The Foreign Service Journal, March 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MARCH 2020 21 Speaking Out is the Journal ’s opinion forum, a place for lively discussion of issues affecting the U.S. Foreign Service and American diplomacy. The views expressed are those of the author; their publication here does not imply endorse- ment by the American Foreign Service Association. Responses are welcome; send to . tion and not allow Chinese companies to play by different rules than those on which other major economies insist. We should also keep in mind that refreshing and preserving the integrity of our democracy and economy at home could be the most effective strategy for empowering the Chinese people to push their government to be more open and accountable. Maintaining Integrity in Foreign Policy Our alliances cannot be strong unless other countries can trust what we say and are confident we will honor our commitments. Integrity is an essential ingredient for the institutions that keep our democracy healthy and our econ- omy dynamic. Members of the U.S. Foreign Service take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution. One of the deadliest enemies of our Constitution is cor- ruption, both abroad and at home. We all must candidly and proudly tell the story of how the checks and balances of American democracy address corrup- tion allegations in the United States. As professionals, FSOs know that elected officials have the final word in determining foreign policy. The Foreign Service must continue to be nonparti- san, but we can and should find ways to forcefully make the point that integrity is an essential ingredient for effective national security and foreign policy. As Secretary of State George Shultz said when testifying in 1987 on the Iran-Contra matter, “Trust is the coin of the realm.” As a cadre of professionals, the U.S. Foreign Service plays a small but essen- tial role in insulating foreign policy from corrupt influences. Our country has been well served by having a creative mix of noncareer and career officials providing expert foreign policy advice. But all who serve must be qualified. To further insulate foreign policy from inept or corrupt influences, the State Department should review past recom- mendations and issue new guidelines for assessing qualifications for ambas- sadors and other Senate-confirmed foreign affairs officials, noncareer and career nominees alike. The Director General of the Foreign Service should ensure that all officials receive serious training on how to maintain integrity in difficult circumstances. We should build broader and deeper understanding in the public of what career foreign policy professionals do and how we do it. Retired foreign affairs professionals should facilitate roundtable conversations around the country about why integrity must be a core ingredient of America’s foreign policy. The Foreign Service should not be drawn into partisan debates about impeachment or the outcome of the 2020 election, but we can and should be ready to tell our fellow citizens about the patriotism and professionalism that drew us into diplomatic careers and the com- mitment we have to fighting corruption. “Integrity First” is one nonpartisan campaign we can all support in 2020. n