Rice orders Baghdad embassy posts filled
Seems that Condoleeza Rice feels the need to resort to direct orders so that the department’s staff in Baghdad remains filled. Why are these orders necessary?
They also come amid private accusations from some senior officials that Iraq war foes inside the State Department and its union have compromised staffing and operations at the embassy through either direct efforts or inaction.
The union denies the charges, but they threaten to re-open wounds from the rancorous debate over the decision to topple Saddam Hussein that many diplomats questioned, and the initial plans for post-war construction, which largely ignored recommendations prepared by a special State Department task force…
Officals familiar with the situation said Crocker was more importantly addressing concerns that Iraq policy is being obstructed by opponents of the war who have influence on staffing decisions.
They cited numerous examples, including three involving qualified mid-level staffers and two involving more senior diplomats, who volunteered for Baghdad duty but whose appointments were delayed for months or discouraged at the expense of the embassy and its tasks.
One senior State Department official described the resistance as “passive-aggressive,” but said it was clearly related to differences over the Iraq war and at odds with the requirement for career diplomats to promote the policies of any administration for which they serve.
Another said that in some cases there appeared to be active sabotage of Iraq staffing plans and claimed that the diplomats’ union, the American Foreign Service Association, or AFSA, was interfering in the process by suggesting that Baghdad is too unsafe for civilian diplomats, many of whom are returning home with stress-related disorders.
The official allowed that Iraq is an extremely dangerous hardship post with near daily insurgent mortar attacks on the fortified Green Zone where the embassy is located but accused AFSA and some in the State Department of attempting to hamper policy by advising Baghdad candidates not to go and warning of potential career damage.
To say that not everyone is terribly happy with the State Department might be a bit of an understatement.