Thank you for your letter. I appreciate your support for continued American engagement in the Middle East. As the investigation into the attacks on American embassies continues, please keep in mind the importance of the State Department budget. I don’t know what factors influenced State’s decisions regarding security for its embassies and consulates, especially in Libya, but I would guess that budgetary considerations were near the top of the list. The fact the whole United States Government budget is unsettled, including State’s as part of that, has a terrible impact on the functioning of the government.
A major factor in my decision to retire from the Foreign Service years ago was the government shutdown under President Clinton and Speaker Gingrich. I ended up being stranded in transit between the US Embassy in Warsaw and the Embassy in Rome because of the shutdown. As a soldier in Vietnam, I had already had a bad experience with the US government failing to support its troops. I didn’t welcome it happening again as a Foreign Service officer.
Once again, the US is failing to fully support its troops and its Foreign Service officers abroad. I saw on the news that Sen. Bennet is a member of an eight-member, bipartisan committee trying to resolve the current budget impasse in Congress. I hope that he and his colleagues will be able to work out some compromise to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” There are actually American lives at stake, both at home and overseas. There will be a lot of finger pointing over Ambassador Stevens’ death, and some of those fingers should point at Congress.