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Medical Officer Terry writes: A Tale of the Peace Corps in Morocco in the 1960's
A telegram arrives at Peace Corps Rabat. My Peace Corps assignment has been summarily canceled, and with eight weeks left in my two-year tour of duty, I am to be transferred back to the US Public Health Service in Washington DC. The reason? I have “applied for a job with the CIA.” The CIA has forwarded my letter, which really was only an inquiry, to the Peace Corps, where it ended up on Robert Steiner's desk. Remember the admonitions about association with Intelligence Agencies? It is totally unconstitutional to rule that someone may not seek lawful employment with any Agency, US Government, NGO, Intelligence related or otherwise, after they have left the Peace Corps. At least that is my view, and that of several lawyers, whom I ran the question past, after the fact. Steiner, however, has been carrying a grudge, and he can interpret Peace Corps Image/rules anyway he wishes, exactly as he tried to do when he threatened to fire Carolis Diehl. Somewhere in the morass of Rules and Regulations, in the Orientation that I never got, because I came to Washington early and left before my physician class came and attended all of the orientation meetings, which happened after I had gone to Morocco, is a rule that you can't go to work for an Intelligence Agency for five years after you have left the Peace Corps. I'm not quite sure how a letter of inquiry can be construed as “going to work”, but that nicety doesn't bother Mr. Steiner Steiner has what he needs, the smoking gun, the one he can shoot me with.
Medical Officer Terry writes: A Tale of the Peace Corps in Morocco in the 1960's
A Tale of the Peace Corps
As a 1960’s Medical student, I listened to John F. Kennedy, during his Spring, Summer, and Fall of 1960 run for the Presidency, as he described a Corps of Volunteers, sent to underdeveloped areas of the world, to do good works,… to “change the world”.
There was a war in Viet Nam at the time, and conflict in a lot of other areas, so a Corps of young Americans setting out to do good and create change was a fresh wind, blowing coolly, a welcome sea change in US policy, and I bought the whole story, all of it.
Once elected, Kennedy appointed his Brother in Law, R. Sargent Shriver, to be the Director, and actually the founding thinker and planner of this new “do good agency.”
Doing anything new and different in Washington DC would require a virtuoso politician, which R. Sargent Shriver was not, but having said that, in a relatively short time, Sargent Shriver had the Peace Corps up and running, and had let contracts to train volunteers, unsurprisingly, he had let most of these training contracts to various Texas Universities, where Vice President Lyndon Johnson originated, having them designated as Peace Corps training centers.
The 60’s were an era when the term “Politically Correct” not yet been invented.
The Peace Corps, though, was prescient.
In order to establish itself/differentiate itself as unlike any previous or current US Government agency, the Peace Corps invented its own form of selfpromoting lore, which it called “Peace Corps Image."
Peace Corps “Romantic Fiction” might have been more apt.
“Peace Corps Image” included extraordinarily naïve concepts, like living in poverty, not having the use of motor vehicles, living at the same standards as the poorest people of the countries where volunteers were to be sent, working for a microscopic salary, and so on.
These “Image” Concepts were all romantic PR slanted concepts, mostly distracting from the job at hand, and not helpful, not contributory in any direct way in the goal of creating change.
Peace Corps , in effect, lumbered itself with a bunch of ideology, which sold well to the American Press, and read well to the naive, but did not play well in the field, and could quickly get in the way of actually creating change.
Why would America, the rich and powerful, force young kids to live in poverty in order to help less developed countries? What exactly was the point? Change, or appearances??
“Peace Corps Image” included the premise that a relatively uneducated American kid, who had no more than a 4 Year college degree, if that, a socalled “AB Generalist”, would be able to go to un underdeveloped country and contribute technically to its development, after a training session of no more than three months
These were romantic, but potentially divisive and distracting concepts, especially when compared with the technical assistance provided by France, and other world powers, which sent well paid, well dressed, well educated professionals to impart needed skills in the underdeveloped world.
These French Technical “Cooperants” did the job, and wasted no time on romantically describing their mission.
They came and went as “hired Pros.”, graded on what they did, not how they did it, for the most part.
They worked side by side with the Peace Corps in all of the ex French Colonies, and often did astounding things, quietly and without the kind of PR that the Peace Corps kept insisting upon..
In the Peace Corps, though, it was almost never enough to do good…
You had to “look good”, by highly artificial standards, while doing good.
If a choice between doing good, or “looking good”/abiding by the Peace Corps Image presented.. Image won.
Most importantly in the Image concepts, though, and the subject of countless Press Releases, and etc, a cornerstone of “Peace Corps Image” the Peace Corps was absolutely NOT to be “hijacked” as an in Intelligence gathering tool by the various US Government Intelligence Agencies.
A “Strict Prohibition” was enacted by the Peace Corps, with much fanfare, ostensibly to prevent any US Government Intelligence Agencies from infiltrating either the Peace Corps Administration or overseas Peace Corps Volunteer Projects.
At least this is what the Press Releases stated…
Any association with Intelligence gathering was anathema, not to be tolerated,
because it would “put Volunteers’ safety and lives at risk.”
I note this Peace Corps anti Intelligence Community, sine qua non, categoric disavowal, because it will become quite important as the story progresses.
So, too, will the concept of “Peace Corps Image”, of having to meet all the PR standards, standards other than pure excellence of performance, while getting on with the task at hand, of having to “look good” , while trying to do good…or else.
Fast-forward from 1960 to 1964, as I'm graduating from Harvard Medical School, and reading newspapers and watching on television as American kids travel the world and do development projects ranging from irrigation, to agriculture, to dam building, home building, school building, to teaching basic knowledge in schools and a myriad of other projects which could, in fact, "change the world" if carried to fruition.
As I entered my Internship in Los Angeles, I decided, along with my Medical School roommate, Marv Corlette, that I would volunteer for the Peace Corps as a physician.
Nearing the end of my Internship year I made a formal application to the Peace Corps to become a Peace Corps Physician , stating that I would come at the end of my first year of Internal Medicine Residency.
I was accepted by the Peace Corps, promised a slot at the end of June 1966, in the US Public Health Service, to be detached/assigned to Peace Corps as part of the acceptance .
My future clearly and irrevocably planned, I thought, I passed from Internship to Residency without second thoughts as to the actual formality of acceptance/induction notification, which needed to be received and appreciated at my Draft Board, so they would be officially informed/aware of my upcoming appointment to the US Public Health Service/Peace Corps.
Until that time, Draftboards treated Physicians in training as students, classified all of us as 4A, draft proof until finished with our programs.
Unbeknownst to me, my Draft Board was never officially notified of my pending appointment to the US Public Health Service/Peace Corps by either agency.
Blithely, I finished my Internship year, and began my first year of Medical Residency, so exhausted, and so busy, that I never bothered to call the Draft Board myself..
Suddenly, in 1966, the rules at Draft Boards across America changed..
A huge buildup was taking place in ‘Nam’, with the immediate consequence that a huge number of physicians would be required to service the injured, wounded, and maimed.
Intern and Resident Draft Ratings were changed from 4A to 1A, without warning.
Consequently, without warning, in March of 1966 I received a Draft Notice.
The Draft Notice ordered me to appear within 14 days for an Induction Physical.
Implied within this notice was the clear consequence that within 30 days I would be on an airplane headed for Viet Nam, definitely NOT headed for Washington DC and thence the underdeveloped world, as so carefully planned and prepared for.
Dumbfounded, I called Peace Corps Washington and asked them “What is going on?”
“How can I be drafted when I had a Pending USPHS/Peace Corps Commission in June of this same year???
“Did Peace Corps, or did they not, notify my Draft Board of the pending commission?”
I never did get a clear answer to the question, but obvious is that they did not notify my Draft Board.
I asked them what they would like to do about this dilemma, since they are also in a bind, almost the same as I . “
On no notice, in the face of a huge Physician Draft already underway, the Peace Corps would now have to identify and recruit a new Physician, in the timeframe remaining between March and June, in an environment where all available physicians were already being notified of Draft and shipping out to Viet Nam.
” Who would they find to fill my slot, the place that I was going to leave behind?”
I was instructed to “stand by”, they would call me back within a day.
The next day my phone rang..
It was the Peace Corps, instructing me to book a flight within the next 48 hours to Washington DC, where I would be inducted into the Public Health Service, and assigned/detached to the Peace Corps, immediately, almost exactly as had been scheduled, only three months early.
Two days later I was on the plane flight to Washington DC.
Once in Washington, and once on board, no arrangements other than my induction had been made, so I had to set about to find housing, and figure out what I was to do for the next three months, arrange to get my wife brought to Washington, and figure out what to do until the old group of Peace Corps Physicians came home, and the newly recruited group, which would include me, were sent out to replace them.
Very quickly it became clear that I would be bored silly if I let the Peace Corps control the pace and the direction of my stay in Washington.
They had no plan for me at all.
It is not good for me to sit around. I have a toxically low boredom threshold..
I looked around for educational opportunities, discovered the Foreign Service Institute, where eight hour full immersion courses were taught in various languages, including French, which I had studied in high school, and never used since.
I badgered the Peace Corps, enrolled in intensive French, and within a few weeks was conversant.
It is an interesting sidelight, that as part of learning how to teach a foreign language in a short time frame, the FSI had created a language learning aptitude test which was administered to all language school candidates.
Not everyone can learn a foreign language proficiently,
no matter how hard they work at it.
Language aptitude varies highly, from person to person
The FSI test predicted with a high degree of accuracy how rapidly, and how well the tested individual could/would learn a foreign language.
It allowed FSI to place students by ability, in normal or accelerated programs
I was surprised to learn that I have a very high language aptitude.
(It should not have been such a surprise, because I had learned to speak fluent German in one Semester in Vienna in 1959.)
Partway through FSI Intense French Language Training I was informed that a sudden opening for a PCP had had occurred in Morocco, where the Peace Corps Physician was being sent home/leaving early, and a replacement would be required forthwith.
Peace Corps Washington scuttlebutt had it that the doctor was “incorrigible, insubordinate, and incompetent.”
(At least this is how he had been described to the Washington crowd by the recently appointed Peace Corps Morocco Director, John Burdick.)
Typical of the Peace Corps, and as with most bureaucracies, especially US Government bureaucracies, this story was bought whole by the Washington Administration.
The Country Director’s request was honored, and the “offending” Peace Corps Physician scheduled to depart Morocco on almost no notice, creating a situation where a replacement was needed ASAP.
I was available in Washington, unassigned as yet.
I spoke French, consequent to my machinations to get into FSI French Language School.
French was the Lingua Franca of Morocco, an ex French Colony
To the best of my knowledge, nobody from Peace Corps Washington DC ever bothered to go to Morocco on a fact-finding mission, to actually see, first hand, what was going on.
As if it were a Military Organization, the Commander was allowed to command.
The Peace Corps Morocco Director directed, and his directions ruled the day..
Had anyone superior to the Morocco Director done even a rudimentary investigation, this story might be greatly different, and I probably would never have gone to Morocco.
The Morocco Country Director, recently appointed, John Burdick, had no prior experience at a senior management level, that I could discern after reviewing his CV.
Burdick certainly had some very bad habits, fatal habits, really, for an executive who intended to be successful.
These habits included, but were not confined to, systematically and repeatedly undermining all of the other “lesser” administrators, who were charged with responsibilities for the various projects. Divide, then conquer..
Burdick's favorite game was to tell a Volunteer, unexpectedly in town, whose Project Director was out of town, on a field trip, that the Project Director was “uncaring and incompetent”, and even worse, “couldn’t be found when needed”, and that he, Burdick, would personally intervene to “do what he could” to “help” the visiting Volunteer out with his/her problems...
This approach was totally poisonous, and produced a situation where the individual Project Managers dared not leave the office, for fear of being undermined while gone.
The secondary effect was that Volunteers were left with no effective management because their Project Managers seldom or never dared to leave Rabat and visit and evaluate Volunteers, and evaluate their projects in the field.
It was this habit of the Peace Corps Country Director that had caused the Physician to rebel, and to complain to Washington.
The doctor’s complaint, for reasons unclear, was dismissed as without merit.
On the contrary, the Morocco Director, Burdick's, counter complaint of insubordination, was accepted without question by the Washington management, and the Physician unceremoniously fired. Dr Pellicier never had anything that approximated a fair hearing on the merits of the matter, so far as I could determine, after the fact.
Gone. Gone soon.
Gone without ceremony or justification, at the order of an SOB, the Morocco Director, an incompetent and suspect Administrator, himself, if viewed critically and fairly.
That was Dr Pellicier’s Fate.
My Fate was to replace him, but with a completely skewed story of why.
“Snakepit” is a pretty good descriptive term for the in-house politics at the Peace Corps in Rabat Morocco.
In hindsight, Peace Corps Washington was not much better.
Once it became clear that I was going to be posted to Morocco, I was introduced to the Near East and North Africa and Southeast Asia Division of the Peace Corps,(NANESA) and the NANESA Regional Director, Robert Steiner, who had spent part of his childhood in Iran, and spoke Farsi as a result….. Few Americans speak Farsi.
At the end of my tour in Morocco, the end of my duties with the Peace corps, the end of it all, I could discern no skills, other than this odd language capability, nothing personal or managerial, in Steiner’s published CV, which would have predisposed The Peace Corps to elevate him to a major post such as NANESA Director.
Quite to the contrary:
Steiner’s immediately prior-to-the-Peace-Corps work experience had been “Director of American Friends of the Middle East.” A Beirut Lebanon NGO, of not quite obscure purpose.. AFME was a “CIA Front”, according to many who spent their time outing such agencies.
(American Friends of the Middle East was later alleged/revealed by Ramparts Magazine, and several other leftwing US publications, to be a “CIA Front”, established in Beirut to ferret out intelligence, and seek intelligence agents to work for the CIA.)
Steiner, was, by his own account, prior to joining the Peace Corps, the Field Director for AFME, an agency alleged to have been nothing other than a CIA Front organization.
By any interpretation of the Peace Corps Employment Code, the often and very publicly stated Peace Corps Policy of “positive dissociation” from the US Government Intelligence Community, Robert Steiner’s job history should have precluded Robert Steiner from working for the Peace Corps, ever.
If “Image” and positive noninvolvement with US Intelligence Agencies was/is genuinely important, Steiner was in clear violation from day one..
This point, too, will play out as the story progresses.
The original Kennedy/Shriver concept was that the Peace Corps should NEVER be contaminated by US Intelligence Agencies, or its credibility would be ruined.
Kennedy, however, was two years dead, and Shriver gone on to other work by this time…
Once it was clear that I was the future Morocco PCP, I tried to glean information about the office and the personnel there, but it was impossible to get anything approaching a clear and credible story from the NANESA regional office and Peace Corps Washington.
When I flew out of Washington, I flew out underinformed, with a good deal of misgivings, because the official Peace Corps story didn't seem to carry water, as originally presented, nor upon reflection.
I took a paperback book about the Kingdom of Morocco with me on the flight.
I had a look at the Exports, the Products and the Commerce of Morocco;
“Largely an agrarian country, with fruits, grain, grapes, wine etc as chief exports”, then…
“ A leading center in North Africa for the production and refinement of Hasheesh, and a major exporter therof”
Oops.. I knew what that meant..
I wondered if any Volunteer anywhere in Morocco was ever sober and on the job..
Upon arrival at Rabat Airport, I was greeted by the soon to depart doctor, George Pellicier, a Wisconsin GP, who was well spoken, kindly, apparently competent, and appeared to be well liked, by the volunteers who were visiting him.
In my usual blunt style, I asked him “what the Hell was going on?”
It was he who described the inner workings of the Peace Corps Rabat office, and the machinations of the newly appointed Country Director versus the Project Directors, and included himself “amongst the targeted”.
He said he was “on John Burdick’s shit list/hit list”, and had been fired by Peace Corps Washington to support Burdick, “nothing more, but nothing less”.
None of this fit with the operative story handed to me by Peace Corps Washington prior to my departure.
I was not happy.
About two weeks into my stay in Morocco, after digesting what I believed to be the true facts of the dynamic in the Rabat office, after quietly interviewing all of the Project Directors, and many Volunteers, I wrote a stinging letter to NANESA and Robert Steiner.
In the letter I described the “Snakepit atmosphere”, the firing of a perfectly good physician by a perfectly misfit Director, for the sole reason of silencing a critic of the misfit Director's behavior.
If you work/have ever worked for a large bureaucracy, including a US Government bureaucracy, you will understand that I made no friends by writing such a letter.
Pellicier’s firing stood.
I was advised to consider “ most carefully” my words and my actions and to “accept direction from the newly appointed Country Director, John Burdick, and take care of the Volunteers according to the terms of my employment.( and to shut the f*** up)”
Dr Pellicier left, and I took over, to be visited by Volunteers who were in some cases shouting, weeping, ranting in bitter frustration, especially those in the Laboratory Technicians Project.
The recurrent intense complaint?
Their “dreams were unmet, maybe impossible to meet in this place, in this job, under these circumstances”, and
” NOBODY listens to us, ever , NOBODY helps us .”
I wrote a second “Eyes Only” letter to Peace Corps Washington, describing Burdick’s “management techniques” in more detail, but no response to this letter ever arrived.
About three months later, Burdick's behavior became so overtly paranoid, so visibly abnormal, that even the Peace Corps could not ignore it, so he was quietly, quickly, and unceremoniously returned to Washington, but not before creating a lot of pain, a lot of misery, and a lot of loss of effectiveness for Volunteers who had only two years in which to ” change the world".
There were other dissonant discoveries:
While mouthing all of the Peace Corps “Image” (BS) about “living like the poor, living and dealing at the same level as those we are here to serve”,
there was overt perfidy on display..
All of the Peace Corps Project Directors, including Burdick, lived in the modern, suburban part of Rabat, where all the Embassies were, where it looked sort of like Metropolitan France, not like an underdeveloped country at all..
They hung out with the Embassy crowd in what we would call today a “Gated Community”.. No Moroccans lived there.
It was suggested to me that I look for a Villa in that same area and move in.
I shook my head..what would I learn about Morocco if I lived in a Foreigners’ Ghetto??
Instead, I went shopping in the old part of town, and found, eventually, a somewhat decrepit Villa in the heart of the “Casbah des Oudias” the old walled portion of Rabat overlooking the mouth of the river. Picturesque. No illusions here.
My neighbors in the Casbah fought over my household trash until I did a deal with the woman next door. I gave her the trash directly, she picked through it, and then set out what was left with her own.
Nobody could afford medical care, there was no doctor for miles.
I had supplies and medicines, so, in my spare time I took care of my sick and wounded neighbors, becoming the “Toubeeb” (physician) for the neighborhood.
In part, this is what I had come for, not to sip cocktails with embassy types.
More than once I would find a trail of blood up the footpath to my door and a huddled shape awaiting me..
I had a nine year old kid who had cored his thigh out with the unprotected handlebar end of his no brake bicycle .
I sutured his wound.
Weeks went by, the wound wouldn’t heal, finally the light dawned..
The kid wasn’t eating any protein.. he was poor, no meat or fish in his diet, ever.
I began feeding him meat every night, so he would have protein.
Then, slowly, the wound healed.
One of my neighbors in the Casbah was the World Health Organization Medical Director Doctor Sinclair-Leutit, who had figured out how to live very well on a small salary, by living in this lowrent area.
The savings allowed him to have himself driven about in an old Rolls Royce, with a Moroccan chauffeur.
Peace Corps Morocco consisted of three large groups of Volunteers;
the “Foyer Feminin” Project, teaching Womens’ Domestic education/ household skills of about 30 Volunteers;
A group of about 100 Volunteers teaching English as a Foreign Language
An even larger group, in Laboratory Sciences, a very large project, with 120 volunteers posted to 14 or 15 Public Health Hospitals, and a number of smaller clinics scattered all over the Kingdom.
The Lab Tech Project had lost Lou Adams, its ex US Navy Corpsman/Lab Tech Project Director.
This man, universally badmouthed by John Burdick, ( as was every single Project Manager there, probably including me) was possibly never an ideal choice.
Lou never had much chance to prove or disprove himself, he was marginalized early and successfully, it appears.
Lou was non French speaking, a non college graduate at the time.
I met him only once or twice, and he was gone, and it was before I came to understand that Burdick could not be trusted to be truth telling in anything he said.
Even the very time of day, uttered by Burdick, was suspect, and unless you had a chronograph on your wrist, which checked out with his statement, you could not believe him. I had no time to assess his judgment of the departing Corpsman.
I was up to my elbows in out-bursting Volunteers from all of the Projects
I had shrieking weeping Volunteers in my Office, demanding help. Lots of help.
Help that required a much better understanding than I had as to what they were supposed to be doing, and how, and why.
I did not know it at the time, but have since discovered, that once the Ex-Corpsman, Lou Adams, upped stakes in Morocco, he returned to the USA and continued his education, earning a PhD and becoming a Medical School Professor, for many years.
Contrast that success with John Burdick, who had described the Corpsman as a “know nothing”.
Mr. Burdick was at the apogee of his career, there in Morocco.
He was the Director of the Peace Corps in the Kingdom of Morocco, was removed, returned to Washington, not reposted, and that was the best it ever got, so far as I know.
Burdick left Morocco in disgrace, and became a near total failure at all he undertook for as long as I followed his career ( not long, admittedly).
True Grit resists, and balks/talks, and Bulls**t walks, (but never quite soon enough.)
The Lab Tech Project had a lot of strikes against it;
It had an easily-discredited-by-Burdick Project Director from the inception, then lost even him.
The Project had a totally ill-conceived design, far too many Volunteers sent to it , no research as to the actual number needed, then it had been almost totally mis/unmanaged in the aftermath.
Ill designed and ill-managed, still the Lab Tech project had over 120 Volunteers, who had come to Morocco to "change the world". “Change”, especially useful change, does not describe what was being accomplished by the majority of them, by their own emotional accounts.
These Volunteers were literally weeping, coming in and shrieking at me in my Office, because they came to realize that they had not filled an empty slot, but , more often than not, that they had replaced a Moroccan lab worker, often with a family, a native worker who was now unemployed, standing outside the hospital where he had worked before, begging for food or money, while a Volunteer was doing his previous job, not very well, but at no cost to the government.
Redundant, before they ever came.. their dreams, their interests overlooked entirely in the rush to negotiate a high number project.. these Volunteers grieved for their dreams gone trampled.. Quite ruinous, for someone who had come “to do some good in the world”.
Whoever had negotiated the Lab Tech Project in the first place, apparently had failed to understand any sort of offer/counteroffer bargaining techniques, particularly how to employ such bargaining techniques in the Arab world, where any demand or offer is overinflated to the Max at the outset, and where the expectation was that offer and counteroffer would be made, argued over, discussed, and eventual compromise reached, wherein the quantity of Volunteers would be markedly reduced from the original request, and that both sides would then go away happy.
The Peace Corps’ failure to understand that the original request, including the number of Volunteers required, had been grossly inflated/exaggerated, led to a serious redundancy of Volunteers, many of whom had no work to perform, and some of whom had to look at their predecessor starving and begging to support his family.
To understand this dynamic, understand that in 1966 the Peace Corps was, in very large part, a public relations vehicle for the US, which was fighting a nasty and thoroughly widely televised war in Viet Nam.
More volunteers “changing the world” was good PR…. More was better..
Big Projects were top priority.
Fewer volunteers was not good PR… Few is bad.. Small Projects got short schrift
This numbers dynamic was/will be very important in this tale, as well.
Within that frame of reference, no attempt was made, prior to sending 120 Lab Tech Project Volunteers to Morocco, to establish that there were in fact 120 jobs.
Or, if yes, that these jobs could be/would be satisfactorily performed by arguably undertrained, language impoverished, English or History Major “AB Generalist” college dropout, non laboratory technicians, who had had three months of training in Texas, only.
That a small disaster ensued, should have surprised no one, that amelioration should be required should have been predictable, and planned for, but neither was true, and three volunteer groups had already been sent.
One hundred twenty or more bright and well meaning highly motivated kids were slogging away in a pretty grim reality by the time I arrived, without anyone official from the Peace Corps ever understanding that there was not any/not enough work for the bulk of them.
Upon realizing that the project had no management, that the original negotiations had been flawed, that the numbers of volunteers were too high, and even that the training provided the Volunteers was inadequate and prepared them poorly for the field conditions that they would find upon arrival, I set about urging the Peace Corps in Washington to:
a) recruit a Physician/Laboratory Director Professional, someone who spoke French to come, and take over the management of this laboratory technicians project and try to make some sense of it, and
b) b) hold off on the next group of Volunteers scheduled to replace the current group reaching their end of service, to not send any more, until we could get a good handle on what numbers were needed/made sense.
c) rethink the Project Design and aim for a home run, with fewer and better qualified Volunteers, Volunteers who could do the necessary science upon arrival.
A Clinical Pathologist/Physician, who ran Labs in the US was recruited and actually sent out to examine the situation.
He was a nice man, quite knowledgeable in the field of Laboratory Science
He spoke no French, and had no ear for Language.
He looked at the circumstances, returned home and was never heard from again.
More time went by..
This left the Project still completely unmanaged, screaming volunteers in my office, regularly.
Unable to observe this fiasco without attempting to treat or cure it, I volunteered to take over the management of the Laboratory Technicians Project in addition to my duties as the Peace Corps Physician.
Thus began a truly incredible adventure, which required me to drive all over the Kingdom of Morocco, a Country the size of the State of California, visiting every single one of the Moroccan Public Health Service Hospitals, and many smaller Clinics, originally built and equipped and staffed by the French, and abruptly abandoned by them, when they gave Morocco its Independence.
Imagine for a moment, these Hospitals and Clinics, scattered over an area at least as large as the State of California, with poor or no telephone service, bad roads, nonexistent fuel, nonexistent vehicles.. Hospitals and Clinics which were nominally run by the Ministry of Health in Rabat, where there were only 13 physicians in charge of all of the Medical Services in the whole Kingdom.
Imagine these physicians unable to gain even the most rudimentary information about the goings on in these Hospitals due to aforementioned lack of fuel or vehicles, lethally dangerous roads, absent travel budgets, and lack of even marginally dependable communications.
Predictably, there were unknown huge deficits of equipment and personnel in some locations, and large surpluses in other locations, and no records available, centrally, to enable those in Rabat to allocate materials and manpower in any logical fashion.
This bureaucratic ignorance had contributed to the over demand for Volunteer Laboratory Technicians in the first place, and had produced other shortfalls or excesses quite innocently, but quite disastrously.
To the Ministry of Health, situated, frustrated, cemented, in Rabat, I was magic.
I had a huge Peace Corps provided four-wheel-drive GMC Suburban.
I had an endless supply of free gasoline.
The GMC got about 10 miles to the gallon , so had been fitted with 60 gallons of accessory fuel tanks, enough gasoline so that, had I ever had an accident at the beginning of a field trip, I would have exploded with enough force to level a small village..No trace of me, or anything within 100 yards would have remained.
On board fuel capacity was fatally dangerous, but provided enough gasoline to drive from one end of the Kingdom to the other, returning home, on fumes, but no refill required.
I could go to each and every Hospital in the Kingdom, talk with the people in charge, return to Rabat with a list of what each Hospital needed, and a list of what each Hospital had too much of.
Once agreement had been reached with the Ministry that there was indeed a shortfall or a surplus, I could turn around and redistribute materials and supplies using the aforementioned Suburban, to all Hospitals/Clinics, within a few days, no small feat.
While doing this equipment and supplies survey, I was also assessing what each of the Volunteers assigned to these Hospitals/Clinics was actually accomplishing, or failing to accomplish.
Where did we have Volunteers who should never have been sent?
Where did we have work so technical that a three-month training course provided in Texas was insufficient to prepare a motivated, but ill trained Volunteer to perform up to expected standards??
Finally, did it make sense to recruit so-called AB Generalists instead of trained Laboratory Technicians for these technical positions?
About six months into my travels, not having learned anything from my previous unflattering correspondence sent to Washington, I sent another "helpful letter", to NANESA,/Robert Steiner suggesting;
that the original Lab tech project negotiations had been ill conceived and badly done,
that the consequence was that far too many Volunteers had been recruited for far too few actual jobs,
that the technical training the Volunteers had received, based upon American laboratory techniques, was inappropriate and insufficient to prepare these well-meaning Volunteers to go to work in laboratories equipped with French reagents, working upon French equipment, in a language which they understood poorly, if at all.
In conclusion, “the project was highly necessary”, and would allow the modernization of Health Services, in the Kingdom, so long as we could recruit genuine laboratory technicians, who, instead of spending time at technical school could spend time learning French And maybe Moroccan Arabic, or Berber, at language school, and who would then land on the ground in Morocco prepared to actually” change the world".
Further, the Peace Corps was obligated to do this project, because Peace Corps had signed a contract with the Ministry of Health, had given its solemn word to do this Project, stay for at least seven years, and that we could both honor the contract, and actually do the job, should we rethink the parameters only slightly.
Finally I noted, that the Project actually had somewhere around 30 to 40 real jobs, and that the 120 Volunteers, as trained and currently employed, were a redundancy that produced terrible morale, and not a great deal of assistance to Morocco.
A reduction in number, and enhancement in Volunteer skill quality would in fact create an environment where Medical Services were greatly improved in the Kingdom, and Volunteers would have the kind of experience for which they had originally volunteered, and who would then be able to return at the end of their two-year contract with an experience unparalleled in their lives, as compared with this largely disappointing, largely frustrating, largely pointless endeavor, wherein many of them were appearing daily to sit at a nonjob, and, even worse, often had to look out the window at an unemployed Moroccan who used to work there.
It was not happy letter.
At letter’s end, I offered to use my own accrued vacation time to come to the USA and visit Colleges and Universities which graduated trained Laboratory Technicians, and to try to recruit kids who already had mastery of the technical skills and the knowledge we sought for the Project, so we could save that part of the training process, and educate them as to the field realities they would face as they set out to “change the world”.
Meantime, Laboratory Technicians were not the only frustrated Volunteers…
The French have, I think, a most enlightened Policy towards their former Colonies.
If you have matriculated in a formerly French run School System, and read/speak good French, you may apply for advanced education in France, train to be a Lawyer, a Physician, a teacher, almost any Profession you can conceive, and get Scholarships and other assistance to gain this priceless education.
You can come from poverty, from nowhere, if you have learned to speak French like a Frenchman, and be treated as an equal, embraced for your industry, your semantic abilities.
French, fluency in French, is the key to this series of French Government provided educational opportunities. Fluency in French is the only Sine Qua Non. Egalite is real..
This may at first glance appear to be quite provincial, but not nearly as provincial as we Americans, who assume, even to this day, that anybody ought to be delighted to learn English so they could talk with us.
Seldom do we learn to talk with them.
We have, as a nation, a level of arrogance that is unequaled in history perhaps, and a level of ignorance the parallels our level of arrogance.
The purpose of the English teaching program in Morocco was to teach Moroccan students English. This seems a simple and probably beneficial program on the surface.
Stop for a minute, though, and consider as we have previously learned that not everybody is possessed of the same aptitude for language, and that somebody might be struggling with French in a Moroccan school, whereupon they are suddenly exposed to English, which does not assist them in learning French.
Now consider that the kid who is trying to learn two languages, is learning neither very well, and , consequently is not going to learn French well enough to pass his language skills tests and qualify for ongoing education in Metropolitan France.
Learning not very good English, at the cost of French Language skills may preclude the students from realizing any further dreams in their lives, making them suitable to become tourist touts for the English-speaking tourist, and very little else.
Failing to learn very good French is the end of education at the High School level, with no possibility of learning more, nor ever becoming a Professional, nor continuing your education, even if you wanted to study Philosophy.
The more perceptive Volunteers in the Teaching English as a Foreign Language program quickly understood this, and began complaining that their work was in fact interfering with the future of many of their students.
These volunteers, too, were in tears when they came to see me.
Imagine you are a Volunteer English Teacher, and you have a student that you like a lot, and that you believe to be bright enough to qualify for an education in France which would make something of him or her, but that what you are doing will deny that student the educational opportunity which only further education in France will provide.
You have no alternative to offer..Any future for this kid is in the French language.
Teaching English, to a student struggling with French, under those circumstances, is not a service.
Enter Carolis Diehl, a Volunteer English teacher, who has made it all the aforementioned discoveries, and can't bear his job any further. Carolis has come to see me to talk choices.
Carolis faces some pretty stark choices.
Carolis knows that if he returns to the United States, he will be drafted forthwith and wake up in Vietnam.
That knowledge notwithstanding, he says that unless I can find him something else useful to do, that is exactly what he's going to do, resign, and go home to face the music.
Meantime, as part of my travels, I drive through Marrakech, high in the Atlas Mountains, a legendary city, hub of many of the ancient trans Saharan Desert trade routes, and subject of many many romantic stories.
There is an unromantic side to Marrakech.
Marrakech has an appalling infection rate of Tuberculosis.
There is a small clinic in Marrakech, run by two devoted French doctors who have stayed on after the French Government has left, and are trying to make sense out of the Epidemiology, and the treatment of this scourge, with the cheapest possible drugs, due to the economics of the Kingdom.
During one of my trips, having heard of them from some of the Volunteers working in Marrakesh, I stop in, introduce myself, and listen to a tale of extreme distress.
The Doctors are flying blind, because they have no trained Lab Tech, no one who can manage the laboratory where sputum cultures are done and the success/failure of their programs is measured by outcome, by positive or negative sputum cultures or smears.
Without reliable laboratory culture information, they are lost in space.
They have no idea who is infected and who is not.
They cannot tell whether the drugs they have work or do not.
They cannot tell when it is safe to release a patient back to live with his family, because they cannot rely upon their laboratory results to tell them who is still infectious, and who is cured.
There is no despair like that which results from expending everything you possess in the way of energy and knowledge, and knowing that because of some small lack or failure, everything else you are doing, your basic goal, is doomed to failure.
These two doctors beg me to find them a Laboratory Technician Volunteer, because they know that the Peace Corps has placed Laboratory Technicians in the Kingdom.
They have no idea how difficult it would be for me to transfer a Volunteer Laboratory Technician from the Government Hospital system to this TB Clinic which is not on the list of Clinics provided to the Peace Corps by the Government.
I promise them I will look into it, and I place this request on the front burner of my mental list of things I need to do.
As I drive back through the Desert to Rabat, I think of these two docs whose needs are clear and desperate, and I think of Carolis Diehl, who needs desperately to be needed, and has expressed a willingness to do anything, even the dirtiest job, if it would meet his goal of creating useful change in Morocco, during the time he has left here.
Once back to Rabat, I call Carolis, and describe this very difficult job possibility.
I explain that it would be a very difficult switch to pull off, and I will have to come very close to allowing him to be sent home, before I can argue that it is better to give him a job that he will stay and do, then to let him go home.
I go to work on the Peace Corps Administration, arguing that this Volunteer is highly motivated, already knows the game in Morocco, states that he will do anything asked of him so long as he can see that it benefits the Kingdom.
Finally, I say this is the dirtiest job I've looked at, and that somebody with extraordinary motivation is required , because the first order of work will be to clean out a totally filthy laboratory, covered in human sputum, much of which is potentially contaminated with tuberculosis germs.
The Administration agrees, and the transfer is effected.
I take Carolis personally to Marrakech and introduce him to the two doctors.
A short time goes by, and I schedule a trip through Marrakech to see what is going on with this emergency staffing job I have done.
I go by to see the two doctors.
Ear to ear smiles are what greet me.
Descriptions of a whirlwind, a genie out of the bottle, a desert Djin, are what the two doctors describe, before inviting me to come and visit the laboratory.
I think they somehow knew I was coming, but whatever, we walk across the space, and into the laboratory, to find everything spic and span, all surfaces clean and shining.
The formerly slovenly Moroccan laboratory assistants are dressed in clean white coats, and standing at attention, as if on military review.
Spotless in themselves, everything spotless!!
Hot damn! is all I can think.
Carolis has made his dream come true.
He has changed his portion of the world, in almost no time, and deserves whatever joy has come to him.
I return to Rabat, and describe this miraculous transformation, achieved by this previously unhappy Volunteer, and the extraordinary optimism his success has created for the bosses, the two doctors who run the tuberculosis clinic.
Time goes by, and the Rabat office receives a missive from NASESA that Robert Steiner is making a whirlwind tour of the region, and wants to be introduced to “Volunteers who have made a difference, changed the world."
It is agreed that Steiner will be taken to Marrakech, introduced to the Tuberculosis Clinic, and to Carolis Diehl, who has quite magically made the Clinic work as it was designed to do, made great friends out of his fellow workers, the very Moroccans who had kept the place filthy until his arrival, and now who now visibly, smilingly enjoy being ordered about by Carolis, with great verve and humor, as they keep the place spotless, and produce reliable reproducible laboratory data from the patients’ sputum that they study.
This story is worth broadcasting..no question about it..
We plan to introduce Steiner to the two doctors, as well, as part of the visit to Marrakech.
More time goes by, Steiner arrives at Rabat, spends a few days touring other projects, and then the two of us leave in my GMC for Marrakech to go visit the "miracle worker".
Upon arrival in Marrakech, I take Steiner to the TB Clinic and introduce him to the two doctors, who speak reasonable English, and who brag on Carolis unstintingly.
Then we walk across to the clinic, and once again are exposed to the Moroccans in white coats saluting us, and standing in a line as if on military review.
Steiner is introduced to Carolis, whom he congratulates for a job well-done.
Carolis is ear to ear in smiles, himself, and, as it is the end of the day,
invites us to come to his apartment and have a drink with him.
We get directions, go back to my GMC, we follow Carolis, on a motor scooter, which he parks in front of his apartment, where he opens the door with a flourish, and welcomes us into his nicely furnished living room.
He then goes to his refrigerator, opens the door, and offers people either a soda or beer. Steiner accepts the beer.
Pleasantries are exchanged, and eventually we get up to leave, it being a long drive back to Rabat across the Desert.
Just as we're pulling out of of Marrakech, Steiner turns to me, and says,
"I want that Volunteer pulled out of that job, fired.. sent home immediately."
"Everything he's up to is contrary to Peace Corps Image.
He has a motor vehicle.
He has a refrigerator.
He has nice furniture, a luxurious apartment.
He's not supposed to have any of that stuff."
“It’s not Image.” (as if I should understand and instantly agree)
“I have to fire him."
"What the hell are you talking about? You will fire him over my dead body!"
"OK, but he's going to be fired."
"Open the door, get out of the car, and start walking!! If you make it to Rabat, don't come anywhere I am, because I will break your face if I see you there."
"What, are you threatening me?"
"You bet!, if he goes home, you walk home, and it’s a long damned walk through the Desert. I doubt you make it."
Then, I added……
“On the other hand, if we can agree that Carolis has done a standup job, perhaps the most significant contribution of any Volunteer in Morocco, and leave him in place, even if just to encourage the others, I drive you back to Rabat, and we forget this discussion ever took place, and we part.”
“ Those are the choices."
There is a significant and lengthy silence….
"OK, he stays."
The drive back to Rabat is conducted in total silence.
Steiner is deposited at his hotel, boards a plane the following day, and goes back to Washington DC.
It doesn't take long for the price of confrontation to become clear.
The Laboratory Technician Project is cancelled, despite clear Government to Government promises and an “Ironclad” contract to provide Volunteers for no less than seven years.
No amount of letterwriting succeeds in changing that decision.
The official story?? “Too small a Project at those numbers”
The Moroccan Ministry of Health is furious.
I explain to them what happened in Marrakech, and what has happened with the project, and the advice that I had given, which I had run past the Ministry, before suggesting it to Steiner/NANESA/the Peace Corps.
The Ministry was wholeheartedly in favor of trained graduate laboratory technicians, fewer of them, of much higher quality, much better training, as I had determined to be the actual requirement.
They were expecting the Peace Corps to honor its contractual commitment,
to provide them with fewer, but better trained Volunteers.
Peace Corps has broken its word, crapped on a signed contract.
Sudden cancellations of signed contracts are not wise, not diplomatic, not endearing.
Steiner/The Peace Corps has no friends at the Ministry of Health.
I am asked if I'm going to lose my job as well?
I answer that I have no idea, but so far so good.
By this time, I have been in Morocco about 16 months total, in the Peace Corps about 20 months, and I am beginning to wonder what I will do next, when finished with the Peace Corps.
I do not imagine any future with this Organization which seems nearly completely steeped in hypocrisy, unwilling to rethink its “Philosophy”, insulated from reality, and unwelcoming of suggestions from folks like myself, and the Volunteers, who believe that this Agency can, in fact change the world, if properly managed.
While I have spent this portion of my life in Morocco, a major change has happened.
Through the efforts of ourselves, and the French Technical Assistance, which includes doctors, midwives, and other health professionals, a small miracle has occurred.
Infant mortality has been halved, and halved again, and a population explosion is underway.
A Population Explosion of surviving infants, who become children, who are hungry, and who eat much of the food that used to be exported, can change a food exporting country into a food neutral country first, and then into a food consuming/importing country next.
If prospective parents believe that only one in four children will survive from infancy to feeding themselves, they tend to make a lot more babies.
If you stop babies from dying, it takes a while for the parents understand that they have more children than they planned on, more than they can clothe, feed, educate.
Malthus was, to a degree, correct.
Observing this phenomenon, first a population explosion, and second a food supply implosion, firsthand, while working at the health provision level has a very chilling effect.
I begin entertaining options which I would never have thought of before left my Residency at Los Angeles County General Hospital.
I no longer think it important to go back and finish a Residency in Internal Medicine, and open a Practice somewhere. The world has unmet needs, catastrophic needs..
I begin to think of other options.
I write letters to various US Government agencies, the Navy, the Army, the Foreign Service, and also, the CIA.
I believe I have a lot to offer, including glowing recommendations form the Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Morocco.
I speak German, French, English, A little Spanish.
I am a Harvard trained MD with a lot of overseas experience.
What do they have that needs doing??
Each of these letters is an inquiry, only, as to the possibilities of employment with their Agency, and the possibility of further education while working there.
My long-term plan is to obtain a Master's Degree in Public Health, specializing in Demography and Population, and to go out, once again, to change the world, this time by teaching people to have as many children as they want, when they want, and no more than they want.
Simultaneously with sending out letters to the US agencies, I send an application to both Johns Hopkins and Harvard School of Public Health.
Time goes by.
A telegram arrives at Peace Corps Rabat.
My Peace Corps assignment has been summarily canceled, and with eight weeks left in my two-year tour of duty, I am to be transferred back to the US Public Health Service
in Washington DC.
The reason? I have “applied for a job with the CIA.”
The CIA has forwarded my letter, which really was only an inquiry, to the Peace Corps, where it ended up on Robert Steiner's desk.
Remember the admonitions about association with Intelligence Agencies?
It is totally unconstitutional to rule that someone may not seek lawful employment with any Agency, US Government, NGO, Intelligence related or otherwise, after they have left the Peace Corps.
At least that is my view, and that of several lawyers, whom I ran the question past, after the fact.
Steiner, however, has been carrying a grudge, and he can interpret Peace Corps Image/rules anyway he wishes, exactly as he tried to do when he threatened to fire Carolis Diehl.
Somewhere in the morass of Rules and Regulations, in the Orientation that I never got, because I came to Washington early and left before my physician class came and attended all of the orientation meetings, which happened after I had gone to Morocco, is a rule that you can't go to work for an Intelligence Agency for five years after you have left the Peace Corps.
I'm not quite sure how a letter of inquiry can be construed as “going to work”, but that nicety doesn't bother Mr. Steiner
Steiner has what he needs, the smoking gun, the one he can shoot me with.
Finally he can even the score for a past confrontation, “take a walk through the Desert.”
I go to the Ministry of Health, and explain to them what has happened, and why.
They immediately offer me a job, but pay only about $800 a month.
Not possible, both because I still have the balance of my Military Service, about six or eight weeks, left to serve, and also because I couldn't live and support a family on that salary.
I go to the US Embassy in Rabat , and complain bitterly that I'm having my Civil Rights abridged, that a Peace Corps Regional Director with a grudge, is abusing process, unilaterally canceling signed contracts with the Moroccan Government, insulting the Moroccan Government, particularly the Ministry of Health, who had expressed supreme indignation over this, that the whole thing is publicly abusive, and inconsistent with the stated mission of the Peace Corps. Genuinely Bad Behavior is being displayed
Would they like to intervene?
One US Government agency intervene against another?
It would take an act of Congress.
Once I understand that the die has been cast, I get on the airplane and return to Washington DC, go to the US Public Health Service, spend about a week, am assigned to a project in Indian Health in Tucson Arizona, go there, spend about a month designing an Indian Health Extension Worker project, reach the end of my Tour of Duty, and am mustered out.
Just before I left Morocco I received acceptances from both Johns Hopkins and Harvard for the entering class of 1968 at their Schools of Public Health.
I think about it long and hard, and decide that even though I might have an adventure in Baltimore,
I have friends and long-term relationships in Boston, and it will be fun to return there.
In addition, Harvard offers me a full tuition fellowship, which makes the choice even easier.
Once done with the US Public Health Service, I go to California, straighten out my affairs there, and return to Morocco, where I spend the Summer visiting Volunteers, surfing when the waves are up, and making the rounds of all the Hospitals and Clinics where we used to have Volunteers, and where I still have good friends.
Particularly I go visit the Marrakech Tuberculosis Clinic, where Carolis Diehl is just finishing up, having done exactly what he set out to do -- changed the world around himself, for the better.
If all I had achieved while in Morocco, was to move a deeply disappointed English teacher to become a deeply fulfilled Laboratory Technician/Director it might have been enough.
If keeping Carolis in position to do some good in the world has cost me a job with an Agency that has already lost its way, so be it..
I also have learned an indelible lesson in life, which, notwithstanding the pain of this debacle, I will forget from time to time.
I don't fit well in bureaucracies….not now, not ever..
A little later I will read the book by one of my old USC College Professors, Lawrence J. Peter, "The Peter Principle", which will introduce to me the concept of promotion within a Bureaucracy until the Promotee is noted to be incompetent, whereupon they are not fired, but kept on ,forever, frustrating and punishing everyone beneath them, forever.
Excellence, innovation, rethinking the stale or unsuccessful are very rarely prized in Bureaucracies, where how you look (Image) is more important than what you achieve.
Peace Corps has taken very little time to mature to this point. “Image is everything.”
So it was/is with the Peace Corps to this day.
Robert Steiner should never have been employed by the Peace Corps, if the allegations regarding the CIA Front/American Friends of the Middle East, were in fact true.
Even if they were not true, Robert Steiner was not a warm and fuzzy going to change the world do-gooder.
Robert was a climber..
Most climbers climb over the damaged bodies of people who did their work, took no credit, and trusted the climber to treat them honorably.
Robert is no exception.
Carolis Diehl, wherever he is now, is what I joined the Peace Corps to find, and to work with, and I am satisfied.
I wish him a long and happy life, full of contribution..
Carolis had me, to back him up, when the chips were down, even if he didn’t know it.
One Carolis equals more than a thousand Robert Steiners, maybe many more, since the Steiners of this world really have a negative sum value
Steiner will probably outlive us all..
Only the good die young…
Links to Related Topics (Tags):
Headlines: March, 2008; Peace Corps Morocco; Directory of Morocco RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Morocco RPCVs; Staff; Intelligence Issues; Criticism; Medicine; Public Health
When this story was posted in March 2008, this was on the front page of PCOL:
Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Dodd vows to filibuster Surveillance Act
Senator Chris Dodd vowed to filibuster the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that would grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that helped this administration violate the civil liberties of Americans. "It is time to say: No more. No more trampling on our Constitution. No more excusing those who violate the rule of law. These are fundamental, basic, eternal principles. They have been around, some of them, for as long as the Magna Carta. They are enduring. What they are not is temporary. And what we do not do in a time where our country is at risk is abandon them."
What is Wrong at the US Embassy in Bolivia?
Last summer Peace Corps Inspector General David Kotz cited the lack of cooperation from the US embassy in Bolivia in the search for missing Peace Corps Volunteer Walter Poirier III. Now a member of the US Embassy Staff in Bolivia is accused of asking Peace Corps Volunteers "to basically spy" on Cubans and Venezuelans in the country. Could US Ambassador Philip S.Goldberg please explain what is going on at the embassy that he has been running in La Paz since 2006?
January 12, 2008: This Month's Top Stories
Jack Vaughn, Peace Corps Legend 12 Jan
Hill Puts Gentle Pressure on North Korea 11 Jan
Sarah Chayes writes Bhutto's decision tarnishes her memory 10 Jan
Tom Petri is a Republican who 'gets it' 10 Jan
Robert Strauss writes: PCVs lack maturity and experience 9 Jan
James Rupert writes: Musharraf May Use Election Delay 7 Jan
Senate Increases Funding for Peace Corps 4 Jan
Chris Dodd addresses supporters after Iowa Caucuses 3 Jan
John Granville Shot Dead in Sudan 2 Jan
Kathleen Stephens appointed ambassador to South Korea 19 Dec
Obituary for St. Clair Bourne 18 Dec
Dr. Robert Zeigler warns of global rice shortage 13 Dec
PCV Blythe Ann O’Sullivan dies in Suriname accident 8 Dec
David Kotz named new Inspector General at SEC 6 Dec
Obama calls for doubling the size of the Peace Corps 5 Dec
Obituary for Henry Hyde - Friend of the Peace Corps 29 Nov
Robert M. Gates calls for “soft power” tools 27 Nov
Kevin Quigley writes: To win the peace, Restore the corps 27 Nov
Michael Adlerstein says UN renovation will be done right 27 Nov
Peru Trade Pact is Victory for Toledo 24 Nov
Crisis Corps is now Peace Corps Response 19 Nov
Tony Hall works for Middle East peace 13 Nov
Peace Corps Volunteers Remain Safe in Kenya
The U.S. Peace Corps has evacuated 35 of its volunteers from western Kenya because of the violence that has rocked the country since the disputed December 27 presidential election. The Peace Corps has 144 volunteers based in Kenya, although the organization says 22 of them are currently out of the country. An agency statement says the remaining volunteers have been consolidated in a variety of locations. Latest News: Peace Corps says volunteers in Kenya remain safe.
What is the greatest threat facing us now?
"People will say it's terrorism. But are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody? Yes. But can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves. So what is the great threat we are facing? I would approach this differently, in almost Marshall-like terms. What are the great opportunities out there - ones that we can take advantage of?" Read more.
Read the stories and leave your comments.
|By Chip Steiner (ip-65-183-76-249.rev.frii.com - 188.8.131.52) on Wednesday, April 02, 2008 - 10:08 pm: Edit Post|
Would Medical Officer Terry care to identify himself? Robert Steiner's son is asking. My e-mail address is email@example.com.
|By Chip Steiner (ip-65-183-76-249.rev.frii.com - 184.108.40.206) on Saturday, April 05, 2008 - 5:18 pm: Edit Post|
Is this where we leave it?
Is this man, Medical Officer Terry, telling the truth?
I would sure like to hear from RPCVs and staff members from those times. Carolys Diehl, are Medical Officer Terry's recollections accurate according to your memory from 40 years ago?
|By Anonymous (pool-71-178-43-210.washdc.fios.verizon.net - 220.127.116.11) on Tuesday, April 08, 2008 - 5:47 pm: Edit Post|
The gallant medical officer is certainly adept at burnishig his own heroic image. It's just not clear what color his cape is after forty years. Has he tried to put his apparently superlative knowledge and understanding of the Arab world to some good use by educating American policy makers? (RPCVs have been effective at this. And having lived as their native co-workers for two years they can present a genuine and persuasive argument. At 20 years old this part of the Peace Corps philosophy had wavered, but in 1968 image had nothing to do with it. Least of all for Steiner, the first and most idealistic PC director ever in Afghanistan. He never would have invoked image as cause for dismissal. I know because I've known him for years, not hours.) Unfortunately, despite all the best efforts by the Peace Corps, it doesn't seem that any amount of knowledge or understanding has sunk in to the one-sided American policy on the Middle East. Let's hope the next president will change that. If he doesn't, we could ask the medical officer to break his face. Yes, that would work.
Graphics Officer John, RPCV
|By Bill Steiner (user-0c2hll0.cable.mindspring.com - 18.104.22.168) on Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - 12:20 pm: Edit Post|
As another child of Bob Steiner, I too would like to respond. This is a very long, very critical piece with absolutely no attribution as to its author's appropriateness to comment. Is it the policy of Peace Corps Online to allow anyone to say anything without some sort of vetting?
My Dad was never in Marrakech. He also spent 3 years running a chicken farm and 4 years directing the PC program in Afghanistan after working for AFME and before heading up NANESA. This is fact. He did not go straight from AFME to NANESA as the author of the post claims. It leaves one to wonder how much, if any, of the post is accurate.
I would encourage Peace Corps Online to see if there is any truth to the post, evaluate its criteria for submitting, and perhaps extend an apology to my father.