The Foreign Service Journal, May 2018

60 MAY 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL AFSA NEWS AFSA NEWS THE OFFICIAL RECORD OF THE AMERICAN FOREIGN SERVICE ASSOCIATION THE STATE OF STATE Burns and Stephenson Discuss the Future of Diplomacy On Feb. 27, AFSA President Ambassador Barbara Ste- phenson and Ambassador (ret.) Nicholas Burns joined forces to give a presentation on “The State of the State Department.” Hosted by WorldBos- ton and held at the Boston Public Library, the event was attended by approximately 250 local professionals, stu- dents and interested citizens. Amb. Stephenson spot- lighted the role of the Foreign Service in boosting the U.S. economy: “Diplomats are at work every day ensuring that U.S. businesses face a level playing field overseas, that procurement processes are transparent and fair, and that American companies, which don’t pay bribes, get a fair shake,” she explained. Diplomats even work on behalf of people who never plan to leave the United States, she told the crowd. “U.S. diplomats, working with Customs and Border Protec- tion colleagues, negotiated for years with the European Union to reach an agreement making it possible to share passenger name records” for every flight originating in Europe and landing on U.S. soil, making all Americans more secure at home. During his remarks, Amb. Burns argued that the cost to fully fund diplomacy is minus- cule: “Everything we spend under the sun in the United States of America that has AFSA/LINNEAGAVRILIS Ambassadors Nicholas Burns and Barbara Stephenson answer audience questions at the Boston Library on Feb. 27. to do with international life, all of that’s $58 billion. Just the increase [in the proposed military budget] exceeds everything we do on the civil- ian side. That’s not smart, and it’s not right.” It is difficult to describe diplomatic successes, explained Amb. Stephenson, “in part because, done well, our work is often nearly invis- ible.” Diplomats don’t have uniforms, she told the crowd. “We don’t have tanks, or ships or missiles. What we have is our people.” Diplomatic prowess is used to channel all of the mili- tary, economic and cultural power of the United States “into global leadership that has kept us safe and prosper- ous at home,” she added. Amb. Burns echoed her thoughts on the importance of our civilian forces. “We negotiate peace for the United States. We intervene in the toughest situations. Our people are on point, in dangerous situations.” Of him- self and Amb. Stephenson, he noted: “We’ve both faced terrorist threats to us and our families in our career.” This is a time of “existen- tial challenge” for our country, said Burns. “We’ve been the primary power in the world over the last 73 years. We spend more in our defense … than the next 10 countries combined, and no other coun- try has the cultural appeal, or soft power, that we have. We’ve got this big responsibil- ity to use this power wisely.” But, he noted, we cannot maintain a global leadership role through our military alone—soldiers and civilians need to work together if we are to be suc- cessful. “The United States is strongest when we integrate our ability to project force—that’s the military—[with] our ability to negoti- ate and get our way without firing a shot, integrating diplomacy and defense,” Burns argued. “We have the greatest military in the world. We never want to be number two or three after China or Russia. …But we’ve got to have first-rate diplomacy. And we’re in dan- ger of losing it.” Amb. Burns ended his remarks with a discussion of the opportunities ahead. “There’s a lot at stake that challenges us,” he said, telling the audience that we can contribute to poverty allevia- tion and to eradicating polio “if we have the money in the State Department budget to fund vaccine programs, and if we have the diplomats to run them.” “These are great positive goals, along with the firefight- ing that we have to do. But it’s going to be civilians and mili- tary together,” he said.“If you fully fund one and don’t fund the other, America is going to be weaker, less capable and certainly less successful.” Watch the video at http://bit. ly/State-of-State. n