Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ex-Hostage Says, Don't Fault the Brave Foreign Service

Remember the hostages held in Iran? They were Foreign Service Officers. Just like those of us serving today. The letter below is from one of them, and is worth reading.

November 15, 2007
Ex-Hostage Says, Don't Fault the Brave Foreign Service

To the Editor:

As a retired Foreign Service officer and a former hostage in Iran, I regret the growing media cynicism portraying the Foreign Service as a bunch of sheep unwilling to rise to the challenge of assignments to Baghdad.

This is nonsense. More than 2,000 Foreign Service personnel have volunteered for service in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past five years. I've met many of them on their return.

While frustrated by the security limitations that make it both difficult and dangerous for them to exercise traditional diplomatic functions beyond the Green Zone, they courageously volunteer to serve as unarmed civilians, as is their calling.

Baghdad has a lower vacancy rate than any other American embassy in the world. Criticize the government policies that obligate service in one of America's largest embassies in unprecedented danger these days, but not the hundreds of still deeply committed Foreign Service officers who are ready to serve there.

Bruce Laingen

Bethesda, Md., Nov. 12, 2007
Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

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