Monday, November 12, 2007

Coalition of the not-so-willing

Nov.12, 2007

'Coalition of the not-so-willing'

IT is ironic that the US State Department has no option but to order Foreign Service officers to serve in Iraq against their will.
The State Department, which has sent out notifications to some ordering them to go to Iraq, is citing a a shortage of experienced diplomats in Iraq as the reason.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says many Foreign Service employees have volunteered for Iraq in the past four years, and that the media have overstated dissension in the ranks.
But, according to the director general of the Foreign Service, Harry Thomas, "the well of volunteers had finally run dry."
He has announced that, if volunteers could not be found for 48 remaining positions by mid-November, diplomats —  under threat of dismissal —  would be ordered to serve in Iraq. If carried out, it would be the largest diplomatic call-up since the Vietnam War era.
A more accurate reason for the move would be the unwillingness of many Foreign Service officers to serve in the chaotic country. Apart from considerations of personal security, they realise that government is pursuing a lost cause there and would only get deeper into trouble. They have had a ringside view of how the administration went about orchestrating the deceptive war and how it continues to flout almost every rule in the book on diplomatic conduct. They do not want any part of such a mess because it could lead to the destruction of their diplomatic carrier. As one of the "refuniks" called it, the new policy is tantamount to a "potential death sentence."
But the State Department is not ready to take no for an answer. It
has laid down the rules of the game: Those who have been notified that they have been selected for a one-year tenure in Iraq have 10 days to accept or reject the position. If not enough accept, some will be ordered to go except those who could cite medical conditions or extreme personal hardship. Other face disciplinary action.
There would soon be a clash of wills, and it is most likely that some might resist going to Iraq, but they would have to deal with the tough stand adopted by Rice that "if I need somebody to serve in Iraq, they have to serve there."
When the US launched military action against Iraq, it said it would be carried out by a "coalition of the willing" that included foreign military personnel. Today, if the Bush administration is unable to find not many "willing" in its own ranks, then it could not blame anyone or anything else but its own folly of having taken Iraq and Iraqis for granted and then refusing to accept failure.