Earlier this month, former FSO Dave Seminara who writes for Gadling did an interview with former Ambassador Ed Peck, a respected figure in my house. The former U.S. Ambassador to Mauritania also had previous assignments to Sweden, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt. Dave describes him as somebody who has “made a habit of speaking his mind and often says things that people don’t want to hear.” Heh! Here is part of what Ambassador Peck said:
The Foreign Service is a very low-key organization. Very few people have any idea what the Foreign Service is or what it does. Some think it has something to do with the French Foreign Legion.
The only time any attention is paid to us is when there’s a catastrophe overseas, like the killing in Libya. Otherwise, Americans really don’t care very much, as long as other countries do things the way we want them to.
Also, unlike the military, the Foreign Service has no political clout like the military does. We’re impecunious, we have no political clout or domestic constituency, we have no uniforms and no one knows what we’re doing out in Bunga-Dunga or Puerto Banana or wherever the hell we are.
Just a few weeks before the Benghazi attack, a USAID officer, soldiers, including two military officers were killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan’s Kunar province. One of our diplomats survived the attack but was wounded. I haven’t heard any politician get hopping mad, demanding answers over that.
For the last three years, the US Consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan has been attacked again and again. The latest attack on September 3 wounded four personnel. I did not hear the pols calling a hearing, demanding answers and there isn’t even a single Accountability Review Board. It’s like, yeah it’s Peshawar, bad things happen there all the time, so?
- USCG Peshawar: Suicide Car Bomb Targets Consulate Car, Wounds Four Staff and More (Updated) | Sept 3, 2012
- US Consulate General Peshawar: IED Targets Two Consulate Vehicles | May 20, 2011
- US ConGen Peshawar Attacked. Again | April 4, 2010
Not to mention that we have reached a grim milestone in Afghanistan.
The lawmakers last week were also upset about a State Department document that detailed 230 security incidents in Libya between June 2011 and July 2012 that demonstrated the danger to Americans in the country. How or why they are surprised by this is perplexing. The world is a dangerous place. Our diplomats represents the United States and have always been moving targets.
Did you know that from January to October 2012, there were already 162 security incidents in Pakistan? This includes the August 6 attack on a NATO truck in north-west Pakistan, the August 16 Tehrik-i-Taliban militants-staged attack on the Kamra Air Base of the Pakistan Air Force in Attock, Punjab, the September 3 suicide bomber attack where the bomber killed himself and two others when he drove a car bomb into a US consular vehicle in Peshawar, and an October 6 attack that blew up a NATO container through an IED explosion in Jamrud Bazaar.
The State Department’s funding request for 2013 was $51.6 billion, $300 million less than 2012. State and USAID with operations in over 270 posts around the world account for just 1 percent of the federal budget. The Pentagon’s 2012 budget is $614 billion. Take a guess which one will be the easiest target for cuts in Congress.
So – who can blame Ambassador Peck for saying that Americans really don’t care very much unless there’s a catastrophe overseas. We can’t even generate an angry mob of lawmakers to take a look at anything seriously, unless, of course, it’s Benghazi where they pretend at seriousness of purpose in finding the truth.
Our darling parodist from the Foggiest Bottom has a couple excellent tweets on this:
Dear Mr. Cook E. Pusher, must you always be right?!
Related post here: Angry Congress? Who’s Fault is That? And Here DiploPundit Gets a Scolding
- A Traveler In The Foreign Service: A Conversation With Ambassador Ed Peck (gadling.com)
- Two reported killed in Peshawar blast (dawn.com)
- Deadly blast near US consulate in Peshawar (aljazeera.com)
- A Diplomat’s Mom Pens Loving Tribute to the Foreign Service (diplopundit.net)