On Oct. 26, the State Department e-mailed 250 diplomats and told them that they might be ordered, whether they like it or not, to fill about 50 positions in Iraq next year. It was no secret the U.S. was considering compulsory Iraq service for its diplomatic corps, but the e-mails sparked outrage nevertheless.
At a State department meeting on Wednesday, one participant, veteran diplomat Jack Croddy, pointed out the risks of injury and death faced by American diplomats. But he hit closer to the heart of the matter when he told the director general of the Foreign Service, who was leading the meeting, "It"s one thing if someone believes in what"s going on over there and volunteers, but it"s another thing to send someone over there on a forced assignment．＂
Iraqis certainly a dangerous place for representatives of the American government. Combat troops are far and away the most likely to be killed or wounded, but diplomats face risks as well. The Green Zone, the heavily fortified home of the U.S. Embassy and the Iraqi government, has been a target for insurgent and militia rocket attacks for years. As the war drags on, the intensity and accuracy of those attacks has increased. Makeshift concrete bunkers are now scattered across the Green Zone, and diplomats are periodically required to don helmets and flak vests when they venture outdoors even within the Green Zone compound. Outside the Green Zone, diplomatic convoys are prime targets for insurgents, militiamen and freelance kidnappers.