Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Aaron Snipe -- Reflecting on His Time in Iraq

One young State Department Foreign Service officer who will be joining us on Monday, October 5 for the "Ground Truth" panel of civilian and military practitioners is Aaron Snipe, who just completed a year on assignment to the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Muthanna, Iraq. Aaron kept up a steady stream of blog entries during his time in Iraq, and collectively they provide a fascinating look at this type of new public diplomacy work, at the retail level, in an unstable and chaotic environment.

Whatever theological-bureaucratic differences may exist inside the Beltway about how the U.S. should go about improving its standing in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in the rest of the world, Aaron was out there in the field, listening, engaging, and making things happen.

Whether he was publicizing a rural veterinary partnership, dipping a few sheep along the way, or organizing a woman's art exhibition in cooperation with a local NGO, or just enjoying the simple luxury (in the Iraqi context) of walking the streets of a provincial town, Aaron was proving that Edward R. Murrow's proverbial "last three feet" are still the most compelling ones of all.

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