State Department and Department of Defense usually have tense relationships in
combat zones. This goes back to Vietnam, and even earlier, and now the disease
is showing up in Iraq. Congress got
involved, when they began receiving an increasing number of State Department requests for more money and
people for the Baghdad embassy.
Currently the State Department has 5,000 people assigned there, although only
20 percent of them are Americans. The problem, according to the State
Department, is that they cannot get enough qualified diplomats to work in
Baghdad. As a result, they don't have the resources to get out and do the job.
Many members of Congress are incredulous. Moreover, military people who have
had contact with the embassy staff found the diplomatic personnel to be inept
whiners who didn't seem to have a clue. The State Department respond that the
troops are a bunch of oafish brutes who don't know what they are doing, even
though they are out among the Iraqis all the time. Congress tends to side with
the troops, which is causing much angst in the State Department. Everyone
agrees that many of the most qualified State Department people are avoiding
duty in Iraq. The reasons mainly have to do with the danger (if they get
outside the Green Zone, which many avoid doing), and the frustration of dealing
with the corruption and hatreds found in Iraq (and typical of the entire Arab
world, but submerged under hospitality and good manners in most places.) The
State Department people also resent how successful many of the troops have been
at doing their jobs (working with Iraqis and getting things done.) It's a
culture clash that goes way back. No solution is in sight.