Friday, November 02, 2007

Career Diplomat Jack Croddy Asks 'Iraq or Sack'?

Who ya gonna believe?



Those who continue to express or hold out hope for eventual deliverance from this illegitimate occupation of Iraq should pay attention. (And I know who some of you optimists are, lurking out there.)

If things are not rotten and rotting in the center of Mesopotamia, than why has it become necessary to draft Americans in the diplomatic service to ‘volunteer’ for service in Baghdad? I mean, it’s not that they would have to accept housing outside the cloistered Green Zone.

But the facts are there are many diplomatic positions vacant and waiting to be filled at the Taj Mahal hard-fortified permanent US embassy in Baghdad, still under construction. Many positions are due to become vacant in 2008.

Iraq postings have previously been filled on a voluntary basis. If too few volunteer, some will be forced to go to Iraq - or risk dismissal, (except those exempted for medical or personal hardship reasons). Hundreds of US diplomats have protested against a government move to force them to accept postings in war-torn Iraq. Recently, About 300 angry diplomats attended a meeting at the state department, at which one labeled the decision a "potential death sentence".

Last Friday, Harry Thomas, the Foreign Service director, notified about 250 "prime candidates" that they had been selected for one of 48 one-year postings at the embassy in Baghdad or in a Provincial Reconstruction Team elsewhere in the country. They were given 10 days to reply.

Senior diplomat Jack Croddy, who once worked as a political adviser with Nato forces, highlighted safety fears of staff who would be forced to serve in a war zone and drew a sustained applause from his colleagues:
Incoming is coming in every day, rockets are hitting the Green Zone.

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.

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 in at any [comparable conditions] in the world, the embassy would be closed at this point.
Volunteering for this post is non-existent, despite offers of attractive financial packages and generous leave allowances. The Baghdad embassy is considered a hardship posting due to security risks and because spouses and children must be left at home.

American diplomats have been sent on forced assignments before - some had to take postings in some African countries in the 1970s and 1980s, and in 1969 an entire class of new foreign service officers was sent to Vietnam. And that, I remind you, ended in a searing experience.

The bottom line is that State Department employees have the inside line on conditions, developments and trends which the Pentagon witholds from the main street media, Congressional junketeers and us, the American people. The grapevine is the inside line.

Americans have no future there. The Malicki government has no future beyond the writ of American military power, especially as long as it is identified with The Occupier. The Malicki government itself barely governs over the narrow confines of the Green Zone. The future government of Iraq will arise from the ashes of the militias and the tribal mullahs and be sustained by smuggling oil production.

A perfect storm approaches.
Dikes should be erected before 01-20-09. Those 'in the know' don’t want to be caught in the ‘invulnerable' Green Zone. As a meteorologist, Bush has zero street creds. By word of mouth, those in the diplomatic service know which way the wind is blowing.As Bob Dylan would say, they don’t need no Weatherman.

15 Moderated Comments:

Blogger Vigilante said...

I borrowed a graphic for this column from AdoredByHordes!

11/02/2007 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger Urbanpink said...

I guess Bush and Co. don't know the difference between the military, who are trained to obey orders, and those independent and often anti-authoritarian diplomats. I guess we can call this the revolt of the elites.

11/02/2007 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger Beach Bum said...

What they can't snatch a couple of hundred bible thumping zombies from Pat Robertson's Regents University to fill the slots? Might they actually need competent diplomatic personnel to work to prevent a general meltdown of Iraq until Bush leaves for Crawford, go figure?

11/02/2007 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger MarcLord said...

Well stolen, and well done Sir Vigil!

You know that Petroosh dude plans on running for President in 2012, right?

Like the looks of your blog here. First visit, but will be back.

Cheers,
Marc

11/02/2007 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger M.D. said...

No worries. They may never have to leave the Green Zone.

11/02/2007 07:29:00 PM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

vigilante said: "A perfect storm approaches. Dikes should be erected before 01-20-09. Those 'in the know' don’t want to be caught in the ‘invulnerable' Green Zone."

On this we couldn't agree more. Our differences are that you are looking forward to a speedy, even if disorganized, withdrawal and I am terribly concerned about it.

But, my concerns notwithstanding, I am confident that shortly after 1/20/2009 the exodus will begin.

Those leaving early (or never arriving) will be the safest.... and the least covered in blood.

And you are also correct that the Malicki government will quickly fall. Iraqis who foolishly supported or became friends with the United States, its diplomats or its soldiers, will receive no mercy.

Americans are not the only ones who need to study history. Iraqi's who failed to learn the lessons of Viet Nam will be personally chosen to repeat it.

11/03/2007 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger Messenger said...

An excellent point made by M.D. (above): The stop-gap band-aid solution to the discomfort of the diplomatic corps is to suspend all civilian travel outside the Green Zone (as if that makes them safe).

It is a standard cliché that Iraq doesn't have a military solution for its problem. Now, it's clear The Occupier cannot offer Mesopotamia a political solution, either.

11/03/2007 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger TomCat said...

Somehow I lack much sympathy for them. If they oppose the Reich's invasion of Iraq, why have they been taking paychecks from an administration that does not believe in diplomacy instead of demonstrating in front of the White House?

11/03/2007 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Point well made, Tom-C!

Friday night I attended a dinner rally at which Col. Ann Wright spoke. She resigned from the State Department on the eve of the invasion (March 19, 2003). Her letter of resignation to Colin Powell can be found here.

I was able to get her to confirm my line taken in this column through a series of follow-up questions before I was dragged away from the microphone. (No tasers were required.)

11/04/2007 06:36:00 AM  
Blogger Indicted Plagiarist said...

Retired Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston, President Bush's special envoy to deal with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), has resigned his position because American policy has betrayed Turkey, a NATO ally. Bush has lost control of his Policy.

McClatchy

11/04/2007 07:30:00 AM  
Blogger Messenger said...

The 'political solution' prognosis continues to be elusive.

The supposed success of the 'surge' as spun by the White House is frustrated only by Iranians dabbling in Shiite politics. In reality, the down-tick in I.E.D. deaths is more attributable to Muqtada al-Sadr directing his Mahdi Army to stand down as a tactical move. Sadr remains totally opposed to continued occupation by the USA. The remaining violence against USA troops comes from the Sunnis, who are not aided by Iranians. This despite efforts to bribe Sunni tribes to stop their violence. The final reason for reduction in inter-sectarian violence is that ethnic cleansing has progressed to a point that in Baghdad and other areas Sunnis and Shiites have managed to separate from each other in walled cities and a matrix of check-point gate-keeping.

Such a situation is nothing but a band-aid. Economic recovery and superstructure rebuilding cannot occur in a political vacuum.

11/05/2007 06:26:00 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

You left out the "2nd Insurgency" which refers to the debilitating corruption of the Maliki government.

Today, Congressman Henry Waxman, (Is Maliki's corruption worth American lives?) writes,
...political reconciliation is an illusion -- can we in good conscience continue to ask our troops to risk their lives and our taxpayers to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in this war?

11/05/2007 07:56:00 AM  
Blogger Blogging4Food said...

I don't know what this post is all about, Vigilante! Diplomats at the American embassy in Baghdad on Monday have been reassuring their state department colleagues elsewhere:

"There are all kinds of opportunities here. There are people who think we live under a constant barrage of mortar attacks, but it isn't that way all the time. . . . . I think some of it is based on not knowing what it is to be here. It's true, two days after I got here we had 36 EFP (explosively-formed penetrators) strikes. . . . . That was serious, it's scary. But you adapt, you get used to it. . . . . Most of the foreign service officers I know like to be where the action is, where the policy action is, where the front page and the White House attention are," he told reporters in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone. . . . . I think that people are less affected directly than through their families. The officers go home, and parents and relatives tell them 'You can't go there' and it affects them. . . . . We all wished it would be easier. The security measures are the big downside. But when you get in people's office in the red zone, the security detail goes away. I go out several times a week. . . . . Frankly speaking, service here is not as rough as I thought it was. The AC is functioning!"

Your problem Vigilante, is you insist on looking outside of the bubble! Come on in, out of the heat. The weather's fine!

AFP

11/06/2007 06:57:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Speaking of the 'bubble', Marc Lynch of Abu Aardvark demonstrates Maliki's victory lap of Baghdad, (a la McCain) was in reality in the company of Blackwater-grade security, although that wasn't the way it was portrayed in the press.

11/06/2007 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

David Passage, a retiree member of the AFSA Governing Board, was a Foreign Service officer from 1966 to 1998. Among many other postings, he served with the CORDS program in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970; was deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires in El Salvador at the height of that country’s civil war in the mid-1980s; served as ambassador to Botswana from 1990 to 1993; and was the political adviser at the U.S. Special Operations Command from 1993 to 1996. Since retiring from the Service, Ambassador Passage has been a lecturer and mentor at several U.S. military schools and training facilities.

In the Foreign Service Journal (November '07) Passage compares security circumstances of civilian diplomatic corps in Vietnam to that in Iraq, concluding:

To return to the situation nearly 40 years ago: although CORDS suffered its share of casualties in Vietnam, it was not targeted the way U.S. and other allied personnel — both military and civilian — are on today’s PRTs. While I realize some areas of Iraq and Afghanistan are, relatively speaking, less dangerous than others, this is a shifting mosaic. One can reasonably expect our enemies to seek out and go after the least defended and most inviting targets.

Many members of PRTs in Iraq and Afghanistan have to be confined to heavily protected forward bases for their own safety, sometimes for months at a time. They can meet with local officials and villagers only when enveloped by overwhelming security forces (which defeats our broader psychological and ideological objectives). And far too often, any concrete progress they achieve on the ground — building schools, restoring electricity, etc. — is promptly destroyed by a nihilistic enemy that doesn’t care about the consequences for affected villagers.

Under such circumstances, the assignment of Foreign Service personnel to PRTs simply for the sake of having the State Department appear to “do its part” doesn’t make much sense. Worse, it needlessly endangers (and, in a worst-case scenario, costs) lives under conditions in which there can be no reasonable expectation of positive gain.

Civilian Foreign Service personnel should never be used as “totems” — symbols of a decision by our government’s most senior political officials that every element of the U.S. government must be represented on the battlefield in order to signal our determination to do whatever it takes to win.

Foreign Service officers are not combat professionals, and no amount of training in combat skills, weaponry and self-protection will ever enable them to be more than hostages to luck in a combat environment. As such, they will also never be more than a burden on those military and security forces who have to protect them, and they are unlikely to be able to significantly assist in postwar reconstruction and the transition to democratic institutions in the countries where they serve.

Assigning Foreign Service professionals to such environments does not demonstrate commitment on the part of our government so much as a lack of sound judgment. Nor does it send a signal that this administration intends to win in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It merely endangers lives — and not only those of Foreign Service personnel, but also those of the military and security forces who have to protect them.


Thanks to WhirledView for whirling this article into view!

11/07/2007 07:27:00 PM  

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