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Foreign Matters

Over the last 24 hours or so, I have learned something remarkable about myself. First, I learned that I was woefully ignorant about the Foreign Service part of the Department of State. Second, I learned that my ignorance was shared by a goodly number of those people currently employed by the Foreign Service. Thirdly, I learned that I was a lot smarter than they apparently are, because I can learn.

Before the whole brouhaha arose from the State Department with career diplomats saying "hell, no, we won't go!" to Iraq, I didn't realize that Foreign Service was not just a description, but a must-be-capitalized proper noun, the name of an actual government body.

I have also learned that Foreign Service Officers have more than a little in common with military officers. Both have commissions, both take oaths of service, and both (in theory) understand that they may be sent pretty much anywhere in the world as their services are needed.

There are major differences, though. As I understand it, only a single State Department employee has been killed in Iraq, and he was not a Foreign Service Officer. Also, FSOs can resign their commission at any time, and apply to another part of the State Department or leave the Department entirely.

Over at Outside The Beltway, former Foreign Service Officer John Burgess talked about his career -- and how little respect he feels for those FSOs who were protesting their potential assignment to Iraq. And in the comments here, I discovered that longtime friend of Wizbang (and outstanding blogger in his own right) Will Franklin had sought to join the Foreign Service -- and, in a loss to our nation, did not get the call after going through the steps and passing all the tests.

Also, in response to my piece yesterday, one commenter quoted a report that the Bush administration has been making efforts to ensure that diplomats sent abroad reflect the views of the Bush administration -- the phrase "litmus test" has been used. That generated a "well, duh" response from me. According to their own web site, "Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) help formulate and implement the foreign policy of the United States." Note that they HELP formulate and implement foreign policy -- they do NOT set it. According to the Constitution (remember that), the President is the primary agent of foreign policy -- with some limited input from Congress. The last thing we need is a bunch of self-important Dips deciding to set and implement their own foreign policy in whatever country where they are assigned. Lord knows we've seen enough of that sort of thing.

So here we have a bunch of Foreign Service Officers who think that their oaths and duties are optional, that they should not be obligated to carry out the duties that they agreed to when they signed on. Luckily, they do have the choice to resign at any time.

And if they need any help writing those letters of resignation, I cheerfully offer my services at no charge. It's the least I can do for my country.


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Comments (24)

This is part and parcel of ... (Below threshold)

This is part and parcel of the general disdain or even outright rage people of the left have for the President, whose had his very election questioned - twice - despite actually winning the electoral college (including Florida in 2000, by 537 votes). A very close win is still a win. Everything he does and says, even when it comes to nominating for AG a man who was said by the Democrats to be acceptable prior to the nomination, is eviscerated by the MSM.

I blame Al Gore.

Sigh ... more evidence to s... (Below threshold)

Sigh ... more evidence to support the assertion that Foggy Bottom has been opposed to virtually every aspect of Bush foreign policy.

It must be something in the... (Below threshold)

It must be something in the water in DC. That's all I can figure.

Unless I get things wrong, a diplomat's job is to go out and dipple for our President, to attempt to implement foriegn policy changes determined by our PRESIDENT, not some cabal deep inside the Foriegn Service Office, and to actually DO something useful and constructive, not sit back and pound their collective puds while fantasizing about saving the world from GWB and chanting "Hell no! We won't go!" in the best '60s tradition.

(Actually, my own feelings about the current crop of diplomats is that they delay and aggravate things until there's no chance of avoiding violence, then they bail and let the military do what has to be done to remediate the situation while congratulating themselves on keeping the fine traditions of diplomacy alive. The higher the initial body count, the greater their success is seen.)

So I really, really don't have much sympathy for these poor overworked diplomats. Their job is to be out in front pushing US policy - if they don't want it, they need to find some other line of work.

On yesterday's national new... (Below threshold)

On yesterday's national news, I saw an African American Foreign Service Officer give his justification for why he shouldn't have to go where the President tells him to (and I paraphrase):

"Slavery was once accepted in this country, too."
I just shuddered.
I could,nt agree with you m... (Below threshold)

I could,nt agree with you more JLawson!

Bush has the opportunity to... (Below threshold)

Bush has the opportunity to pull a Reagan a la the PATCO strike. Fire the FSO's who refuse to serve. It would do wonders for his approval numbers.

There is a group in DC who ... (Below threshold)

There is a group in DC who believe being contra to the President is somehow noble and toward a higher cause. In the private sector this gets you fired.

The Thunder Run has linked ... (Below threshold)

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 11/02/2007 A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

In terms of excellence in f... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

In terms of excellence in foreign service, this week's award goes to the British Royal Guard, who had a very special welcome for the King of Saudi Arabia when he visited Buckingham Palace this week:

British Royal Guards greet the King of Saudi Arabia

I can write, can I help? :)... (Below threshold)

I can write, can I help? :)

The issue here isn't that t... (Below threshold)

The issue here isn't that these guys won't do their jobs as Diplomats, it's that their being sent into a war zone to do their job. The insanity of this by Bush can only be compared to Vietnam when they forced Diplomats into the same situation.

If this was a battle between countries under a cease-fire then it would make sense to send in the foreign service to finish stablizing the political situation. But it isn't. It's a free-fire zone where you have Al-qaida nutjobs, Sunni/Shia insurgents fighting their civil war, Iranian/Syrian insurgents and Hezbollah all playing to be the new top dog in Iraq. This still isn't a situation where any diplomat with pen and paper can solve this crisis. The only way it can be resolved is by Iraqi forces are brought up and put to work to qwell the violence in the areas around Baghdad and other regions like Diyala. The only thing a Diplomat can do is be a target for some lucky bomber or driveby shooter.

It's a stupid mistake to force Foreign Service personnel into a situation where they "know" they can't do anything. Bush and Rice are just playing politics with their lives and they see it clearly.

Telling it like I see it,


It's a stupid mist... (Below threshold)
It's a stupid mistake to force Foreign Service personnel into a situation where they "know" they can't do anything. Bush and Rice are just playing politics with their lives and they see it clearly. Telling it like I see it,
So... Wynter, you're "telling it like you see it."

Funny I see things a bit differently. Maybe you should write a note to Cameron Hume, Charge de'Affaires, U.S. Embassy, Khartoum, Sudan and ask his thoughts on having his people in a "free fire zone" as you call Iraq.

Also funny, (satirical funny obviously) none of them have been complaining or no one has heard about people refusing to go there.

Wynter, MeThinks you're full of more beans than the FSO's that are refusing too honor their President, their oath of office, and pledge taken upon assuming their positions.

I'd also add, maybe I missed it but none of these countries that have seen FSOs and or "diplomats" killed within their borders have resulted in refusals by FSO's to serve in them.

I smell politics at work (read, anti-war, anti-Bush) and it stinks. They should all be shown the quickest exit.

Marc,I think you're ... (Below threshold)

I think you're right on the money. Additionally, The ones doing the whining need to quit and look for jobs at the UN.

WynterEmployment con... (Below threshold)

Employment contracts are real contracts. I agree with Jabba #6....this might just be a PATCO moment.

Find the site with an appli... (Below threshold)

Find the site with an application with the Foreign Service office of the State Department. Pass it around so a few million of us can apply for a job with the understanding that the 'Foreign' does not apply to us unless it's our choice. We just want the $150K + per year to visit Germany, France or Japan.

the Bush administration ... (Below threshold)

the Bush administration has been making efforts to ensure that diplomats sent abroad reflect the views of the Bush administration -- the phrase "litmus test" has been used.

There's a difference between ensuring that someone will reflect the views of your administration, and making sure that they share them.

Brian:There's ... (Below threshold)


There's a difference between ensuring that someone will reflect the views of your administration, and making sure that they share them.

So what's your point? The quote you provide uses the term "reflect," you're the one inserting the phrase "share them" into the discussion.

Marc, I don't expec... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

I don't expect the truth from the liberal left any more. They are so dishonest that we should consider whatever they say as lies until verified. BTW, Hunter has a good idea. Maybe it is a good time to clean out the state department


Plan: Use wounded troops if diplomats refuse service
Rep. Hunter urges Bush to fire rebellious officials who complain Baghdad assignment 'death sentence'

Nothing new here. Just anot... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Nothing new here. Just another confirmation that the liberal media is nothing but a propaganda organization of the dem party. They have no shame in lying anymore. It is their mode of operation.


Just like so many reports before it, a joint survey by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and Harvard's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy -- hardly a bastion of conservative orthodoxy -- found that in covering the current presidential race, the media

Juan Cole has an interstin... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Juan Cole has an intersting comment on this brouhaha

Ambassador Ryan Crocker says that the FSO's swear an oath to serve anywhere in the world. This is not true. They swear an oath to uphold the constitution. They sign a contract that allows them to be posted anywhere. There is a difference, and the two documents may actually be in contradiction. For instance, what if the government did something unconstitutional and wanted to send you to support that action . . .

"The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer."
Henry Kissinger, New York Times, Oct. 28, 1973
(Secretary of State 1973-77)

Juan Cole always has intere... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

Juan Cole always has interesting comments, for the same degree of "interesting" as the babblings of a crack addict discovering LSD for the first time.

Back in the real world, there is no sustainable legal argument that posting a FSO to a foreign country the U.S. is involved with is unconstitutional.

Fire the lot of them, and offer their positions to military veterans.

I thought the crux of the l... (Below threshold)

I thought the crux of the liberal argument was that a military solution in Iraq is a lost cause and only a political solution will work? So shouldn't the FSO's being lining up for the privilege?

To be fair, if it was me I wouldn't want to leave my cushy post in the U.S. or any other peaceful country for a war zone. But no way in hell would I expect the government to accommodate me on that - I would either serve or quit. (Actually I'm even more clear thinking than that - I wouldn't take a job in the first place that might send me to a war zone if I wasn't willing to go). Those complainers need to put their feet where their mouths are, admit they are not willing to fulfill their contracts and quit.

Although I would get a lot more personal satisfaction from seeing them fired.

So what's your point? Th... (Below threshold)

So what's your point? The quote you provide uses the term "reflect," you're the one inserting the phrase "share them" into the discussion.

What do you think a "litmus test" is, Brainiac?

What do you think a "lit... (Below threshold)

What do you think a "litmus test" is, Brainiac?
It's used to check the pH of a solution.






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