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was head of the office in the Bureau of
Human Rights and Humanitarian Af-
fairs charged with production of the re-
ports. Mr. Roberts’ essay circulated
somewhat surreptitiously at the time, as
he notes in his introduction, and I must
confess that I did not know then who
had written it.
He is absolutely correct that far too
many drafts coming to us reflected ef-
forts to soften criticism of host govern-
ments, sometimes to a ludicrous extent.
I sympathized with the ambassadors
and reporting officers who had to deal
with unhappy, even resentful, official
and unofficial contacts after publication
of critical human rights reports.
But I also recognized that the
weaseling and squirming spoke poorly
of too many of our Foreign Service col-
leagues. One memory that stays with
me was a report declaring that the local
tyrant “quite correctly” placed eco-
nomic development ahead of civil
rights for his people.
We did what we could with those re-
ports, fighting to negotiate wording that
would at least not spark congressional
and media ridicule. It was an interest-
ing but not particularly proud time in
my career and, I expect, in the careers
of others involved in the process.
Robert S. Steven
FSO, retired
Springfield, Va.
Don’t Endorse Smuggling!
I am both delighted and aghast at
’s publication of Keith
Mines’ October feature, “Leave No Pet
Behind.” As a pet owner who uses im-
port/quarantine regulations as criteria
for bidding on positions and has paid
thousands of dollars to ship her two
dogs around the world, I applaud the
writer for his family’s commitment to
take their pets with them wherever
they go, and salute the
for pub-
lishing an article on this issue.
However, when I reached the end
of the article I became alarmed. Mr.
Mines admits to “smuggling” his son’s
pet snake into and through multiple
countries, and uses this exact word in
describing an episode at a German air-
port. At best, these actions are an ex-
treme lapse in judgment and lack of
integrity; at worst, they constitute a vi-
olation of international laws.
In a time when the phrase “How
would this look in the
?” is commonplace, this article is a
lapse of judgment on the part of the
writer and the
As diplomats, we are not above laws
and regulations. In fact, as representa-
tives of the United States worldwide,
we have a duty to behave with the ut-
most integrity and represent our coun-
try in the best light possible. Publicly
flaunting the smuggling of an animal
across international lines is not behav-
ing with the utmost integrity.
I hope that in the future the
will more closely review its submissions.
Nicole Mock
Consulate General Ciudad
Change from Within
Nearly a decade after its original
publication in the February 2002 issue
of the
, the late Ambassador Hume
Horan’s article, “The U.S. and Islam in
the Modern World” (November), still
exposes the essential flaw of Islamic
culture: giving all the uncertainties of
religious faith and its all-too-human
agents an excessive role in governance
and society.
This is a fatal flaw, for it inevitably
brings about that “tyranny over the
mind of man” (and of woman!) that
Thomas Jefferson so rightly deemed
the greatest danger to human progress.
And as Winston Churchill observed, in
the case of Islam’s all-pervasive and ex-
clusively Islamic God it also breeds
both “fatalism and fanaticism” — not a
happy combination.
It took our own Western tradition
more than 300 years of struggle to
break the dominance of the Catholic
Church, to shift religion to a matter of
personal choice and faith, and to bring
science and reason into the forefront of
human endeavor. (Yes, there are still
too many among us who haven’t gotten
the message, but never mind.) It can
only be hoped that contemporary Islam
will quickly find equivalents to the Ren-
aissance, Reformation and Enlighten-
ment to direct its own still-problematic
evolution. (The irony of the Islamic
world’s great contribution to the Ren-
aissance is not to be missed here.)
Such change can indeed come only
from within. But given the growth of
academic and other exchanges, and the
explosion in communications technol-
ogy, it should certainly be possible for
the world’s democracies to sensitively
aid those indigenous forces seeking a
new direction.
Gunther K. Rosinus
Senior FSO, retired
Potomac, Md.
Civilian-Military Cooperation
in Afghanistan
I worked in Kapisa province, Af-
ghanistan, as a member of a U.S. Army
Special Forces unit, Operational De-
tachment Alpha, during the period
(2009-2010) discussed in your January
2011 cover story, “Microdiplomacy in
Afghanistan.” I only recently learned
about that article and was disappointed
to find that co-authors Dana D. Deree,
an FSO, and Matthew B. Arnold, both
J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L