American diplomats voiced their disapproval over possibly being stationed in Iraq in a town hall style meeting. Time also examines some of the reasons the diplomats are voicing their objections. The sad state of matters is that very little actual diplomacy can take place in Iraq. I think the tipping point can be placed on August 19, 2003 when the UN headquarters in Baghdad was bombed killing at least 17 people including Sergio Vieira de Mello. Despite the bunker-like construction of the U.S. embassy, it is a symbol of lasting U.S. presence in the region, and will most likely be a target for terrorists. Something the members of the U.S. foreign service must be acutely aware of.
I see very little reason for the cheering for more people into the meat grinder. Although, their complaints may seem tinny to begin with: who will take care of my kids? The unfair response is: who takes care of the soldier’s kids if they are killed or maimed? I think playing the misery game is unfounded. Diplomats are not necessarily war cheerleaders. They are career bureaucrats and fundamentally apolitical. It makes as much sense to cheer their departure as it would to cheer teachers to go, indeed, any apolitical government employee. Sending a diplomat over is not going to bring a dead solider back to life. The Iraq War is a failure, and it is a failure of government, particularly of the elected officials. A cold realization that citizens who wish to preserve American democracy need to think hard about and look for honest answers to why these disastrous policies were pursued despite the American system of checks and balances.
What was particularly disconcerting was the Director General Harry Thomas behavior in the following exchange.
Crody: Who will take care of our children? Who will raise our children if we’re dead or seriously wounded?
I absolutely have no respect for the whole process because you’ve demonstrated a lack of respect for your own colleagues.
Thomas: Thank you for that comment. It’s full of inaccuracies, but…that’s OK.—Don’t you or anybody else tell me the people in HR do not care about foreign service officers. I find that insulting.
Q: You may care, but you don’t articulate it. You roll your eyes, but we have polled the foreign service. 12% of your foreign service believes that Secretary Condi Rice is fighting for them. 12%.
Thomas: That’s their right, they’re wrong.
Q: Sometimes if it’s 88-12. Maybe the 88 % are correct.
Thomas: 88% of this country believed in slavery at one time, were they correct? (grumbling) So don’t come here with that.
Simply put, Thomas pulled out the race card. It is hard to believe the statement that “88% of this country believed in slavery at one time” is true. Here is a summary of the census data.
|Year||White %||Black %|
So, the claim seems dubious at best. A fair percentage of white people were against slavery by 1860, and in 1790 it highly unlikely that every single white person along with approximately 38% of the black population believed in slavery. Regardless of the truth of the matter, which it is safe to say what he claimed is untrue, Thomas used his race and the legacy of slavery to shut down criticisms and concerns of diplomats who could be stationed in Iraq against their will. This is an example of how a Bush official builds consent, and that pervasive attitude of this administration is precisely why the diplomatic mission is a failure before it starts.