• Imperial Reconstruction and Its Discontents

    August 19, 2012

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Afghanistan, Iraq

    If you missed my recent article “How Not to Reconstruct Iraq, Afghanistan — or America A Guide to Disaster at Home and Abroad,” it is available at the following sites, below.

    Please note that despite the extensive coverage of my article, including CBS, the article was not included in the daily State Department web summary. The primary site, TomDispatch.com, is still electronically blocked on all State Department computers for whatever the hell “Wikileaks Content” is. I am certain The Onion regrets the error.


    CBS News


    The Nation

    Mother Jones

    Huffington Post

    Le Monde





    Cost of War (Robert Greenwald)


    Middle East Online

    Smirking Chimp

    Daily Kos

    Op-ed News



    Nation of Change



    Opposing Views

    American Empire Project







    The Indypendent

    War in Context





    Related Articles:

    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • Joe Carson said...


      What, if anything, is deficient in the scope and implementation of the “merit system principles” the “DNA” of the federal civil service as evidenced by Iraq/Afganistan reconstruction?

      Corporate greed is give, corporations exists to maximize the return to their shareholders. Are the “merit system principles” just another failed honor system in light of corporate power and influence, making viable reconstruction impossible?

      08/19/12 7:01 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      Merit system principles are only valid if the leadership of an institution allows them to be valid, so yes these are able to be manipulated.

      Iraq, Afghanistan, and certain other portfolios are very political and there is a high turnover of desk officers and such on these portfolios. Contractors can be more easily removed than foreign or civil service, and yes it happens to all three categories. Plus there are Schedule A employees at State that are a separate category, ostensibly hired for special skills but in reality not subject to any of the “protections” available for the other types of State employees but these protections have been weakened for staff, while strengthened for the wrong kind of employees at State.

      I was a civil servant in the State Department and I raised serious concerns about cancelling the Fulbright Gaza program for Gazan Fulbrighters IN the US at the time on State grants, which was being considered by my second line supervisor’s office in ECA/A/E.

      I first spoke to my local supervisors who said ‘no one cares’ because I thought my local supervisors should be warned of the potential fallout. Alarmed at the likely ramifications, I then notified another State office to warn them, and my second line supervisor’s office blew a fuse. Why did I raise flags about cancelling the Fulbright Gaza program? There were several reasons, including if we flew these folks from the US back to the Middle East, since Gaza was closed, Israeli security approval was needed for these grantees and their families to be able to cross from Jordan-West Bank-Israel into Gaza, which had not been provided to them, and most importantly, our grantees would have been stranded in a third country if Fulbright NEA removed them from the US and many of our grantees had minor-age children with them. That’s wrong.

      This action by my local superiors could also embarass our government and undermine any public diplomacy goodwill our government hoped to achieve via programs for Gaza and the stated objectives of competing with extremists for ‘hearts and minds’. My foreign service colleague in our sister office reacted with shock and wanted to prevent this situation upon being notified by me.

      What ensued? I not only was accused of disloyalty by my second line supervisor but also told I did not work for the Department but for my local supervisors. My second line supervisor called my first line supervisor and told him to insert fabricated, negative information into my performance evaluation. The information included making up a policy that had not existed but claiming I violated it. I also received this performance evaluation 10 months late – another violation of State rules. Prior to this, I had an excellent job history in the Department and everywhere else I had worked.

      There are worse events that happened in between and I will have to save that nice stuff for now. However, I will share that my firstline supervisor was removed from his position and my actions over the Fulbright Gaza grantees were blamed. A new supervisor was installed, her start date was falsified. The reason – my second line supervisor did not want it known my new supervisor had also been very involved with the first Fulbright Gaza crisis, which would strengthen my claim of retaliation. At an ADR, my local superiors were compelled via questions to admit there was no such policy I had allegedly violated – in the presence of a union rep and two Alternate Dispute mediators. However the ADR is not binding and my local superiors were protected all the way after that.

      I did not have any other hearing, though I requested it. My due process was violated but hey, I was just a rank and file so that was ok. It’s ironic all the times I had gone to bat to promote democratic ideals and fairness during the course of my work for grantees of our country’s programs – yet I could not experience any myself. If this could happen to a State employee covering the Fulbright Gaza Program, what is going on elsewhere in the Department?

      There is a footnote – the program was canceled a year later and with great irony, the NY Times complained of ‘lower level functionaries’ not notifying their superiors before the program was cancelled and then Secretary Rice had to step in and save the program. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/08/opinion/08sun3.html. Too bad the Times didnt do their homework.

      Isnt that life?? It’s fortunate the Fulbright Gazans who were in the US at that time werent subjected to that ordeal, but it’s a shame retaliation against State employees, one civil and one foreign service, was permitted. The facts arent out there either on what happened the second time the program was cancelled and Fulbright NEA’s false claim in that.

      The Merit System Principles are a lovely idea but unfortunately, just that

      08/20/12 3:08 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      I should add, that when I cited serious concerns against cancelling the Fulbright Gaza program, I had made this judgement based on experience and understanding of the region – I had graduated with an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from UT-Austin and have Arabic and Russian skills. I was not speaking up just to be heard but because I really felt the ramifications were serious and all the points should be considered

      08/20/12 3:16 PM | Comment Link

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