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    Foreign Service Officers' "revolt"

    Rice answers anger over Iraq assignments - Yahoo! News

    Basically, State Department people are being threatened with service in Iraq and Afghanistan; they don't want to go because it is possibly dangerous. (Green Zone? Yeah, right.)

    I have always held the State Department with sheer and utter contempt. This only deepens it, for me.


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    Re: Foreign Service Officers' "revolt"

    I have a brother that is a US State Department diplomat and is "bidding" on his next assignment. He "believes" that Moscow is his next destination.

    He claims that the State Department loves polls/surveys. In a recent State Department Employee Survey only 12% considered that Ms. Rice was performing effectively as the Secretary of State. He said that Colin Powell was viewed almost the opposite (highly favorable).



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    Re: Foreign Service Officers' "revolt"

    Riyadh should also be included in the list of least preferred destinations for State Department people.

    Many (Most) of the foreign service people consider the destination to be the allure of the job. Send them to a location that they consider to be undesirable and they will quit in a heartbeat.


    Last edited by alaskaguy; 11-01-2007 at 04:01 PM.

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    Re: Foreign Service Officers' "revolt"

    That's just pretty much disgusting that our soldiers can be sent wherever, whenever and do their duty with hardly a complaint, and these chicken bleeps are throwing a hissy fit.



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    Re: Foreign Service Officers' "revolt"

    I was thinking about this story a bit more. Maybe this is not a fair analogy but government employees working within the U.S. receive directed reassignments. In addition, the same situation happens in the private sector. When the employee makes a personal decision to quit rather than accept the reassignment, it is left at that.

    So, I'm not entirely sure that the wrath is entirely warranted against the State Department employees that are refusing the directed reassignments. Should the same employment standard that we apply for the military be expected of State Department employees?


    Last edited by alaskaguy; 11-01-2007 at 04:54 PM.

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    Re: Foreign Service Officers' "revolt"

    Quote Originally Posted by alaskaguy View Post
    I was thinking about this story a bit more. Maybe this is not a fair analogy but government employees working within the U.S. receive directed reassignments. In addition, the same situation happens in the private sector. When the employee makes a personal decision to quit rather than accept the reassignment, it is left at that.

    So, I'm not entirely sure that the wrath is entirely warranted against the State Department employees that are refusing the directed reassignments. Should the same employment standard that we apply for the military be expected of State Department employees?
    In a word, yes. I can't imagine that when people take a position there, they are expecting to just put down roots and stay in one place. If you want a job like that, then take a job like that. With the threat of terrorism, there aren't a whole lot of non-domestic jobs that are risk free. I'm wondering how many of these are career State dept employees, and how many are good old boy network appointees, looking for a cushy job and a nice paycheck for their connections.



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    Re: Foreign Service Officers' "revolt"

    Another reason I like Duncan Hunter:

    Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., the House Armed Services Committee's top Republican, said he intends to suggest that diplomats who refuse to serve in Iraq be replaced by wounded veterans.

    "Let's replace these reluctant Nellies with America's finest citizens," he said in a statement. "Our wounded warriors will serve our country efficiently, effectively and with undying patriotism."



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    Re: Foreign Service Officers' "revolt"

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclonepride View Post
    In a word, yes. I can't imagine that when people take a position there, they are expecting to just put down roots and stay in one place. If you want a job like that, then take a job like that. With the threat of terrorism, there aren't a whole lot of non-domestic jobs that are risk free. I'm wondering how many of these are career State dept employees, and how many are good old boy network appointees, looking for a cushy job and a nice paycheck for their connections.
    Foreign service employees don't expect to put down roots and stay in one place. In fact, it is a rarity that you don't relocate every two years. This is because most of the foreign service jobs are two year commitments. Prior to finishing your two year commitment you "bid" on your next assignment (you rank your top ten destinations). There is a complex set of rules that determine your next destination once your bid has been submitted. The foreign service employees are not "good old boy network appointees." Entry level foreign service positions are ranked according to test scores and relevant work histories.

    Turnover has always existed between the two year assignments. The State Department has never opened a new Embassy as large as that of the Iraqi embassy (it has the largest staff of any embassy world wide). In addition, it is the least sought destination for foreign service employees. It is not surprising that the staff are refusing the assignments.

    My understanding is that military personnel enlist for an enlistment "period." They have the option to either re-enlist or to exit the military at the end of the enlistment period.

    Perhaps I'm missing the boat, but how is the military enlistment process all that different from the process for foreign service personnel? Do military personnel re-enlist at higher rates than foreign service personnel do in terms of signing on for their two year commitments?


    Last edited by alaskaguy; 11-01-2007 at 06:46 PM.

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    Re: Foreign Service Officers' "revolt"

    Quote Originally Posted by herbiedoobie View Post
    Rice answers anger over Iraq assignments - Yahoo! News

    Basically, State Department people are being threatened with service in Iraq and Afghanistan; they don't want to go because it is possibly dangerous. (Green Zone? Yeah, right.)

    I have always held the State Department with sheer and utter contempt. This only deepens it, for me.
    I assume that you are familiar with Niall Ferguson's work, but this story reminded me of what I thought was a good point that he made in Colossus several years ago. I waited to post in this thread until I got home so that I could quote it:

    America's higher educational institutions excel at producing very capable young men and women. Indeed, there is little question that the best American universities are now the best in the world. But few, if any, of the graduates of Harvard, Stanford, Yale or Princeton aspire to spend their lives trying to turn a sun-scorched sandpit like Iraq into the prosperous capitalist democracy of Paul Wolfowitz's imaginings. America's brightest and best aspire not to govern Mesopotamia but to manage MTV; not to rule the Hejaz but to run a hedge fund. Unlike their British counterparts of a century ago, who left the elite British universities with an overtly imperial ethos, the letters ambitious young Americans would like to see after their names are CEO, not CBE*. (p. 204)

    * Commander of the Order of the British Empire

    I thought at the time that he had put his finger on one of the key problems with US involvement overseas: There is no doubting the overwhelming capabilities and supremacy of the US military, but it is not adequately supported in other areas that are needed for a long-term nation-building project.



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    Re: Foreign Service Officers' "revolt"

    Iceclone, I enjoyed your Ferguson quote.

    Neverthess, I was unsure whether in your commentary that you were inferring that the State Department has a significant role in the Iraqi "nation-building" process. The State Department doesn't seem to have much influence over the Iraqi policy decisions. In addition, they don't seem to have a significant role in implementing the Iraqi policy decisions.

    Your commentary also brought up an interesting issue; if the military is not adequately supported in the areas that are needed for a long-term nation-building project, who is to blame? I would assume that whoever is calling the shots is due the blame. But who is calling the shots? George W. Bush, Gates, other Washington insiders, General Petraeus?

    In this case, the underlying strategy may be at fault and therefore, I fault the commander-in-chief.



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    Re: Foreign Service Officers' "revolt"

    Quote Originally Posted by alaskaguy View Post
    Iceclone, I enjoyed your Ferguson quote.

    Neverthess, I was unsure whether in your commentary that you were inferring that the State Department has a significant role in the Iraqi "nation-building" process. The State Department doesn't seem to have much influence over the Iraqi policy decisions. In addition, they don't seem to have a significant role in implementing the Iraqi policy decisions.

    Your commentary also brought up an interesting issue; if the military is not adequately supported in the areas that are needed for a long-term nation-building project, who is to blame? I would assume that whoever is calling the shots is due the blame. But who is calling the shots? George W. Bush, Gates, other Washington insiders, General Petraeus?

    In this case, the underlying strategy may be at fault and therefore, I fault the commander-in-chief.

    You bring up interesting questions, and I think you are correct in your assessment of the State Department’s role. However, I'm not sure I could assign a “blame” for this to anyone in the current administration, as the simpler explanation is simply a lack of tradition. It would seem that the type of foreign service advocated by Ferguson would be built over generations, not during a single administration. Of course, this is only needed if you believe in an aggressive foreign policy, such as what has been referred to as nation-building, American Empire, the New American Century, etc., by the various people/groups that argue for such a policy. The “fault” may be a misalignment between the current strategy and traditions that have not caught up with a new strategy.



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    Re: Foreign Service Officers' "revolt"

    Quote Originally Posted by iceclone View Post
    You bring up interesting questions, and I think you are correct in your assessment of the State Department’s role. However, I'm not sure I could assign a “blame” for this to anyone in the current administration, as the simpler explanation is simply a lack of tradition. It would seem that the type of foreign service advocated by Ferguson would be built over generations, not during a single administration. Of course, this is only needed if you believe in an aggressive foreign policy, such as what has been referred to as nation-building, American Empire, the New American Century, etc., by the various people/groups that argue for such a policy. The “fault” may be a misalignment between the current strategy and traditions that have not caught up with a new strategy.
    May have just hit the nail on the head there. Quick, someone call Washington! Our current mission may not have been envisioned (likely was not envisioned) or was very poorly prepared for on the diplomatic side. That offers a great explanation why our military can restore order, but no political progress gets made. I'm not sure we want a state department fully prepared to do this on a full time basis.



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    Re: Foreign Service Officers' "revolt"

    State has had plenty of opportunity to "get in the game". The State Department is riddled, however with a bunch of folks who think they have a right to a job. And the problem isn't FSOs, necessarily. My office is filled with FSOs, in fact, who are preparing to go downrange, many for the umpteenth time.

    The State Department people who are whining are trying to pursue a career without doing Uncle Sam's bidding. A soldier can always ETS and leave the Army AFTER his/her obligation is over. But a soldier who wants a career has to go to where he/she is assigned. The State Department people who are whining, want the career, without the discomfort of actually doing foreign service. They need to be fired, immediately, and with some kind of black mark that follows them throughout their lives. (Kind of like a Bad Conduct Discharge.)

    Frankly, the State Department has become an obstacle. Their collective political beliefs have led to foot-dragging and obstructionism since 9/11. But their inefficiency and uselessness predates that by a long time.


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    Re: Foreign Service Officers' "revolt"

    For what it is worth my brother's response to the revolt follows:

    In my opinion HerbieDoobie is totally uninformed. First in my opinion State Department people should not even be in Iraq. It is a WAR zone some people don't get it, State Department people are civilians not military. They aren't being paid outragous sums of money to risk their lives like the contractors and other civilians there. None-the-less a higher percentage of State Department people have served in Iraq than any branch of the military other than the marines. What's wrong with those other ***** services? Letting the state department do his work I guess? Herrbiedoobie then goes on to snear at the possibility of danger to State Department people because they are in the green zone. First the green zone is certainly not a safe place. It is not at all uncommon for motar rounds to come into the green zone. Without a doubt the most dangerous place on earth other than outside of the green zone. There are 5 sites outside of the green zone where state department people are posted. These are insanely dangerous locations frequently attacked. The state department has a long and honorable history of serving in dangerous locations. In fact, in the last 50 years or so almost every year a higher percentage of state department people have been killed in the line of duty than folks in the military. The only reason anyone would snear at state department is because they are simply uninformed. They read or hear about cocktail parties and upity ambassadors that represent the tiny fraction of the state department. Of course there are far more generals that do nothing but go to parties but no one runs down the military as a result. Please forward to your friend if he is actually interested in the state departmetn as opposed to just using them as a convenient target to vent on.

    Baku - I haven't heard much about the situation other than in the case it was Wahabis that were involved. The Wahabis were making significant inroads when I was there which is really surprising as Wahabis are sunnis (Saudis specifically). Azerbijain is only one of two Shia countries in the world. The government goes to great lengths to keep the radical Shia beat down. Of course with recent problems between the US and Iran it is inevitable that there will be some problems in the future. They have an Iranian book store downtown I stopped in a couple of times to look at the posters of the ayatollahs. We also went out for Iranian food once in awhile, great stuff. Some people that lived there told me they hoped the US would bomb Iran so it is very divided as to which side they are on.



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    Re: Foreign Service Officers' "revolt"

    First regarding the incredibly clueless HerbieDoobie who has utter contempt for the state department. The main mission of the state department is to issue visas and help Americans abroad. Another mission is to provide services for a variety of agencies overseas the biggest being the military but also library of congress, FBI, department of homeland security, USAID, and about 60 others. This is often done in very hazardous locations. A bomber was recently stopped even at the Vienna embassy. During the last few years there have been bombings and attacks at the Tashkent, Kinshasa, Athens, Damascus, Amman, Riyadh, Karachi, and Beirut embassies just to name a few.

    It is hard to imagine someone having contempt for this mission especially someone in the military. A higher percentage of state department folks have served in Iraq than any branch of the military other than the marines. As for sneering at working in the green zone it is far from safe with incoming mortars being common, not to mention state department are the only folks there that are unarmed. Some people just don't get it, members of the state department are civilians not military, they should not be there at all. In addition, state department folks are posted in various even more dangerous locations throughout Iraq not just in the inaccurately called safe green zone. And state department folks almost every year outside of major conflict are killed in higher percentages than military people. Sometimes thy have even had higher fatalities in absolute numbers despite their tiny size. None-the-less military gets danger pay at locations the state department considers safe zones. As an example Jordan or even Greece. Military people that simply fly over Jordan pay no taxes for one month. State department doesn't get this benefit anywhere. The military will not go to Beirut but the state department has never left despite being bombing over and over again.



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