The Cable

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State Department gift shop sells flag pins made in China

In the basement of the State Department, there’s a gift shop that holds a bounty of treasures. Employees in search of souvenirs of their time in Foggy Bottom can buy anything from hooded sweatshirts to coffee mugs to teddy bears, with the State Department seal embossed in a very official fashion on the front. "Somebody ...

568451_flagpin6252.jpg
568451_flagpin6252.jpg

In the basement of the State Department, there's a gift shop that holds a bounty of treasures. Employees in search of souvenirs of their time in Foggy Bottom can buy anything from hooded sweatshirts to coffee mugs to teddy bears, with the State Department seal embossed in a very official fashion on the front.

"Somebody at the State Department Loves You," reads one shelf of T-shirts. Another shelf features hand towels with the State Department logo, just in case you want your boudoir to have that diplomatic feeling. There are even computer tote bags and backpacks that will identify one as a State Department employee, which must make for an easier time going through airport security checkpoints, we're guessing.

What really caught our eye in a recent visit to the shop were the bins full of lapel pins featuring American flags. The right lapel pin can put the finishing touch on any diplomat's ensemble. But as you can see, the tiny packages holding the pins clearly indicate they were "MADE IN CHINA."

In the basement of the State Department, there’s a gift shop that holds a bounty of treasures. Employees in search of souvenirs of their time in Foggy Bottom can buy anything from hooded sweatshirts to coffee mugs to teddy bears, with the State Department seal embossed in a very official fashion on the front.

"Somebody at the State Department Loves You," reads one shelf of T-shirts. Another shelf features hand towels with the State Department logo, just in case you want your boudoir to have that diplomatic feeling. There are even computer tote bags and backpacks that will identify one as a State Department employee, which must make for an easier time going through airport security checkpoints, we’re guessing.

What really caught our eye in a recent visit to the shop were the bins full of lapel pins featuring American flags. The right lapel pin can put the finishing touch on any diplomat’s ensemble. But as you can see, the tiny packages holding the pins clearly indicate they were "MADE IN CHINA."

Now, we’re not saying that State should recall the pins, like the Defense Department did when it found out that 600,000 berets were made in China. But for all you FSOs out there, here’s a reminder: As you proudly display your American flag pin on your breast, you’re also wearing a symbol of the new global economy.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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