The Foreign Service Journal, March 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MARCH 2020 11 businessmen and prepared 15,582 reports on all phases of trade expan- sion, which were forwarded to the Department of Commerce for dissemi- nation to businessmen. “An average of 150 trade opportuni- ties were reported each month, and during the period January 1-October 20, 1921, a total of 15,270 reports were supplied on foreign firms for the World Trade Directory Service at the Depart- ment of Commerce. “In addition consuls employed their good offices to settle trade differences between American and foreign firms, thus contributing materially to the maintenance of the prestige of Ameri- can businesses abroad” (p. 197). While this function is no longer the responsibility of consular officers, it speaks to the enduring close relation- ship between State and Commerce in furthering U.S. and foreign trade. Stuart Denyer Consul U.S. Embassy Ljubljana n The 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States in 1865, and the Civil Rights Act enforcing it, with considerable difficulty, was passed a mere 99 years later, in 1964. The 17th Amendment, in 1913, changed election of U.S. senators to a vote by the citizens, not just members of the state legislatures. Women got the vote in the 19th Amendment, in 1920. Each action faced opposition, and some generated unrest. If a functioning democracy took this long to adopt basic, significant efforts to improve the operations of the government and the lives of its citizens, what can realistically be expected in Afghanistan, which appears to be struggling into the 18th century? And consider this: By definition, you cannot impose democracy. That’s an oxymoron, two contradictory state- ments in one sentence: “You cannot force people to make a free choice. OK, Afghans, here comes a weekend; become a democracy now !” I had the pleasure of working with Ambassador Ryan Crocker in Bagh- dad. He later served as ambassador in Afghanistan, and his opinion piece in The Washington Post on Dec. 13, 2019, clearly displayed his intelligence, knowledge and understanding of the massive, exten- sive, entrenched obstacles the United States and its allies face there. They have been multiplied by our own mistakes and miscalculations, which have made it vastly more difficult to accomplish a logically impossible task, especially in a short time. Sadly, I am obliged to agree with part of the title of his essay, that Afghanistan “is not another Vietnam.” It certainly isn’t, and has infinitely worsened, by any measure, especially in the years since his exemplary service there. The Jan. 3 assassination of Qasem Soleimani will clearly add immensely to the serious dangers we have created there, and throughout the Muddle (sic) East. Edward Peck Ambassador, retired Chevy Chase, Maryland Consular Service Promoting Trade I enjoyed Jay Car- reiro’s AFSA VP Voice column on the Com- mercial Service in the November 2019 FSJ . In addition to the work of trade commissioners sent by the Department of Commerce, I think it is important to note the historical role of the Consular Service in trade promo- tion. In the past, consuls generated reports on all manner of trade issues of interest to U.S. businesses. These reports—whether on the cur- rent price of grain in the country, the prevailing wages or the export oppor- tunities for a particular American prod- uct—proved so popular with American businessmen that the Department of State changed their publication from annual to monthly in 1880. This work greatly expanded in the 20th century. According to The Foreign Service of the United States , a history book published by the State Depart- ment’s Bureau of Public Affairs in 1961: “The efforts of American business to expand export markets after the war [World War I] were strongly supported by the trade promotion activities of consular officers. “In the fiscal year of 1921 consuls answered 82,237 trade inquiries from Share your thoughts about this month’s issue. Submit letters to the editor: