The Foreign Service Journal, April 2021

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2021 13 define the problem and the end state they seek, and communicate this message throughout our ranks. Use this opportunity to set forth in simple terms what our most pressing issue is and unleash our initiative. Like at home, most nations where we serve are con- sumed with COVID-19. We will have only a moment once sufficient populations are vaccinated to seize the opportunity to lead on the United States’ and earth’s most existential issue—climate change. This is the issue of our lifetime. In the meantime, if you are looking to improve the morale of your diplomatic corps: Vaccinate us. Our ability to perform to our maximum capacity cannot be achieved until the pandemic is curbed and we are vaccinated—not just back at home, but in the field. Thousands of us are in places with austere medical infrastruc- ture now entering a second wave of infec- tions. Please speed vaccines to the field. Diversify us. Most Foreign Service officers who are persons of color or LETTERS-PLUS I was disappointed to read Secretary Antony Blinken’s message on his first day at the State Department: “Let’s get to work.” Respectfully, Sir, we’ve been working our arses off. Your diplomatic corps worked until the last days of the Trump administration to implement its policies. We began implementing President Biden’s policies at noon, Jan. 20, 2021. There is no pause button for our work. We work for the United States of America. But I was encouraged to see The For- eign Service Journal’ s “Notes to the New Administration” shortly thereafter, and I would like to add my thoughts and advice to the mix. The past four years were difficult. Many of us proudly recalled that the Foreign Service officer’s oath is to the Constitution. When we disagreed with the previous administration’s policies, we dis- sented, and those who could not in good conscience execute the administration’s policies resigned. Sir, you are inheriting a corps that has been tested but is resilient. We are com- mitted to continuing to serve our country and not the persona of a temporally limited executive branch. It is up to you to maximize our abilities. Give us a clear strategic vision and your intent on how to implement it—and we’ll execute the mission. Our work is most effective when our political leaders clearly Maximize Our Abilities BY ELIZABETH POWERS RESPONSES TO MARCH FOCUS “Notes to the New Administration” Elizabeth Powers is an economic officer in Lima. The views expressed in this article are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of State or the U.S. government. women have been the “only” such in the room, surrounded by white, male colleagues. Our regional bureaus’ front offices have been exceptionally male and pale in recent years. The voices of women, people of color and younger generations have been excluded from senior positions either through intent or neglect. Please ensure that senior ranks, from under secretaries down through deputy assistant secretaries, reflect our greatest American strength—our diversity. Recognize us. Whether appointed by a Democratic or Republican president, political ambassadors have often been counterproductive to our bilateral rela- tions with the host country or disastrous to post morale. Diplomats are profession- als, trained in doctrine and experienced in tradecraft. Appointing amateurs degrades our professional morale and can under- mine policy objectives abroad. Bring us in line with other Western democracies by recommending career diplomats for all ambassadorships. n Three Steps to Boost State Technology BY MARIYA ILYAS T he March FSJ , which con- tained recommendations for the new administra- tion, inspired me to submit some proposals of my own for needed improvements at the State Department. In 2001, a decade after the birth of the internet, then Secretary of State Colin Powell ordered 44,000 computers and demanded the department bring internet to desktops. Secretary Powell recognized that for American foreign policy to com- pete—and triumph—in a world swept by