Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Self-Righteous Indignation

Three months ago I accepted a handshake for a job in the Public Affairs section in Kabul next year. That was the easiest lobbying effort I will likely ever have in the Foreign Service. I contacted the PAS deputy in Kabul, we had a nice long conversation, and the first moment HR was allowed to offer handshakes for 2012 AIP positions, I received an email offering me the job. Piece of cake.

Getting an onward linked assignment has proven to be a frustrating pain in the ass. The official policy is that if an AIP bidder (currently serving in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Pakistan or who has accepted a position for 2012) can lobby for a linked assignment for 2013. The bureau must either offer the bidder the job, or provide a reasonable explanation for why they won't offer the job (i.e. not at grade, offered the position to another AIP bidder, etc).

It's been 2+ months since I officially expressed my interest in a position. The point of contact has twice promised to reach out to my references, but has not yet done so. My request for an estimated timeline for when a decision will be made has been ignored. At the time I applied, no one else had inquired about the position. And there is nothing to suggest that I am not qualified for this job.

I'm being stonewalled. Smart people whose opinion I trust agree that I should have heard something by now. So I emailed my new CDO to ask for help. Her response was basically, "I can't help you." This followed an equally worthless piece of advice from her predecessor, which was, "Be patient and don't do anything." These are not the answers I was hoping to get from my CDO. Someone explain to me what CDOs are for!

Not surprisingly, I'm a little cranky about this. I have volunteered to return for a second tour in a danger post, where the Department says it needs good diplomats. I'm not doing it for the money, nor am I doing it for other perks. I'm doing it because the job is interesting and I want to be where the action is. But I'll admit that I was hopeful that the Department would support me in getting a good onward assignment. What a let down.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Copy and paste this to your Facebook status

I think I need to stop reading blogs and Facebook status updates about foreign policy and programs written by people who either don't know what they're talking about or would rather sit back and judge what other people are doing to make the world better.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

iPad Diplomacy

This photo got some nice reactions on my Facebook page, so I thought I'd share it here. I was in the small town of Jiri recently. I made eye contact with a little girl who smiled at me, so I pulled out my iPad and showed her the Photo Booth app. Within seconds, half a dozen kids were pressing toward me to get a look. Within minutes, I was surrounded on all sides by laughing kids. It was a lot of fun.