PEACE PROBE by Gene Stoltzfus

Shine the Light on the US State Department by peaceprobe
January 23, 2006, 10:10 am
Filed under: Politics of Empire, Scripture: Nonviolence

Where Foreign Policy gets put to work: 

The State Department building has remained the same for 50 years. Quiet, well dressed, dignified, but with several generations of new and improved security around it. Senior government workers are on the top floor and others, less senior on the intermediary floors until you reach the bottom. On this day I was only on the outside. But, I do know some of the folks on the inside and have enjoyed good meetings and conversations.

Today as I walked around this two block building I found my heart reaching out to the folks inside, many of whom entered government service with hopes that they would help bring good things to this world as members of the Foreign Service. Many of my generation are now either retired or will soon depart. Years ago I knew them, people like me, products of the hopefulness of the Kennedy generation. 

Now after so many years they can see that Viet Nam was not the end; Viet Nam was the continuation of generations of American international adventurism beginning with the Philippines in 1898 and stretching back through the Indian wars. Some of the folks in that building might whisper their frustrations if given a moment. Their efforts to butter the already slippery foreign adventurism of the late 20th century US reach must have been hard work. One by one I have watched them drop out and turn to the safety of the private world; still some try and hope.

The embassies which they lead now are protected like modern castles, from car bombs, attacks, and demonstrators like me. Frustrations with the world with the US are poured on to these foreign service officers as their professional policy lives are jilted by one administration to another every four or eight years.

The plaque on the front of the State Department proclaims a mission of arms control and environmental protections among other great values. More than half of the arms of the world are now manufactured in the United States. Millions here and around the world remain mystified with these words, arms control and await delivery on the promise. We walked silently, hoping not to appear holier than they who represent us in distant nations as we prayed for our common renewal for ourselves and for the earth.


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