U.S. Diplomats on Baghdad: "Hell no! We won't go!"
Well! Apparently morale at our embassy in Baghdad is not all it could be, these days.:
Envoys Resist Forced Iraq Duty
Top State Dept. Officials Face Angry Questions
By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 1, 2007; A01
Uneasy U.S. diplomats yesterday challenged senior State Department officials in unusually blunt terms over a decision to order some of them to serve at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or risk losing their jobs.
At a town hall meeting in the department's main auditorium attended by hundreds of Foreign Service officers, some of them criticized fundamental aspects of State's personnel policies in Iraq...
...Some participants asked how diplomacy could be practiced when the embassy itself, inside the fortified Green Zone, is under frequent fire and officials can travel outside only under heavy guard...
Service in Iraq is "a potential death sentence," said one man who identified himself as a 46-year Foreign Service veteran. "Any other embassy in the world would be closed by now," he said to sustained applause.
Harry K. Thomas Jr., the director general of the Foreign Service, who called the meeting, responded curtly. "Okay, thanks for your comment," he said, declaring the town hall meeting over...
The funny thing is that people were talking like this at a meeting of American *diplomats.* It would seem to me that if you're a professional diplomat, use of the phrase "potential death sentence" in connection with your own country's embassy would be--well, not too diplomatic. They're not displaying the usual "sang froid" over at Rice's State Department, these days.
But I think the Director General handled that well, don't you? When the meeting starts to turn ugly like that (“YOU’RE SENDING US ALL TO OUR DEATHS!”), the best thing for senior management to do is "gavel that fucker" and rattle off a quick “Wellthankyaverymuchforyourinput, and I now declare this town hall meeting over, and I understand there are some lovely refreshments waiting for us—“
Voice: WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!
Director General: There is, I believe, a marvelous antipasto platter from Dean & DeLucca—
Another voice: THE EMBASSY IS UNDER ROCKET ATTACK RIGHT NOW!
Director General: --and of course, a lovely pastry selection, along with freshly made coffee and individual tiramisu cups, so I hope—
Voice: THEY’VE GONE MAD, THEY WANT TO GET US ALL KILLED BY SENDING US THERE TO PROVE IT’S SAFE!
Director General: --so I hope some of you will stay after the meeting so we can get to know each other a little better—
Another voice: (sobs) I DON’T WANT TO DIE! I HAVE CHILDREN!
Director General: --and later on, I hope you’ll join us in some “team building” activities—
Voice: YOU CAN'T SEND ME BACK THERE! I’VE GOT POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER!
Director General: I understand that some of these activities are quite fun—for example, one is called “Star Light, Star Bright.” We all stand in a circle and cut out stars from construction paper, which we will now pass around—
Another voice: AAAAAAAHHH! (jumps through plate glass window)
Director General: --and we say the rhyme, "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight; I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight” and then each of you come forward one at a time to place your stars in the circle on the floor and make a wish for the team--
Voice: NO! NO! I WON’T GO! YOU CAN’T MAKE ME GO!
Director General: Put down that scissors. Put it down! I’m serious.