The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2020

10 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2020 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Please Stay Having read President’s Views by Ambassador Eric Rubin in the October FSJ , “We Are Career Profession- als Serving Our Country,” I would like to offer my thanks and appreciation for the column. I most certainly understand and sympathize with the decision of those FSOs who have chosen to resign. I am frankly happy that I am retired and do not have to face that kind of decision at this point myself, and I most certainly would not criticize the decision made by any who have taken that path. At the same time, I also fully appreci- ate the damage that has been done to the institution of the Foreign Service and our international relations in general. I recognize that the efforts to recover and rebuild will require time and a great deal of commitment, made more difficult by the significant exper- tise and knowledge that have been lost through the departure of many excellent FSOs, especially at the senior level. I therefore support the sentiments expressed by Amb. Rubin, and offer my thanks and congratulations to him for putting those forward. Roger Meece Ambassador, retired Seattle, Washington Dissent in the Shadows In his October Speaking Out column ( “There Is No ‘Complacent State’ ”), Andrew Kelly draws heavily on his experience as a former Army officer to critique FSOs like Chuck Park who have gone public with their reasons for resigning from the Service. But his rationale is largely rooted in military tradition, not Foreign Service culture. LETTERS Nowhere, for example, does Mr. Kelly even allude to the existence of the Dissent Channel, creat- ed nearly 50 years ago to empower FSOs to chal- lenge official policy. And even before that, as Journal readers know very well, AFSA began honoring dis- sent through four awards for members, which it proudly continues to do. Given that the armed forces have no equivalent to either of those institutions, I see no basis for Mr. Kelly’s apparent belief that resigning diplomats have some sort of professional “duty” to slink off into oblivion after abandoning their posts. There certainly is no basis for that position in our oath of office, the Foreign Service Act, the Foreign Affairs Manual or any other authority. But even if there were, allow me to offer the shining counterexam- ple of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman, an active-duty Army officer with years of diplomatic experience. On Oct. 29, he testified before the House Permanent Select Commit- tee on Intelligence, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform as a concerned National Security Council staffer who was tasked to listen to President Donald Trump’s infamous July 25 phone call to Ukrai- nian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Explaining his reasons for coming forward, Lt. Col. Vindman said: “I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine. I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained. This would all under- mine U.S. national security.” I put it to FSJ readers: Whose actions more closely resemble those of Lt. Col. Vindman—the resignations of Chuck Park and other courageous FSOs, or the second-guessing by critics who prefer dissent remain in the shadows? Steven Alan Honley Former FSO Washington, D.C. When the USSR Changed I enj oyed reading Margaret McMil- lion’s reminiscences of the day s when the Berlin Wall fell while she studied in the National War College class of 1990 (Novem- ber FSJ ). I was in the NWC’s FSO contingent the previous year. We had 1989’s immedi- ate pre-fall perspective. One of the dominant themes throughout the year was whether the Soviet Union was chang- ing—or sometimes in our more opti- mistic discussions, whether it had evolved in some fundamental way. Speaker followed speaker, from President Ronald Reagan to intelligence analysts. No one was prepared to venture that the USSR had really changed. Even Margaret Thatcher’s phrase, “post–Cold War world,” drew a lot of skeptical frowns. There was one exception: the Soviet ambassador. In his presentation, he assured us that big changes were under- way. Few, of course, accepted this view, and most instinctively considered it pro-