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that most soldiers are good at what
they do and useful to have around.
And in his view, nearly all contractors
in Iraq, from the 3161s working for
State and other government agencies
to the hundreds of thousands in the
private sector, are greedy opportunists
who don’t deliver the services they
were paid to provide.
It is unfortunate that the author re-
sorts to such one-size-fits-all assess-
ments, instead of letting the facts —
which are quite damning — speak for
themselves. Yet it would be an even
greater shame if the flaws in the mes-
senger’s delivery were to obscure the
important truth of his message.
For even if one agrees that “we
meant well” in overthrowing Saddam
Hussein, the massive collateral damage
we inflicted — and suffered — in the
process should give future administra-
tions real pause before committing a
similar folly.
Steven Alan Honley was a Foreign
Service officer from 1985 to 1997,
serving in Mexico City, Wellington
and Washington, D.C. He has been
editor of the
Foreign Service Journal
since 2001.
Unconstructive Dissent
Regardless of whether you have ex-
perienced the war in Iraq (or
Afghanistan) in all of its ugliness, Peter
Van Buren’s account of his year there
will give you some laughs. (Watch par-
ticularly for his parenthetical asides,
where he wields much of his biting sar-
casm.) The stories are absurd to the
point of hilarity, especially when you
consider these are real events.
To take just one example, the em-
J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L