FSOs Into Iraq, Leaves In The Wind (updated)

Once more into the breech dear friends, once more! We’re of two minds on this. On the one hand, drafting people without any requisite skills into Cher Condi’s ruinous ‘transformational’ policy of democracy building in Iraq? On its face both absurd and dangerous; on the other hand, we’ve never been impressed with foreign service officers (FSOs) overall, much less about their complaints re a screening lottery process which includes their past postings and their desirability/luxury.

Candidly, with the exception of a handful of people, we’ve never really met any — or heard of any — exceptional foreign service officers. The entire culture of the foreign service is about conformity and ‘not rocking the boat’. It’s hard to describe or convey in a mere blog post but it’s real. The reasons are many, not the least of which is the whole performance review process. A rating of “Excellent” (or less) can and often does kill a career. (It needs to be “Outstanding”). Naturally, any nail that sticks out . . . Accordingly, in the Foreign Service, there are alot of “C” people, some “Bs” a few “B+s”. Very, very few “As”. Once an FSO is in, the relative quality also depends on what “cone” is being discussed. At an embassy, the most desirable and best staffed is the political cone, followed by the economic cone, etc. (FSOs traditionally were also ranked in seniority from 5s (most junior) to 1s (senior)).

“Back in the day”, the old Foreign Service Institute is where FSOs and other government entities would send people for area studies and language training. (Both often seen as career killers or dead ends for ambitious non-FSO apparatchiks. Who needs language skills or area studies to understand the world?). Now, there is this ridiculous, sprawling militarized and fortified campus called — as we noted in another post, with the obsession for bestowing the title of ‘National’ now on everything — the National Foreign Affairs Training Center. They at least were decent enough to name it after George Schultz. Unlike many other secretaries of state, Schultz understood the value of area studies and put a great deal of support behind it.

So, like we said, we are somewhat ambivalent. 1,500 FSOs have already served in Iraq and the regime and its Ambassador Ryan Crocker are looking to fill now 31 slots (48 originally but 17 have since volunteered). Serving in the fortified Green Zone is hardly the “death sentence” that FSOs and their association are claiming.

But it is also true that FSOs in general have no relevant skills for democracy building or civil society creation, let alone tribal arbitration. On the other? It’s hard for the Stiftung to feel sympathy for a Department that overall has been so mediocre for so long. State actually enabled this regime even while pouting in passive aggressive so-called ‘resistance’. If 31 FSOs are forced to give up the cocktail circuit in Paris or Vienna for one year in the Green Zone (ten months in country, 2 months vacation) with a major monetary bonus while their families are taken care of, and then given priority first pick of their next assignment, well there are worse things in the world.

Comments

  1. Comment says

    Being against the poly is a bit more upscale opinion to have if you’re on the pundit circuit – though there was probably a time when that was not so. Spymaster Johnson would have difficulty defending it following a withering soundbite. Everythings is percentages.
    Is there any Fletcher Prouty link here? To draw in thousands of conspiracy buffs?

  2. Dr.LeoStrauss says

    “[B]ut it just seems to fall short of the spymaster standard we all expect from LJ . . .”

    And they said irony died after 9/11.

    True, the “box” (or to “flutter” someone) merely measures galvanic skin and other biometric responses. But is only part of the equation. Even more important are the skilled personnel involved in the preparation (specifically the questions asked, the order, pacing, follow-up, etc., the execution and the evaluation of the results. People typically never get this.

    So it is at best a half truth to say Ames “beat” the box. If the Stiftung knew the details of how his tests were administered and who evaluated the results (remember, massive institutional pressure at CIA was on making sure CI was dead in the water and a bureaucratic wasteland after JJA) we forget them now. But that’s crucial.

    It’s also a logical fallacy to assume that because a measure is not 100% perfect it therefore should be abandoned 100% of the time.

    But then, LJ is now in the business of providing sound bites. That profession requires constant shark-like forward swimming for oxygen and all important visibility.

    Was there a period post-war of over-reliance and confidence in CI technical solutions? Of course. Across the board in America. Just as the social sciences emphasized quantification and Vietnam also showed American over commitment to technological certitudes and metrics.

    Did the Soviets realize this and train to defeat it. Of course. Does that mean the process, when combined with a comprehensive clearance process is not valuable or useful? Of course not.

    State (where Johnson migrated) and other entities abhor the polygraph. So he has an agenda. State appointees and FSOs in particular would rather drink chardonnay with filet mignon than under go that indignity. Others around government feel about the same.

    We’ll save our comments about State’s security issues for another day.

  3. Dr.LeoStrauss says

    If Lana Turner can be discovered sitting at a soda fountain at Schwab’s Drugstore, what’s a little recruitment with your Fattoush (or in O’Reilly’s case, Falafel)?

    It is a good point to emphasize yet again American absolute and chronic lack of area studies and language trained personnel across the government footprint abroad — overt, military, and covert. Not to mention the Bureau’s unenviable CI mission here at home under the Warlord.

    Conflating Prouty to Edmonds is a bit much, but the actual facts of Edmonds’ case are irrelevant to the Stiftung because the larger more important truth is that the Bureau’s internal culture remains impregnable. We saw that with Hanssen (and Opus Dei member) — it took years for the Bureau to own up — even after when he was improperly searching computer databases and got caught (the mediocre and inaccurate movie aside). And Miller and others. A shame that Chuck Grassley, who despite the jokes about him in the past, has MidWestern feet on the ground common sense, was not able to pursue the matter.

    Whose agenda is being served here? Hard to say. But of the nearly 1,000 assigned personnel to the Baghdad embassy, last time the Stiftung checked, only 6 (six) had a fluency rating of 5 (the FSI/NFATC native speaker rating). (A 3 gets you a beer when you order pancakes). She worked for Baghdad Station, evidently. Alot of institutional interests would be gunning for that entity and its personnel depending on what they were reporting.

    To paraphrase Chester Nimitz to Halsey, “Larry Johnson trots to Television. Where is Prouty? The world wonders!”

  4. Anon says

    Speaking of LJ – he sometimes seems to lack the nuance one would expect from someone in his biz.:
    “Prouty passed a CIA polygraph. This should put to rest once and for all the nonsense that a polygraph is an effective counter-intelligence tool. It only works against uptight religious folks with guilty consciences. Folks like Aldrich Ames and Prouty can beat it.”

    No doubt – that those machine have limitations – but how does he know what Prouty’s true religious feelings are? And we do so many people in the US still equate any kind of sincere piety with loyalty to the US over other countries? Also, why would LJ say “it only works …” – Maximalist formulations like that are ok for rightist talk radio, but grate in other contexts. Also – since when should anything put anything to rest if you’re an intelligence officer. Note also how he manages to accidentally compliment Ames and Prouty by contrasting them with “uptight” religious people, while he also collapses Ames far greater problems by associating him with Prouty (someone he insinuates was just more loyal to her orginal loyalty than her adopted one).
    Maybe we are nitpicking, but it just seems to fall short of the spymaster standard we all expect from LJ

  5. Anon says

    That group has a big HQ building on 34th St. and it is certainly an interesting bldg.e. No one ever seems to enter or leave – But maybe there is some sort of underground tunnel entrance. One would hope. But what’s interesting is how it has acquired a Parallex View aesthetic despite having a neo-gothic facade.

  6. Anon says

    If you look at the document posted about her – It references her fraudulently obtained citizenship. Now this is where Dan Rather blew it – if he had focused himself on showing Bush could not prove he deserved to have received an honorable discharge (since he could not prove he attended his duty) then he would have been able to make a case that honorable discharge was obtained inappropriately -http://www.slate.com/id/2178018/entry/0/fr/rss/

  7. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Heck, all he would have to do is stumble across any number of street addresses in Great Falls . . . oh wait. That Should Not Be Said. Mums the word.

  8. Comment says

    It would be a nice dramatic touch if it turned out that the guy who wrote the DaVinci Code was a member of Opus Dei and some video turned up with him meeting in some secret conclave with members.

  9. Comment says

    Hopefully, everyone in the US embassy in Beirut knows Arabic, Hebrew, French, Greek, and Turkish.

  10. Comment says

    We don’t really know what went on with this case – but only what we read in articles such as that – So it’s just a guess, but it really reflects poorly on the agency in ways that they don’t seem to grok – Consider this quote:
    “She was so good that some in the agency want to hire Prouty back one day, the source said. ”
    Yeah well, maybe – whatever. That sounds a bit like Rudy saying Bernie had a bad year or so but he did a great job in the jails etc.
    A few years ago we recall discussing Lebanon with some Mediterraneans that were pretty plugged into the several of the Christian communities over there and said most people they talked to in the US community had false ideas about Hezb relative strengths and weakness. They said they deeply underestimated them as an intelligence organization. They did not understand the demagraphics of the region, nor did they understand the interlocking nature of the sectarian politics. They mentioned some journalists they met who were surprised to find out they were canny political operators, not just errand boys for Iranian Mullahs.
    If we had to guess, that woman was not really a mole – Who really knows? But it would seem odd for her to do something so conspicuous like searching computer files about a relative. There are so many countries involved in Labanon now – some people are probably working for more than one country or organization. A lot of good novels and movies are waiting to be written.

  11. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Maybe because she wasn’t a 40 year old billowy blonde without language skills running down Haifa Street trying not to break her heels, juggling a Coach leather briefcase while calling her husband back in the Washington, D.C. MTP Green Room on her ruby red MOTO RAZR phone about what BAKED VIDALIA ONION DIP to get from Balducci’s for the dinner party?

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/wn_report/2007/11/16/2007-11-16_busted_illegal_alien_was_great_spy_say_s-1.html

  12. Comment says

    A letter from Iraq to my overweight colleagues:
    An Arby’s just opened up on Main Battle Tank Avenue in Camp Victory. Please send coupons as FSO does not cover transfats. Next week, we are going to check out that Chili Cheese nacho joint that opened at a black site in the desert.

  13. Comment says

    Let’s get those LOMAN plates – The American Fat Man must be wincing at today’s NY Times: “Americans have begun to ask why the farm bill is subsidizing high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils at a time when rates of diabetes and obesity among children are soaring, or why the farm bill is underwriting factory farming (with subsidized grain) when feedlot wastes are polluting the countryside and, all too often, the meat supply. For the first time, the public health community has raised its voice in support of overturning farm policies that subsidize precisely the wrong kind of calories (added fat and added sugar), helping to make Twinkies cheaper than carrots and Coca-Cola competitive with water.”

    The American Twinkie is our new microchip.

  14. Comment says

    Matthews missed an opportunity – We just saw the actual HRC speech at Wellseley and there was a quote that could have been taken out of context and interpreted in a variety of ways:
    “We had to observe then what was called the two feet rule — two out of four feet had to be on the floor at all times [Hillary pauses] try it sometime.” -cheers and laughter follow) –
    While Matthews could have made hay about that as being dismissive of traditional values – He also could have implied that HRC meant something else when she said “try it sometime.”

  15. Comment says

    Colleen Smile has her dander up against HRC in today’s times – It’s like a Cliffs Notes compilation of all the complains Group Ireland has against Hillary. This is going to be an endless bore – It’s going to be funny watching Tweety and the rest of Group Ireland objectively cheering Team Neocon and Rudy even though they supposedly disagee with all the policies. Just as Tweety often forgets that he was not on McCain’s side when the actual Vietnam war was taking place, he will soon forget all about the war he supposedly opposed. Afterall – everyone fears his height.

  16. Comment says

    It certainly was not bravery – it was purely accidental. We had avoided watching it for a long time but circumstances found us watching it. The singer Feist was a pretty good – 1234 and all that.
    We feel sorry for the SNL people – becuase of their corporate owners they cannot make real topical comedy. The Amy Goodman critique of corporate culture is vindicated wity snl. It’s a shame – It’s a wasted brand.
    We also watched CNN today “This Week In War” and amazed at how bad it was – Indeed. It was a repeat – This week was stocked with news worldwide but if you watch CNN all week there was just an hour or so of news repeated over and over -supplemented by Gupta this for Jennie Moos that. Just horori

  17. DrLeoStrauss says

    re BW on SNL

    You again are braver than the Stiftung. We couldn’t bear to watch it. Because SNL is migraine inducing anyway. BW no doubt is the anti-comedian as you note. Without Bernie and the I-man to prop him up, he is simply flat-footed.

  18. Comment says

    Even some Hillary supporters have fallen into the trap of believing Hillary is playing the gender card and they are defending her right to do so. But in truth, we think Hillary has played down gender – only offering the occassional feminist wink at her alma mater.
    Tweety plays a two second clip off a rare aside of Hillary making fun of “evil men” and he plays this over and over and soon convinces himself and others that Hillary is the one repeating this stuff, when it’s actually Tweety.
    It’s such a fraud – but it works. That weirdo even debated who the “evil men” were for weeks – a passing aside. What a schmuck.

  19. Comment says

    When we say camoflage – we meant that Brian Williams is obviously aware of the perception of libetal bias – but unlike the SNL audience, he is also aware the he and many of his colleagues loath Hillary – So there’s a hidden irnony there that he could have had some fun with. But he chose to skew his skit into the unfunny realm by trying to take advantage of audience confusion about who he and the media support – His whole SNL performance was allong these lines – You know he mocked himself for being too serious a newsman, to dedicated to the reporters crafy, and too in soup with journalistic heroes.

  20. Comment says

    HRC’s pushback against Williams and Russert must have had some effect because Brian Williams tried to insert a false premise into his ineffective debate skit on SNL – Good comedy tends to move toward the truth or exposing reality and one if the reasons Williams failed on SNL was because he tried to insert a falsehood – namely, that he and nbc were pro Hillary and this falsehood is camoflaged in the general perception of liberal bias.
    But as we say – the real truth is funnier – the fact that the biggest Hillary haters are not on the right, where you’d expect – but in the so called liberal media. The hatred, fear, and loathing for Hillar with the Tweety and Williams crowd is so absurd and obvious that we here at Comment notice it and we’ve never been HRC fans.

  21. DrLeoStrauss says

    re McLaughlin Group, noticed that, too. Perhaps HRC will be on SNL next with Charlie Gibson . . .

  22. Comment says

    McLaughlin was being gallant for Hillary today – He seems to be fond of her. In truth – there was no way HRC could have answered that license question politically properly – That’s why Russert asked her about it – Elliot Spitzer talked about it at length today on local news and while everything Spitzer said was technically correct and justified – he sounded awful talking about it even though he did just about the best that coule be done. Buchanan is right about the rhetorical politics – Hillary should have gone rogue and blamed Certoff and Real ID for the whole mess.

  23. Comment says

    Interesting – we looked at that Google search – We didn’t bother clinking on any of those links because its all the BS that’s to be expected from that genre. But a couple of points – Marvin Bush does deserve a marketing award from the National Conspiracy Theorists Association for his excellently named former company – The wonderfully sinister sounding “Securacom.” Sounds suspicious as hell.
    Uh Oh – we see in one discription on the goodle page a Jonathan Bush – It just so happenen Comment knows someone who used to play squash with Jonathan from time to time- Guess that links us to the grand conspiracy.

  24. Comment says

    One benefit of an HRC regime would be the return of Roger Clinton and his easier to understand scandals compared to the byzantine affairs of the Bush family operation.
    Liberals are always frustrated that the far sleazier Bush scandals never gain narrative traction. But that’s life. Bring on Hugh Rodham.

  25. Comment says

    Yorkshire has another interesting post about those social networking software – You know the namebase stuff. Comment has always looked at those with amusement – esp their AgitPower effect being limited to those who want to believe whatever they want to believe.
    But you know what was funny was how unconvincing the regime was trying to link Saddam to Qaeda (unconvincing to people who can read). But with those software charts its so easy to link anyone to anyone
    Think Colin Powell linked to Bandar linked to Bandar’s wife linked to Two 9-11 Hijackers- Baam! You now have a new motive for Powell’s UN lies! Or think about the Bush family – Prescott linked to Japanese crime cartels and Neil linked to Taiwan stock jobbers, then Jeb fundraiser linked to a Columbian yada yada yada and Neil selling crappy software to NCLB and Saudis too.
    Saddam would have had an easier job linking the Bush’s to Qaeda than Bush had linking him – In a legal linkage, that is. This is not including all those 9-11 conspiracy people (like those kids at SUNY who made the internet movie that blames Larry Silverstein).

  26. Comment says

    SNL needs a new stable of writers and maybe a new cast – They should scab up during the writers strike. Tonight Brian Williams is host – being painfully unfunny, operating from the false premise that he is a serious newsman in need of levity. Barack had a mediocre cameo in the opening – It’s all so sad.

  27. A Random Quote says

    One small lingusitic irony – Ezra Klein has a last name that literally means “little.”
    But that probably escaped Tweety.

  28. A Random Quote says

    MATTHEWS: I love that stuff. Anyway, what do you think? Suppose one of the guys says, why don‘t we all get together, guys, and let‘s vote guy.

    KLEIN: I‘m pretty sure—

    MATTHEWS: Imagine one of them saying, let‘s vote guy this year.

    KLEIN: Thompson is running on the fact that he‘s a very tall man.

    MATTHEWS: Who did that?

    KLEIN: Thompson did. I think it‘s his campaign platform. He‘s not only male, but over six feet tall.

    MATTHEWS: Did he bring that up?

    KLEIN: Everything you see about Thompson says he‘s huge.

    MATTHEWS: Tall.

    KLEIN: He‘s tall. He‘s big. He‘s manly. The guy‘s running—

    (CROSS TALK)

    MATTHEWS: I think that was *my problem with John Stewart* the other night, by the way. That‘s just a hunch. What do you think?
    —————————————

    NB – We knew Tweety would try this as a defense because he actually was accusing some other tall person of using his height around that time.
    Fact: Bill O’Reilly is taller than Matthews and Stewart would and did treat him with good humor and respect – But Stewart can’t stomach Tweety – good comedians are repulsed by phonies and Tweety is a phony who sells artifice and unhappyness – He’s a buzzkill.

  29. A Random Quote says

    “Vagina is a tough word that refuses to roll easily off the tongue. It has such a sense of taboo that nobody feels totally comfortable talking about it — not even women, but especially men. So use of the word remains almost exclusively to the feminists.
    I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it seems that vajayjay is different. Unlike the starkly clinical vagina, I see a vajayjay as a happy and inviting place, with a warm and fuzzy connotation. Vajayjay says ‘hello … welcome’ and ‘open for business.’ ‘Vagina’ screams textbook. ‘Vajayjay’ says Facebook.
    In short, ‘vajayjay’ has got us thinking outside of the box, which makes the feminists nervous. They want to keep ‘vagina’ all to themselves. That is why they are vajayjay naysayers.”
    ~Michael Smerconish

  30. Comment says

    Glad to see that Contad quote from Men’s Vogue pop up – Black never disappoints – his socialism by prosecution theory is a gem. But we do agree with him that there is a problem in this country with asset seizures and gov. trampling. But he’s probably not the best example –
    Since Conrad may being going to jail with thousands of poor blacks – he may have to adjust his theory a bit when incarerated. Not many of his fellow inmates will buy into the whole ‘government targets rich white guys for punishment’ meme.
    Maybe Steyn will fall for it. LOL – But he’d do Conrad more favors by taking him to the Gym to get his benchpress up to self-defense levels for his coming cellblock days.

  31. Armchair says

    CASSIUS:
    But what do you think of Arianna? Is she
    just wasting our time with her vanity?

    CASCA
    Omigod, I totally hate her.

    CINNA
    She can be a bit of a bitch, but …

    METELLUS CIMBER
    O, let us have none of her or her (ironic air quotes) “Fearless” crap – Jesus, she’s
    like Norman Vincent Peale, but for Satanists
    who care only about purchasing a good opinion
    And take advantage of woman’s caprice to be gulled by her deeds:
    It shall be said, her judgment ruled their minds;
    Our women will thus be unhappy, from now
    until she just goes away.

    BRUTUS
    O, hate her not: Arianna is useful to us now;
    For she will pump cash into our weak
    cabal and get others to follow along!

    CASSIUS
    Yes, we all love Arianna

    CASCA
    Indeed!

  32. Comment says

    “Just COSTCO and the Baby Jesus” – LOL – But the American Fat Man loves his bulk shopping experience and he loves to ask Jesus to forgive him for his gluttony and sloth. Hmmm – idea for off Broadway play (Walter Benjamin attacked by falling lawnmowers in Costco, then rescued by a fat customer who accidentally sits on him and breaks his rib cage.)

  33. Comment says

    Sometime ago we were listening in on a conversation that some oppositionist women were having and the topic turned to Arianna and Huffpo – Arianna was on tv talking about something – we foget what it was -Typical stuff. Anyway, this woman (perhaps not briefed on Arianna’s party switch) just mentioned that she hated Arianna. Then a debate ensued among the ladies – with one insisting that Arianna was doing great work with HuffPo – Gradually, this woman prevailed and Arianna was soon acceptable to the whole group. This whole mini-scene stuck in our mind because it had a weird comic resemblence to the scene in Julius Caeser in Marcus Brutus garden when peer pressure among the conspirators is easily manipulated by Marcus Brutus dominant personality:
    CASSIUS
    But what of Cicero? shall we sound him?
    I think he will stand very strong with us.

    CASCA
    Let us not leave him out.

    CINNA
    No, by no means.

    METELLUS CIMBER
    O, let us have him, for his silver hairs
    Will purchase us a good opinion
    And buy men’s voices to commend our deeds:
    It shall be said, his judgment ruled our hands;
    Our youths and wildness shall no whit appear,
    But all be buried in his gravity.

    BRUTUS
    O, name him not: let us not break with him;
    For he will never follow any thing
    That other men begin.

    CASSIUS
    Then leave him out.

    CASCA
    Indeed he is not fit.
    —————————————

    The Arianna chat went the same way – the lead woman liked Arianna and her amaaaaaazing HuffPo – Soon the whole group concurred.

  34. DrLeoStrauss says

    Weimar America, but as noted in an earlier post, without the fun or decadence. Just COSTCO and the Baby Jesus.

  35. Comment says

    Dubya is truly blessed with weak adversaries – We just turned on c-span and Bush was giving his radio address – Once again his passive aggressive buck passing was ignored by the liberal blogs – Bush falsely claimed to be worried about guys “in the field” worrying about torture litigation – Ofcourse, the evidence has long been clear that Bush and Gonz et al (as further noted by Goldsmith) were worried about their own asses being prosecuted under the War Crimes Act. There is zero evidence that Bush ever really worried about intelligence operatives – You don’thave to be Plame to point that out and Bush would gladly toss soldiers overboard, as he did with Abu Ghraib – something he authorized then he disgustingly apologized to the King of Jordan – as if he was the injured party. This is Bush buck passing and no one ever notices – The liberals are too dumb to see it. Instead, we hear Patty Murray give an awful response to Bush -just banalities and bromides, with lots of icky fake sentimental bullsh**.

  36. DrLeoStrauss says

    The Huffington Post has (had?) its utilitarian purposes for Oppositionists. Now, Democrats have proven themselves as feckless today as they were before this regime treated them with open contempt. So the HuffPo’s value in our eyes reduced accordingly. That Burliegh quote is hilariously and typically vapid for the HuffPo.

  37. Comment says

    We just wanted to amend our I-man comment to recall that when that bruhaha developed, we predicated – at that time (on stosz1.0 or elsewhere) that the whole thing would be trumped by the fact that he’d be back following penance and that he would end up making money off this thing. We felt vindicated when this all came to pass – The only thing we failed to anticipate in that American-Oriental affair was the Gov Corzine car crash when he was on his way to meet the basketball team – Anyway – we gotta drop this topic – it bores.

  38. Comment says

    We have to admit being annoyed seeing a newsclip of an FSO complaining about a death sentence in Iraq – That was just chum for wingers. The guys at the Standard can dine out on a comment on that – obscuring as it does the reality of people who did serve in Iraq, quietly and without complaint. A lot of FSOs – we think – know little about politics. The I-man would have had a field day mocking that deaths sentence guy. Hey – we hear the I-man is on his way back. We have registered our mixed opinions about that incident – since we know Joe Cubicle would have been cashiered for saying a lot less, we appreciated a spreading of accountability – But what we really objhected to was I-mans supposed good side – the whole Russert nexis thing. In any event, this just came to mind after making a foray to HuffPo and seeing a reporter Nina Burliegh writing about this – Btw, Burleigh would make a great press spokeswoman for HRC Presidency with comments like this: “The day will come, hopefully, when a JFK-like woman will run for President. She’ll slither like a movie actress, shamelessly bed lovers young and old, seduce every sentient being in the room with a glance, and make world-changing speeches with fresh rug burns on her lissome rear end and knees, a man squirming with desire waiting in the back room.”
    Imagine Matthews dealing with that everyday?

  39. Comment says

    “But it is also true that FSOs in general have no relevant skills for democracy building or civil society creation” Yeah – but they can always just call Michael Rubin from the field and ask him for advice. Hey didn’t Mort Kondracke write some columns about democracy building? Maybe someone at State could send them the clips.

  40. Comment says

    If you’re a junior FSO and you’re sent on one of these provisional reconstruction team (a Monty Python skit in the making) you have to go – No doubt about it. But it would nicer to go on on oil company paycheck – plus have some weapons training at the Newt Gingrich Firing Range at the National Non Clandestined FSO Vniversituy.

  41. Dr Leo Strauss says

    The entire mini brouhaha is posturing by all concerned. When one joins the foreign service, one is committed to executing the policy of the United States government — not the policy one wishes to serve or believes to be correct. It’s also true that State Department discipline exists more notionally than in reality.

    In 2006 when the most junior FSOs were mobilized for the ridiculous provisional reconstruction teams — those who would actually go out into the fields, etc. — there was only a minor murmur. Now that 48 (reduced now to 31) more senior FSOs will be subjected to a re-evaluation of their past postings for relative luxury comfort, etc. and sent to Iraq, all hell breaks loose. “Death sentences” in the Green Zone and all that public posturing crap.

    We updated the item above with recent pieces that highlight the miniscule numbers involved. Considering that the foreign service sends 200 a year to Iraq anyway and rotates 200 out and has every year since 2003 without incident, one can see the self-serving nature of those complaining about filling the remaining 31 slots.

    It is true that the foreign service in general is not likely to support this regime and that the Movement would be happy to see martyrs for the cause (unless it proved useful against it) . Like we said, we have mixed feelings about it all.
    Such a furor over 31 slots is, however, a bit much.

  42. Comment says

    This is one of our favorite FSO stories – since a former FSO told us what he did NOT find in Niger when he drank tea. It has drawn out the typical wussies with their predictable “diploweenie” stuff. LOL – We’ve met a few FSOs that we think are impressive (mostly retired now). But were they impressive at work? Officially Yes – But Maybe not – they constantly felt restricted and hamstrung and we imagine they were definately not operating at their top potential. But in fairness to them – We think their political reporting was generally unwelcome, since it was factual and unbiased. So it was a mixture of no win.
    Now do we symp with FSOs who do not want to goto Baghdad? Maybe, but only a little – They are not hep on the mission and they feel constrained by having to rely on Shooters from a Republican party militia in order to leave the green zone and go cross town and implement a policy designed to help a political party in Washington that cares not a whit about what they do or if they live.

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