Sunday, February 11, 2007

Analysis: Few Veteran Diplomats Accept Mission to Iraq

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 — While the diplomats and Foreign Service employees of the State Department have always been expected to staff “hardship” postings, those jobs have not usually required that they wear flak jackets with their pinstriped suits.

But in the last five years, the Foreign Service landscape has shifted.

Now, thanks to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the White House is calling for more American civilians to head not only to those countries, but also to some of their most hostile regions — including Iraq’s volatile Anbar Province — to try to establish democratic institutions and help in reconstruction. That plan is provoking unease and apprehension at the State Department and at other federal agencies.

Many federal employees have outright refused repeated requests that they go to Iraq, while others have demanded that they be assigned only to Baghdad and not be sent outside the more secure Green Zone, which includes the American Embassy and Iraqi government ministries.

Read the rest at the NY Times