Below is an excerpt from a piece written by jlsathre in open salon, who says she is “a lawyer in a past life” and the mother of a U.S. diplomat:
It was with sadness and concern that I read about the attacks and deaths of U.S. Diplomats in Libya and Egypt.
My concern is partly personal because my daughter works as a diplomat in a U.S. Embassy in a foreign country. The attacks raised the issues of safety that are always somewhere in the back of my mind, but that bubble forth whenever I read or hear of things like the recent bomb threats at the U.S. Embassy in Belgium, the 2011 evacuation of family members of the embassy staff in Bahrain, the threats earlier this summer to a consulate in a Mexcian border city, or the closure of the U.S. Embassy in Yemen in 2010.
[D]anger is neither always obvious nor predictable, and the deaths yesterday have dimmed that small comfort.
As has a posting this morning noting that, in the last half century, more U.S. Ambassadors have died in the line of duty than generals.
Perhaps this shouldn’t have come as such a surprise. In most foreign countries, embassies and consulates and the foreign service officers that work in them are the face of the United States. They are the easy target. The “homeland” that sits within striking distance of anyone who wants to make a point or settle a score.
And, although the embassies and diplomats enjoy some security, their duty can’t be carried out in a vacuum, and isn’t. They are there to represent the United States, to show the face of our people, not behind armored tanks or bullet proof vests, but most often with open and outstretched arms. Unlike generals, who don’t always find themselves on front lines, the diplomats are our feet on the ground in nearly every country around the world.
In a time when the U.S. does not enjoy world-wide respect and is not universally thought of as a protector or a peace maker or an ally, it is not always a comfortable or safe place to be. Even on days like yesterday when no imminent danger was known.
And so, to my daughter and to every other diplomat and worker in a U.S Embassy or Consulate, I say to you with the same outstretched arms that you hold out to the world every day, “Thank you and stay safe.”
Continue reading, From a Diplomat’s Mother. Don’t skip the comments.
- U.S. Embassy in Yemen Stormed as Gunfire Heard in Vicinity (bloomberg.com)
- New clashes U.S. Embassies in Egypt and Yemen (cnn.com)
- Mideast Turmoil Spreads to U.S. Embassy in Yemen (nytimes.com)
- Yemen police, demonstrators hurt in U.S. Embassy clashes (cnn.com)