The Columbia Critic

A place to debate anything we want to. We'll talk Columbia campus issues. We'll talk up the homosexual problem. We'll talk China. And we'll talk without resorting to partisan rhetoric. We may be left. We may be right. But we aren't going to be quoting any party line. We're leading the discussion. But feel free to chime in. Hannity and Colmes this is not.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Diplomats upset at being sent to Iraq

I thought this an interesting state of affairs:

Diplomats angry over forced posts in Baghdad
"At a rare, contentious meeting, foreign service officers told senior State
Department officials that the move to fill vacancies in Baghdad puts them in
danger, jeopardizes the well-being of their families, and could deplete the
ranks of those willing to serve overseas at a critical time."

A great many people, from congressmembers to DoD leadership, have long been insisting that success in Iraq can only arise out of a political solution, and not a military one. That the military is there to provide stability so that a political solution can be had. Now, while thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines continue to serve multiple tours in Iraq and face danger every day, the members of the foreign service - literally the tip of the spear in diplomatic terms, on whom the responsibility for working towards a political solution rests - are angry that they too might be required to go to Iraq. Who else do they think is going to perform their diplomatic duties? It certainly isn't the military's job. At least it isn't supposed to be, despite the fact that the military has frequently acting in such a capacity in many ways since the occupation began.

Now Gen. Sir John Hackett has noted that military servicemembers are unique in the realm of occupations in that they accept what he calls ‘the contract of unlimited liability.’
"A soldier gives up some individual rights (such as the right to withdraw his
labour), accepts collective standards which contribute to the common good, and
undertakes, in the last analysis, to kill or be killed for a purpose in which he
may have no personal interest."

Even in dangerous civilian occupations, such as Police and Firefighting, an employee has the right to quit if he or she does not wish to serve any longer. A soldier does not have that right, and their obligation under oath to serve extends to any situation to which the government, and by extension the public, wishes to deploy them. Such an obligation is crucial to enabling the military to function under even the most dire of circumstances.

The State Department cannot force its employees to deploy. And this may be the problem.
It is yet more evidence of the need for a more robust multifaceted force with obligated deployable diplomatic assets. Or, at the very least a dedicated quickly deployable corps of "Diplomatic Special Forces" at State, with capabilities great enough to coordinate an effort in a country the size of Iraq or Afghanistan or continent-wide as in Africa. The status quo at the State department just doesn't work in the contemporary operating environment.


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