Forum, May 4: A Day to Honor Our Diplomats

Thursday, May 03, 2018
A Day to Honor Our Diplomats

The U.S. Senate has designated May 4 as Foreign Service Day to acknowledge the vital role of America’s diplomats at 270 embassies and consulates around the world, often in dangerous circumstances. They promote our democratic values, objectively advise our policy makers, advocate our policies, protect American citizens abroad, anticipate crises and resolve disputes with other countries. As President Donald Trump’s National Security Strategy document succinctly states, “America’s diplomats are our forward deployed political capability, advancing and defending America’s interests abroad.”

The Foreign Service is by law apolitical, but is inevitably caught up in today’s political turmoil. President Trump’s strategy recommends, “We must upgrade our diplomatic capabilities to compete in the current environment,” yet last year he proposed a 29 percent reduction in the State Department budget, with commensurate personnel cuts. The Senate Appropriations Committee, in a 31-0 vote, characterized the proposal as a “doctrine of defeat,” and the full Senate rejected it. As Secretary of Defense James Mattis once observed, “If you don’t fund the State Department fully then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately.”

Irrespective of Washington upheaval, including unusual disdain for diplomatic professionals by some politicians, the 16,000-member Foreign Service conscientiously continues to toil worldwide around the clock to monitor political developments, to level the playing field for U.S. businesses, to open markets for U.S. agriculture, to assist American tourists in trouble, to protect us against threats ranging from terrorism to pandemics, to prevent conflicts as our first line of defense and to accomplish thousands of other tasks that serve our people, strengthen our country and sustainably promote peace, justice and prosperity globally.

Please pause along with Foreign Service retirees residing in the Upper Valley and throughout New England on Foreign Service Day to commemorate diplomats who sacrificed their lives while serving in faraway places, and to honor those who are serving us today.

Thomas N. Hull


The writer is a retired ambassador and president of Foreign Affairs Retirees of New England.

More Second Amendment Issues

I support the conclusions expressed in the April 25 letter “Hysteria About Gun Control.” There are several additional issues embodied in the Second Amendment.

George Washington raised concerns, as detailed in Ron Chernow’s biography, as did James Madison and Alexander Hamilton in several letters in the Federalist Papers, about a potentially dangerous standing army. Yet a controlled, well-regulated and readily marshaled militia was essential for protecting the federal government from dangers outside and within. States were required to meet their governmentally calculated quotas of recruits to avoid a single-state dominance, and the militia compensation would be limited to a specified duration dictated by congressional control.

Hamilton initially wrote that the statement “bearing arms should not be infringed” suggested the people did have that right which was not implied by the Constitution and such a “bill of rights” was unwarranted. He altered his view about the bill to ensure a quickly mobilizable force for the federal government, particularly against the lingering British threats. In no way does the language agreed in the Second Amendment stipulate what type of arms are appropriate for the militia or general use, or that under “regulating,” the government couldn’t set specific limits, as our Supreme Court recently expressed.

Andrew L. Taylor


Ban All Non-Organic Poisons

Spring! For many of us who live along the Connecticut River Valley, it’s difficult to go outside because of the heavy, foul odor of the water-rotted manure being spread by the factory-farm dairy farmers. This ammonia stench is not a natural smell. It burns one’s eyes, sinuses and throat, and for some causes severe indigestion and generates violent headaches.

Cows are being fed with poison-laden grains. Cows are supposed to be fed grass. A grass-fed cow doesn’t produce as many pounds of milk, but the quality is much higher and the manure smell is much sweeter.

Farmers complain that milk prices are going down and they want the price to be protected. Yet they are happy to poison us with their manure and their poisoned corn. GMO corn seed is treated with neonicotinoids. These are systemic poisons that grow with the plant. They are in the wind-driven pollen and they are in the chopped product when it is harvested.

Corn is also sprayed during the growing season with Roundup pesticide. This poison isn’t just glyphosate. It’s a mixture of many chemicals including Atrazine, which is another systemic poison, banned in Europe, that ends up in the corn. Humans who drink the milk and consume other dairy products made with this milk are being poisoned. This poison mix and its breakdown products are considered likely to be carcinogenic. For the sake of human, animal and water health, all industrial, home and agricultural poisons that aren’t organic-certified should be banned.

Americans are becoming increasingly lactose intolerant. This is likely due to poison intolerance. We don’t need the quantity of milk being produced in this country. Industrial milk produces industrial cheese, yogurt, butter. Most of the cheeses are tasteless and melt poorly: corn plastic. Grass-fed and organically fed cows produce healthy, sweet-tasting milk and dairy products.

It’s time to drive the dairy factory-farmers out of business. Our health is more important than their income.

Stan Phaneuf

Newbury, Vt