Friday, November 02, 2007

 

State Department Revolt

Democracy interferes with a sense of entitlement

Via Captain Ed, the Washington Post reports:
Uneasy U.S. diplomats yesterday challenged senior State Department officials in unusually blunt terms over a decision to order some of them to serve at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or risk losing their jobs.

At a town hall meeting in the department's main auditorium attended by hundreds of Foreign Service officers, some of them criticized fundamental aspects of State's personnel policies in Iraq. They took issue with the size of the embassy -- the biggest in U.S. history -- and the inadequate training they received before being sent to serve in a war zone.
Captain Ed comments:
Service in Iraq is no milk run. It requires diplomats to work extensively outside the Green Zone, mainly with PRTs on reconstruction efforts. They also work with the military on security issues and with local leaders on reconciliation in one of the most volatile mixes of ethnic and sectarian populaces in the region.

However, volunteers for the Foreign Service understand that the job entails such difficulties when they join. The oath they take should make that fairly clear. Thomas warned the staff in the meeting that one in three tours would likely be in "hardship" areas, given the challenges facing the US, and that the Foreign Service would act to ensure that these missions had enough staff to succeed.

Morale at State seems poor enough that forcing the issue will likely lead to an exodus. Most of the people at this meeting seemed outright hostile towards Condoleezza Rice and current leadership, which may not reflect on Rice personally at all but on policy differences with the current administration.
I hope it does lead to an exodus. Consider this from the post article:
A poll conducted this month by the American Foreign Service Association found that only 12 percent of officers "believe that . . . Rice is fighting for them," union president John K. Naland said at yesterday's meeting, which was first reported by the Associated Press.

"That's their right. But they're wrong," said Thomas, who appeared to grow increasingly agitated as the questioning became more pointed.

"Sometimes, if it's 88 to 12, maybe the 88 percent are correct," Naland said.

"Eighty-eight percent of the country believed in slavery at one time. Was that correct?" Thomas responded, saying he was "insulted." Rice is fighting hard for them, he said. Amid scattered boos from the audience, Thomas added: "Let no one be a hypocrite. I really resent people telling me that I do not care about other Foreign Service officers."
Just who do those people who were booing think they are? I'd like to see Naland's quote in full, but isn't it his job to fight for his members? And why do Foreign Service Officers have a union?

In the comments, Hermie observes:
It boils down to a bunch of Washington 'elites' wanting to do the job according to their terms, not what their job description says.
Exactly. Their job -- which they volunteer for -- is to represent the country according to policy set by our elected government. Yet some believe otherwise:
"It's one thing if someone believes in what's going on over there and volunteers, but it's another thing to send someone over there on a forced assignment," Crotty said. "I'm sorry, but basically that's a potential death sentence and you know it. Who will raise our children if we are dead or seriously wounded?"

"You know that at any other (country) in the world, the embassy would be closed at this point," Crotty said to loud and sustained applause from the about 300 diplomats who attended the meeting in a large State Department auditorium.
How arrogant. Crotty's attitude and sense of entitlement, apparently shared by many in attendance, is dangerously anti-democratic. He has already volunteered to serve in Iraq if directed to do so by the elected government of this country. If he has a problem with that he has a problem abiding by electoral results. Besides, as Ace notes:
There’s a long an honorable history of public servants resigning when they can not in good conscious implement a policy. Perhaps Mr. Croddy and those that cheered him should consider that option.
People with Croddy's attitude and sense of entitlement have no business representing this country abroad. If this attitude is as pervasive at the State Department as I seems to be, a thorough house cleaning is long overdue.

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