Small Wars Journal

Why U.S. Consulates Are More Dangerous Than War Zones

Why U.S. Consulates Are More Dangerous Than War Zones by Phillip Carter at Foreign Policy.

... as this week's events in Libya, Egypt, and Yemen show, we don't just send our soldiers into harm's way. We also send legions of diplomats, development specialists, intelligence officers, and other civilian government employees. Although these civilians face many of the same dangers and hardships as our troops, we provide them with far less support. And this highlights a gap in our foreign policy. Our national security strategy calls for a "whole of government" approach, relying on military and civilian agencies to be the leading edge of U.S. foreign policy. However, our government only fully supports the military personnel who deploy, failing to fully recognize or support the sacrifices made by the civilians we ask to represent and serve us abroad.


James Harris

Sun, 09/16/2012 - 4:20pm

Let me add ... a solution may be to arm and train the "civilians." Especially in an insurgency situation, the concept of the "armed diplomat" (or "armed agri-specialist, armed construction worker, armed social worker" or whatever) is not inappropriate. In fact, that is often the role the military also plays.

For those concerned about blurring of roles, especially between organizations -- it seems to me that in this type of situation that they are already blurred. We just have to recognize and cope with the reality thereof.

James Harris

Sun, 09/16/2012 - 4:11pm

Concur with above article.

However, often the biggest obstacle to protecting civilians (especially DOS civilians, as well as some NGO Types, etc.) is the civilians themselves. They see themselves as more holy and righteous than those dirty, nasty military (or other security) neaderthals, and don't want to associate with them. They think they'll use their charm and good looks to Kumbaya their way out of trouble -- until it doesn't work. They often denigrate the presence of security of any kind, but especially military, as somehow putting them in more danger. Further, they want to be able to "talk to people..." and view a security presence as intimidating and "chilling." (Duh!!!!)