Your May 2 news article “Expert on Terrorism To Direct Rebuilding” included a shameful slur against America’s career diplomats by Pentagon advisor Richard Perle. Discussing President Bush’s selection of Foreign Service Officer L. Paul Bremer to direct the rebuilding of Iraq, Perle characterizes Ambassador Bremer as being “aggressive by Foreign Service standards (but) I’ve seen hummingbirds that are aggressive by Foreign Service standards.”
It is unfortunate that Mr. Perle does not understand that our nation’s diplomats do indeed aggressively promote vital U.S. interests, often in harsh or dangerous places. As Secretary of State Colin Powell told a Senate committee on April 30, “I send young State Department officers out to the most difficult places in the world to serve their country, taking their families with them where there may not be any hospital care, there may not be any school for their kids, or where they’re separated from their families for a longer period of time than the average soldier gets separated from his family. And they go willingly because they’re happy to serve the American people.”
Indeed, I invite Mr. Perle to visit the Department of State this coming Friday, May 9, to witness the addition of six more names to the AFSA Memorial Plaques honoring American diplomats who have died in the line of duty while serving our nation abroad. Those plaques now contain 215 names. As a Pentagon advisor, Mr. Perle might be particularly interested in the fact that, in the last half century, more U.S. Ambassadors than generals and admirals have died in the line of duty.
John K. Naland
President, American Foreign Service Association