The Foreign Service Journal, May 2021

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MAY 2021 59 AFSA NEWS AFSA NEWS THE OFFICIAL RECORD OF THE AMERICAN FOREIGN SERVICE ASSOCIATION Please check for the most up-to-date information. All events are subject to cancellation or rescheduling. May 6 AFSA Foreign Service Day Virtual Programming May 7 Virtual Foreign Service Day May 13 12 p.m. AFSA Governing Board Election Town Hall May 19 12-2 p.m. AFSA Governing Board Meeting May 26 Inside Diplomacy: Arctic Diplomacy featuring Jim DeHart, U.S. coordinator for the Arctic region CALENDAR “The world needs our diplo- mats, our Foreign Service, right nowmore than at any other time.” That’s the message of Liz Schrayer, president and CEO of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, the first guest in AFSA’s new Inside Diplomacy series. The Inside Diplomacy program will explore national security issues as they relate to the profession of the Foreign Service. Schrayer joined AFSA President Eric Rubin on March 11 for an hourlong Zoom con- versation about America’s rol e in the world today. Schrayer noted that she testified in Congress in March 2020—on the day before theWorld Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. She told congressmembers that the high-water mark of Ameri- can spending on international affairs, as a percentage of gross domestic product, was in 1985. But on the day she testified, the percentage of spending was about half of what it was 35 years earlier. “There is no way you can convince me that we’re half as challenged in the world today as we were at the height of the ColdWar,” she said, adding that it is time to reverse the trend. Ambassador Rubin noted that for the first time since WorldWar II, America no lon- ger has the largest diplomatic service in the world. “We are now number 2 behind China, which has more embassies and consulates and more diplomats serv- ing overseas. The difference is small, the numbers aren’t that much greater, but it’s an important datapoint,” he said. “And the question is, is being number 2 good enough? Can we afford to do better? Of course the answer is yes we can, if we choose to. That’s why this is such an important discussion right now.” Schrayer added that despite the suffering and economic hardship caused by the pandemic, initial polling showed that citizens want the United States to remain engaged in the world. “The pandemic is clearly a wakeup call,” she said. “This global pandemic is the ultimate reminder that we’re interconnected in the world, that an infectious disease literally can travel 36 hours to our doorstep and impact everybody’s life.” In the spring of 2020, she said, USGLC found that 95 percent of the people it surveyed said it is important for the United States to work with other countries to fight diseases that could spread globally. Eighty percent said that the United States should spend resources to help fragile and weak economies around the world respond to the pandemic. She said she was astounded by the numbers. But as the pandemic wore on, she said, weariness and fear set in, and she noted a “turning inward” in every country, and the rise of vac- cine nationalism. USGLC con- vened multiple focus groups in the fall, and found that people feel “really strongly” both that the United States should engage in the world and that “we have to take care of needs at home.” Schrayer said her con- clusion is that there is a “very, very small number” of isolationists in America— less than 10 percent of the population. The vast major- ity of Americans want an active U.S. role in the world. The United States needs to show up. “We need a seat at the table,” she said. “But we can’t do it alone. They want us to partner. And it needs to be effective when we show up. It needs to be fair. China can’t take advantage of us. Every- Inside Diplomacy Event Boosting America’s Global Presence body needs to pay their fair share. But so do we.” The door is wide open to connect with fellow citizens, she added. “But we need to do it in a way that makes sense to people who are feeling great pain, great suf- fering, great fear, and want to get back our economy, our health, our security.” USGLC is a coalition of more than 500 businesses and nongovernmental orga- nizations that advocates for strong U.S. global leader- ship through development diplomacy. Visit to view the conversation. n USGLC President and CEO Liz Schrayer spoke with AFSA President Eric Rubin March 11 for the inaugural Inside Diplomacy speaker event. SCREENCAPTURE