As Freddie Prinze used to say “Es no my job, man!”
In the nation's capital, an increasingly isolated President (“Buh-bye Madame Ridell Size XXL Shoulder Pads”) is finding he has fewer and fewer folks he can count on to do his bidding—outside of the hard-core group of Congressional wingnuts who pathologically can not admit the mistake of backing a petty, pissy fucknut, and their DLC (and shit-scared/accomodationist Dem) counterparts. It's a cold and lonely town for a second-termer in general. And it can get Tom Hanks in “Cast Away” lonely when you go so far as to alienate the career people at various governmental departments via one's idiocy and flat-out mismanagement.
But the news from the State Department that started breaking yesterday, and metastasized today, well...what can you say beyond “Foggy Bottom (The section of Washington D.C. where State Department HQ is located)? We've got a problem.”
Via Crooks & Liars:
A few days ago, the State Department, left with too few volunteers, announced it would to stop asking employees to go to Iraq and start ordering them to go.
Yesterday, State Department officials started pushing back.Uneasy U.S. diplomats yesterday challenged senior State Department officials in unusually blunt terms over a decision to order some of them to serve at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or risk losing their jobs.
At a town hall meeting in the department’s main auditorium attended by hundreds of Foreign Service officers, some of them criticized fundamental aspects of State’s personnel policies in Iraq. They took issue with the size of the embassy — the biggest in U.S. history — and the inadequate training they received before being sent to serve in a war zone.
Service in Iraq is “a potential death sentence,” said one man who identified himself as a 46-year Foreign Service veteran. “Any other embassy in the world would be closed by now,” he said to sustained applause.
It appears the Bush administration lost the hearts and minds of Iraqis, and is close to losing the hearts and minds of State Department diplomats, too.
It wasn't just a town li'l ol' meeting featuring fresh urns of Folgers and Sociables cookies. This was some ill-tempo shit that went down as State Department HQ. So ill that at the department's highest levels, they tried to suppress release of documentation of what occured. The “meeting” was broadcast internally only (within government circles), with leaks of what was said and screamed finding its way to the press. When the sun rose and reporters started asking about the fracas, State Dept. officials initially said that the video had already been broadcast, parsing the word broadcast to mean their own internal feed. But as more and more reporters started sniffing around, they had to produce it, as the stonewalling was starting to look pretty damned bad. They hemmed. They hawed. They fudged on the release time, and as the “Death Sentence” quote started to swell and stink on 'em like a dead mackerel, they reluctantly released the footage.
And the proof is in the 15 frames per second pudding...the rank and file wasn't down with it. Seriously.
It's an open rebuke of their boss “Bootsy” Rice, and the Bush Iraq policy in general. Apparently, the corps has come to the conclusion that “What the fuck good is there in going over to a place as diplomats where the government basically doesn't exist, and they can't actually leave the three-mile square area of the green zone to negotiate a tinker's damn with the bloodthirsty local warlords because they'd probably be slaughtered like pigs before cutting the dishwater-weak deals anyway?”
Not an altogether unreasonable conclusion considering the nature of life on the ground there, dontchathink?
A couple of weeks ago, I saw an episode of Hardball where Chris Matthews pretty much asked the question. “Is Condi Rice an utter bed-shit as Secretary of State?” The general consensus was “yes”, but coon-servative Ron Christie got so frantic in his defense of his beloved “Bootsy” that his eyes almost uncrossed. This recent smackdown by her underlings gives lie to Christie's dervishing and quite honestly is an utter embarassment. She didn't even show her face at the “meeting”—instead leaving it to fellow flustered flunky Harry Thomas to helm this bit of rabid cat-herding. He did his best...spluttering, fuming, and condescending before going for the full O'Reilly, when after the “Death Sentence” comment from Foreign Service Officer Croddy and the subsequent applase from all assembled, he said “"Okay, thanks for your comment," and then declared the meeting over.
It's a big-ass deal, this bird flip at Condi, and her boss's little war from these officers—the first to be forced to go into a war theater since Vietnam (That comparison again!), because it signals the continued collapse of the government's departments around an oblivious Bush. He's already lost the Justice Department, post-the Gonzales/fired prosecutors mega-gaffe. A rat locked in a barrel of cats has better morale than the DOJ does now—and now the State Department, already down on Bootsy for her seeming incompetence has effectively—and vociferously turned on all things Bushy with their forced conscription to a place where diplomacy means never turning your back on the fella you're negotiating with—even as you leave the room.
And all across Iraq-addicted wingnuttia, a cry was heard as the cri-ers nervously rolled marbles about in their sweaty, cheeto-dusted hands. From the likes of Tucker Carlson and Rep. Duncan Hunter, it rang as a hiss at the scandalous, mutinous Diplo Corps. “Cowards!”, “Reluctant Nellies!” they groused,—although to my ears it sounded a lot like the phrase “Ahh, but the strawberries! The strawberries!”
Why would the corps react so negatively to going somewhere we're supposedly winning now? I mean...what could they possibly know that we as citizens with only the media to give us the BIG picture, don't know about what's really going on over there? Are they hip to the changes in patrol-technique—namely keeping our people off the fucking streets for awhile that have brought troop deaths down a bit?
I'd say they are. I'd also say that they're pretty clear on who's being pushed to the point, and who will be on point even moreso as they'd be in country. Here are the fearsome fighters being trained to replace our soldiers while these diplomats would be there during that democracy-buttressing transition.
via John Cole:
That's not a joke. That's who we're training, and how they're doing.
I do believe those State Dept. folks would sooner work at a desolate 24-hour sub-shop/weed spot in Anacostia than let this crew ”protect” them from so much as a stray milkweed's landing in their hair.
But, hey! Freedom's on the