By Hans Binnendijk
For the Washington Post
Saturday, November 3, 2007; Page A19
The revolt this week by Foreign Service officers faced with involuntary deployment to Baghdad may be an understandable response to shifting ground rules, but it highlights a deeper problem: America’s civilian agencies are unprepared to contribute adequately to 21st-century global security challenges. Defense Department resources, missions and institutions have multiplied as counterpart civilian agencies stagnate or disappear.
While Washington has focused on Rumsfeld vs. Powell or Gates vs. Rice, this underlying imbalance has grown. It is not born of a Defense Department power grab but of an inability by civilian agencies to adjust to new missions. The Defense Department is at war while the State Department still suffers from the post-Cold War notion of a peace dividend. One is on steroids, the other on life support.