Well, I'd planned on rolling out the list of my bids for my second tour with great fanfare tonight. Unfortunately, my top choice, a two-year political rotation in the consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, was attacked today by militants possibly linked to al-Qaeda. No Americans or American employees were killed, although three Turkish police officers were killed defending the consulate. I'll forgo the usual sarcasm and offer some comfort, since most of you readers are related to me.
First of all, if you'll note on the map I linked above, this particular consulate is on a hill, with no buildings immediately nearby. This building is very new, less than a year old, and it was built because the old US consulate in Istanbul, dating back to the nineteenth century, was in the middle of the older part of the city and consequently was not very safe - surrounded by other buildings, no room to expand or to establish a security perimeter, etc. Moving embassies and consulates to the edge of town is a growing phenomenon, especially after the embassy bombings in 1998. That event shook up the way we look at securing State facilities, and it's important to note that despite numerous attempts since then, no attack on an embassy or consulate has been successful. I'm not trying to say that security is perfect. I am saying that we don't hire morons to do security for us. You can argue for days (and I assure you, plenty of State people have) about whether or not it's a good idea to present Fortress America as our local, public face to the world. Me, I'll trade some aesthetic pleasure for safety.
There's always an element of danger when going overseas, more so as an employee of the US government in the Middle East. But hell, I face danger walking down the street in DC. So, I know you will still worry, and I can't change that, but at least I can offer you some comforting words and the assurance that this is what I want to do, danger and all.
That's it for tonight. I'll post my bids in the next few days for my second tour, so you can start planning your potential vacations (if you're still willing to go abroad, that is!).