The Foreign Service Journal, May 2024

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MAY 2024 11 Perhaps some lesser works gathering dust could be sold at auction and the proceeds realized used for conservation? Andrew Fayle FSJ reader Isla Mujeres, Mexico 1950s AFSA In his article “AFSA’S First Hundred Years” (January-February 2024 FSJ), Harry Kopp cites a characterization of AFSA from the 1950s into the 1960s as an “effete club of elderly gentlemen.” As an elderly individual myself, I’d like to say a word in defense of AFSA presidents in that period (along with their ages at the time): George Kennan (46), Robert Murphy (61), Charles Bohlen (67), U. Alexis Johnson (55), Livingston Merchant (51), and Lucius Battle (44). Not exactly a gerontocracy! As noted below, not all former AFSA presidents qualified as “gentlemen.” The greatest threat to the Foreign Service in the 1950s was the persecution of FSOs, notably the “China hands,” on spurious security grounds. AFSA’s response to this challenge was decidedly mixed. George Kennan was forced out of the Foreign Service in part due to his efforts in support of John Davies. And in a January 1952 FSJ editorial, AFSA took a strong stand on behalf of another China hand, John Service: “For the American people a fundamental of law and government has been contravened. ... Every effort must be made in our collective self-defense to utilize all available means ... to make certain that justice prevails in the case of the loyalty of John S. Service.” Service’s purgatory, which lasted for seven more years, was cruelly ended by a confidential memorandum placed in his personnel file on Aug. 11, 1959, by Loy Henderson, an FSO, Career Ambassador, and former AFSA chairman (1945-1946), who served as State’s top management official from 1955 to 1961. Henderson’s biographer, historian H.W. Brands, attributes this assignment primarily to the fact that his “conservative credentials were in impeccable order.” States Brand: “Henderson’s distrust of New Dealers was a matter of record. ... When McCarthy blasted the department and foreign service ... he excepted Henderson by name.” In the memo, Henderson stated: “Mr. Service’s action in the Amerasia Case was reprehensible and has brought serious discredit upon the Foreign Service. This fact should be given proper consideration by any Selection Board considering Mr. Service’s performance record.” The memo destroyed Service’s career prospects, as Lynne Joiner points out in her book Honorable Survivor: Mao’s China, McCarthy’s America, and the Persecution of John S. Service (2009). McCarthy was dead, but his spirit lingered. On Jan. 30, 1973, AFSA paid belated tribute to the China hands before a capacity crowd of 250 in the Benjamin Franklin Room. In his remarks to the gathering, John Service said: “I wish I could say that the Foreign Service itself has always supported the value of reporting and area expertise ... negative examples have not been few.” As the China hands learned from bitter experience, not all their enemies were outside the tent. Bob Rackmales Foreign Service officer, retired Belfast, Maine n