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MAY 2015



Foreign Service Feeder



FSA is very interested in under-

standing and distilling the demo-

graphics of the Foreign Service. We

keep close tabs on specialist/generalist

numbers, cone and backstop designa-

tions, gender and ethnicity ratios, and

share many of these details on the AFSA

website at

Until recently, we did not have a good

sense of which institutions of higher

education produce the highest numbers

of Foreign Service members. In close col-

laboration with the Department of State’s

Bureau of Human Resources, AFSA was

able to produce the infographic you see

on this page. (Our wonderful online com-

munications specialist, Jeff Lau, designed

the infographic.)

The old “pale, male and Yale” image

no longer holds, according to these num-

bers. In fact, Yale doesn’t crack the top 10

today. The fact that Georgetown Univer-

sity holds the #1 spot is perhaps no rev-

elation, but we were pleasantly surprised


to see that a number of state schools are

high on the list, as is Brigham Young Uni-

versity. (Note that the data is not granular

enough to discern nuances; for instance,

if one person received a B.A., M.A. and

Ph.D. from the same institution, it counts

three times.)

This information was clearly of inter-

est to our members and others—the

chart quickly became the most popular

social media posting in AFSA’s history.

The schools on the list seemed particu-

larly interested in sharing it. (Imagine!)

We are working with the Office of

Human Capital and Talent Manage-

ment at USAID to put together a similar

infographic about our development col-

leagues, and hope to share it soon.

—Asgeir Sigfusson,

Director of New Media

Arab Spring,

Arab Winter?


he embassy in Sana’a, Yemen, is the

third U.S. mission to close in “Arab

Spring” countries in the past three years

(the embassy in Syria was closed in Feb-

ruary 2012 and one in Libya in July 2014).

At the State Department press brief-

ing following the announcement of the

embassy’s closure, one reporter asked, “Is

the U.S. being run out of town in the Arab

world?” While perhaps an uncharitable

question, the reporter is not the first to

draw this conclusion.

In an opinion piece published in the English-language Al Arabiya on Feb. 12, Joyce Karam, the Al-Hayat Newspa-


s Washington correspondent, wrote:

“Evacuating and closing U.S. embas-

sies has become a hallmark of the ‘Arab

Spring’ since the street demonstrations

broke out in 2011.”

The Arab Spring and the Iraq war, she

writes, “unleashed a Pandora’s box of

extremism and military strife across the

broader Middle East” that gives the “upper

hand” to militias over central govern-


When Tunisian fruit vendor Mohamed

Bouazizi set himself on fire in December

2010, setting off the massive protests

and uprisings that would bring down the

reign of autocrat Zine el-Abedin Ben Ali,

few expected the movement to spread

throughout the region the way it did, to

Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and Syria.

Each of these states has had varying

degrees of success in ushering in new gov-

ernance. “There was the hope four years

ago that we were seeing the beginning of a

democratic transition that was spreading

across the region,” said MatthewWax-

man, a Columbia Law School professor

of international law and national security

law, speaking on “The Charlie Rose Show” on Jan. 27.

Waxman noted that in some Arab

Spring countries, there wasn’t “enough of

a basic infrastructure of a state to govern

effectively,” after the initial uprisings.

“When that happens, people are going to