Several hundred US diplomats are venting anger and frustration about the State Department's decision to force foreign service officers to take jobs in Iraq. Some liken it to a "potential death sentence."
In a contentious hourlong town-hall meeting at the department on Wednesday, the angry diplomats peppered officials responsible for the order with often hostile complaints about the largest diplomatic call-up since the Vietnam War. 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 misgivings 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.