November 16, 2007

State Dept. Backs Down ... Not Really

The State Department will not order diplomats to serve in Iraq. Those 48 slots they needed filling have been filled with volunteers (God bless their souls).

The State Department expects to announce, perhaps as early as today, that volunteers have filled all 48 open jobs at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad for next year and that it will not order any foreign service officers to work there against their will, officials said yesterday.

Volunteers for the last three or four positions are currently being vetted. Once that process is completed, a senior department official said, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will ask personnel officers to assure her that everyone selected "does in fact have the right skill sets" and meets all requirements before an announcement is made.

Meanwhile, if you have not already read what Max Boot had to say about all this a few days ago, do so now.

This is the biggest use of “directed assignments” since the Vietnam War, and it represents a long-overdue response to complaints that diplomats aren’t pulling their weight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

However welcome, this is only a baby step toward a larger objective: to reorient the department and the government as a whole for the global war on Islamic terrorism. Yes, this is a war, but it’s a very different war from conventional conflicts like World War II or the Civil War. It is, in essence, a global counterinsurgency, and few counterinsurgencies have ever been won by force alone.