The Foreign Service Journal, June 2023

12 JUNE 2023 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL proved invaluable in my later career. Camp had a similar experience. Later, when this practice at State was abandoned and as I rose through the ranks, I watched first-tour officers often struggle to figure out what was going on and where they fit in. And sometimes they would lose heart, especially if assigned to consular positions at “visa mill” posts. I could not help but wonder how management allowed this to happen. It was profoundly wasteful. I know that budgetary constraints and absence of a personnel “float” precluded continuation of the practice, but it seemed to me to be a serious loss. Jack Binns Ambassador, retired Tucson, Arizona Evaluations Need 360s I read with interest Virginia Blaser’s Speaking Out piece in the April 2023 FSJ , “Why Our Evaluation System Is Broken and What to Do About It. ” Having served as a director of the Office of Performance Evaluation and as chair of the Foreign Service Grievance Board—and having written and read hundreds of EERs in those roles and as a deputy chief of mission (DCM) and management counselor—I concur that performance evaluation is a process, not a document, and that its real value is in helping employees improve their skills. There is one important missing ingre- dient in her recipe for change, however. A key to successful performance evaluation is getting a full picture of the employee, not just from their supervisors but from colleagues and subordinates. Especially in a Service with no shortage of brilliant writers and hard workers, inter- personal skills are essential to moving up Share your thoughts about this month’s issue. Submit letters to the editor: self-defense. And we must thank him for sharing his lessons learned. In the concluding section, “The ‘International Community’ as an Actor,” Wohlers explains why the complex efforts of the international community to help CAR overcome its difficulties failed. Thus, his analysis provides a road map to how and why such efforts can go wrong. We can hope this may help planners in United Nations agencies, international nongovernmental organizations, and the foreign ministries of individual powers dealing with other developing countries in need of help that works. (Such planners should also see “Central African Republic” in the “World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples.”) John W. Vincent FSO, retired East Windsor, New Jersey n the organizational chain. Folks who are not able to manage down or sideways cannot be effective DCMs and chiefs of mission. Yet we never evaluate for those skills or provide feedback—until employees in those roles are having problems. Adding the dimen- sion of what peers and subordinates think about an employee’s performance can round out the picture in necessary ways. Until we do that, we will never have an accurate understanding of an employee’s strengths and weaknesses. And employ- ees will not really know what important skills they need to further develop, in their own self-interest and that of the State Department. Larry Mandel FSO, retired North Kingstown, Rhode Island Lessons Learned in CAR I read the April 2023 feature, “Losing the Peace in the Central African Repub- lic, ” by Ambassador (ret.) Laurence Wohlers, with interest. The Central African Republic (CAR) may win the sweepstakes for the developing country in dire crisis that the American public knows and cares the least about. They’re not indifferent but truly ignorant about it—with scant political or economic incentive to learn. This is largely because it is, for us, one of those places that epitomizes geographic remoteness. It is, moreover, surrounded by other “remote” countries with serious problems of their own. So we must admire the many years of effort the author has devoted in vari- ous capacities to try to help guide CAR’s feuding communities within its French colonial–created boundaries to domestic peace and stability and to being capable of Corrections: May 2023 Edition In “Getting to Know the Real USSR” by Rose Gottemoeller, Alma-Ata is now Almaty, not Astana. In “The Journey to Expo 2020 Dubai and Its Legacy” by Matthew Asada, U.S. Ambassador John Rakolta Jr. was dual-hatted as commissioner general of the expo, not Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl. In the AFSA News article “FSO-Journalist on Countering Disinformation,” VOA was founded in 1942 to counter wartime disinformation, not Cold War disinfor- mation. In Books, the Canadian team for the summit series included Paul Henderson, not Bobby Hull. We regret the errors.