Dark Cloud logo

 

Home

Columns

Commentary

Dark Endeavors

Ask Not What Your Contry* Can Do For You.........

....because under the Bush Incompetencies, the answer is "nothing well"

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, June 06, 2007.

America has always had a naiveté that the good will rise, be recognized, and employed for benefit. We always seemed to have honest, incredibly smart, and able people not yet soiled by real life who brought their enthusiasm and love of country to our government service. President Kennedy appealed to it. President Bush killed it.

Even at a time when candidates for the presidency proudly elevate religion over science while somehow promising to keep us strong, an even more depressing item in the news this week is that we are, according to a watchdog group, short about 1000 Foreign Service officers and trainers in key positions in the State Department. It’s understandable as a temporary issue. We are at war in two quite distant locations, and we’ve had to ramp up personnel in those areas. But the problem isn’t just overwork or key people leaving, it’s that nobody is stepping forward for the openings, where they exist. Part of this is the administration’s direct fault. There are roughly 200 foreign service officer jobs still unfilled, scary enough, but it’s the hundreds of the training positions that really hurt, the people who improve the diplomatic corps’ language and other job skills.

Part of this can be directly credited to the Bush administrations’ incompetence at visualizing needs for Iraq once the mission was accomplished. We built the largest and possibly the most expensive embassy in the world there in the green zone where it will have to be protected for the foreseeable future. But we cannot staff it without pillaging our embassies around the world. At a time when Bush has alienated even our blood brother Brits, when we need fully staffed embassies in - oh, I don’t know, say Russia, China, Latin America, and Turkey, which apparently surprised us when it invaded Kurdistan in Iraq today - we do not have them. It’s been that way since Condi Rice took over in 2004, but the problems started long before.

Congress hasn’t helped either, because those bozos haven’t even met Bush’s requests for more people in their budgets.

If Colin Powell hadn’t added and filled 1000 positions in his term, we’d be in even worse shape. The end of the Cold War decimated not just the military payrolls but the State Department as well, and we were unable to pick up the slack quickly. This is because it takes less time to train a soldier than a diplomat, starting with learning foreign languages at a level beyond asking for a rest room, or informing people they are being detained. You’d think the State Department would have reaped the benefit of an idiot Pentagon, which fired a lot of homosexual translators and scholars in Arabic at just the time they needed them most. But that hasn’t happened. The eerie possibility is that competent people don’t seem to want to work for this administration. The greater fear is, due to recent conservative administrations genuflection to the religious right, we may have too few competent people.

You have to wonder, listening to these embarrassingly employed wonders of the Department of Justice under oath before the Senate, if these lisping third rates are an intentional joke or if people in authority actually thought the likes of Monica Goodling or Bradley Schlozman are the best people for the jobs they held, or even of an academic or smarts level to be employed by the federal government at all. That some apparently do is pretty terrifying. Neither quick witted, informed, educated, or good liars, these two potted plants of Karl Rove speak to the unmentioned danger of appealing to the conservative religious right, in the case of Goodling, and local political street thugs in the person of Schlozman. Goodling tried to sweet talk her way into the hearts of middle aged Senators by saying in dead seriousness she was just a girl trying to make good. This conflicts with her vowing to take the 5th, which is an admission of wrongdoing, but let that go. Schlozman was different. He thinks he’s quite the man.

Schlozman is a dirty tricks guy who was trying to institute suppression of minority votes in state elections as well as federal before raised to vet the political correctness of GOP federal prosecutors. Bad enough, but in America we like our crooks and thugs to be sharp and worthy opponents and this guy isn’t up to any aspect of the job he supposedly held in good faith or the actual purpose of his placement.

In years past, there would be lines around the block from the best and the brightest, regardless of party, to work in the State Department and see Foreign Service. To take the schooling and learn the skills and languages that would be a godsend in any future if they left the diplomatic corps. Of young people hoping to make a difference, live an arguably glamorous but demanding life, travel the world. But they aren’t any more. President Bush has killed that.

*yes, it was a joke........