up to someone who looks and talks like him and hangs out at the local watering hole. Especially knowing that, to take your Honduran example, the elite is running death squads. Sending diplomats off to talk to folks on the waterfront won't tell them anything. Sending CIA agents to recruit local folks might work a whole lot better.

        And the CIA and State should be deeply integrated. CIA should constantly be whispering in State's ear, "here's what's really going on..." based on actual on the ground intelligence garnered from places other than elite diplomatic cocktail parties.

        It's the CIA, not the State Department, who is supposed to be collecting handouts activists pass out in the crowd of unemployed locals, who is buying and reading local language newspapers and magazines, who has a network of people sitting in union meetings, student meetings, neighborhood meetings, bars, barber shops and pool halls, listening and reporting on what is happening. That's what intelligence is supposed to be about. It's related to diplomacy, but it is not diplomacy. And diplomacy isn't intelligence gathering.

        "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

        by Orinoco on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 11:00:36 PM PDT

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        •  You'd be surprised (0+ / 0-)

          There are people in the human rights groups who would be incredibly grateful for the chance to speak with embassy staff genuinely willing to listen. In Honduras, many of those in the human rights groups are gente humilde-- poor people, indigenous people, people who know what it's like to be shot by DEA agents for the crime of coming home in the evening.

          As for intelligence gathering, you might be surprised where it comes from.  

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