Friday, October 12, 2012

Just Stop (Guest Posting)

Stop Sign ( Photo Credit – thecrazyfilmgirl via Flickr)

Today I'm reposting (with permission) a post by a friend of mine who is serving in South Africa as a Foreign Service Officer. He has been all over the world in various posts and we share the same position on this topic. Please read on.

Just Stop

To Politicians on both sides of the aisle and the press: Just stop.  Stop using dead Diplomats to make political points.  Just stop.

Stop saying that more should have been done to protect the Consulate in Benghazi when Congress cut the security portion of our budget by a lot.  Just stop.

Stop saying that the US Marine Security Guards should have been at Benghazi.  First of all, learn what the MSG program is actually all about before spouting that nonsense.  The majority of our Consulates, and some Embassies, do not have Marine Security Guards.  We don't in Johannesburg.  MSGs are only in place where top secret classified processing is done.  Their primary job is to protect the Classified info and equipment.  (The joke in A-100, our "How to be a Diplomat" class, was that if you wanted to rescued by the Marines, strap yourself to a classified computer.)  They will defend in the event of an emergency, but even large Embassies only have 6-8 Marines for internal defense.  We depend on our contract guards and the local police to help us in emergencies.  So until you actually know something about this, just stop.

Stop with going through a dead man's diary looking for a news scoop.  If you're reading this, you probably know me.  Please imagine I had been one of those people in Benghazi.  Think of how much hurt it would cause Lovely English Lass, Crazy Little Man and Lovely Little Girl, not to mention my parents and family.  Would you be able to look them in the eyes after something private was scoured through for a breaking news story?  I'd hope not.  Remember, these men died serving their country, and they are heroes.  (BTW, everything I'm saying here for Diplomats goes the same for our men and women in uniform.)  Just stop it.

Stop acting like this is the first time someone in the Foreign Service has ever died on duty.  Go to the actual State Department in Foggy Bottom, and go to the lobby.  On two walls facing each other there are names of Foreign Service officers that have died in the line of duty.  I can tell you in took almost two hundred years to fill up the first wall, and less than 40 to fill up the second.  We've been stereotyped to be these effete snobs drinking wine and eating canapes in European capitals while wearing our pin-stripped suits.  Maybe before World War II, but certainly not any more.  Go read those names.  Read the names from Dar es Salam and Nairobi, when Al Qaeda blew up two of our Embassies in East Africa.  That was 1998.  Now ask yourself why more people don't know about that.  Ask why you don't know the names of some of the others on that wall.  Say a prayer thanking them for their service to our country.  And then just stop.

Finally, and again repeating myself, just stop using dead diplomats for political purposes.  It's bad enough that the Department of State lost bright and talented officers that would have continued to make a difference in the world, but the families of these officers have lost their loved ones.  While they deserve answers to their questions about what happened to their loved ones, they don't deserve to be used as political pawns.

Just stop.

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