"Iraq is Not Vietnam"
David Passage compares Vietnam with Iraq and Afghanistan with Vietnam and concludes that Vietnam was far safer for diplomats; that deploying diplomatic personnel to the field requires much additional preparation. (Hat tip: Small Wars Journal) Here are some excerpts from an article in Foreign Service Journal:
The CORDS program could not have been successful in today's Iraq or Afghanistan
In Vietnam, with few exceptions (such as the 1968 Tet Offensive), the Viet Cong rarely targeted CORDS activities or personnel.
A second critical difference between the CORDS program in Vietnam and the PRTs in Iraq and Afghanistan is the extensive training and preparation that the personnel assigned to the earlier program received.
Foreign Service officers are not combat professionals, and no amount of training in combat skills, weaponry and self-protection will ever enable them to be more than hostages to luck in a combat environment. As such, they will also never be more than a burden on those military and security forces who have to protect them, and they are unlikely to be able to significantly assist in postwar reconstruction and the transition to democratic institutions in the countries where they serve.
In general it amounts to a reasoned explanation of "no can do" in response to the clamor to deploy diplomats into the field. The claim is that operating in very harsh security environments is not a good organizational fit for State. And it will never be. But if Passage is correct does it not imply that either a) the US abandons political warfighting or b) base political warfighting within the Armed Services? And won't that create another set of problems in the process?