It's probably the most oft-quoted thing that President Jack Kennedy ever said: "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."
And it's something that you'd think that the diplomats at Foggy Bottom would have taken to heart long ago, but you'd be wrong.
"Incoming is coming in every day, rockets are hitting the Green Zone," said Jack Croddy, a senior foreign service office, referring to the highly fortified area of Baghdad where the embassy is located.
"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," Croddy said. "I'm sorry, but basically that's a potential death sentence and you know it. ... Who will raise our children if we are dead or seriously wounded?"
His remarks were met with loud applause.
Here's the video:
Disgusting. Seriously disgusting. These are people who've taken an oath to serve the United States, not unlike that of the uniformed military, and their complaints and fears ring hollow when you read the very next sentence in the story.
Although no U.S. diplomats have been killed in Iraq since the war began in March 2003, the security situation is precarious and completion of a new embassy compound and living quarters has been beset by logistical and construction problems.
That's right. Not a single U.S. diplomat has been killed over there.
Is this the foreign service or merely some government-run vacation club?
Rep. Duncan Hunter -- who's currently running for Secretary of Defense -- suggested that members of the military be hired for the jobs and recalcitrant career diplomats face the same fate that striking air traffic controllers suffered under President Ronald Reagan.
It's an excellent idea.
But I want to highlight one other bit of Croddy's statement at that State Dept. townhall 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."
And some people claim the State Department isn't political? Do these people really represent the elected administration or their own institutional agenda? Are they going overseas and talking out of both sides of their mouths?
Jack Croddy should be thanked for his many years of service and shown the door.