Time to Close the US Embassy

I don’t try to start an internet campaign very often, because the blogosphere has its own priorities and logic that are democratic and should not be forced. But here is a plea for everyone in the blogging world to help force congress to save our diplomats.

Bush is trying to Shanghai several hundred foreign service officers and force them to go to Iraq. They are protesting.

Now is that time for all Americans to stand up for the diplomats who serve this country ably and courageously throughout the world, for decades on end. Foreign service officers risk disease and death, and many of them see their marriages destroyed when spouses decline to follow them to a series of remote places. They are the ones who represent America abroad, who know languages and cultures and do their best to convince the world that we’re basically a good people.

The Jesse Helms Right always hated the State Department, because it is about compromise and finding peaceful solutions, whereas the US Right is about war, violence and imposing its will on people. But is is the State Department that, despite some lapses over the decades, generally embodies the best of what America is abroad.

The guerrillas in Iraq constantly target the Green Zone and US diplomatic personnel there with mortar and rocket fire. State Department personnel sleep in trailers that are completely unprotected from such incoming fire. At several points in the past year, they have been forbidden to go outside without protective gear (as if outside were more dangerous). The Bush administration has consistently lied about the danger they are in and tried to cover up these severe security precautions.

The US embassy in Iraq should be closed. It is not safe for the personnel there. Some sort of rump mission of hardy volunteers could be maintained. But kidnapping our most capable diplomats and putting them in front of a fire squad is morally wrong and is administratively stupid, since many of these intrepid individuals will simply resign. (You cannot easily get good life insurance that covers death from war, and most State spouses cannot have careers because of the two-year rotations to various foreign capitals, and their families are in danger of being reduced to dire poverty if they are killed).

There is, in addition to the daily danger, no good escape route for civilian personnel from Baghdad. The troop escalation will be reversed by next year this time, and as the US draws down, the Green Zone is in danger of being overwhelmed by the Mahdi Army. The State Department employees sent there for two year missions are the ones who may end up in secret JAM prisons, as happened in Tehran in 1979.

Bush should not be allowed by Congress to commit this immoral act against the civilians who serve us so faithfully.

Please write your congressional representatives and senators and demand that the US embassy be closed and the forced deportation of US diplomats to Iraq be halted.

The Democrats have been facing the dilemma that they are blocked from doing much about Iraq. This is something they can do. Cut off funding for the embassy and force most of the diplomats home. This is the way to start ending the war.

Now.