The Foreign Service Journal - October 2014 - page 9

The Need for
Unvarnished Truth
eloquently asserts the need for
unvarnished feedback from younger
o cers to senior policymakers.
Ken and I joined the Foreign
Service at about the same time 45
years ago, when U.S. leadership in foreign
a airs seemed paramount and, hence,
the State Department was a logical venue
from which to make a di erence in the
world—our mutually held view.
State’s Dissent Channel is designed
to help do this, but it is not clear that it is
getting the job done.
As he relates, Ken was one of the rst
in or outside of the State Department to
report on the ruthless activities of the
Khmer Rouge and the fact that they were
not subservient to the Vietnamese com-
munist leadership in Hanoi.
For this, Ken deserved more than the
AFSA Herter Award; his reporting mer-
ited worldwide recognition. More impor-
tantly, it should have been factored into
State Department policymaking. Instead,
Embassy Phnom Penh demanded that
Quinn cease reporting!
With my FSO colleague Craig John-
stone, I was co-recipient of AFSA’s Rivkin
Award in 1976 for dissent in connection
with the evacuation of Vietnam.
But my earlier experience with the Dis-
sent Channel related to corruption, which
was a central issue in Vietnam. While not
unknown in our own federal, state and
local governments, corruption is endemic
in many other countries, where it is fur-
ther fueled by the aid money and materiel
that the U.S. and other countries infuse.
In Vietnam, the result was that most
goods, services and key jobs were for sale.
Instead of a meritocracy, the interna-
tional community unwittingly facilitated
a “de-meritocracy.”
Using U.S. govern-
ment leverage to prune
back corruption was the
central tenet of a Dissent
Channel paper I authored
in 1970 with two Foreign
Service colleagues—Basil
Scarlis and Stephen Cum-
mings—who, like me, were serving on
detail to the Civil Operations and Revolu-
tionary Development Support program,
known as CORDS.
In a six-page secret airgram sent in
from Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker’s
embassy, we were dismissed as young
eld o cers who did not have the big
I hope that today dissent is taken
more seriously. I have just subscribed
to the
and rejoined AFSA after a
lapse of decades in that hope.
Let’s try to make a di erence in
improving U.S. policies and programs
in today’s complicated “glocal” world by
reinforcing all mechanisms, including
the Dissent Channel.
Lionel A. Rosenblatt
FSO, retired
Washington, D.C.
Diplomatic Warrior and
Embassy Reporting
Setting politics aside, I must express
my admiration of former Secretary Hill-
ary Rodham Clinton’s e orts on behalf of
the late Foreign Service o cer who was
likely our greatest since George Kennan:
Richard C. Holbrooke. I wholeheartedly
agreed with her proposal for Holbrooke’s
burial at Arlington Cemetery, and was
disappointed to learn that the White
House refused to endorse it.
Unlike Ambassador Holbrooke, I
served in the U.S. military on active duty
in addition to spending 27 years in the
Foreign Service. Like all of my colleagues
with similar military experience, I’ve
always seen the State Department’s mis-
sion as a joint endeavor with the armed
forces to defend U.S. interests globally.
On re ection, and with all due
respect, it is unfortunate that our current
administration does not appear to share
this notion of America’s defense. Nor do
they seem to value the lifelong loyalty of
diplomatic warriors like Amb. Holbrooke.
On another note, recognizing that
some of my Management O cer and
IRM Bureau colleagues may not be
regular readers of
e Foreign Service
, I felt compelled to share with
on embassy reporting.
I’m sure that many active-duty col-
leagues can appreciate the outstanding
linkage of past tradecraft with modern
reporting that it highlighted. For retired
colleagues who served with me in
Embassy Moscow during the nal year of
the USSR, the letter invoked nostalgia for
that historic time.
In response, nearly all of my email
recipients joined me in praising the time-
liness and inspirational tone of Dorman’s
ey also agreed with me that it
was one of the very best
editorials yet.
Timothy C. Lawson
Senior FSO, retired
Hua Hin, ailand
Thanks for Guidance
I would like to o er a heartfelt thank
you to AFSA for recent help with a tax
concern relating to my state of domicile. I
was able to successfully resolve the issue
by following guidance from AFSA.
Ed Luchessi
Management O cer
Consulate General Nogales
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