Saturday, October 27, 2007
The Baghdad Embassy Fiasco, Staffing Edition
Well, it looks like the Iraq War is going to force America to reinstate the draft after all, but not to fill out the ranks of the fighting forces. We've got the Reserves and the National Guard to do that. No, it's the diplomatic corps that's a little thin in Baghdad, and so far the call for volunteers hasn't exactly resulted in a stampede of applicants. So starting Nov. 12, the State Dept. will be identifying a pool of 300 "prime candidates" to fill the 40-50 vacancies expected in Baghdad next year. If after ten days not enough people out of the initial pool put their names on the dotted line, the Dept will basically fill the remaining spots by assignment. Anyone refusing the order to go will face dismissal:
The move to directed assignments is rare but not unprecedented.
In 1969, an entire class of entry-level diplomats was sent to Vietnam, and on a smaller scale, diplomats were required to work at various embassies in West Africa in the 1970s and 1980s.
More than 1,200 of the department's 11,500 Foreign Service officers have served in Iraq since 2003, but the generous incentives have not persuaded enough diplomats to volunteer for duty in Baghdad or with the State Department's provincial reconstruction teams.
Those ordered to Baghdad will still receive the incentives such as hardship pay and choice of future assignments offered to volunteers. There's been no response yet from the union representing career diplomats, but it has expressed concern about the possibility of this kind of posting in the past.
I imagine that most of the posts to be filled are entry- to mid-level, so should the move result in a hemmorhage of qualified personnel, the damage done to the American diplomatic corps will be felt in the longterm, when these people would have graduated to higher-level positions. Just another way the Bush presidency has deferred payments for its disastrous policies to America's future generations.