Going Through Things

Letter from the Editor


“She’s going to go through some things,” said the president in his perfect call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last July. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch went through some things—as she did her job, served her country and spoke the truth.

As the impeachment trial came to a quick end, the three-time ambassador retired. But while the Service lost another outstanding senior diplomat, it also gained a hero; the impeachment process brought to light—for those paying any attention at all—the integrity and dedication of career diplomats on the front lines implementing official U.S. policy and advancing relationships around the world.

At AFSA and through the Journal, we will continue supporting the Foreign Service as it goes through things, facing new challenges. We will continue pointing to the critical importance of professional diplomacy for national security and telling the story of the U.S. Foreign Service, both for our members and the public, and for the historical record.

One great story is that of the Power Africa program, the first “Energy Diplomacy Works” contribution to our ongoing Diplomacy Works series. In this issue, USAID FSO Andrew Herscowitz explains how this program is redefining development partnerships.

For our focus on dealing with Russia and Ukraine, it was a coup to get John Tefft—who has served as ambassador to both countries (and Georgia and Lithuania)—to write the lead article. This is must-reading for anyone who wants to know why we should care about Ukraine, and Russia.

Carnegie Moscow Center Director Dmitri Trenin presents “The World Through Moscow’s Eyes.” Understanding where our adversaries (and friends) are coming from is part of what makes diplomacy work.

FSO Michael Lally reminds us how the challenges in the U.S.-Russia relationship in recent years have affected the lives of U.S. Mission Russia staff. We also include a selection of excerpts from the FSJ Archive, the merest hint of the archive’s tremendous resources on Russia and Ukraine.

Elsewhere, FSO Preeti Shah reports from Comic-Con on how the public diplomacy toolbox has been expanded; and retired FSO Alan Larson speaks out on the value of integrity in foreign policy.

Finally, as we close out the FSJ’s centennial year with this edition, I am pleased to report that the state of the Journal is strong. We count on our readers to share their views and experiences for these pages. Let us hear from you (journal@afsa.org). And please take the AFSA president up on his request for input (to ideas@afsa.org).

And speaking of going through some things, during a recent cleanup at AFSA we discovered a 1994 letter from George Kennan for the Journal’s 75th anniversary. As the FSJ enters its second century, his words still resonate.

Shawn Dorman is the editor of The Foreign Service Journal.

March 28, 1994

The American Foreign Service, in its chartered (but not always respected) capacity as a highly selected, non-political, and disciplined body of career officials trained for the representation of this country through its embassies and consular offices abroad, has never fitted easily into the American governmental establishment. Seldom have its nature, its functions, and its needs been understood either by the general public or by the press or even by those who were responsible for its financial support and administration at the Washington end.

The service has always had something of a dual identity, trying on the one hand to represent this country abroad … , but trying at the same time to accommodate itself to the demands being brought to bear upon it from a Washington which would never fully understand what it was, why it existed, and what it was doing.

No institution connected with the Foreign Service can have found itself more in the center of these conflicting pressures than the organ which, for some 75 years, has tried to shape and maintain the Service’s own sense of identity and yet to help it to meet the demands placed upon it by both the political and the bureaucratic establishments at home: namely, The Foreign Service Journal. …

This must never have been an entirely easy task; but the Journal has pursued it all these years with devotion and persistence. … I am glad to wish it many more years of useful service to a cause which is none the less valuable for being so rarely understood.

Very sincerely,
George Kennan