I heard about this story, covered by The Plank, a blog at The New Republic, last week when I was at work. I am impressed, and I think this is indicative of the courage of the folks who serve in the Foreign Service.
In Praise of James McGee
You probably haven't heard of James McGee. He's our Ambassador in Harare, Zimbabwe. He's also a black man, which frustrates the sick worldview of Robert Mugabe. Here's an excerpt from a news story earlier this week that made me smile:
The diplomats involved in the incident at a roadblock on the edge of the capital, Harare, had just completed a tour of hospitals and an alleged torture camp when police demanded they prove they had official permission to visit the sites.
At one point, a police officer threatened to beat one of Mr. McGee’s senior aides. The officer got into his car and lurched toward Mr. McGee after he had demanded the officer’s name. The car made contact with Mr. McGee’s shins, but he was not injured.
Mr. McGee climbed onto the hood of the car while his aide snatched the keys from the ignition, then the diplomats used their mobile phone cameras to take photographs of the officer.
Mr. McGee insisted the convoy be allowed through and the 11 vehicles passed through after about an hour.
The men and women of the foreign service put themselves through great sacrifice, but rarely do we hear of stories like this in which an actual Ambassador would put his own life on the line to send a message to a totalitarian, murderous regime: America is watching you.
Abu Muqawama was also impressed. He called McGee's actions "Moral Courage" and remarked on the TNR post: Indeed. There's a pretty standard line offered by foreign service officers recounting the number of ambassadors killed in the line of duty vs. the number of general officers. (Charlie can't remember the former, but the latter is something approximating "zero since WWII.") Not all ambassadors spend their time at cocktail parties, and not all of America's influence comes from the barrel of a gun (but check out Jamie's novel suggestion for an Africom mission at the end of his post).