BY SHAWN DORMAN
As we go to press in mid-October, we watch in horror the carnage of the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel from Gaza. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in the region with four U.S. objectives: make clear that the U.S. stands with Israel; prevent the conflict from spreading; work on securing the release of hostages; and address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
As this crisis unfolds, one cannot ignore the stunning fact that the United States has no ambassador to Israel—or Lebanon, or Egypt, or Oman. Also missing, going on three years: State’s counterterrorism coordinator, State’s assistant secretary for human rights, and USAID’s senior Middle East official.
AFSA President Tom Yazdgerdi’s October FSJ column looked at the broken nominations and confirmations process that severely delays getting ambassadors and other high-level diplomats into critical posts. From moving nominee lists to and from the White House more quickly to doing something to curb individual senators from putting months-long holds on nominees, it needs fixing.
This is an urgent national security problem that must be solved by the administration and Congress together. Perhaps this Middle East crisis will be the catalyst for change.
Meanwhile, when you need to take a break from the crushing news cycle, this month’s focus celebrates writing and publishing in the FS community. The books in this year’s “In Their Own Write” collection tell Foreign Service stories through memoir and fiction. And there are histories and biographies, as well as books on policy, management, and regional themes. The “Of Related Interest” section highlights a selection of timely foreign affairs books.
This month’s Feature, “Welcoming Refugees: School Campuses as Sites for Resettlement and Integration,” by Professor Diya Abdo, tells how the nonprofit Every Campus A Refuge can now connect with the State Department’s new Welcome Corps program allowing Americans to directly support refugees in their communities.
In “The Quest for Reasonable Civ-Mil Parity,” attorney and FS family member Adam Pearlman speaks out on the June 2023 Executive Order 14100 (on advancing economic opportunity for military spouses) and the lost opportunity to also support Foreign Service families.
In the Appreciation for James “Jim” Dobbins, Fletcher Burton shares recollections of this “Architect of Nation-Building.” And In FS Heritage, “Once Upon a Time: The U.S. Consulate in Martinique,” Sébastien Perrot-Minnot tells the intriguing story of this nearly two-century-old consulate that closed its doors in 1993.
In the Reflection, Bea Camp recounts the 1992 presentation of “The Swedish Vasa Order of America.”
Be well, and be in touch.
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