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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Foreign Service Officer Tells Colleagues to "Get Over It"

The U.S. Department of State Official Blog posts an open letter from John Matel is a career Foreign Service Officer (FSO) who is currently serving as the team leader of the Provincial Reconstruction Team embedded in Al Asad, Al Anbar Province, to his colleagues that have been whining about going to Iraq to do their jobs.

I just finished reading a news article discussing some of my FSO colleagues' vehement and emotional response to the idea that a few of us might have directed assignments in Iraq . To my vexed and overwrought colleagues, I say take a deep breath and calm down. I have been here for a while now, and you may have been misinformed about life at a PRT.

I personally dislike the whole idea of forced assignments, but we do have to do our jobs. We signed up to be worldwide available. All of us volunteered for this kind of work and we have enjoyed a pretty sweet lifestyle most of our careers.

I will not repeat what the Marines say when I bring up this subject. I tell them that most FSOs are not wimps and weenies. I will not share this article with them and I hope they do not see it. How could I explain this wailing and gnashing of teeth? I just tried to explain it to one of my PRT members, a reserve LtCol called up to serve in Iraq . She asked me if all FSOs would get the R&R, extra pay etc. and if it was our job to do things like this. When I answered in the affirmative, she just rolled her eyes.

Calling Iraq a death sentence is just way over the top. I volunteered to come here aware of the risks but confident that I will come safely home, as do the vast majority of soldiers and Marines, who have a lot riskier jobs than we FSOs do.

I wrote a post a couple days ago where I said that perhaps everyone's talents are not best employed in Iraq . That is still true. But I find the sentiments expressed by some at the town hall meeting deeply offensive. What are they implying about me and my choice? And what do they say to our colleagues in the military, who left friends and family to come here and do their jobs? As diplomats, part of our work is to foster peace and understanding. We cannot always be assured that we will serve only in places where peace and understanding are already safely established.

If these guys at the town hall meeting do not want to come to Iraq , that is okay with. I would not want that sort out here with me anyway. We have enough trouble w/o having to baby sit. BUT they are not worldwide available and they might consider the type of job that does not require worldwide availability.

We all know that few FSOs will REALLY be forced to come to Iraq anyway. Our system really does not work like that. This sound and fury at Foggy Bottom truly signifies nothing. Get over it! I do not think many Americans feel sorry for us and it is embarrassing for people with our privileges to paint ourselves as victims.

Wimps and weenies...LOL

Good for him. These whining officers are embarrassing him and he just let them have it good.

Say Anything puts it well:

To be honest, what these folks should really do is either go to Iraq and do the jobs they signed up for or resign. But most of them are probably too cowardly to leave their cushy government jobs over an objection to the current President’s policies. So they’ll whine about the danger instead.

I have to disagree with Think Progress, I do not think this man is implying the whining diplomats are "wimps and weenies", I think he is implying that the Marines are calling them "wimps and weenies", and in the Marines eyes, they are.

Danger Room has a a great post up about this. My favorite part is this:

Oh, grow a freakin' pair, Crotty. [Referring to Jack Crotty]

Sure, the Green Zone is no Disneyworld. But with countless soldiers and security contractors protecting the place, life there ain't exactly on the edge. It's certainly no "death sentence" -- not even close. I'd wager more people get killed per capita in Washington, DC than in this concrete-reinforced slice of Baghdad.

You work for the government of the United States. That government is in the middle of a very large nation-building project in Iraq. This is exactly the kind of work that you and your colleague have spent a professional lifetime preparing to do.

Time to step up. Or quit the foreign service, if you don't want to go to Iraq. But stop spitting up your milk.

Weekly Standard has nick named them Diplowimps....HEH

When you are hired to do a job, you do it. You do not want to do it, quit or fire them and hire people that will do the job.

As an employer, I can say, that is the only way to handle it.