Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 06, 2019

State Department 'Swagger' Means Offering Bribes

U.S. Secretary of State "we lie, we cheat, we steal" Mike Pompeo said that U.S. diplomats must have "swagger". This is what he meant:

Four days before the US imposed sanctions on an Iranian tanker suspected of shipping oil to Syria, the vessel’s Indian captain received an unusual email from the top Iran official at the Department of State.

This is Brian Hook . . . I work for secretary of state Mike Pompeo and serve as the US Representative for Iran,” Mr Hook wrote to Akhilesh Kumar on August 26, according to several emails seen by the Financial Times. “I am writing with good news.”

The “good news” was that the Trump administration was offering Mr Kumar several million dollars to pilot the ship — until recently known as the Grace 1 — to a country that would impound the vessel on behalf of the US. To make sure Mr Kumar did not mistake the email for a scam, it included an official state department phone number.


As the captain did not agree to be bribed the U.S. sanctioned him. The ship now sits off the Syrian coast and is unloading its 2 million barrels of oil. That will be enough for three month of Syria's consumption.

Farsnews notes that this was not the first time the U.S. tried to bribe and pressure tanker captains:

Hook, who heads the state department’s Iran Action Group, has emailed or texted roughly a dozen captains in recent months in an effort to scare mariners into understanding that helping Iran evade sanctions comes at a heavy price.

No one fell for it. The Iranian ship captains are obviously patriots who do not take bribes from the enemies of their country.

Brian Hook has a really lousy job and zero success in it.

Posted by b on September 6, 2019 at 18:25 UTC | Permalink

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@99 Patroklos

We live in an age that doesn't allow much proofreading before publishing. On balance, I'm okay with this because a vast amount of new writing has been offered to the world from the rise of the Internet.

We see typos everywhere, from the necessary speed of publication. We also see idioms that aren't quite right, and this most often comes from the gift of being able to discuss matters with people whose native language is not our own, and in discussions that may take place in yet another language.

I make my living as a writer, but I publish things in the same day that I would once have had at least a chance to sleep on overnight and read again cold in the morning. One has learned to tighten one's game as a writer, and to proof better than previously, knowing that this is the final version and there's no going back after the moment to hit Send.

Also, one has learned to accept about 90 percent literal meaning and literal comprehension from any written piece, especially from commenters and journalists writing current analysis. We have become our own auto-correct. We manage quite well to tease out the meaning of a writer's words despite that writer's clarity - and this is a new skill we've learned in recent decades, one we might never have guessed we could develop had the need not arisen.

I encourage you to consider simply letting go of the typos you find in b's work, and instead to glory in the fact that we have all increased our tolerance for error, and sharpened the incisiveness of our comprehension to balance this. The miracle is that we are talking, and can understand each other. You will never be able to turn this clock back.

My two cents.

Posted by: Grieved | Sep 8 2019 4:06 utc | 101

@ Grieved with comment # 101 to narrow minded but hopefully opening Patroklos


Posted by: psychohistorian | Sep 8 2019 4:57 utc | 102

It's always been obvious to me that b reads every post before publication to make sure that it does say what he intended to say...

How hard is it to imagine Patroklos reacting to a note expressing condolences for a loss, or congratulations for a win, by phoning the sender to point out that he/she spoilt the moment by omitting the apostrophe from can't?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 8 2019 5:14 utc | 103

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