Excerpts from Journal articles over the years highlight the publication’s rich legacy.
This, the first printed bulletin of the American Consular Association, is the result of a feeling on the part of many consular officers that there should be some organ by which information of interest to the Service might be disseminated— an organ which would provide a medium for the exchange of ideas looking to the improvement of the service as well as news of the activities of particular officers.
… Immediately upon the meeting of Congress in special session, April 11th, Representative John Jacob Rogers of Massachusetts introduced a bill (H.R.17) “for the reorganization and improvement of the Foreign Service of the United States, and for other purposes.” The chief features of the bill … are these: Diplomatic and Consular Services combined in a “Foreign Service of the United States.” Appointment of Ministers to grades and classes, and not to posts. Appointment of “Foreign Service pupils.” Cumulative leave and payment of travel expenses on home leave under certain conditions. “Representation allowances” for Ambassadors and Ministers. Post allowances for Foreign Service officers of all grades. Age and disability retirement; contributory pension system. All representatives or agents of the United States Government abroad to be under the Department of State and merged with the diplomatic mission in the country of their functioning.
“Twelve-twenty, can you tell me any of the changes wrought in Italy by the Treaty of Versailles?” …We all sat very rigid until the candidate addressed piped up. “I don’t think I can say, sir”—this in a very small voice. “Can’t you tell me something about the northern boundary?” Another heartbreaking silence. “No, sir; I’m afraid I can’t.”
“Twelve-twenty-one, what do you understand the War Finance Corporation to be?” And so on. … The questions were matters of national and international interest … and above all were designed to show the general ability of a man to say a few words about any subject under the sun. …Each one of us was asked but one question.
The stability of the career and the permanence of its personnel have been assured. All the vulnerable features of the old regime have been replaced by solid barriers against meddling and uncertainty. A young officer just entering the Service will find that he is offered a course of invaluable instruction before entering upon his permanent duties, but that at the same time he will be on probation and his every act and qualification open to the severest scrutiny with respect to his personal fitness.
–Wilbur Carr, assistant secretary of State
The members of the Foreign Service of the United States have, for many years, acted as American outposts of peace in all parts of the world. The mission of these men is to promote the international understanding which leads to confidence and friendship and permits nations, however different their traditions and ideals may be, to deal intelligently with each other. …Few Americans realize the immense value of these officers in maintaining peace.
–Hon. Frank B. Kellogg, former Secretary of State
The Memorial Tablet erected by members of the American Foreign Service Association in honor of the diplomatic and consular officers who while on active duty lost their lives under tragic or heroic circumstances was unveiled on Friday morning, March 3, at 10 o’clock, by the Hon. Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of State and honorary president of the American Foreign Service Association.
“Moscow, December 11, 1933
“Secretary of State, Washington
“Arrived. Will present credentials Wednesday noon. Bullitt”
The above telegram, the first the Department of State has received from any American official in Russia since the dark days when our relations with that country were severed, explains itself. …
–Walter A. Foote
The one department of the Government most urgently demanding a continuing policy is that charged with executing the nation’s foreign policy. Although cabinets and Governments may change, the foreign problems of a nation transcend the platforms of political parties, for issues between neighboring nations continue regardless of changes in the complexion of the officials in power at home. Sudden change of diplomatic and consular personnel does more than merely wreck the careers of the persons involved—it wrecks the policy of the nation, rendering it vacillating, uncertain, and unsuccessful.
–George Allen, vice consul
While in the first years after the Rogers Act all but the malcontents of the Service were greatly pleased with the step forward that had been taken, and while during the depression the Service in unshaken loyalty realized that further improvements were inopportune, in more recent years there has been noticeable a growing spirit of criticism among the members of the Service who feel the need of new legislation and regulations to remedy certain failings of the Service and to cover certain deficiencies in the provisions of the original Rogers Bill.
–Seldin Chapin, FSO
The Eighth International Conference of American States which met at Lima during December 1938 must be viewed against the background of world conditions in order to make a fair appraisal of its accomplishments. While fortunately the American Republics have been spared from the direct impact of tragic events in other parts of the world during recent years, those events inevitably have had a powerful influence upon the nations of this hemisphere.
–George H. Butler, Department of State
Not only was the Department faced with the task of immediately preparing and promulgating varied and numerous regulations, but it also found itself flooded with a torrent of inquiries requesting immediate and definitive interpretations of the new law and regulations. Can airplanes purchased by a belligerent government be flown to Canada? Can goods be shipped on an American vessel to Bilbao for trans-shipment to France without transfer of title? Can Washington banks buy sight drafts on banks in belligerent nations presented by the embassies of those nations in Washington to cover their normal running expenses?
–Charles Yost, assistant chief, Division of Controls
If anything were needed to hasten the metamorphosis of the Foreign Service into an organization adapted to the needs of war, our entry into the conflict provided the final impetus. …Whatever the conditions it may have to face, the Foreign Service by training and qualification is quickly able to meet the challenge. With the United States a fullfledged belligerent, the constructive diplomacy of peace has vanished, the everyday concerns of consular routine have yielded in importance to the new demands growing out of the emergency. Everywhere our officers are mastering hitherto unfamiliar subjects—priorities, allocation, foreign activities correlation, proclaimed lists. …The emphasis today is on matters in the economic sphere, a sphere that develops progressively as the struggle deepens.
The attempts to belittle the United States generally fall into three categories: (1) disparagement of our morale, (2) emphasis of our “incompetence,” and (3) insistence on our desire to grow rich from the war. Most prominent is the first.
–Henry S. Villard, Department of State
The question of providing a measure of relief and facilities for rehabilitation to suffering populations liberated from Axis control already is a real and pressing problem in North Africa and it may be anticipated that this problem will be multiplied a hundred-fold as the liberating armies of the United Nations deal final blows to the Axis on the Continents of Europe and Asia and in the Islands of the Western Pacific. The problem confronting the world when the fighting ends area by area will be one of appalling magnitude.
–Herbert H. Lehman, director of foreign relief
and rehabilitation operations
Opening a new chapter in man’s historic struggle to keep the peace, delegates from forty-six countries to the United Nations Conference on International Organization foregathered in plenary session on April 25, 1945, in San Francisco’s magnificent Opera House—itself a memorial to the dead of World War I.
While historians are able to cite parallels for practically anything, they will find it hard to point to a meeting in past history equal either in importance or in dramatic setting to that which President Truman had with Prime Ministers Churchill and Attlee and Marshal Stalin from July 16 to August 1 at Potsdam (officially designated as “The Berlin Conference”). The scene of the Conference was amid the shattered ruins of the capital of the defeated enemy. Three powerful allies met to decide the treatment to be accorded the enemy peoples and to discuss means of continuing in peace the collaboration which had been maintained so successfully during war. Every human being in the world had a stake in the success of the meeting.
–George Allen, deputy director of the
Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs
It is probably difficult for those who have not been closely associated with a similar venture to understand how much work is involved in the drafting of a law as extensive as is the Foreign Service Act of 1946. … The drafters of the Bill believed that experience had demonstrated that a career Service is the best means of ensuring proper conduct of our foreign relations. On the other hand, it must be realized that the desirability of having a career Foreign Service has been seriously under question in recent years. The drafters of the new legislation sought to reconcile these viewpoints.
–Julian F. Harrington, deputy director of
the Office of the Foreign Service
President Harry S Truman and Vice President Barkley look on as Secretary of State Dean Acheson signs the North Atlantic Pact. John W. Foley Jr., of the Legal Adviser’s office, is at Mr. Acheson’s left.
That the Director-General of the Foreign Service should not be consulted about legislation intimately affecting the Service is almost incredible. [Months earlier the administrative offices of the Service had been summarily merged with those of the State Department.-Ed.] …No officer who has served in the Department in the last year or two can be unaware of the numerous rumors which have been circulating regarding the intentions of certain high officials towards the Service. The situation has certainly now gone so far that a full and frank airing of the reasons for discontent is now necessary.
–Philip H. Bagby, former FSO,
first of a two-part discussion
All was serene on June 18th when, with the party accompanying Mr. John Foster Dulles, I visited the 38th Parallel north of the town of Uijongbu and some 38 miles north of Seoul. …Sunday, a week later, dawned dully. The pelting rain would bring satisfaction to the hearts of Korea’s rice farmers. Warrant Officer William B. Lynch of the Military Attaché’s Office interrupted breakfast that morning to lean across the table and give me in quiet tones the startling news that without warning at 4:00 that morning on the Ongjin peninsula a heavy artillery barrage had been opened by the North Korean Communists upon the defensive forces of the Korean Republic below the 38th Parallel.
–Arthur B. Emmons III, FSO
A Directive has just been issued by the Secretary designed to improve the personnel programs of the Department and the Foreign Service. It represents carefully considered conclusions regarding action both necessary and advisable at present regarding the organization for Foreign Affairs, a problem dealt with by the Hoover Report and subsequently examined by an Advisory Committee especially appointed by Secretary Acheson in 1949, which resulted in the so-called Rowe Committee Report of July, 1950. … These conclusions mentioned the multiplicity of existing personnel systems, the lack of preparation of staff for Departmental responsibilities, an insufficient interchange of people between the Department and the field, and an inadequate use of the 1946 Act in improving the whole Foreign Service personnel system.
It is not an expression of national selfishness to say that our first duty, as a nation, is to ourselves. It is an expression of self-respect. A nation which is meeting its own problems, and meeting them honestly and creditably, is not apt to be a problem to its neighbors. And, strangely enough, having figured out what it wants to do about itself, it will find that it has suddenly and mysteriously acquired criteria, which it did not have before, for knowing what to do about its relation with others.
–George F. Kennan, FSO on extended leave
At the beginning of World War II most civilians concerned with foreign relations were ignorant, not only of the strategic conceptions of military men, but of almost everything else of a practical nature connected with military operations. By the same token the organization and aims of the Department of State in foreign affairs seemed an utter mystery to the vast majority of officers and men in our armed services. That fabric was ripped wide open for the first time in American history by attaching political advisers to military headquarters. In their personal contact with the military staffs they imparted whatever information and advice they could about American political objectives.
–Robert D. Murphy, ambassador
No group of government servants is more convinced of the need for vigilant security procedures than the Foreign Service. Yet the Loyalty Review Board’s letter to the Secretary in the Vincent case, reprinted below, is causing bewilderment and misgiving in our ranks. It is disturbing not only because it recommends dismissal for a veteran officer who had already been cleared by the Department’s Loyalty Security Board, but because it implies doctrines which would prevent the Service from doing its full duty. …If officers stationed in China in the 1940s suggested the possibility that the Chinese Communists might prove too strong for Chiang Kai-Shek, was this reason enough to doubt their loyalty? What about our representatives in Korea? Could a man be pilloried because he warned of the growing strength of the Communists in North Korea at the time we considered withdrawing troops from South Korea?
–AFSA Board of Directors
Just as the Journal went to press, the report of the Secretary’s Public Committee on Personnel, better known as the Wriston Committee, was made public, together with an endorsement by the Secretary of the two key recommendations made by the Committee. …The pages of the Journal are open to Service-wide discussion of the report. There will inevitably be differences of opinion over some of the Committee’s recommendations but there are two matters on which we believe the Service will be unanimous. One is the Service’s appreciation for the determination shown by the Secretary and General Smith to strengthen the Service. The other is the whole-hearted support which will be given by the Service to whatever program the Secretary decides to carry out.
As American Ambassador to Italy, I have been in—deep in— the Foreign Policy business itself. And today this is the view I hold to most strongly: If America is to prevent World War III, we must have not only a sound foreign policy, we must also have a sound Foreign Service. … Today, the field of diplomacy has broadened to cover every phase, every aspect, every activity of human society. Modern diplomacy has to concern itself with all of these things and many more. Why? Because in these days of the interdependence of nations, all these aspects of the life of a nation affect the relationships between nations.
–Ambassador Clare Boothe Luce
“The principal value of an efficiency report is in giving the Department a line on the guy who wrote it.” Homer M. Byington, probably the best Chief of Personnel the Service ever had, made that crack to our class in the Foreign Service School back in 1933. I never fully appreciated how true it was until I served on the Selection Boards last fall. If it were not for the increased bulk, it might be a good idea to include an extra copy of each efficiency report an officer writes in his own performance folder. … Each member of our Board probably read between three and four thousand, and I can recall only a handful which, taken by themselves, gave a really good picture of the officer rated. …Perhaps another eight percent are pretty good, but the remaining ninety percent are vague, superficial and inadequate.
–Theodore C. Achilles, ambassador
Some 38 American technical, academic, cultural, sports and entertainment groups have gone to the Soviet Union, while some 33 similar Soviet groups have come to this country. …What impression of this country does the Soviet visitor carry away? The majority of delegation members are of high caliber as individuals, and are quite aware that what they see in the United States, both material and spiritual, tends to contradict the distortions of the anti-American propaganda at home. Others are naive and highly indoctrinated.
–Frederick T. Merrill, FSO
We have had some new ideas in the last year in foreign policy; some new approaches have been made. We want them to come out of the State Department with more speed. What opportunities do we have to improve our policies abroad? How, for example, can we make the Alliance for Progress more effective? We are waiting for you to come forward, because we want you to know that I regard the Office of the Presidency and the White House, and the Secretary of State and the Department, as part of one chain, not separate but united, and committed to the maintenance of an effective foreign policy for the United States of America. Therefore, in the final analysis, it depends on you. That is why I believe this is the best period to be a Foreign Service officer. That is why I believe that the best talent that we have should come into the Foreign Service, because you today—even more than any other branch of government—are in the front line in every country of the World.
–President John F. Kennedy, from a talk delivered to
1,000 members at AFSA’s Foreign Service Club on May 31,
the first time that a U.S. president addressed AFSA
The past year has seen the analysis and articulation of development thinking, programing, and implementation carried to the point where we are looked to by all countries as the pioneers in this field. … Now we are engaged in a creative effort to devise long range assistance strategies for a dozen countries, a task long overdue and promising of dramatic rewards.
–Frank M. Coffin, USAID deputy administrator (1961-1964)
The headlines of the war in Vietnam have in recent months emphasized the internal struggle for leadership of the Government of South Vietnam. Buddhists vs. Catholics, civilians vs. military, sect vs. party seem to be the key struggles. Yet the Vietnam imbroglio is much deeper and historically more involved than these headlines imply. It is essentially a struggle for men’s minds and loyalties, a chapter in the confusing battle between a Communist-led “war of national liberation” and a Western-supported nationalist war of independence. How did Vietnam get where it is today? How did the war that-is-not-a-war get started? Who is fighting against whom? and why? How is the United States involved in this struggle?
–Robert S. Smith, FSO, member of the FSJ Editorial Board
Attempting to meet all training needs at the beginning of a career is an impossible task. … Let us stop worrying about a mythical ideal education until we are better able to determine how good junior officers become good senior officers. Once we can offer an exciting future, plus firm patterns of career development, then those interested in the Foreign Service will take responsibility for their own education and those with the necessary academic training will be more motivated toward such careers.
–John D. Stempel, FSO,
response in a series discussing training
To supply this vast market for pro-Viet Cong materials requires large-scale production by Hanoi and its southern creation, the National Liberation Front. Published and captured documents and the radio broadcasts of Hanoi and the Front describe this effort. These communist sources prescribe the major themes for overseas stress—the “immorality” of the American intervention in a “civil” war; the “democratic,” “nationalist” and “neutralist” aims of the Viet Cong; the inevitability of a communist victory; the corruption and unresponsiveness of the Saigon government.
–Chester A. Bain
President Truman’s directive of November 19, 1949, to State, Defense and the Atomic Energy Commission “as to whether and in what manner the U.S. should undertake the development and possible production of ‘super’ atomic weapons,” set the national security policy machinery in motion. In the Department of State the first major attempt to come to grips with the problem was a 128-page memorandum which George Kennan submitted to the Secretary of December 15.
–R. Gordon Arneson, retired FSO
Out of the welter of studies and criticism of the performance of the Department of State and the Foreign Service, three major problems emerge. In essence, they concern the ability of the present organization to comprehend and analyze the diverse factors now changing the world environment, the effectiveness of senior officers as executives in giving leadership and direction to the many international activities conducted by the United States and the efficiency with which the enlarged facilities and personnel of the Department are being utilized.
–Rufus Burr Smith, retired FSO
The question of how a society is organized and functions is our primary concern, because the internal workings of a society profoundly influence its international behavior. Thus Title IX seeks to broaden AID’s mandate from an unquestioning reliance upon the conventional wisdom to a more searching, critical appraisal of the interaction between our external aid and the dynamics of change and growth in a developing nation. This effort to broaden the perspective on our aid programs embraces the dimension of political development which the Title IX legislation seeks to isolate for special consideration.
–Congressman Donald M. Fraser (D-Minn.),
author of Title IX of the Foreign Assistance Act
With the passage of time, then, we came to see an activist world policy as a moral and practical necessity, sanctified by success, and essentially unlimited by any particular level of available resources. On this national consensus rested several decades of hyperactive American assertion of world leadership. It led to alliances with 43 countries. It led to the creation in foreign lands of 143 American military bases. It led to the consistent allocation of at least 40 percent of our federal budget to national security purposes. It led to the application of American military force in Korea, Lebanon, the Dominican Republic, Laos, and Vietnam. It led to our sending economic assistance to 111 countries, and military assistance to at least 79. It is now clear that time has overtaken this consensus.
–Marshall Wright, FSO
The Vietnam war has caused more soul-searching on the part of career Foreign Service officer—and especially the younger ones—than any comparable international event in the history of American diplomacy. There have been a number of little discussed and unpublicized resignations from the Foreign Service because of our policy in Vietnam. …During fiscal year 1968, 266 officers resigned; 80 percent of them were younger officers.
–Dino J. Caterini, FSO
The United States is not likely to choose deliberately to follow a disastrous course of protectionism, isolation and self-indulgence, but it could be swept onto such a course. This will not happen if we are vigorous in attacking our domestic problems of productivity while being equally realistic concerning what we can negotiate abroad. If we are too hardnosed and use unacceptable methods, however, we shall fail in our negotiations.
–Willis C. Armstrong, retired FSO
Although there are frequent assurances that “responsible” dissent is encouraged in the Foreign Service, the impression conveyed to many of those who at some time in their careers consider swimming against the Policy tide is often quite different. …Despite these doubts, it is at least encouraging that the shameful wasting of the country’s most knowledgeable China specialists during the McCarthy era is still fresh in the American conscience. The fact that many of their views have proved to be accurate after all makes the episode all the most significant. Yet if we learned the lesson of our failures in China, how is it possible that we made similar mistakes in Vietnam scarcely 15 years later?
–William R. Lenderking, FSO
From the press viewpoint, information is too closely held in the State Department. The middle level officials who used to be knowledgeable sources during the Rusk administration have lost their considerable utility. The Secretary’s lieutenants are difficult to reach, and often reluctant to discuss unless specifically authorized. The Secretary, himself, has not seen fit to hold regular background briefings in Washington although he has performed quite regularly at public press conferences. But press conferences are a limited mode of communication because the world is listening in, the Congress is listening, the public is listening.
–Nicholas Daniloff, correspondent
This is not the first time, as the historical record makes clear, that withdrawal from Korea has posed major problems for American policymakers and it is unlikely to be the last. Ironically, withdrawal from Korea is not, as widely believed, a new policy objective but is as old as the Korean problem itself—and as controversial.
–John Barry Kotch
Eight years ago America’s virgin environmental movement willingly entered the embrace of big government. One offspring of this union was internationalization. Our President laid down a policy to encourage other nations to fight against pollution. This initiative was not just the re-flowering of our traditional missionary drive to make converts of our foreign brothers—though that element was definitely present as our scientists, engineers and ecologists pushed their new-found environmental religion on others. Ours was the zeal of the convert all right. But this time there was a provable, practical reason to sign up believers all over the planet: if mankind did not do something fast to rescue our deteriorating biosphere we faced ultimate extinction.
–Fitzhugh Green, writer and environmental consultant
Portraits of former Secretaries of State adorn the department’s reception rooms and faded photographs of their ambassadorial colleagues form “rogues galleries” in embassies around the world. But except for such notables as Nathaniel Hawthorn and Townsend Harris, the lives and professional experience of hundreds of lower-ranking officials, especially those who served the United States in the last century, have been largely neglected. One of these was John Black, a Scot, who was the first representative of the United States in the island of Ceylon, now called Sri Lanka.
–Christopher Van Hollen, FSO
Early on the morning of Friday, March 21, 1980, sometime before 4 a.m., a sharp burst of rifle fire in the street before the American ambassador’s resident in N’Djamena, Chad, woke the residents inside. At a distance, gunfire crackled in other sections of the sleeping town. The shots were more numerous than usual, and they persisted.
–Patricia B. Norland, a Foreign Service wife
and mother of three
The return of the hostages did something wonderful for our country, and perhaps for the world too. Americans of every background and political philosophy were brought together by the determination to reject Iran’s gross violation of international law. We all shared the suffering of the hostages as Iran extended its crime day after day. …Honest people will differ on the complexities surrounding the seizure, detention and eventual release of the hostages.
Today the United States runs the risk—as it did in the 1960s— of defining its vital interests so broadly that it may again be unable or unwilling to defend all of them if put to the test. Just as the Kennedy and Johnson administrations concluded that all of Asia might go communist if the United States did not prevent the collapse of South Vietnam, so the Carter and Reagan administrations seem to have concluded that the whole non-communist world could be brought to its knees if the Soviet Union gains strong political influence in the Persian Gulf. In neither case are dire consequences inevitable.
–Donald E. Neuchterlein, professor of international affairs,
Federal Executive Institute, Charlottesville, Va.
The issue of nuclear weapons is at the center of the U.S.- Soviet relationship, and an agreement resulting in substantial reductions would have far reaching political effects. The Reagan administration should therefore introduce a new proposal on START. In designing a negotiable proposal, the Reagan administration may first need to reconsider some of the assumptions underlying current nuclear weapons policy.
–David Linebaugh, former FSO and deputy director
of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency,
and Alexander Peters
NATO’s central military problem is that it has opted out of the Nuclear Age, while the Soviets have unhesitatingly accepted it. Neither Americans nor Europeans have been willing to contemplate nuclear weapons seriously as warfighting instruments. The Soviets always have. This fundamental doctrinal disparity has placed the alliance in an untenable position regarding realistically defending itself. The West’s dilemma is that it will have to change its views and accept nuclear weapons to survive, but it believes it cannot survive by accepting them.
–Sam Cohen, weapons analyst and Pentagon
consultant who invented the neutron bomb
USIA, as the centerpiece of the U.S. public diplomacy effort, must maintain its effectiveness in a world where advances in communications technology now allow immense quantities of information to reach many more millions of people throughout the world in less time than ever before. If the agency is to achieve this goal, the concept of its mission and the way it is pursued may well have to be re-evaluated.
–Representative Dante B. Fascell (D-Fla.),
chairman of the International Operations Subcommittee
of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and chairman
of the HCFA from 1984 to 1993
A new U.S. approach to the non-aligned should begin by accepting that the movement is here to stay and avoid creating any pretexts for preserving its current anti-Western character. The consistency and tone of any new U.S. approach will be as important as agendas and the contents of proposals. It should stress not the divisions, but instead points of convergence between the United States and the non-aligned. Both are committed to survival of independent states in a pluralistic environment, a perspective fundamentally inconsistent with the Soviet world view.
–Richard Jackson, FSO
One who looks no further than the contemporary outside of the Foreign Service Journal thinks of it simply as a magazine, a mere appurtenance of the Service. But one who carefully examines its insides over its 60-year span is impressed by how much more it is than that. It is not only a vehicle of thought with respect to U.S. foreign relations, and, more particularly, overseas experience, but a means of expressing professional perspectives. …
–Smith Simpson, a retired FSO and the author
of Anatomy of the State Department and
The Crisis in American Diplomacy
The hijacking of TWA Flight 847 brought home a stark reality of the 1980s. We are engaged in a war with international terrorism that promises to be longer, bloodier, and more difficult than anyone predicted. Over the past few years a number of western leaders, including French President Mitterand, British Prime Minister Thatcher, and President Reagan, have publicly declared war on terrorism in the wake of murderous attacks on their own institutions and citizens.
–Howard R. Simpson, retired FSO
As for the question of professionalism, it is essential that we create a Bureau of Diplomatic Security that has a highly professional cadre of security officers. By professional, I mean well-trained, well-equipped, adequately financed to do what needs to be done. One of the problems has been that during the last twenty years SY has been given additional functions without really being given the structure, training, or resources to take them on. I think that the Inman panel proposals will correct that.
–Robert Lamb, as coordinator for diplomatic security,
is responsible for designing the $4.2 billion plan to safeguard
embassies and missions mandated by the Advisory Panel
on Overseas Security (the Inman panel) in the wake
of the 1983 Beirut bombings
It is clear, however, that within these Russian terms lies the potential renaissance of a powerful nationstate and the metamorphosis of the political organization that has held power for 70 years. Neither word is an empty slogan, a bluff, though we have yet to see the general secretary’s full hand. Far beyond the borders of the Soviet Union, the unfolding of perestroika and glasnost may affect the whole Eastern bloc. On the other hand, if the reforms implicit in these terms are not realized, then both perestroika and glasnost could be harbingers of political entropy, with egregious consequences for the Soviet people as a weakening superpower senses its own peril.
–Daniel L. Nelson, professor of political science at the
University of Kentucky and the author of books
on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe
A former Sandinista major’s story sheds new light on the Nicaraguan regime and the controversy over the Contras.
–George Gedda, Associated Press
State Department correspondent
What can be done to improve human rights reporting? First, human rights officers need training. The State Department offers courses in political tradecraft, economic reporting, and labor affairs, but it offers nothing to prepare human rights officers for their jobs. Such training need not be elaborate, but it should familiarize officers with the problems they will face in the field (case studies would be the best way to do this); bring officers up-to-date on human rights legislation; and put officers in contact with the various human rights organizations and other interested parties— especially congressional staff.
–Tom Shannon, FSO
After 13 years in litigation, a sex discrimination suit brought against the Department of State [Palmer v. Baker, filed in 1976 by former FSO Alison Palmer] has tentatively been settled in a manner that could change the fate of up to 600 female Foreign Service officers and will certainly alter the entrance examination for many women—and men—seeking to join.
–Elizabeth Lee Fitzgerald, a freelance writer
Many decades of Serb-Croat disquietude have brought the Yugoslav nation to a decisive crossroads: their choice is either to continue as best they can, seeking illusive solutions, such as reconstitution as a confederate union, or simply to make a clean break with the past and separate. Without a negotiated and peaceful separation now, the universally feared vision for the future is continued strife and eventual civil war.
–Stephen N. Sestanovich, FSO
If the United States and other concerned governments conclude that North Korea is attempting to evade its commitments under the NPT or its pledges to South Korea not to acquire either nuclear weapons or reprocessing facilities, a decision will confront the world community more daunting by far than last year’s decision to drive Iraq out of Kuwait. …But if South Korea appeared in danger of being overrun, would the United States resort to tactical nuclear weapons? That is hardly the vision of a New World Order that President Bush had in mind in the afterglow of Desert Storm. But that is a real-world specter, which must be confronted and thought through.
–William Beecher, journalist and former
acting assistant secretary of Defense
In the last year alone, democracies and democratization movements have suffered setbacks in Haiti, Algeria, Peru, Thailand, and the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Washington’s handling of these specific challenges shows that, although we are clearly taking the issue more seriously across the board than we might have a decade ago, the U.S. response has varied widely, showing little global consistency of policy application.
–Michael Sterner, FSO
The coming of a new administration in Washington inevitably raises concerns in the Foreign Service; the advent of the Clinton administration is no exception. …For foreign policy generally, a new decision-making process has been created, centered in the White House, reflecting the president’s interests and the multidimensional nature of today’s problems. …Conscious of over-sized State representations in policy committees in past administrations, the new team will limit State attendance to the relevant assistant secretary, one other officer and a rapporteur. Transition planners believed that the effectiveness of the department in the new policy process would be enhanced by streamlining the structure.
–David D. Newsom, retired FSO and
former under secretary for political affairs
In a myriad of small ways, the Clinton administration has an opportunity to try and convince the Russian leaders and people that America is, indeed, a good neighbor, and would like to help Russia become, in [Russia’s ambassador to Washington, Vladimir] Lukin’s words, “an integral member of the democratic community.” Cooperative relations should not be postulated, however, on Russia’s becoming in our lifetime a westernstyle democracy. We should be content to watch the yeast of democracy and freedom work slowly, in its Russian way.
–Thompson R. Buchanan, retired FSO and Russia specialist
What about those African countries that are suffering from political blockages and cannot move ahead at this time? Should the United States ignore them until such time as they join the mainstream? In terms of development assistance and trade and investment promotion, the answer is yes. Scarce resources have to be utilized only where there is a decent possibility of achieving positive results. However, there is another dimension of national security policy that needs to be considered when we look at that part of Africa that is stagnating, unstable and dangerous.
As the only superpower and as the world’s most vibrant democracy, the United States is condemned to be a leader in maintaining barriers against world disorder.
–Herman J. Cohen, retired FSO and former
assistant secretary of State for African affairs
Mental health services are available to all agencies’ employees and their families in the overseas community as a recognized component of the medical program. Psychiatrists are assigned to geographic bureaus with regional responsibilities. … Medical supports are changing, and other benefits are threatened. Personnel cuts mean high workloads and fewer people to do the work. Changes have been so sudden that families who committed themselves to the lifestyle under one model find themselves living under another. A very realistic anxiety arises.
–Virginia L. Foley, FS spouse and former mental health
coordinator at Embassy Lima
To be truly useful and heeded, the [Dissent] Channel should not become a vent for the employees’ discharge of hot air. It shouldn’t become the sole possession of those who can’t see the forest for the trees, for the intellectually selfrighteous, or for those swept along by the strong emotional currents produced during highly visible crises. Accordingly, proper use of the dissent channel requires intellectual honesty and objectivity; it also requires that bosses apply similar standards to themselves. They should presume the dissenter is acting in good faith and in the service of his country and should respond promptly and directly to the issues raised.
–Hume Horan, Career Minister and diplomat in residence
at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
A sense of humor is generally considered a desirable trait and it used to be one of the qualities rated on Foreign Service fitness reports. …Particularly at posts where life is difficult, a sense of humor, and specifically a willingness not to take oneself too seriously—which may mean a willingness not to get too worked up about local government inefficiency or unresponsiveness—is often essential to establishing a rapport with someone who expects the new diplomat to be a pain in the fundament, like some of his diplomatic colleagues.
–Richard B. Parker, retired FSO and former ambassador
Now a new reorganization is under way. The remarkable and virtually unprecedented thing about today’s USIA-State Department consolidation is that it’s proceeding without a serious study of the issues or the feasibility of integration and, so far, without spirited debate. With the Cold War over and the new Information Age expanding worldwide, there is no question that the role of information, education and cultural programs has changed in today’s more complex world.
–Mark B. Lewis and Eugene Rosenfeld,
While Congress and the Foreign Service have never been buddies, their historically tense relationship has become more adversarial in recent years, with Congress putting the foreign affairs agencies through the wringer with deep budget cuts, forced consolidation of agencies and employee layoffs. Why such a clash? A large part of the reason is that Congress and the Foreign Service have differing world views. The Foreign Service focuses on how foreign governments and international organizations can help or harm U.S. national interests, while Congress looks to the interests of supporters and constituents at home. Both are legitimate views and both need to be integrated into United States foreign policy.
–Marguerite Cooper, retired FSO
In 1978, Congress mandated the creation of independent, agency-specific inspectors general to provide a means of identifying and addressing problems in agency economy, efficiency and effectiveness, as well as to prevent and detect fraud and abuse. The 1978 law also specified that IGs had two masters: the agency head and Congress. …No agency, institution, or career service is above human frailties; larcenous behavior has been found even among those who see themselves as the best and brightest. However, IGs are not infallible either; and they are under pressure from their primary client to find $500 hammers and comparable fodder for press releases. Twenty years later, it is time to ask, “Who is guarding the guardians?”
–Daniel W. Fisk, former senior
Republican staff member of the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Ask a diplomat from any country what the major international problems of the 21st century will be, and he or she will most likely focus on “soft” diplomatic issues: economic and commercial interests, environmental protection and the wise use of scarce natural resources, international crime, terrorism and human rights. …Although these issues are important, this emphasis minimizes diplomats’ need to learn more about how diplomacy and the use of force are linked, and how to make that linkage work well.
–Howard K. Walker, retired FSO and former ambassador
In the aftermath of the tragic embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, AFSA has been working to bring this message to the administration, the Congress and the American people. Our central theme is: Never Again. Many of us remember how much more attention we gave security issues following the 1983 embassy bombing in Beirut. .…As memories of Beirut faded, interest in security wanted. So did funding. Federal spending caps forced us to forgo security so we could respond to other urgent needs. …In doing so we shortchanged out security program. One recent example: Last March, the administration took $5 million of the $23.7 million appropriated for embassy security upgrades is fiscal 1998 and shifted it to telecommunications.
–Dan Geisler, president of AFSA
All policy disputes over disaster relief issues involve the same fundamental questions: First, will the moral imperative play a large or more peripheral role in the formulation of American foreign policy, compared to more hardnosed definitions of national interest? Second, should the United States rely on international institutions to carry out disaster responses rather than bilateral relief programs? The realist school of foreign policy rigorously applied would subordinate U.S. government disaster relief to a narrower definition of vital national interests. Military intervention under this policy would only be used as an option if the disaster, left unchecked, would adversely affect those interests.
–Andrew Natsios, senior fellow at the U.S. Institute
of Peace and former director of the
U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance
George F. Kennan is probably the best known and most highly esteemed scholar and shaper of foreign policy to emerge from the U.S. Foreign Service during its 75 years. Kennan joined the Foreign Service in 1926, just two years after the Rogers Act was signed. …
FSJ Editor Bob Guldin: You are identified as a scholar and a writer with the realist, as opposed to the idealist, school of foreign affairs. We seem to be moving further away from that in the current period.
Kennan: This is difficult to say in a few words. I feel that we are greatly overextended. We claim to be able to do more than we really can do for other people. We should limit our contributions, and let others take the initiative. I’m close to the isolationists, but not entirely, because I’ve always recognized that those alliances to which we belong and which the Senate has approved as provided for by the constitution, we must remain faithful to those. …Within our time, I don’t think that democracy is going to be the universal form of government. I’m very hesitant about our pushing democracy and human rights on other countries, whose democracy in any case would be rather different from our own. We can’t ask other countries to be clones of America.
Hacktivism brings the methods of guerrilla theater and graffiti to cyberspace. It can be conducted by individuals acting alone or, as is often the case, in groups and coalitions. It can exhibit elements of art and theater. It can even be humorous. But it is not benign, and it threatens U.S. embassy computers and diplomatic missions. It can compromise sensitive or classified information and sabotage or disrupt operations. At the very least, it can be an embarrassment to those attacked and erode public confidence in the U.S. government.
–Dorothy E. Denning, professor of computer science
at Georgetown University
One indicator that many State employees—both Civil and Foreign Service—are ready to support change is “SOS for DOS: A Call for Action.” SOS for DOS is a loose-knit group that circulated a petition calling for “the leadership needed to undertake a long-term, bipartisan effort to modernize and strengthen the Department of State.” More than 1,600 State employees and retirees signed the letter, which was presented to Secretary of State Colin Powell on Feb. 2.
–Shawn Dorman, AFSA News editor
In hindsight, these arrangements among the Taliban, Pakistan and bin Laden were a perfect fit: the ISI was using its Afghan connection to wage a Pakistani guerrilla war in Kashmir against India. In return, the Taliban gained volunteers from Pakistani madrassas, as well as weapons and ammunition, in their quest to extend their obscurantist Islamic beliefs over all of Afghanistan. And bin Laden’s al-Qaida network had quietly gained a base to train its forces for cowardly attacks against peaceful civilians in my country: a deadly collaboration, meticulously planned and executed with elegant timing and simplicity.
–Arnie Schifferdecker, FSO retired
The State Department work force that welcomed Secretary Powell on Jan. 20, 2001, had huge gaps in its ranks, with bureaucratic Band-Aids trying (and largely failing) to cover them up despite valiant efforts to “do more with less.” Facing inadequate budgets through most of the 1990s, State had not been able to hire enough personnel to make up for attrition, even as it stretched to open several dozen new posts, from Asmara to Yerevan. …In 2001 we had a deficit of over 400 mid-level generalists, and were also short over 300 mid-level Foreign Service specialists. In Washington, we had over 600 vacant Civil Service positions.
–Niels Marquardt, FSO and special coordinator
for diplomatic readiness at the State Department
Not surprisingly, China’s rapid rise has also raised concerns about its ramifications for the region and the rest of the world. In 2004 alone, China’ foreign trade grew by about 35 percent, reaching $1.15 trillion in combined two-way trade. The U.S. takes about 21 percent of China’s exports, and runs a large trade deficit with China. The PRC was the secondlargest recipient (after the United States) of foreign direct investment, attracting a total of over $60 billion last year.
–Robert Wang, FSO and economic minister-counselor in Beijing
The Israeli-Palestinian struggle over the Holy Land, which has attracted more obsessive attention and defied a solution longer than any major conflict of the past century, is the story of two victims. …A U.S. peace initiative, with a firm commitment by the president, that sponsored new negotiations based on solutions already proposed by Israelis and Palestinians could have a dramatic effect on the politics and psychology of both sides.
–Philip C. Wilcox Jr., retired FSO and president
of the Foundation for Middle East Peace
Duty at Iraq PRTs represents a new reality for the Foreign Service. Diplomats are accustomed to danger and hardship, but they are not soldiers. So it is not an unreasonable question to ask what role (if any) the Foreign Service should have in active war zones. The PRTs are the administration’s answer to that question. But how they operate, what they try to accomplish and what they actually can accomplish is an evolving story—and one that is not the same for each PRT.
In trying to tease out the reality for the Foreign Service behind the rhetoric concerning the PRTs, the Journal cast a wide net.
–Shawn Dorman, a former FSO, is associate editor of the FSJ
and editor of AFSA’s book, Inside a U.S. Embassy
The face of the Foreign Service has changed profoundly since the 9/11 attacks: Most current members can expect at least one unaccompanied assignment during their career, generally lasting a year or longer. In 2001, the number of unaccompanied, or partially accompanied, Foreign Service positions was about 200; now there are over 900.
–Bridget Roddy, State Department Family Liaison Office
In the face of a budget shortfall, the Foreign Agricultural Service is expected not only to carry out its traditional mission of export promotion but to assume new responsibilities in the realms of national security, climate change and global food security. At the same time, a Congress and new administration increasingly preoccupied with domestic headaches, coupled with a stalled Doha Round, hint at a weakening of support for the liberalization philosophy that has underpinned trade policy for three-quarters of a century. Will FAS survive?
–Allan Mustard, FSO with the Foreign Agricultural Service
The need to redefine the diplomatic mission and organize accordingly has driven a debate that began in the late 1940s and continues today. The first phase of that process revolved around managing the bipolar world of the Cold War and endured from 1946 until 1991. The current iteration of the debate centers on managing a multipolar, globalized set of state and non-state actors (from the Little Sisters of the Poor to al-Qaida) and coping with insidious threats ranging from pandemics to nuclear terrorism.
–Thomas D. Boyatt, retired FSO, former ambassador
and now chair of the American Academy of Diplomacy’s
“Foreign Affairs Budget for the Future” project
The Arab Spring has shown the limits of American power in the Middle East. No longer does the United States have the prestige and resources to dominate Middle East affairs to the degree it has done ever since the British withdrew from east of Suez in 1971.
–Allen Keiswetter, retired FSO and
scholar at the Middle East Institute
The selling of ambassadorships is just too lucrative, and election bids too expensive, for this source of campaign funds to be given up. …. While speaking out won’t end the practice of pay-to-play ambassadorships, it is still worth doing to underline two key points: Diplomacy is a profession, and Foreign Service officers are, in most cases, the most skilled practitioners of that profession.
–Dennis Jett, retired FSO and former ambassador
In a move that has surprised and pleased critics, including this author, the State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations has recently announced a sweeping “Design Excellence” initiative that embraces all elements of embassy construction—from location to architect selection, design engineering and building technology, sustainability and long-term maintenance needs. The new program sees innovation as an opportunity to enhance security, still the top priority. It is the State Department’s first major statement of design policy since 1954.
–Jane C. Loeffler, architectural historian and author of
The Architecture of Diplomacy: Building America’s Embassies
Specialists have always been, well, specialized. But in recent years, under the dual drivers of terrorism and technology, their job descriptions have evolved rapidly. And yet, the more some things change, the more others stay the same. A lack of understanding about what, exactly, specialists do has plagued the Foreign Service for the past half-century. …And that brings us to the elephant in the room: the rumored animosity between generalists and specialists. Is it a reality or a myth?
–Francesca Kelly, freelance writer,
former AFSA News editor, FS spouse
No enmity is forever. It took decades, but the U.S. established diplomatic relations with the USSR and China after their revolutions when it was in both sides’ interest to do so. …When we do send people back [to Tehran], and when Iranian diplomatic personnel appear in Washington, teams of “ghostbusters” who know how to deal with the phantoms of the past should be present.
–John Limbert, retired FSO and former ambassador
who served as the first-ever deputy assistant
secretary of State for Iran from 2009 to 2010
One of U.S. foreign policy’s groundbreaking soft power initiatives is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year: the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. Though it is not widely known and operates quietly, with a current budget of $90 million, the impact of the IVLP is significant. The program has helped launch the careers of many world leaders, as well as civic leaders, while strengthening ties with our allies and advancing U.S. interests.
–Robert Zimmerman, FSO
There is no sugarcoating the challenge before us—corruption is widespread, influencing quiet, day-to-day interactions, as well as high-level transactions and processes. And it is notoriously difficult to root out. Any effective campaign against corruption must be conducted not only from the top down, but also from the bottom up—not necessarily a natural modus operandi for the State Department.
–William R. Brownfield, Senior FSO, assistant secretary of
State for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs
The Russian people, giddy from the collapse of the corrupt, oppressive regime under which they had labored for generations, hungered for a normal relationship with the rest of the world and believed that the result would be quick and dramatic improvement in their lives. In 1992 I wrote that these expectations could not be met, and that a period of disillusionment would inevitably follow. The policy challenge for both the West and Russia was to manage that period of disillusionment so that it would lead to a more mature and well-grounded relationship, and limit the likelihood of a Russian turn toward autarky and hostility.
–Raymond Smith, retired FSO and author
of the 1990 cable from U.S. Embassy
Moscow, “Looking into the Abyss:
The Possible Collapse of the Soviet Union
and What We Should Be Doing About It”
Most State Department FSOs have only a glancing acquaintance with health. ... U.S. government-led health efforts have saved and improved millions of lives, and changed the very course of the AIDS pandemic—yet may not initially appear to fall within the direct purview of a chief of mission. Where is the room for a COM to lead? And how can health programs advance our broader agenda?
–Mark Storella, Senior FSO and
deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau
of Population, Refugees and Migration
The State Department started laying the official U.S. government groundwork for climate negotiations in 1988. …Historically, State’s career civil servants have been the core of the U.S. government’s climate team. …It is long past time that the department align its FSO recruitment, training and incentives to create a stronger cadre of FSOs who are eager and fully prepared to play more active roles in the fight to keep Earth habitable.
–Tim Lattimer, FSO
Congress rejected drastic cuts to State and USAID funding. The Senate labeled the proposed cuts a “doctrine of retreat” and directed that appropriated funds “shall support” staffing State at not less than Sept. 30, 2016, levels. …Given this clear congressional intent, we have to ask: Why such a focus on slashing staffing at State? Why such a focus on decapitating leadership? How do these actions serve the stated agenda of making the State Department stronger?
–Barbara Stephenson, ambassador
and AFSA president