MOSCOW, October 25 (RIA Novosti) - The security policy for American foreign service officers (FSOs) after the 2012 attack in Benghazi has US diplomats "caged up," US Career Ambassador Ryan Crocker said.
"Our policies on security...are the sorts of things our adversaries would have written because it keeps us caged up," Crocker stated Friday at a discussion of diplomacy in high risk environments at the US Institute of Peace.
Crocker noted that as a result of the reactions in Washington to the loss of Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens "our adversaries have us boxed in."
"Are we going to play the role of a truly great power...because we're not going to do it the way we're now currently restricting post-Benghazi," Crocker questioned.
The political and largely partisan reaction to the loss of Ambassador Stevens has led to increased security measures for civilian officers overseas, which prohibit them from effectively engaging with the population of the country they are in, according to Crocker.
On September 11, 2012, the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya was attacked by local militants. Security at the compound was scarce, and the response time for rescuing individuals, trapped first in the embassy building and then in a CIA compound, took over 8 hours and ultimately resulted in the death of the Ambassador and three other Americans.
Members of the Obama administration and the State Department have come under sharp scrutiny by Republicans in the House of Representatives for failing to deploy a military response in time and not providing adequate embassy security in an unstable country.
"If we are going to be the foreign service of the most powerful nation on Earth, we have got to get out of this thinking that any risk is too much risk, that any loss is unacceptable and will be followed by boards, commissions, subpoenas, and hearings," Crocker stated referring to the ongoing hearings in Congress on the 2012 incident.
Crocker served as US ambassador to some of the most difficult and dangerous areas of American foreign policy throughout his career, and served in Afghanistan and Iraq during the most recent US operations. He argued that the US leadership and citizens need to understand the risk inherent in the foreign service, as it is generally understood by civilian officers.
Crocker added that while diplomatic service does not carry with it the same risks faced by uniformed military personnel, "we are shoulder to shoulder with them [the military] increasingly and will be going forward."
For current diplomatic and military operations in Iraq, Crocker stated that making a difference there "is going to require more special forces advisers, more diplomats, all of them forward deployed."