Stop “whining” about the salad bar to the NYT, it’s “inappropriate”

Easy for her to say, she did not have to eat the darn salad, or the rationed six-piece chicken wings. Sigh…

Wikimedia Commons Photo by 4028mdk09

Wikimedia Commons Photo by 4028mdk09

You’ve heard about that earth shaking news on the US Embassy staffing in Iraq? The State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland had to address the topic in yesterday’s Daily Press Briefing, and threw our Embassy Baghdad employees under the bus. How could you, Victoria?

QUESTION: So, in the story that they’re talking about the examples of hardship faced by people at the Embassy included dwindling lettuce at the salad bar, the cafeteria, and the lack of Splenda sweetener for their coffee. Does the State Department consider not enough arugula to be a hardship in Iraq?

MS. NULAND: Frankly, I saw that story, and it was – looked like some, some wingeing that was inappropriate. Let’s put it that way.

QUESTION: Inappropriate on the part of who? Embassy employees?

MS. NULAND: On the part of Embassy employees, with regard to the quality of the salad bar.

QUESTION: Does — okay. Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Thank you.

Well, now — just to be clear, not enough aragula has never been a hardship in Iraq or in other diplomatic posts around the world.  Salad greens are not foremost in your mind, especially if you need to wash them in Clorox, and rinse them with bottled water three times before you eat them. Freeze-dried aragula is much better, yum!  Of course, the US Embassy in Iraq is unlike any other in the world.  Our diplomats cannot just run out to a grocery store in the Green Zone to buy lunch or dinner, or even tree bark coffee.  It turns out their food supply had to be brought in from elsewhere.

And so if they are now low on sugar or Splenda, or if the cafeteria is rationing chicken wings on chicken wings night, you gotta ask the question — what happened to the command and supply structure?

Back in November, the Department’s undersecretary for Management, Patrick Kennedy, said he will continue using the Defense Logistics Agency to bring in food and fuel after January.

So what happened?

Since the DLA supply chain did not break all the years we were fighting the war in Iraq, it is highly improbable that the supply structure suddenly broke right after our troops departed Iraq.

So what happened?

Did State anticipate that crossing the borders now manned by Iraqis would be messy? Did they anticipate that the Iraqis would want to approve/deny entry of supply convoys but that the government may have no process in place, but will never admit it?  Did State anticipate the multiple layers of bureaucracy required to approve entry of frozen chicken wings, and salad bar weeds trucked in from Kuwait? Is there a new SOP on what to do if the Iraqi guards do on chay break the rest of the day while supply trucks gets barbequed under the sun?

Too many questions, not many good answers…

Which brings us to the neatest trick ever — throwing those “whining” embassy employees under the press bus.   The reporter, perhaps salad shocked, said, okaythank you.

Moving on …. new topic, yes?

Moktada al-Sadr, the anti-American Shiite cleric reportedly posted a statement on his Web site that read, “I ask the competent authorities in Iraq to open an embassy in Washington, equivalent to the size of the U.S. embassy in Iraq, in order to maintain the prestige of Iraq.”

Now, can you imagine 16,000 Iraqis running around in the District of Columbia? Majority of them will be private security contractors and will be armed. A small fraction will be Iraqi diplomats and civilian reconstruction experts working as State Reconstruction Teams (SRTs) helping the United States rebuild its crumbling infrastructure like schools, highways, and bridges. Yep, hard to imagine.

More salad, please.

Domani Spero