Tuesday, June 03, 2008

AFSA responds to Washington Times cartoon

Below is an AFSA letter that appears in the June 3 Washington Times.

The Washington Times
Letters to the Editor
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Page A-18

Sufficient Volunteers

Your Monday editorial cartoon showing a group of U.S. Foreign Service members holding signs saying "Heck no, we don't want to go" [to serve in the war on terror] does not reflect reality.

First, by representing the Foreign Service as being made up only of white males, the cartoon's conception of our nation's career diplomats appears to be stuck in the year 1950.

Second, the cartoon also misrepresents recent historical fact. All Foreign Service members currently serving in Iraq are volunteers. All Foreign Service members who will rotate to Iraq this summer are volunteers. All Foreign Service members who have served in Iraq since 2003 have been volunteers.

No Foreign Service member has ever had to be ordered to serve in Iraq. The same is true for our diplomats serving in Afghanistan and the dozen other locations designated by the Department of Defense as being combat zones.

The State Department is in the process of selecting Foreign Service volunteers to rotate to Iraq in summer 2009. I am confident that, once again, sufficient volunteers will step forward. I will be one of them.

John K. Naland
American Foreign Service Association


Johnson said...

Considering that the Bush administration totally ignored Colin Powell's advice not to go into Iraq, FSOs should not sugar coat their opposition to serving in Iraq and perpetuating this foreign policy disaster.

Anonymous said...

First of all, most FSOs I know would not use the word "Heck."

Secondly, and more importantly, how can we blame others for criticizing the Department if the Secretary does so herself? The Secretary herself, in testimony to Congress and elsewhere, accused, in essence, some FSOs of refusing to serve, identifying them, in essence, as a minority in the Department, but still claiming that some refuse to serve.

We need the Secretary of State to ensure that everyone who goes to Iraq gets proper training beforehand and a guarantee that if they return with PTSD, they will get to keep their jobs. And who, instead of complaining to Congress about those who spoke up in a town hall meeting (where they were INVITED to voice their concerns), actually takes those concerns seriously.

And supports her people.