This video is called Rocket Hits Near U.N. Chief in Baghdad, in the Green Zone.
From Associated Press:
Postings to Iraq upset diplomats
10/31/2007, 7:12 p.m. CDT
By MATTHEW LEE
WASHINGTON — Several hundred U.S. diplomats vented anger and frustration Wednesday about the State Department’s decision to force foreign service officers to take jobs in Iraq, with some likening it to a “potential death sentence.”
In a contentious hourlong town-hall meeting, they peppered officials responsible for the order with often hostile complaints about the largest diplomatic call-up since Vietnam. Announced last week, it will require some diplomats — under threat of dismissal — to serve at the embassy in Baghdad and in reconstruction teams in outlying provinces.
Many expressed serious concern about the ethics of sending diplomats against their will to work in a war zone — where the embassy staff is largely confined to the protected “Green Zone” — as the department reviews use of private security guards to protect its staff.
“Incoming is coming in every day, rockets are hitting the Green Zone,” said Jack Croddy, a senior foreign service officer who once worked as a political adviser with NATO forces.
He and others confronted Foreign Service Director General Harry Thomas, who approved the move to “directed assignments” late last Friday to make up for a lack of volunteers willing to go to Iraq.
“It’s one thing if someone believes in what’s going on over there and volunteers, but it’s another thing to send someone over there on a forced assignment,” Croddy said. “I’m sorry, but basically that’s a potential death sentence and you know it. Who will raise our children if we are dead or seriously wounded?” …
Still Croddy’s remarks were met with loud and sustained applause from the approximately 300 diplomats at the meeting.
Thomas responded by saying the comments were “filled with inaccuracies.” But he did not elaborate until challenged by the head of the diplomats’ union, the American Foreign Service Association, who, like Croddy and others, demanded to know why many learned of the decision from news reports.
Thomas took full responsibility for the late notification. But he objected when the association’s president, John Naland, said a recent survey found only 12 percent of the union’s membership believed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was “fighting for them.” …
“I would just urge you, now that now we are looking at compulsory service in a war zone, that we have a moral imperative as an agency to take care of people who … come back with war wounds,” said Rachel Schneller, a diplomat who served in Basra, Iraq. She said the department had been unresponsive to requests for mental heath care.
“I asked for treatment and I didn’t get any of it,” she said in comments greeted with a standing ovation. …
More than 1,200 of the department’s 11,500 Foreign Service officers have served in Iraq since 2003. But the generous incentives have not persuaded enough diplomats to volunteer for duty in Baghdad or with the provincial reconstruction teams.
The move to directed assignments is rare but not unprecedented.
In 1969, an entire class of entry-level diplomats was sent to Vietnam.
See also here.
Does the Bush administration provides its diplomats in Baghdad with a course in hanging on to skids of helicopters departing from embassy roofs, like in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City in 1975?
Update 3 November 2007: here.
Update 8 November 2007: here.