Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tethered Goats

"Foreign Service officers are to be sent out like tethered goats to the killing fields. "
-- Sidney Blumenthal
Via Hullabaloo, the latest outrage is reported by Sidney Blumenthal:
Under the pretense that Iraq is being pacified, the U.S. military is partially withdrawing from hostile towns in the countryside and parts of Baghdad. By reducing the numbers of soldiers the administration can claim its policy is working going into the midterm elections. But the jobs that the military will no longer perform are being sloughed off onto State Department "provincial reconstruction teams" led by Foreign Service officers. The stated rationale is that the teams will win Iraqi hearts and minds by organizing civil functions.

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The Pentagon has informed the State Department that it will not provide security for these officials and that State should hire mercenaries for protection instead. Apparently, the U.S. military and the U.S. Foreign Service do not represent the same country in this exercise in nation-building. Internal State Department documents listing the PRT jobs, dated March 30, reveal that the vast majority of them remain unfilled. So Foreign Service employees are being forced to take the assignments, in which "they can't do what they are being asked to do," as a senior State Department official told me.

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Foreign Service officers are to be sent out like tethered goats to the killing fields.
Working for the Foreign Service long has been one of the most important and patriotic, though unsung, ways a citizen can serve his country. We, as many other locals in the Pensacola area, have friends and former colleagues in the Foreign Service.

Several were recently sent to Iraq. Unusually, they weren't given the option of an alternative assignment. Tethered goats and sacrificial lambs generally aren't.

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