Can Iraq really be fixed with more Americans?

Today was the deadline for U.S. foreign service officers to volunteer to fill 48 open positions in Iraq or face so-called “directed assignments” to Embassy Baghdad and provincial capitals. But, apparently thanks to a high volume of FSOs stepping up and volunteering for these positions, the State Department has decided to extend the deadline until ...

598149_071114_state_05.jpg
598149_071114_state_05.jpg

Today was the deadline for U.S. foreign service officers to volunteer to fill 48 open positions in Iraq or face so-called "directed assignments" to Embassy Baghdad and provincial capitals. But, apparently thanks to a high volume of FSOs stepping up and volunteering for these positions, the State Department has decided to extend the deadline until at least the end of the week. As of yesterday, more than half of the positions had been filled with volunteers and an additional 12 posts were tentatively filled, leaving just 11 remaining posts. The hope at State is surely that these remaining posts can be filled with volunteers and the whole kerfuffle over assignments at Embassy Baghdad will soon go away.

Many FSOs spoke out against "directed assignments," including here at Passport. This prompted some in the punditocracy to call them wimps. "[G]row a freakin' pair," blustered Wired's Noah Shachtman, for one. No one appears ready to lay off, despite the fact that FSOs are volunteering to fill the posts. In today's New York Times, neoconservative commentator Max Boot takes yet another shot, calling forced assignments to Baghdad a "baby step" and "a long-overdue response to complaints that diplomats aren't pulling their weight in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Boot goes on to suggest that forced deployments of FSOs ought to be the tip of the iceberg. He wants bureaucrats from other government departments sent to Iraq as well. Boot also suggests that municipal police officers be forcibly drafted and sent to Iraq, along with "lawyers, judges and prison guards." I'm not so sure that exporting America's entire criminal justice system is such a good idea, given that we're in the midst of a surge in violent crime and all—to say nothing of what would happen were terrorists to strike here at home while all of our cops, lawyers, judges, and prison guards were overseas.

Today was the deadline for U.S. foreign service officers to volunteer to fill 48 open positions in Iraq or face so-called “directed assignments” to Embassy Baghdad and provincial capitals. But, apparently thanks to a high volume of FSOs stepping up and volunteering for these positions, the State Department has decided to extend the deadline until at least the end of the week. As of yesterday, more than half of the positions had been filled with volunteers and an additional 12 posts were tentatively filled, leaving just 11 remaining posts. The hope at State is surely that these remaining posts can be filled with volunteers and the whole kerfuffle over assignments at Embassy Baghdad will soon go away.

Many FSOs spoke out against “directed assignments,” including here at Passport. This prompted some in the punditocracy to call them wimps. “[G]row a freakin’ pair,” blustered Wired‘s Noah Shachtman, for one. No one appears ready to lay off, despite the fact that FSOs are volunteering to fill the posts. In today’s New York Times, neoconservative commentator Max Boot takes yet another shot, calling forced assignments to Baghdad a “baby step” and “a long-overdue response to complaints that diplomats aren’t pulling their weight in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Boot goes on to suggest that forced deployments of FSOs ought to be the tip of the iceberg. He wants bureaucrats from other government departments sent to Iraq as well. Boot also suggests that municipal police officers be forcibly drafted and sent to Iraq, along with “lawyers, judges and prison guards.” I’m not so sure that exporting America’s entire criminal justice system is such a good idea, given that we’re in the midst of a surge in violent crime and all—to say nothing of what would happen were terrorists to strike here at home while all of our cops, lawyers, judges, and prison guards were overseas.

After five years of failed policies in Iraq, are we really to believe that the problem is that not enough American civilians and diplomats are on the ground over there? You can send diplomats to Iraq in huge numbers, along with cops, lawyers, judges, plumbers, electricians, and dog catchers. But assuming that they can, by their sheer presence, force Iraq to be a successful democracy proves only that we have learned nothing.

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