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Diplomats cite Bush policy in refusing Iraq duty.
Government dismisses survey; poll that shows a serious staffing revolt
updated 5:17 p.m. MT, Tues., Jan. 8, 2008
WASHINGTON - Nearly half of U.S. diplomats unwilling to volunteer to work in Iraq say one reason for their refusal is they don't agree with the Bush administration's policies in the country, according to a survey released Tuesday.
Security concerns and separation from family ranked as the top reasons for not wanting to serve in Iraq. But 48 percent cited "disagreement" with administration policy as a factor in their opposition, said the survey conducted by the American Foreign Service Association, the union that represents U.S. diplomats.
In addition, nearly 70 percent of U.S. diplomats who responded to the survey oppose forced assignments to Iraq, a prospect that sparked a storm of controversy last year when the State Department announced it might have to require such tours under penalty of dismissal in the largest diplomatic call-up to a war zone since Vietnam.
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The results suggest the State Department may be facing a far more serious revolt over Iraq among its ranks than previously thought, and call into question its ability to fully staff diplomatic missions in Iraq, as well as those in Afghanistan and other dangerous posts deemed critical to the administration's foreign policy goals.
"The results of this survey raise serious questions about the long-term health of the Foreign Service and, with it, the future viability of U.S. diplomatic engagement," said union President John Naland. "This argues for immediate action to deal with the concerns highlighted in the survey.
McCormack declined to comment on the implications of the percentage who said they had policy differences, but noted that "when we signed up for these jobs, we signed up to support the policies of the American government. If people have a problem with that, they know what they can do."
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