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Well, well, well, this is certainly different, ensconced as we are in our new home at Ebeneezer's Brew Pub (drinking water and diet Pepsi). President Gary Torow brought us to order and deftly handed off to Val Campbell for the invocation. She evoked the work we do in view of the upcoming Labor Day holiday. We pledged.

For visitors, we had a couple of honorary members, both Morrell's, Dick and Bob. Visiting Rotarian Bob Gravino from the Bath Sunrise club joined us. And our speaker, Charlie Dunbar made up the list of guests. We meandered and serenaded.

Then we did the by now traditional recital of the 4 Way Test.

Humor was provided by Carol Taylor, though she warned that we were more in need of a PSA regarding shampoo. She read the label and noted that the shampoo adds body and volume, and as the shampoo gets rinsed off, it adds volume to the body. So she advises to eschew shampoo. She is going with Dawn dishwashing liquid, which purports to dissolve fat that is otherwise difficult to remove. Perfect.

Always perfect is Keith Koehler, Sergeant at Arms, who played the perfect card immediately by noting another great day in the great state. And a great weekend. Don Kniseley echoed that sentiment as he took Friday off and enjoyed outdoor time and lots of tennis over the weekend. Claudia Frost noted that we missed our speaker during introductions of guests (something about a gym buddy). Keith noted that we had moved from school to a brew pub, which made Lennie Burke happy (though not a beer drinker, they do have wine on tap). Maybe move to a 5 o'clock meeting? She was on to the concert to benefit the hospital in the Dominican Republic. Great concert and she hosted some band members, so got to visit with them after.

Dave Taft missed the past couple meetings - he was out sailing and marveled at how his 87 year old mother is still spry enough to be a fine deck hand. Carol Taylor will be going to Sugarloaf for golf with relatives, thankfully most are 70 plus, so she has a chance to shoot lower than them. Art Lamothe had a five for missing several meetings, but did file a brief with the Maine Supreme Court. Plus he got his daughter all moved in at UNE. And there will be an Oktoberfest at the Topsham Fair on September 20th, and Ebeneezer's will brew a special beer for the event.

Carolyn Bulliner noted that the DR concert raised over $2400 for the hospital. Very happy about that was she. Patty Biggs had a ten for the earthquake affected people in California. John Kilbourne challenged all to come up with an auction item for the new and improved tasting for good. Put up a fiver to drive the point home. Gary Torow enjoyed five hours on a kayak on Casco Bay. Don Kniseley was happy to host the BDA Social Thursday and will host the Chamber After Hours this Wednesday, both at Thornton Oaks. All are invited.

Gary returned to read a message from Sue Chadima from Afghanistan - we got that emailed to us as well.

The Bath Sunrise club is hosting the Fifth Friday Social on August 29th at the Kennebec Tavern from 5-7. Details were emailed on that as well.

Tom Jones revisited the poster project, and had a couple more examples of what is available. $20 each, with the club getting half of that. Go forth and sell.

Dave Taft had announcements. No meeting next week for Labor Day. On the 8th, it will be the Maine Farmland Trust. And pencil boxes have been delivered to the superintendent's office, some 72 or so so far. That is enough to get them started, so Patty is fine with folks that haven't returned theirs to bring to the next meeting. And Stan noted that while the acoustics here are sketchy, it will improve after Labor Day, when the competing noise from the bar will go away.

Claudia Frost did the honors of introducing our speaker, Charlie Dunbar, long time ambassador with the State Department, having done duty at the UN as well as various countries across the globe. He was here to talk about foreign policy in general, and diplomacy as a part of that. He believes that we have relied too heavily on the military component in the past ten years. With the exception of Kurdistan, Iraq is in a worse place than they were when we started our involvement there. Although he said that Afghanistan Is in a better place.

He thought that Russia would not be leaving Ukraine until Putin has it the way he wants it. And there is concern that if Russia and China get together, that would be a problem.

Brown University tracks the impact of the war in Iraq - 190,000 people killed (70% civilians) , the US has spent $2.2 trillion (original estimate - $50-60 billion.) Probably not getting value there. 

He defined diplomacy as talking with others to get your way. Perhaps a bit jokingly. But an ambassador is a personal representative of the President whose job it is to be in the country and collect information. So that is the presence aspect. He is also exempt from laws - opting rather to just send them home if there is a problem. He is attuned to what is happening in the country. He maintains confidentiality with respect to what has or is being discussed. And he becomes an expert on the doings in the country by assimilating somewhat into the society - ideally learning the language and being among the people. Add up the letters of that description and you end up with peace - which is the goal, talking rather than fighting.

He talked specifically about the State Department - it is the oldest department in the government, but also the third smallest with 6200 employees (fewer than the crew of the USS Bush). There are two stages to a foreign service career. Start by understanding the country you are assigned to, make contacts within the country and report back to Washington, all as part of the team in that country and region. Then as you prosper, you move into a position of running things in that country and ultimately become the ambassador. Contrary to beliefs, 70% of ambassadors follow this path to their positions (the remainder are political appointees). They also need to be familiar with Washington and how things get done (or don't get done) and to work with the press, as it is difficult for other countries to figure out Washington, so having a conduit through the press can be helpful.

The State Department has fallen on some evil times. Where once the job was to be the American representative in a country and carried responsibility to be the president's representative - this during a time when messages back and forth took months rather than minutes or seconds. Now it is a much more dangerous job, but one that nonetheless must be done. Diplomacy and communication is the key, you can't always lead with HUMVEEs and weapons and expect to get your point across.

We raffled and we were out.