- The Washington Times - Friday, November 19, 2004

Foreign Service welcomes Rice

The Department of State’s Foreign Service members take sharp exception to the charges leveled by Joel Mowbray (“With Rice at the helm,” Op-Ed, Wednesday) that its members are “disloyal” and “operate in open opposition to the president.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

We warmly welcome the appointment of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state. She will have the complete support of a unique group of highly qualified, dedicated professionals.

We were gratified to see Miss Rice’s reference to the Department of State’s Foreign and Civil Service in her remarks Tuesday at the White House when she said, “I have the utmost admiration and respect for their skill, their professionalism and their dedication.”

The more than 10,000 men and women of the Department of State’s Foreign Service work directly for the secretary of state. Regardless of their personal political leanings, they unfailingly carry out the foreign-policy priorities of all administrations they serve. Their loyalty to duty is beyond question. They are all professionals, sworn to uphold the Constitution — not the ideology of any political party.

Would anyone, for example, accuse Foreign Service employee Ed Seitz, recently murdered by terrorists in Baghdad, of being either “ideologically bound” or “disloyal” to the policies of this administration? Of course not; such charges would be absurd.

We, the Foreign Service, serve on behalf of the government and people of the United States in more than 250 posts overseas, many of them very dangerous, including Iraq and Afghanistan. When the State Department asked for Foreign Service personnel to serve in Iraq last year, more than 200 people eagerly volunteered to fill about 145 available positions.

We serve as America’s first line of defense in the war on terrorism, often under difficult and hazardous conditions. We also deliver assistance to refugees, keep drugs and criminals out of our country, protect American citizens overseas and promote American values to foreign audiences. We are very proud of what we do.

More ambassadors than flag-rank military officers have been killed in the line of duty since the Vietnam War. The names of 216 Foreign Service personnel who have given their lives in service to our country are inscribed on the memorial plaques in the State Department lobby.

The men and women of the Foreign Service have a long tradition of serving our country. They need no lessons in patriotism, duty or courage. We have been happy to serve Miss Rice’s predecessors of both political parties, and now we look forward to a fruitful collaboration as we work with her and her team to advance America’s goals and vital interests around the globe.

Instead of taking seriously Mr. Mowbray’s defamatory charge that the Foreign Service is disloyal, the American people can truly be proud of the heroic devotion of our colleagues serving in Iraq and around the world.

JOHN W. LIMBERT

President

American Foreign Service

Association

Washington

Where have all the trees gone?

In Suzanne Fields’ ongoing eulogy of Israel, she comments, “Seen from the air, Israel is a plaid of fields and forests of green” (“No seeds for peace,” Op-Ed, Thursday). It would be most informative if the sites of former Palestinian villages were superimposed on this aerial view, the inhabitants having been driven from their fertile land and into miserable exile.

As usual, the Camp David offer to Yasser Arafat was described as not just generous but “the best his people could ever expect.” Also, as usual, no details were given, such as Israel keeping Jerusalem, all settlements on the best land and Palestine split up into “Bantustans.”

It is interesting that she comments on the Israelis planting trees. Perhaps this is to compensate for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian olive trees razed by Israeli bulldozers. A lot of these are carefully removed for sale in Israel.

WILLIAM G. GARRETT

Harrow, England

I was a 10-year-old Jewish girl in New York when Israel was born, so I share Suzanne Fields’ memories about raising funds to plant trees for Israel and the great sense of hope the new state imparted.

However, I also remember the life-changing sense of betrayal I experienced when I discovered that the whole nourishing tale of making the desert bloom and democracy planted in the Middle East was a deception by my own people and that their state was founded on the stolen land and destroyed lives of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians they had expelled.

I know why Mrs. Fields hasn’t learned that lesson: She says it’s a pity that the Muslims do not have a vision to comparable to Israel’s.

She also deftly makes the Palestinian identity disappear into an ocean of generalized Muslims, denying the legitimacy of their struggle for national liberation. How would Mrs. Fields like the lives of Americans to be similarly subsumed into those of white Christians?

I would be more patient with this if every pro-Israeli article, including hers, didn’t automatically join the words “generous” and “offer” in referring to Camp David II as if the words were glued together, despite the fact that its “generosity” was discredited long ago.

So I shall simply add that it is a pity that the Israeli Jews have, for the most part, lost their connection to the universalist tradition of Judaism, for which I would still gladly plant many trees, but not on Palestinian land.

MIRIAM REIK

New York

Clearing up cover-up at U.N.

Your editorial “Kofi’s continuing coverup” (Monday) ignores the fact that last April, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, on his own initiative, set up an independent inquiry, outside the United Nations, to get to the bottom of the allegations about the Oil for Food program.

The Security Council, including the United States, unanimously welcomed his appointment of Paul Volcker and two other highly respected individuals (Justice Richard Goldstone of South Africa and Mark Pieth of Switzerland) to conduct this inquiry and urged all member states, as well as their regulatory authorities, to cooperate.

Mr. Annan has written to Sens. Norm Coleman and Carl Levin, assuring them that he takes the requests they submitted extremely seriously. He also expressed his regrets that the response to their previous letter took so long.

All relevant documentation has been turned over to the Volcker inquiry, and Mr. Volcker himself has written to the two senators, reminding them that the clear purpose behind disclosure of U.N. documentation is to “avoid potentially misleading and incomplete information that could impair ongoing investigation, distort public perceptions, and violate simple concerns of due process.”

In arriving at this position, the Volcker committee was attempting to reconcile concerns for transparency and disclosure with confidentiality and simple fairness in conducting an investigation. Mr. Volcker also anticipates findings on the handling of administrative expenses of the OFF program by January and has suggested that all internal and external OFF audit documents could be released at that time.

Meanwhile, it is similarly Mr. Annan’s view that the inquiry must be completed in full independence and that the United Nations should not disclose documents or information to third parties before Mr. Volcker and his colleagues are ready to do so.

He is acutely aware of the damage these allegations are doing to the United Nations’ reputation. As he said recently, “That’s why we want to get to the bottom of it and clear it as quickly as possible.”

EDWARD MORTIMER

Director of communications

Executive Office

of the Secretary-General

United Nations

New York

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