The Foreign Service Journal, April 2024


THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2024 5 Feature 33 First-Generation Professionals: Another Dimension of Diversity By Scott B. Winton April 2024 Volume 101, No. 3 Focus on Workplace Well-Being 26 Straight from the Source O ce of the Ombuds Takes on Bullying at State By Brianna Bailey-Gevlin Retirement Supplement 54 Life After the Foreign Service 30 Setting the Table for Inclusion: Five Things Leaders Can Do to Interrupt Toxic Behaviors By Ana Escrogima FS Heritage 38 The Department of State’s Reception Centers: Back to the Future By Matthew Asada

6 APRIL 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL 72 Reflections Get That Man a Chair By Michael Varga 74 Local Lens Kathmandu, Nepal By Andrea Nagy On the Cover—Illustration by Mark Smith. Marketplace 66 Real Estate 70 Classifieds 71 Index to Advertisers 7 President’s Views Hope for Resolving Workplace Conflict By Tom Yazdgerdi 9 Letter from the Editor From Bullying to Happiness By Shawn Dorman 23 Speaking Out The Surprising Secret to Powerful Leadership By Johanna Villalobos Perspectives Departments 10 Letters 13 Letters-Plus 17 Talking Points 63 Books AFSA NEWS THE OFFICIAL RECORD OF THE AMERICAN FOREIGN SERVICE ASSOCIATION 43 On the Road with AFSA’s President 43 Centennial Writing Competition Winners 44 State VP Voice—Implementing the NDAA 45 USAID VP Voice—It’s Past Time to Stop the Bullying 46 Retiree VP Voice—Two Quirks in Federal Retirement Benefits 47 Of Special(ist) Concern—AFSA Advocates for FS Specialists 48 2023 AFSA Treasurer’s Report 48 AFSA Governing Board Meeting, February 21, 2024 49 AFSA Meets with Employee Organizations 50 AFSA Welcomes Newest FS Members 50 LM Shows the Love 51 First Happy Hour of the Next 100 Years 51 Save the Date— AFSA’s FS Day Programming 52 Consult AFSA’s Tax Guide Online 52 Seeking Employment Verification? 53 AFSA’s Good Works: Constructive Dissent Awards 43

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2024 7 Hope for Resolving Workplace Conflict BY TOM YAZDGERDI Tom Yazdgerdi is the president of the American Foreign Service Association. PRESIDENT’S VIEWS Iwas serving as AFSA State VP when I wrote the November 2020 FSJ article, “Time for an O ce of Con ict Resolution.” It was about the need for such an o ce because of the corrosive e ect of bullying bosses on morale and the State Department’s work culture. I noted that this phenomenon, not the formal complaints that led to grievances or EEOC lings, accounted for the most messages we received from our members about workplace con- ict. (Please also see FSO Zia Ahmed’s eloquent January-February FSJ Speaking Out on why bullying has never truly been addressed and why we are all to blame.) I am happy to report that the Workplace Con ict Prevention and Resolution Center (wCPRc) is about to be resourced and sta ed up, hopefully as soon as this month or next, as the article from the Ombuds O ce in this edition details. Full disclosure: AFSA had hoped a new anti-bullying o ce would be established within the Bureau of Global Talent Management (GTM), as outlined in the original plan, with a dedicated investigatory arm and the ability to compel both sides in a workplace con ict to come to the table and abide by center decisions. e original plan could not go forward, stymied by some congressional opposition. So we do appreciate the department’s willingness to think creatively, leverage existing authorities, and establish it under the Ombuds O ce (S/O), which is part of the Secretary’s o ce and led by the very able ombuds herself. We all want the wCPRc to have a real e ect in stamping out the scourge of bullying in all its forms. Having a dedicated point of contact within the department for reporting these abuses is an important rst step. Previously, you could go to the ombuds if you were getting bullied, but that o ce did not have a mandate, the resources, or sta to triage at the case level. We hope they will now. ere are those who remain skeptical about what this new center can achieve, which is completely understandable. e Ombuds O ce describes itself as con dential, informal, impartial, and independent. It does not formally investigate allegations of bullying or serve as an advocate for one side or the other in a workplace con ict. Nor does it issue binding decisions. We ask that you engage with and provide feedback to the center if you use its services—and even if you don’t. e S/O can conduct consultations, coaching sessions, and climate surveys for individual o ces or entire missions, as needed. e wCPRc will complement those functions by serving as a point of contact to review, triage, and refer individual cases to bureau executive o ces, S/OCR, and other units as appropriate. Please get involved, ask questions, and provide your thoughts. Once the center is up and running, please let AFSA know what you think of its operations and impact. e wCPRc is meant to play a part in the oft-stated department e ort to hold people accountable for their actions. at is something that AFSA strongly supports and deeply hopes will amount to more than just words. We know that many of our members believe the more senior the o cial, the less accountable for their own actions. We also know from the State Department’s Stay Survey and exit surveys of those resigning or retiring from the Foreign Service that this remains a big problem. AFSA also hopes the department will give no quarter to the argument that the bully produces excellent analysis for Washington or that exigent circumstances “forced” the bully to act the way they did. When an o ce or post faces challenging circumstances, that is precisely when behaving appropriately and treating people with dignity are most important. We hope that the ombuds will make the principle of accountability—regardless of who is involved or what the circumstances are—the overarching vision for wCPRc. AFSA will do its part by engaging with the center to help ensure its activities and operations are as e ective and transparent as possible. is is an initiative that must succeed. If successful, the center can be an example for the other foreign a airs agencies, which no doubt su er from the same a iction of workplace con ict. Please let us know what you think by writing me at n

8 APRIL 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY INITIATIVE SFI-01268 Certified Sourcing Editor in Chief, Director of Publications Shawn Dorman: Deputy Editor Donna Gorman: Senior Editor Susan Brady Maitra: Managing Editor Kathryn Owens: Associate Editor Vacant Publications Coordinator Hannah Harari: Business Development Manager— Advertising and Circulation Molly Long: Art Director Caryn Suko Smith Editorial Board Vivian Walker, Chair Lynette Behnke, Gov. Bd. Liaison David Bargueño Hon. Robert M. Beecroft Gaïna Dávila Hon. Jennifer Z. Galt Steven Hendrix Harry Kopp Aileen Nandi Dan Spokojny Hon. Laurence Wohlers THE MAGAZINE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS PROFESSIONALS The Foreign Service Journal (ISSN 0146-3543), 2101 E Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20037-2990 is published monthly, with combined January-February and July-August issues, by the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), a private, nonprofit organization. Material appearing herein represents the opinions of the writers and does not necessarily represent the views of the Journal, the Editorial Board, or AFSA. Writer queries and submissions are invited, preferably by email. The Journal is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photos, or illustrations. Advertising inquiries are invited. All advertising is subject to the publisher’s approval. AFSA reserves the right to reject advertising that is not in keeping with its standards and objectives. The appearance of advertisements herein does not imply endorsement of goods or services o«ered. Opinions expressed in advertisements are the views of the advertisers and do not necessarily represent AFSA views or policy. Journal subscription: AFSA member–$20, included in annual dues; student–$30; others–$50; Single issue–$4.50. For foreign surface mail, add $18 per year; foreign airmail, $36 per year. Periodical postage paid at Washington, D.C., and at additional mailing o±ces. Indexed by the Public A«airs Information Services (PAIS). Email: Phone: (202) 338-4045 Fax: (202) 338-8244 Web: Address Changes: © American Foreign Service Association, 2024 PRINTED IN THE USA Postmaster: Send address changes to AFSA, Attn: Address Change 2101 E Street NW Washington DC 20037-2990 AFSA Headquarters: (202) 338-4045; Fax (202) 338-6820 State Department AFSA O‡ce: (202) 647-8160; Fax (202) 647-0265 USAID AFSA O‡ce: (202) 712-1941; Fax (202) 216-3710 FCS AFSA O‡ce: (202) 482-9088; Fax (202) 482-9087 GOVERNING BOARD President Tom Yazdgerdi: Secretary Sue Saarnio: Treasurer Hon. John O’Keefe: State Vice President Hui Jun Tina Wong: USAID Vice President Randy Chester: FCS Vice President Joshua Burke: FAS Vice President Lisa Ahramjian: Retiree Vice President John K. Naland: Full-Time State Representative Gregory Floyd: State Representatives Lynette Behnke: Kimberly Harrington: C. Logan Wheeler: Whitney Wiedeman: USAID Representative Christopher Saenger: FCS Alternate Representative Jay Carreiro: FAS Alternate Representative Zeke Spears: USAGM Representative Steve Herman: APHIS Representative Joe Ragole: Retiree Representatives Mary Daly: Edward Sta«ord: sta« STAFF Executive Director Ásgeir Sigfússon: Executive Assistant to the President Maria Benincasa: O‡ce Coordinator Therese Thomas: PROFESSIONAL POLICY ISSUES AND ADVOCACY Director of Professional Policy Issues Julie Nutter: Director of Advocacy Kim Greenplate: Policy Analyst Sean O’Gorman: FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION Director of Finance Femi Oshobukola: Director, HR and Operations Cory Nishi: Controller Kalpna Srimal: Member Accounts Specialist Ana Lopez: IT and Infrastructure Coordinator Aleksandar “Pav” Pavlovich: COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH Director of Communications Nikki Gamer: Manager of Outreach and Internal Communications Allan Saunders: Online Communications Manager Je« Lau: Manager, Outreach and Strategic Communications Nadja Ruzica: Communication and Educational Outreach Coordinator Erin Oliver: MEMBERSHIP Director, Programs and Member Engagement Christine Miele: Awards and Scholarships Manager Theo Horn: Membership Operations Coordinator Mouna Koubaa: Coordinator of Member Recruitment and Benefits Perri Green: Counselor for Retirees Dolores Brown: Member Events Coordinator Hannah Chapman: LABOR MANAGEMENT General Counsel Sharon Papp: Deputy General Counsel Raeka Safai: Senior StaŽ Attorneys Zlatana Badrich: Neera Parikh: Labor Management Counselor Colleen Fallon-Lenaghan: Senior Labor Management Adviser James Yorke: Labor Management Coordinator Patrick Bradley: Senior Grievance Counselor Heather Townsend: USAID Labor Management Adviser Sue Bremner: Grievance Counselors Erin Kate Brady: Benjamin Phillips: FOREIGN SERVICE CONTACTS

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2024 9 Shawn Dorman is the editor of e Foreign Service Journal. LETTER FROM THE EDITOR From Bullying to Happiness BY SHAWN DORMAN Almost everyone in the Foreign Service has a story about bullying or uncivil behavior on the job. is is likely true in any profession, but there are peculiarities in the FS context that make the problem di cult to address. e “wait it out” culture of a career in which people change jobs and countries every few years; the fear of retribution or career-damaging evaluations (the bullying boss is your rater or reviewer); and doubt that anything positive would come out of reporting it—these are just a few of the reasons many remain silent in the face of bullying. Addressing bullying behavior in the workplace is also tricky because, unlike “harassment” and “discrimination,” it hasn’t clearly fallen under any o ce’s authority to act. State Department leadership has acknowledged the problem. AFSA has long been advocating for an anti-bullying o ce, as Tom Yazdgerdi notes in his President’s Views column, “Hope for Resolving Workplace Con ict.” In December 2022, State management announced plans to create such an o ce, and in a Feb. 1 message to State employees, Under Secretary for Management John Bass announced establishment of a home o ce to address the problem—the Workplace Con ict Prevention and Resolution Center in the O ce of the Ombuds. In this month’s Straight from the Source, “O ce of the Ombuds Takes on Bullying at State,” Brianna Bailey-Gevlin explains how it’s going to work. Like other SFTS articles, this one lays out the aims of a new policy, and we look to our readers in the FS community to respond with feedback on how it goes, what’s working and what’s not. (For example, see “A Look at the New Learning Policy” in the March FSJ and, in this edition, responses to that SFTS piece from Alexis Ludwig, Ambassador James Je rey, and Don Jacobson.) e lively discussion of issues of concern to the Foreign Service in these pages can, every so often, make a difference, so please help keep the foreign a airs agencies accountable by keeping us posted. Ambassador Ana Escrogima o ers practical advice on how to shrink the space for bullying in “Setting the Table for Inclusion: Five ings Leaders Can Do to Interrupt Toxic Behaviors.” On the ip side of a toxic o ce culture is a healthy workplace, made possible by … happy leaders. Meet public diplomacy FSO Johanna Villalobos in the Speaking Out, “ e Surprising Secret to Powerful Leadership.” She has spent the past year on a Cox fellowship studying the relationship between leadership and happiness, and she’s on to something. What she’s nding in the growing (and trending) eld of happiness studies, and how it can be applied in the Foreign Service context, is inspiring. It warrants consideration. Which brings us to another factor in workplace well-being and productivity—diversity. Executive Order 14035: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workplace (2021) states that more representative and inclusive workplaces yield higherperforming organizations. And so we turn to FSO Scott Winton’s Feature, “First-Generation Professionals: Another Dimension of Diversity,” for a look at the challenges faced by rst-generation college students, graduates, and professionals, as well as their great potential for broadening the department’s representation of the United States. In the Retirement Supplement, we hear from FS retirees Ladd Connell, Patricia Haslach, and John Rendeiro, about the paths they chose in “Life After the Foreign Service.” In FS Heritage, “ e Department of State’s Reception Centers: Back to the Future,” FSO Matthew Asada tells the story of this little-known but possibly instructive early example of city and state diplomacy. In the Re ection, “Get at Man a Chair,” former FSO Michael Varga tells his story of living with HIV. And in the Local Lens, FSO Andrea Nagy o ers a bird’s-eye view of Kathmandu. Look for the special centennial edition of the FSJ next month, including more than 50 mini-stories from practitioners for “FS Proud: 100 Words for 100 Years” and the rst-place winning essay from the FSJ Centennial Writing Competition. Meanwhile, keep in touch. Write to us at n

10 APRIL 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL LETTERS A New Idea to Speed Ambassadorial Confirmations As of mid-March, more than three years into the Biden administration and at a time when international challenges are especially daunting, more than 20 American ambassadorships and nearly a dozen ambassadorial-level positions at multilateral organizations remain vacant. e Senate and White House share responsibility for this problem, but one idea would speed part of the process. e failure to con rm American ambassadors is the diplomatic equivalent of the U.S. military operating without its top generals, compromising strategic leadership, coordination, and the ability to respond to international crises e ectively. Moreover, in a world that operates on optics, having vacant ambassadorial posts signals vulnerability and diminishes our standing on the global stage. ough some of these positions still have a previously con rmed incumbent in place or a capable Foreign Service o cer serving as acting, those interim o cials lack the standing of a Senatecon rmed ambassador when it comes to interacting with host country o - cials and harmonizing the sometimesdivergent agendas of the multiple federal agencies represented at the embassy. e slow ambassadorial con rmation process is a long-standing problem, which some view as intractable. But one new idea has the potential to speed it up. In 2011 the Senate overwhelmingly approved a change to con rmation procedures in a bipartisan 89-8 vote. at change designated 272 presidentially appointed positions as no longer requiring committee action unless a senator requests it. Eliminating the requirement to hold a committee hearing and vote moves those nominations directly to nal Senate action. No ambassadorial positions were included in the 2011 reform. Our proposal would expand on that reform to remove the requirement for a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing for ambassadorial nominees to the 100 or so smaller, but still important, embassies as determined by the Department of State in its Overseas Sta ng Model. e model ranks embassies from 1 to 5+, with higher numbers assigned to larger embassies. Currently, 103 of the 175 U.S. embassies are in the lower categories 1, 2, or 3. Typically, ambassadorial nominees to smaller embassies are con rmed by unanimous consent after a committee hearing attended by only a few senators. Allowing those nominees to be cleared for nal Senate action without a hearing would make the con rmation process far more e cient and e ective. It would reduce the time nominees wait for Senate action, reduce the time those embassies are without a con- rmed ambassador, and, importantly, increase the Senate’s ability to focus on vetting nominees to lead the larger embassies. As in the 2011 reform, any senator could still request a committee hearing and vote on any nominee to a smaller embassy. We understand that reforms to Senate procedures demand thoughtful consideration and should never be entered into lightly. However, the persistent vacancies in American ambassadorships represent a critical lapse in America’s ability to lead and in uence on the global stage. is commonsense reform of internal procedures is the Senate’s prerogative to adopt without obtaining agreement from the House of Representatives or the president. We urge the Senate to do so. Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann, President, American Academy of Diplomacy Ambassador Eric S. Rubin, Chair, Foreign A airs Council Tom Yazdgerdi, AFSA President A Superb Edition I just read the January-February 2024 Foreign Service Journal and congratulate you on a superb edition. I was delighted to see that my high school, Arroyo High in San Lorenzo, California, was featured in “ e High School Foreign Service Association: Engaging Aspiring Diplomats” by Ivan Pankov. In 1958 I was in the rst graduating class from that high school. anks to this article, I am now in contact with Arroyo’s HSFSA group and was invited to speak with the students. I was also most pleased to read Harry Kopp’s excellent article, “AFSA’s First Hundred Years.” Harry and I, along with an amazing group of junior FSOs, served together in the early 1970s at our embassy in Warsaw. It is good to see that Harry has lost none of his super writing skills. Well done, FSJ! Charles Richard Bowers Ambassador, retired Nashville, Tennessee

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2024 11 A Capital OŠense? I was enjoying reading Harry Kopp’s article, “AFSA’s First Hundred Years,” in the January-February edition of e Foreign Service Journal until I reached the section on austerity and diversity. Shortly after the author quotes the section of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 that mandates “equal opportunity and fair and equitable treatment” without regard to “political a liation, race, color, religion” (emphasis added), he refers to “white males” and “Black o cers.” e reasons for capitalizing “Black” are understandable, and I am not writing to argue against that practice. e problem is not capitalizing “white.” e fact that uppercasing “Black” and lowercasing “white” is now the practice in many publications doesn’t change the fact that it is blatantly racist, o ensive, and infuriating. It is discrimination based on skin color. e AP style guide [used by this magazine] contains several reasons for the practice, all of which, in my opinion, are awed. For example, “White people generally do not share the same history and culture, or the experience of being discriminated against because of skin color.” Is their history and culture, in mainly Europe and North America, a historical and cultural void? Why should a period of discrimination be a prerequisite for capitalizing this word? AP further states that “capitalizing the term ‘white,’ as is done by white supremacists, risks subtly conveying legitimacy to such beliefs.” What about the majority of us who are just as committed to racial equality as the authors of the style guide? Is insulating the AP and its imitators from the possibility of this linkage so important that they think it acceptable

12 APRIL 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Clarifying the Numbers I found the December 2023 issue of the FSJ on “Constructive Dissent Today” informative and insightful, especially the section on the history and impact of the Dissent Channel, including the suggestions on “Doing Dissent” and “Dissenting Well.” One clari cation is needed regarding the paragraph on Archer Blood and the Blood Telegram on page 23. It states Blood authorized use of the consulate’s telegraph facilities for “seven sta ” to send our dissent message to the department. Actually, when I prepared the April 6, 1971, cable on behalf of a number of similarly concerned o cers at Consulate General Dacca (now Dhaka), the draft ended up being signed by a total of 20 o cers from the three major elements of the mission—State, USAID, and USIS. Additionally, after our message reached the department, several “South Asia hands” sent a memo to Secretary William P. Rogers associating themselves with its substance—one of those signing the memo being the late Howard B. Scha er, subsequently U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh. W. Scott Butcher Senior FSO, retired Potomac, Maryland n Share your thoughts about this month’s issue. Submit letters to the editor: to lump the majority together with the few? e antidiscrimination principles that would cause a person to object to lowercasing “white” are the same principles that underlie most people’s opposition to racism in the larger context. It makes no sense to alienate people who are wholly supportive of the basic e ort to ght racism. Why do the Associated Press, e New York Times, the Columbia School of Journalism, and other mainstays of the press bother exerting so much e ort to justify lowercasing “white”? e cynical explanation is that it is a political stance by the radical so-called woke left. is should cause the FSJ to run in the opposite direction. e Foreign Service consists of o - cers who spend their professional lives upholding the principles of the American republic, including racial equality and nondiscrimination. In 20 years on active duty, I never met a single o cer who even remotely caused me to suspect they had any type of racial supremacy beliefs. AFSA publishes the FSJ for those o cers, of all colors. is is simply an issue of equality. e FSJ is free to set its own style standards. Is capitalizing all colors too much to ask of a publication that, rightfully so, vigorously supports DEI in every issue? Bob Boynton FSO, retired Carmel, Indiana What “Two-State Solution”? As an Israeli-born American, I nd the letter in the January-February 2024 FSJ proposing a “two-state solution” for the chronic Arab-Israeli con ict (“A Two-State Solution” by George Lambrakis) a bit unnerving given the history and reality of the region. Furthermore, idealistic opinions and advice by foreigners are easy to dispense when you don’t have to live with 75 years of wars, terrorism, and the most recent pogrom. Key points for Westerners to note: An Arab Palestinian state was rejected by the Arab League in 1947; and, other than Anwar Sadat, no Arab leader has ever accepted publicly the legitimacy of the Jewish state. e “present extremist Israeli government” (as described by the letter writer) was democratically elected by Israeli citizens—can you say that about any Palestinian or any other Arab leadership in the region? Who would, therefore, serve as a representative negotiating partner with Israel? Do you really think Palestinians prefer to live under the PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah, or Islamic jihad rule? e Middle East continues to be a mess, and I attribute it to a lack of socioeconomic development and failed leadership by Arabs, in spite of extensive aid packages. Compare this stunted growth with the resurgence of other countries such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Germany that were destroyed by wars. Peace will come to the region when Palestinians (and others) accept Israel’s right to exist from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, and focus on building their own society and nation, not exterminating the Jews. Joseph Harari, DVM FSJ reader Spokane, Washington

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2024 13 LETTERS PLUS To make this work, managers and supervisors at all levels will need to carve out time for professional development for their teams. One obstacle facing the implementation of the new Learning Policy, which aims to provide a more systematic approach to professional education and training for the Foreign Service, has been the embarrassment of riches these professionals bring upon entering. Most Foreign Service generalists and specialists are highly educated. Notwithstanding the absence of formal academic requirements for anything beyond a high school diploma in the case of generalists, many enter with advanced degrees. Moreover, the average age of FS entrants hovers around 33, so most bring signi cant professional experience to the table. e assumption is that, after they pass the rigorous Foreign Service exams and interview process, incoming o cers and specialists are already “prepared” for the work they will do. Unlike, say, military o cers, who enter as young adults on the organization’s bottom rungs (sometimes beginning their careers in one or another military academy), FS professionals traditionally aren’t viewed as needing further training or education to develop the knowledge and skills they need to do the job. If one is seeking an explanation for the historical absence of mandatory skills training at State, one would have to begin there. Beyond the (possibly) awed assumption that doing diplomacy depends on an easily transferable skill set, the central challenge becomes one of “level-setting.” e backgrounds of incoming Foreign Service professionals are stupefyingly multiple and varied—from the newly minted college graduate to the retired Air Force colonel adding a coda to their decades-long military career. So it is practically impossible to know who knows what (or how much), and who has which skills at what degree of development, irrespective of rank or grade. e deeper question becomes: Do all FS professionals have the knowledge and skills they need to do the work they are asked to do at each successive stage of their career? Judging by repeated needs assessments, reports of supervisors, and complaints from employees themselves, the answer to this question is a resounding “no, they do not.” Enter State’s new Learning Policy. e intentions of this policy, whose elements are identi ed in the March Straight from the Source article, must be applauded. It focuses rst on the core challenges facing diplomats today: accelerating technology leaps, advancing climate change, and the emergence of the People’s Republic of China as a peer competitor of the United States, among others. It also homes in on the core knowledge, skills, and attitudes that the practice of diplomacy requires. Boiled down to basics, these are: thinking critically and strategically; communicating e ectively; and adapting quickly to di erent cultural, organizational, and situational environments. A tall, almost all-encompassing order indeed. However praiseworthy its intentions, this policy appears easier to roll out as an idea than to implement in practice. Its practical success will depend on fully harnessing the political will of the current administration to marshal the resources needed to get it done, probably on a scale similar to what the late Secretary of State Colin Powell did in establishing mandatory leadership and management training a generation ago. Absent the political mandate to implement mandatory training, the new learning policy will depend on notoriously overworked and resourceA Step in the Right Direction BY ALEXIS LUDWIG RESPONSE TO MARCH 2024 STRAIGHT FROM THE SOURCE “A LOOK AT THE NEW LEARNING POLICY” BY SARAH WARDWELL

14 APRIL 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL strapped supervisors with veto power over merely recommended training. And absent the investment of real resources—that is, resources equal to the scope of the policy’s ambition that help to establish and sustain the bureaucratic and other structures required— the new policy’s fate will be subject to (and probably the victim of) inevitable shifts in the political winds. Such gaps between lofty ideas and rubber-meets-road reality make skeptics predictably wary. Many have seen this roadshow before. Still, while fully supporting the idea and hopeful that things will be di erent this time, most FS observers are looking for concrete signs of how and why this new policy will be di erent—di erent for being serious, structural, and sustainable over the long term, with ends and means in dynamic balance. While all would welcome the telltale signs foreshadowing success, many fear that in their absence the new learning policy might well collapse and revert to the old learning policy in short order. Alexis Ludwig is a retired Senior Foreign Service o cer. He joined the Foreign Service in 1994 and spent most of his career in overseas missions in the Western Hemisphere and East Asia. He served on the FSJ Editorial Board from 2018 to 2024 and helped launch the pilot version of the new Core Skills for Mid-Career Professionals course, which anchors the core curriculum. Prioritizing Learning BY DON JACOBSON Iwas delighted to see the September 2023 announcement of the new Learning Policy and Sarah Wardwell’s excellent article about it in the March 2024 issue of e Foreign Service Journal. e policy re ects a potentially transformative commitment to professional development by State Department leadership; achieving its goals will require commitment from all of us. Providing top cover and giving their teams space to invest in professional development is one of the greatest contributions senior leaders can make to advancing the Learning Policy. Senior leaders generally have short time horizons for accomplishing our mission-related goals, so it’s tempting to keep our teams going at full sprint all the time. However, investing in well-thoughtout approaches to professional development will help our team members be more e ective and motivated, thereby increasing their capacity to accomplish the mission. To make this work, managers and supervisors at all levels will need to carve out time for professional development development. We are not empty vessels who just go to the Foreign Service Institute to get lled with leadership, language skills, or regional expertise. We must become students of our craft and put in the continuous e ort required to learn and grow, whether we are in training or on the job. at also includes taking the initiative to volunteer for projects, identify new learning resources, and adopt a disciplined practice of professional reading. It’s up to each of us to make carving out time for professional development a priority; this is simply one of the many balancing acts we must do as leaders. It’s not a question of getting the work done or developing our people. We must do both. Don Jacobson joined the Foreign Service in 1992 and has led some of the State Department’s largest consular operations. He currently serves as acting deputy assistant secretary for passport services. for their teams and think strategically about how to use the practices inherent in their role as supervisors (i.e., assigning work and giving feedback) to develop their people. For example, assigning projects that make employees stretch while providing them feedback and support is a great way to help employees grow in the process of doing the job. e Learning Policy also encourages the use of individual development plans (IDPs), and we should embrace that as a mechanism for ensuring our investment in professional development aligns the needs of our employees with the needs of the mission. Of course, we also need to nd ways to free up our people to attend training and go on detail assignments or temporary duty tours. Finally, we need to remember that every single one of us, as employees of the State Department, needs to take ownership of our own professional We must become students of our craft.

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2024 15 Constructive Dissent Today BY DESAIX MYERS RESPONSE TO DECEMBER 2023 COVER STORY, “THE STATE DEPARTMENT DISSENT CHANNEL: HISTORY AND IMPACT” Many thanks for your December FSJ celebrating the importance of constructive dissent. e article by Sara Berndt and Holly Holzer, “ e State Department Dissent Channel: History and Impact,” and Holzer’s sidebar “Doing Dissent at State” illustrated the importance of dissent to good decision-making and appropriate ways to dissent and encourage debate. It could hardly have been more timely. It appeared just as increasing numbers of students, citizen groups, and public servants were raising questions about the administration’s policy in the Middle East. My copy of the Journal arrived just before a Jan. 12 Al-Monitor article reported U.S. government workers were planning to stay home to protest the U.S. policy in Gaza. A spokesperson for a group calling itself “Feds United for Peace” claimed employees from 22 agencies had committed to join the action. It’s unclear whether the plan was real. e spokesperson was unnamed, the employees anonymous. Jan. 16, the day of the proposed walkout, turned out to be the day of Washington’s rst snow in two years. e government shut Deeply Disillusioning The March FSJ piece on State education and training is deeply disillusioning. at starts with the policy’s 16 Core Curriculum courses. With minor tweaks these could be the common curriculum for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. With the exception of “International Negotiation Arts and Skills,” nothing in the curriculum seems to speak to what an outsider would correctly think is the central mission of the Department of State, foreign policy. It apparently can’t be found in the “Succeeding at State: Core Skills” course, described as teaching “strategic empathy” and “understanding the pressures your colleagues … experience.” BY JAMES JEFFREY e article cites as inspiration for the new policy the Belfer Center’s “A U.S. Diplomatic Service for the 21st Century.” Yet that report’s rst recommendation was to restore State’s centrality in “executing the nation’s foreign policy,” and to that end urges education “on mastery of substantive foreign policy issues, diplomatic expertise, and leadership.” So wouldn’t our core curriculum bene t from, say, a course in “Principles of Foreign Policy” or “Case Studies in Country Team Policy Planning”? If anything like that is in the new approach, why wasn’t it mentioned anywhere in the ve-page article? Learning policy work does involve much on-the-job training, but there is a place for formal training, and not just for political o cers, because everyone supports diplomacy in some way. e military gets this. It trains communications and logistics professionals along with infantry o cers in not just war ghting, the core competency, but in foreign policy, in multiple yearlong programs augmented by university training. I’ve heard much griping at State about the Department of Defense encroaching on our authorities and activities. Perhaps it’s because the military takes training seriously, not only in their tradecraft, but in ours. James F. Je rey of Alexandria, Virginia, is a Career Ambassador who served as U.S. ambassador to Albania, Turkey, and Iraq.

16 APRIL 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL itself down and told everyone to stay home, making it hard to know whether the group’s claims were aspirational, actual, or merely a trolling exercise to provoke right-wing anger at government workers. If the latter, it was certainly successful. e National Review promptly said the walkout would be “a felony,” and House Speaker Mike Johnson tweeted: “ ey deserve to be red. Oversight Chairman Comer and I will be working together to ensure that each federal agency initiates appropriate disciplinary proceedings against any person who walks out on their job.” Word of a walkout stirred fresh debate over many of the issues raised in the December FSJ. I awoke to a long chain of emails from former FS colleagues debating the proposed walkout’s merits. Some argued against, noting other paths—internal dissent, resignation, private opposition. Others saw it as the protest of a di erent generation, one that viewed jobs as gigs rather than careers, while still others simply appreciated the youth and the passion. What they shared was a common concern about a backlash against government workers to come from calls like Speaker Johnson’s for retribution and Donald Trump’s campaign promises to reinstitute “Schedule F” (the executive order stripping protections from—and making it easier to re—career civil servants). e online discussion sent me scurrying to the basement to retrieve a button buried among souvenirs from the 1960s. It was a thrill to nd it, with its blue dove ying against a background of red and white stars and stripes, above the words “Federal Employees for Peace.” We, too, were once young and impassioned. In 1969 I came to Washington as an international development intern. e war in Vietnam was raging. Opposition was growing. Monthly demonstrations brought tens of thousands to Washington, D.C., to march in protest. Within the State Department building a scattering of employees formed a group, Foreign Service O cers Against the War. We wore our buttons, some more discreetly than others. We were unconcerned about the impact protest could have on our careers. We probably could have used the injunction in Holzer’s article about the “ ne line between acting out of personal integrity and being selfrighteous and self-absorbed.” We only wanted to be heard—and seen. We marched around the outside of the State Department building long enough to be noticed. At our next meeting at a table in the cafeteria, Princeton Lyman—then chief of USAID’s O ce for Political Participation in Development, later ambassador to South Africa during its transition from apartheid to democracy and an assistant secretary of State—sat down and counseled us gently: Our message had been delivered. So was his. It would be nice to think that our protest contributed to the creation in 1971 of the State Department’s Dissent Channel. Certainly, at my rst post, East Pakistan, during the Pakistan army crackdown and Bangladesh’s Liberation War, we in Dacca (now Dhaka) were grateful the channel existed. Distraught at the U.S. government’s silence over Pakistan’s killing of Bengalis and its continued supply of arms to Islamabad, we signed the rst dissent cable, the “Blood Telegram” (named after then Consul General Archer Blood), calling for a change in direction. e protest didn’t bring change (Bangladesh ghters backed by the Indian army did that), but it contributed to the recognition of dissent’s importance in democratic policymaking. Speaker Johnson’s threat to re protestors is wrong. Trump’s call to remove protections for government o cials echoes the worst of McCarthyism. Having a bureaucracy able to accept dissent, protest, internal opposition, even the occasional leak, is healthy and realistic. As Ray Sontag, a beloved and esteemed professor of diplomatic history, told us at Berkeley more than a half century ago, wars are most often fought not over a question of right and wrong but over deeply felt rights. Today’s con- ict in the Middle East is no exception. We should brace ourselves for the debate and hope for the creative ideas that emerge from dissent. And we should ght against e orts to cut it short. n Following 33 years in USAID—Kenya, East Pakistan (Bangladesh), Indonesia, Senegal, India, Russia, Burma, and Washington, D.C.—FSO Desaix “Terry” Myers taught at the National Defense University until he retired in 2016. He is the author of several books. Having a bureaucracy able to accept dissent, protest, internal opposition, even the occasional leak, is healthy and realistic.

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2024 17 TALKING POINTS Deal to Swap Navalny, Two Americans On Feb. 26, the Associated Press and others reported that at the time of Alexei Navalny’s death in a Russian prison on Feb. 16, talks were underway with Germany to exchange Navalny and two unidenti ed American prisoners for a Russian imprisoned in Germany. On March 18, Russian President Vladimir Putin con rmed the news. It is unclear which Americans would have been included in the deal. Several are currently being held in Russia, including Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, and Marc Fogel, who, until his arrest in 2021, was a teacher at the Anglo-American School of Moscow. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller declined to comment on the story. Another American Arrested in Russia Ksenia Karelina, a 33-year-old dual national who lives in Los Angeles, was arrested after she traveled to Russia in January to visit family members. She was charged with treason for, according to Russia’s Federal Security Service, “providing nancial assistance to a foreign state in activities directed against the security of our country.” Karelina had allegedly donated just over $50 to a U.S.-based charity, Razom for Ukraine. Razom released a statement noting its activities are “focused on humanitarian aid, disaster relief, education, and advocacy.” Among the tens of thousands of people who have donated to Razom are many from the U.S. foreign a airs community. U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that it is dangerous for U.S. citizens or dual citizens to be in Russia, calling on Americans to “depart immediately.” Afghanistan Update: SIGAR On Jan. 30, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) released its 62nd Quarterly Report to Congress. For the rst time, this quarterly report examines the “critical question of whether, two and a half years after the U.S. withdrawal, things are getting better or worse for the Afghan people,” and it nds that except for some improvement in a couple of areas, such as counternarcotics, “most social, economic, and humanitarian indicators are clearly worsening.” Acute food insecurity was predicted to a ect 15.8 million people by March 2024. Polio eradication e orts are at risk. Rates of child and forced marriage are increasing. Girls’ education past sixth grade continues to be banned, and in January the Taliban began detaining women and girls for violating the dress code mandating full covering. e humanitarian crisis intensi- ed in October, the report states, when Pakistan’s government announced it would deport all undocumented Afghan migrants, estimated to be up to 1.3 million. By January 2024, some 493,000 Afghans, many with no place to go or means of sustaining themselves, had returned. Despite the fact that it does not recognize the Taliban government, the U.S. remains the largest donor to the Afghan people, having appropriated $11.21 billion in assistance since its withdrawal in August 2021. And the U.S. continues to respond to humanitarian crises there as they evolve. e report documents the status of U.S. funding and activities in Afghanistan, including a detailed review of State Department and USAID programs to support refugees, remove unexploded ordnance, reform the criminal justice system, and limit drug tra cking, as well as the condition of the Afghan Fund. In December 2023, SIGAR reports, the State Department released “an updated integrated country strategy for Afghanistan,” the rst since the Taliban seized power. Aimed at ensuring the country is never again used for attacks against the U.S. and its allies and at reducing Afghanistan’s dependence on U.S. assistance, the strategy acknowledges the need to “build functional relationships” with the Taliban to succeed. Signi cantly, SIGAR is working on a lessons-learned report on how to better understand and mitigate interference and diversion of humanitarian assistance in countries where the government isn’t recognized. Read the full report at SIGAR-Report-Jan2024. Karelina reportedly sent Razom for Ukraine $51.80 in the months before she was arrested.

18 APRIL 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Mr. Nice Guy? Politico’s senior foreign a airs correspondent, Nahal Toosi, asked the question in a February column: Is Antony Blinken too nice to be Secretary of State? “He doesn’t yell or scream,” writes Toosi. But his voice becomes “intense,” and he may tap a nearby table for emphasis when he gets angry. Toosi suggests Blinken should show the public the “quiet fury” he sometimes exhibits behind closed doors. When asked about the article, the Secretary responded: “I’ll let others speak to my character, and all I can say is that most people who assume the position that I have the great privilege of assuming now don’t get there by being nice all the time.” U.S., European O–cials Sign Dissent Letter More than 800 o cials in the United States, the U.K., and the European Union (E.U.) signed and publicly released a letter of dissent against their governments’ support of Israel’s actions in Gaza, e New York Times reported on Feb. 2. e letter’s authors call on their governments/institutions to, among other things, “develop a strategy for lasting peace that includes a secure Palestinian state and guarantees for Israel’s security, so that an attack like 7 October and an o ensive on Gaza never happen again.” U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford, who resigned in 2014 over the Obama administration’s Syria policy, told the Times that in three decades at the State Department, he had never seen a dissent letter coordinated by diplomats from multiple countries. But “when war is looming that is very problematic on many levels, I can see why people are speaking out,” he said. About 80 of the signers are from the U.S., and most of those are with the State Department, according to the Times. e majority of signers are from the European Union. e E.U. does not have a formal dissent channel. Berber van der Woude, a former Dutch diplomat who did not sign the letter, told the Times that dissent by civil servants is justi ed. “Being a civil servant doesn’t absolve you from your responsibility to keep on thinking,” she said. “When the system produces perverse decisions or actions, we have a responsibility to stop it. It’s not as simple as ‘shut up and do what you’re told’; we’re also paid to think.” New Problem for Pet Owners Last year AFSA members celebrated the news that, thanks in part to AFSA’s advocacy, traveling with pets was going to become easier and less expensive as new regulations were released giving allowances for pet transport. But according to e New York Times, there’s a new wrinkle for pet owners to contend with. IAG Cargo, a cargo-handling company that ships pets abroad for multiple U.S. airlines, announced that it will be raising rates to ship animals along some of its routes beginning in March 2024. Pets Abroad UK told the Times that costs to transport pets between Britain and the United States were increasing 400 percent. AFSPA Acts Retirement-Life Communities Clements Worldwide FEDS Protection Peake Management, Inc. Property Specialists, Inc. Promax Management Richey Property Management Vinson Hall Retirement Community Windecker Financial Planning, LLC WJD Management

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2024 19 China’s rise and Russia’s revanchism pose daunting geopolitical challenges in a world of intense strategic competition in which the United States no longer enjoys uncontested primacy and in which existential climate threats are mounting. Complicating matters further is a revolution in technology even more sweeping than the Industrial Revolution or the beginning of the nuclear age. From microchips to artificial intelligence to quantum computing, emerging technologies are transforming the world, including the profession of intelligence. —CIA Director and Career Ambassador William J. Burns, in “Spycraft and Statecraft,” Foreign A airs, Jan. 30, 2024. Contemporary Quote U.S. Is Soft Power Superpower The U.S. has been selected as the world’s soft power superpower for the third consecutive year by Brand Finance. is year the London-based consulting group ranked all 193 United Nations member states based on eight “soft power pillars” and 35 “nation brand attributes.” e U.S. earned the top spot in attributes such as “leader in science,” “in uential in arts and entertainment,” and “helpful to countries in need.” But it dropped in the rankings in “great place to visit,” “safe and secure,” and “good relations with other countries.” e report’s authors explain this decline is due to “internal security challenges around gun violence and police brutality, as well as involvement in international con icts.” Laurence Newell, a managing director at Brand Finance Americas, said in a release: “As we approach the 2024 elections, there’s growing concern about the integrity of democratic values. is uncertainty re ects ongoing polarization and the lingering impact of past events, such as the January 6th Capitol attack.