October 27, 2007

Well Done, State

This is about four years too late, but kudos for the State Department for finally ordering more diplomats to deploy to Iraq.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 (Reuters) — Facing staff shortages in Iraq, the State Department announced Friday that diplomats would have no choice but to accept one-year postings in the hostile environment or face losing their jobs.

Folks in the Department of Defense like to blame things in Iraq on State and the other agencies, but there are two big problems with the State Department: One, it's too darn small. It is no accident that 2008 presidential candidates are echoing Newt Gingrich's call to triple the size of the department -- or at least increase the number of officers. Two, unlike the U.S. military, State has no real expeditionary history. When a soldier is ordered to war, he goes. State, meanwhile, does not "mobilize" and "deploy" its personnel. Neither, for that matter, does the Department of Justice, the Department of the Treasury, or any of the other agencies that need to partner with Defense in an effort like that in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Update: Karen DeYoung has a longer, better article in the Washington Post.