The Foreign Service Journal, April 2021

10 APRIL 2021 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL LETTERS What about the Other Agencies? I began reading “The Future of the Foreign Service: A Discussion with Nich- olas Burns, Marc Grossman and Marcie Ries” in the January-February edition with interest, until I realized that a more accurate title would have probably been “The Future of State.” Although the phrase “Foreign Service” was used generously through- out (I counted at least 20 instances), there was not one mention of or allusion to the other five foreign affairs agencies whose staff also make up the Foreign Service. While presumably some of the rec- ommendations, such as “#2—Revise the Foreign Service Act,” would have a direct impact on us, it seems that we were not considered or included in the thinking that went into developing the recom- mendations. I applaud the efforts of Ambassadors Burns, Grossman and Ries, and agree with many of their concerns and obser- vations. I also feel confident that there are FSOs, like myself, from USAID, FCS, FAS, APHIS and USAGM, who would be more than willing to contribute our sug- gestions and insights to this effort. Going forward, I would ask that we be explicitly included in any plan to reform the Foreign Service. Brandy Witthoft USAID FSO Democracy, Human Rights and Governance Center Washington, D.C. “Up or Out” Should Go I appreciated the good discussion in “ Talking Points” in the January-February FSJ . But I wonder why in “The Future of the Foreign Service” we still think the “up or out” system a good one. Yes, it is As far as I know, neither of these world-class ambassadors took skin color into account in their management of our embassies abroad. I also served with two other outstanding American ambassadors, Jeff Davidow, in Venezu- ela, and Viron “Pete” Vaky, in Colom- bia, both of whom just happened to be white males, as I am. My point is that skin color has little, if anything, to do with the performance of our dip- lomats. I think Ambassa- dors Perkins and Todman would agree that experi- ence and qualifications are far more important than skin color when evaluating American diplomats. All of us should agree with the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who said people should “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the con- tent of their character.” Guy W. Farmer USIA FSO, retired Carson City, Nevada The Consul Who Saved My Family My grandfather and I recently stum- bled upon a copy of the entry visa his par- ents received at U.S. Consulate Stuttgart in January 1938. It was thrilling to see the document that saved their lives. I decided to see if I could find out any information about the consulate and Vice Consul Francis L. Spalding, who had signed the visa that changed my family’s life forever. Though the full story cannot be told in a brief note, I hope this letter will give you a taste of the contributions of the small consulate and a young vice consul. an easy way to get rid of dead wood, but that is perhaps the only advantage. We lose too many good midlevel officers who may not be Senior Foreign Service material (or who are, but for whom there might not be space) but who do excellent work at their level. More than that, scoring points on an employee evaluation report (EER) carries too much weight if what is at stake is the job, not just the promo- tion. Disagreement is stifled, conformity to the superior’s biases rewarded. In the military, youth and physical strength play a huge role, but not in diplomacy where cool heads and experience should rule. I remember reading about the “new system” shortly after I joined the Foreign Service in 1980, and thinking then that it was more a nod to the idea that we are “officers” than to forming an excellent Service. Although I “made” the SFS cut and retired of my own voli- tion, I still think so. Kiki Skagen Munshi FSO, retired Julian, California A Color-Blind FS? I read with great interest Stacy Williams’ laudatory article on the late Ambassador Edward Perkins in the January-February Journal . I had the high honor of serving as public affairs officer for Ambassador Perkins in Australia and serving with another outstanding African American ambassador, Terence Todman, in Spain.