Don't tell Foggy Bottom that the Bush administration's post-9/11 foreign policy has made the country safer. The State Department is in the midst of a staffing crisis thanks to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, according to a new report by an advisory council.
The Los Angeles Times reports
that the Foreign Affairs Council, an association of nonprofit organizations, finds that the need to fill diplomatic positions in the war zones has left the foreign service understaffed by about 1,000 positions. The Council anticipates "a very, very serious situation a year from now" unless the administration and congress takes immediate action.
The council said Rice has required diplomats to carry out a more aggressive mission of "transformational diplomacy" to prod other countries to adhere to democratic principles.
But at the same time, envoys have had to cope with wartime strains, inadequate language and skills training and more overtime work.
In addition, about 750 have been required to take one-year stints in sometimes dangerous postings where they are not allowed to bring their families, the group said.
It's understandable that Iraq and Afghanistan require an outsized share of diplomatic resources, hard as it is to get many at State to go to the war zones, particularly Iraq. Muckraker reported in February how and why some Foreign Service Officers balk
at Iraq assignments. But the Foreign Affairs Council's report suggests that unless the Foreign Service expands significantly -- the service only has about 9,000 people -- will barely be able to play catch-up when new crises emerge.