This week, more than 200 Foreign Service officers received word that they might be directed to serve in Iraq.
The State Department is making one last effort to get volunteers for 48 positions. It offered all sorts of incentives but still fell short, so it notified "prime candidates" that they should consider volunteering.
If too few sign up for service by Nov. 12, the State Department will have to make forced assignments — something it hasn't done since the Vietnam War.
At a State Department "town hall" meeting to discuss the move, diplomats said they felt as if they were being forced into a potential death sentence by being pressured to "volunteer" for an Iraq post.