A reader responds to Powell post.
We recently ran a guest piece by Peter Rice, a retired FSO, about Ambassador Nancy Powell and the rewards for info on terrorist programs in the third world, which was in turn a response to this post. Today we received the below rebuttal from a serving FSO. As always we do not edit (except for formatting to work with Blogger) or alter content in any way. Publishing these posts and e-mails is not necessarily an endorsement, it just means we found them interestimg and thought you might too.
I have been browsing old posts, and came across the piece you posted by Peter Rice, a retired FSO. I would appreciate you considering or posting the following comments:
Mr. Rice states he left India in 1999. Well, things have changed a lot since then (I've been posted there much more recently). His description of the stale and empty AM and FM radio market is wildly inaccurate; the FM dial is full in every major urban center (reaching most of the population), and these are popular, private stations, not the dull GOI-owned station. Similarly with TV; although the poor don't all own TVs there are a lot accessible- in the local general store, etc, where people gather and sit to watch. So him making arguments from authority based on his dated and incorrect knowledge of India is not terribly impressive.
Secondly, even if his knowledge of India were accurate, it would have no utility in enlightening the debate on a program in Pakistan. I'm sure Mr. Rice is aware of the difference...
Thirdly, although I am not a personal friend of Amb Powell, I do know her and everyone I know who worked for her had great respect for her dedication and competence. Reading a half-baked newspaper article that doesn't even attempt to answer the fundamental deficiency it raises (namely, the assertion by DOS that the program was halted before Powell came to post) and using it as a basis for character attacks against Powell is immature and illogical.
For what it's worth, I don't know whether the program was effective or not, or a good use of time or not. I don't claim to know how Pakistanis would respond to the program. I do know, however, that none of the self-righteous commentators know those answers any better than I do. Their fury doesn't add anything to the discourse.
I'm emailing anonymously b/c I'm a serving FSO, and although I have a pretty conservative outlook, I get really disgusted with the echo chambers that develop on blogs every time the anti State right wingers get an opportunity to bash the state department. I know that most of my FSO colleagues are far more liberal than I am, but almost all of them do their job the best they can, and I don't care to see them slandered by ignorants.
Thanks much. I like the blog; I'll check it more often. I first came across it from Diplomad, but then didn't check for a few months.
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