Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Diplomats deserve better than cheap political ploys

U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., has been claiming loudly lately that he is on the verge of discovering malfeasance of epic proportions in the relationship between the Foreign Service and the White House. Referring to the tragic death last year of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi, Libya, he opined, “Of all the great cover-ups in history—the Pentagon papers, Iran-Contra, Watergate, all the rest of them—this … is going to go down as the most egregious cover-up in American history.”
    More egregious than Tea Pot Dome, Chappaquiddick, Watergate, President Reagan’s repeated denial of rumors that the United States had exchanged military arms for hostages followed by muddled explanations of exactly what the White House was doing that are still unclear?
    The Foreign Service has long been a target of conservative disdain. Texas Gov. Rick Perry says he’s not sure the State Department serves the nation well, claiming that career diplomats and the secretary of state may not be giving advice in this administration that is in the country's best interest. Is he talking about career diplomat Stevens, who gave his life serving his country?
    The chaos and the deaths in Benghazi, and the confusion surrounding both in the immediate aftermath, are being used in a bizarre attempt to embarrass and, if possible impeach, President Obama and former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.
    Somehow, it is argued, those two did something that resulted in those deaths, or they covered up something after those deaths, or before the deaths—or something.
    There is no evidence, not even a clear plot line, of wrongdoing, but the drumbeat goes on.
    The saddest part of this spectacle, now branded “Benghazi,” is that it trivializes the dangers, the sacrifices and the real accomplishments of those who make foreign service their lives’ mission.
    Libya is not some isolated case in which the Obama administration can be declared individually culpable for an unprecedented act of violence.
    American consulates are often the targets of mob demonstrations. Diplomatic personnel live with the threat of violence. More than 90 U.S. diplomats have died in the line of duty just in the past 32 years. Adolph Dubs was, until Stevens, the most recent ambassador to die on the job, having been assassinated in 1979 in Kabul, Afghanistan.
    Those who serve in diplomatic posts overseas are critical to the protection of the interests and security of this country. Claiming grave concern over the deaths of any of them to seek political advantage rather than their safety and welfare is a cheap ploy. Chris Stevens’ surviving colleagues deserve better.

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