The Foreign Service Journal, June 2024


THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JUNE 2024 5 June 2024 Volume 101, No. 5 Focus on AI for Diplomacy 21 New Tools for Better Foreign Policy Can the State Department integrate promising new technology without undermining the essential human aspects of diplomacy? By Dan Spokojny 24 An AI Primer for Policy Professionals As international affairs professionals, we need to understand the fundamentals of new technology so we can better address its evolution and application. By Zed Tarar FS Heritage 40 Henry of the Tower Revisited It’s time to take another look at how we remember 18th-century American envoy Henry Laurens. By Thomas N. Hull Feature 38 Beyond Scale: Three Steps Toward Modernizing the Foreign Service By Darrow Godeski Merton, FSJ Centennial Writing Competition 2nd Place Winner 28 At the Crossroads of Tradition and Innovation with AI Making AI work at State requires challenging the culture that underlies the department’s siloed structure. By Paul Kruchoski 31 Toward Data-Informed Multilateral Diplomacy Here is a case study of the adoption of AI and data science in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs. By Paula Osborn Education Supplement 53 Beyond Borders: Launching Third Culture Kids Here are tips on managing the college and overseas transitions. By Rebecca McPherson 58, 60 Education at a Glance 35 AI Disruption and Responsible Use in Diplomacy A vision of how AI will be integrated into our U.S. democratic society is needed. State can contribute to the discussion. By Evanna Hu

6 JUNE 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL 76 Reflections MFO: Tipping the Scales in Favor of Stability By Joseph Anthony D’Agostino III 78 Local Lens Los Cobanos, El Salvador By Caitlin Hartford On the Cover—Illustration by Bitteschoen.TV. Marketplace 70 Real Estate 74 Classifieds 75 Index to Advertisers 7 President’s Views Diplomacy Works: Do Our Budgets Reflect That? By Tom Yazdgerdi 9 Letter from the Editor AI for Diplomacy By Shawn Dorman 18 Speaking Out The Foreign Service Deserves Its Own Sorting Hat By Eric Bernau Perspectives Departments 10 Letters 12 Talking Points 67 Books AFSA NEWS THE OFFICIAL RECORD OF THE AMERICAN FOREIGN SERVICE ASSOCIATION 44 Inside Diplomacy: DG Talks to AFSA Members 44 AFSA Hosts Road Scholars 44 Shop AFSA! 45 State VP Voice—Advancing Diplomacy for the Next Century 46 USAID VP Voice—Answers for Our Overworked Workforce 47 Retiree VP Voice—Mandatory Retirement: Why Still Age 65? 48 AFSA on the Hill—FY24 Appropriations Outcomes 49 AFSA on Havana Syndrome 49 AFSA Urges Clarity on Flag Restrictions 50 FSJ Welcomes New Associate Editor 50 AFSA Governing Board Meetings, March and April 2024 50 Training for Op-Ed Writing 50 AFSA Webinar—The View from Washington 51 AFSA’s Good Works—Member Advocacy 44

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JUNE 2024 7 Diplomacy Works: Do Our Budgets Reflect That? BY TOM YAZDGERDI Tom Yazdgerdi is the president of the American Foreign Service Association. PRESIDENT’S VIEWS As members of the Foreign Service, we have devoted our lives to being America’s first line of defense and working for a more secure, more just, and more prosperous world. As I write this column in late April, we are focused on the final Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations for the State Department and the other foreign affairs agencies. We are disappointed that the FY2024 International Affairs Budget (IAB) has been reduced by 6 percent, the first time in five years that there have been cuts. (See Advocacy Director Kim Greenplate’s full report, page 48.) True, most cuts to the operational accounts for the foreign affairs agencies were below 3 percent, with the State Department’s cut coming in at less than a percent. But with inflation running at more than 3 percent, this is going to hurt our country’s ability to engage diplomatically—and even more so as these cuts must be absorbed in the last six months of FY2024 since it took so long for the appropriations bills to be passed. For USAID and the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), budget cuts are deeper, at 10 percent for foreign assistance and 4 percent for FAS. It is unfortunate and wrongheaded to cut resources for foreign assistance, agricultural, and commercial work, all of which are integrally tied to U.S. interests. At State, we are hearing that Foreign Service hiring will have to be reduced by 15 to 30 percent for the remainder of the fiscal year. The cuts at the Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) are so deep that no new FSOs are expected to be onboarded this year. What Can Be Done? First, I encourage our members to reach out to their representatives and senators in support of funding for diplomacy and development. FS retirees, resident in nearly every state and territory of the union, can play a pivotal role here. We also have strong relationships with our diplomats in residence (DIR) who are engaged at the regional and state levels. We all can and should use the centennial year as a hook for telling our stories and detailing why appropriately funding the foreign affairs agencies is crucial to U.S. national security and prosperity. I have heard arguments for the creation of a single national security appropriations bill that would encompass all the defense, intelligence, and foreign affairs agencies. All these agencies deal with national security. This would create a single place where national security funding in all its forms could be discussed and decided, where there would be no separate cutout for the military function. This would put these agencies on a more equal footing. I realize the difficulty in achieving this, but at the very least, the idea should be considered and debated. Please, No More Doing More with Less There is no question that the foreign affairs agencies will have belt-tightening to do over the next 12 to 18 months. One hopeful sign: a supplemental national security package recently passed the House and Senate to address crises overseas in Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. This package includes an additional 26.8 billion for State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) appropriations. For operational accounts, State received more than $230 million and USAID received nearly $40 million. But even with this additional funding, the foreign affairs agencies have seen disproportionate cuts to their functions over decades. I hope never again to hear the words “doing more with less.” That did not work back in 1992 when I first heard that phrase as a first-tour officer, and it will not work now. We must look for ways to put funding the international affairs function—which accounts for about 1 percent of the federal budget—on a sounder, more rational footing. To do otherwise is to cede the field to our rivals, who are all too willing to fill the void in a world that has grown increasingly dangerous and unpredictable. Nothing short of American leadership, which has kept the global peace for so many years, is at stake. Please share your thoughts by writing or n

8 JUNE 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 Mark Parkhomenko: 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 offered. 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 offices. Indexed by the Public Affairs 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 Office: (202) 647-8160; Fax (202) 647-0265 USAID AFSA Office: (202) 712-1941; Fax (202) 216-3710 FCS AFSA Office: (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: Kimberly McClure: 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 Stafford: STAFF Executive Director Ásgeir Sigfússon: Executive Assistant to the President Maria Benincasa: Office Coordinator Therese Thomas: PROFESSIONAL POLICY ISSUES AND ADVOCACY Director of Professional Policy Issues Julie Nutter: Director of Advocacy Kim Sullivan: 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 Jeff Lau: Manager, Outreach and Strategic Communications Nadja Ruzica: Communication and Educational Outreach Coordinator Erin Oliver: MEMBERSHIP Director, Programs and Member Engagement Christine Miele: Program Coordinator Vacant 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 Staff 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 | JUNE 2024 9 Shawn Dorman is the editor of The Foreign Service Journal. LETTER FROM THE EDITOR AI for Diplomacy BY SHAWN DORMAN Welcome to the June edition, where we take on the question of artificial intelligence (AI) for diplomacy—promise or peril? Of course, AI is both. It has the potential to affect nearly everything we do, so it is worth hearing from practitioners working in this field to get an idea of how AI is being used for diplomacy and what the prospects are. For this month’s focus, we were fortunate to have assistance from FSJ Editorial Board member Dan Spokojny, who helped bring together an expert group of authors and wrote the lead piece, outlining the topic and showing how AI is growing in importance. In this modernizing world, changes are afoot at the Journal, too. As reading habits and the ways we consume media continue to change, we want to keep up—without losing our grounding in print. And I am happy to report that as we adapt to the changing landscape, the FSJ is flourishing. Many of you now see Journal articles as they flow through various channels before or instead of reading the magazine front to back in print. Almost all the individual articles are pushed out through AFSA and FSJ social media, as well as through the weekly FSJ Insider email newsletter. The FSJ digital archive provides one of the most extensive records in existence of U.S. diplomatic history as seen through the eyes of the practitioners. To increase access to its riches, we post the entire edition online and also curate content for Special Collections on critical topics, which can be found on the AFSA website. This is a living and evolving resource. The issues we take on don’t end with any particular edition, and we encourage responses to carry conversations forward. We started the “Straight from the Source” department to give activeduty authors the chance to tell us, in an official capacity, about new policies or plans affecting the Foreign Service with the aim of sparking discussion and debate. And sometimes, FSJ coverage leads to action or change. We are always looking for the right authors from the active-duty and retired Foreign Service community to shed light on the issues of the day. You are our eyes and ears, and your voices make this journal. We want to hear your responses to articles, and we want to know what else you’d like to see in your FSJ. We will be reaching out with a reader survey soon to get your thoughts. As always, please write to us at You can also engage with us directly online through the FSJ LinkedIn page and any other AFSA social media platform. n

10 JUNE 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL LETTERS Anti-Bullying and Accountability Congratulations to the editorial team on the Journal’s powerful anti-bullying focus in April 2024. The State Department’s announcement of a long-delayed anti-bullying office and policy mere months after AFSA and the FSJ raised the matter shows the power of union and employee advocacy to effect meaningful change. While every article was thoughtprovoking, I was particularly impressed by Ambassador Ana Escrogima’s take on how leaders can interrupt toxic behaviors—an approach she embraces in real life, as I can vouch from firsthand experience. Strong, compassionate leaders like Amb. Escrogima and those who’ll heed her advice are what we need. If the flood of messages I received after publication of my Speaking Out essay, “State’s Pledge to Stop Promoting Bullies,” in the January-February 2024 FSJ is any indication, the prevalence of bullying across our institution is shocking. From ambassadors to new hires, former colleagues to officers I’ve never met, people wrote and called from Washington, D.C., and around the world to talk about their experiences with toxic senior leaders. There was one unifying theme: concern over a lack of accountability that let their tormentors rise to even more senior levels or respectable retirement. In this context, the Director General’s “Focus on Accountability” initiative is timely and welcome, particularly when 65 percent of Foreign Service officers lack confidence in the department’s accountability mechanisms, according to survey data that the DG herself called “disturbing.” If the department has the necessary political will to implement this initiative, victim testimonies abound, including in the Journal’s coverage of AFSA’s 2023 Constructive Dissent Awards. Zia Ahmed FSO U.S. Embassy Muscat Learning Policy Lacks Resources I read the March 2024 Foreign Service Journal article “A Look at the New Learning Policy” with great interest. I have been following the development of the learning policy, and I appreciate the thoughtful and well-constructed framework it lays out. However, I keep waiting for the second part, the one that would make it a serious policy and distinguish it from the countless initiatives—always billed as “revolutionary” and “culture changing”—announced under every administration with great fanfare and then quickly forgotten a few years later. I am waiting for the announcement of resources. One of the ironclad rules of a bureaucracy is that your priorities are where you put your resources: money and people. Talk is, literally, cheap. The learning policy calls on us to allow our staff more time for professional development but does not seem to recognize that we lead teams on which everyone is expected to do the work of multiple people. Our people are stretched so thin that the biggest barrier to making time for professional development is the need to find ways to mitigate the stress on the entire overworked team that must pick up the slack when one person is in training. The policy also talks about the importance of long-term training opportunities, and it is spot-on. However, it does not provide any avenue to backfill these longterm gaps; and, in the fine print, it says that in most cases the bureaus are responsible for covering the costs of long-term training out of existing resources. Unfortunately, the problem with the learning policy goes further. This declaration of admirable ideas was released at about the same time as two directives that will make it even harder to make time for professional development. First, every bureau must further cut staff from already strained offices, and second, we must cut funding from already bare-bones budgets. Taken altogether, this sends an unambiguous signal of the lack of seriousness for the new learning policy. We have a model for what a serious learning policy looks like, however. I had the honor of beginning my career under Secretary Colin Powell, who created the first management continuing education program for the State Department in 2001. To do this, he personally went before Congress, multiple times, to secure commitments for additional funds that would support the initiative and give the department a large personnel increase to create training floats. That was a serious policy that didn’t just talk about respect for the work of the State Department; it demonstrated that respect. (After 9/11, the additional staffing needs for war-zone Iraq and Afghanistan took all the spots that would

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JUNE 2024 11 have formed the training float, but that is a different story.) Powell also truly modernized State by getting access to the internet on every desktop and replacing the “War Games”–era Wang computers with their almost–21st-century technology. Again, this happened because he took the time to ensure we got additional resources, and he took the time to ensure senior leaders were held accountable for making it happen, despite some pretty serious resistance from those arguing the need to maintain the status quo. In a very short time, Colin Powell made dramatic and lasting changes to State Department culture through real leadership: delivering on his promises to support us and holding himself and other senior leaders accountable to us. Even as a first-tour officer at a small post in central Africa, I felt empowered, and we all strove to live up to his example. Powell knew that our priorities are reflected in how we use our resources. He didn’t just say we needed more people, more technology, new skills, and better training. He personally went to the Hill to argue for the resources to do it, and he spent his own time—perhaps the most precious resource in the State Department—to ensure it happened. We cannot modernize the department through rhetoric and directives alone. Michael Honigstein FSO Washington, D.C. Malcolm Toon’s Reminder I want to congratulate The Foreign Service Journal on a brilliant 100thanniversary edition (May 2024). I got a particular chuckle out of the excerpt in “The U.S. Foreign Service and AFSA Through 100 Years of the Journal” from a 1982 interview with Malcolm Toon, who was my very first ambassador in the Foreign Service, at Embassy Belgrade (and again at Embassy Moscow). In his candid and scathing fashion, he railed against the plague of unqualified political appointees populating the ambassadorial ranks: “It is no longer in the national interest to use the Foreign Service as a dumping ground for people who have been defeated in elections or who have made heavy contributions to the party.” His prescription: top career people should speak out, and if nothing was done, “Let them resign with a bang, slam the door, make a big noise about it.” Toon spared neither party in his criticism, noting that “for every David Bruce, you get ten Mr. Klunks.” His descriptions of a few of the political appointees in Europe at the time, although he named no names, were readily identifiable and hilarious. I recommend that everyone read the Toon interview to get an idea of what a real professional who spoke his mind was like. And by the way, the Soviets couldn’t stand him—also because of his candor. The full Toon interview is in the April 1982 edition of the FSJ. It is well worth reading both for the laughs and, for some of us, the memories. James F. Schumaker FSO, retired San Clemente, California n

12 JUNE 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL TALKING POINTS Can you imagine if United Airlines, or Microsoft, or Google, or the University of Virginia had 13 percent of its positions unfilled? What happens is you end up with incredible workload burdens. You end up shifting certain duties. You end up with posts that don’t have enough people. … We’re in this race to catch up, but you can’t catch up if your budget, like this past year, has been cut by nearly 6 percent. —Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Amb. Richard Verma at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on April 3. Contemporary Quote State Releases Chatbot The State Department launched a pilot for its internal AI chatbot the week of April 19 in response to employee requests for help in streamlining processes such as translating and summarizing. Secretary Blinken signed the Enterprise Artificial Intelligence Strategy FY 2024-2025 on Nov. 9, 2023, saying in a statement: “The Department of State will responsibly and securely harness the full capabilities of trustworthy artificial intelligence to advance United States diplomacy and shape the future of statecraft.” Approaches toward generative AI vary across different sectors of the federal government. Certain agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Energy, have blocked the technology altogether. Others, such as NASA and the Department of Agriculture, have begun to cautiously explore this terrain by creating “sandbox” testing environments and organizing boards to review potential use cases. Kelly Fletcher, the State Department’s chief information officer, stated that the agency is encouraging its workforce to use these AI tools to determine how they will best be used in the future. On Gaza Assistance The U.S. embassy in Jerusalem announced the death of a 21-year embassy employee who worked for USAID’s mission to the West Bank and Gaza. Arab Israeli Jacob Toukhy was killed in an altercation with an o -duty police o cer on April 13. According to R. David Harden, a former USAID assistant administrator, Toukhy was a “good soul” who contributed to briefing senior U.S. government officials, helped Palestinians and Jordanians find common ground for shared water resources, and managed many of the mission’s youth programs. Toukhy’s death comes in the wake of humanitarian violence in early April, when seven members of World Central Kitchen’s (WCK) team were killed in an IDF strike in Gaza. WCK’s convoy, made up of Australian, Polish, American, Canadian, and Palestinian nationals, was hit after it left its warehouse in Deir al-Balah, where it had unloaded roughly 100 tons of humanitarian food aid to Gaza. WCK says Israeli forces were aware of the convoy’s movements and purpose when they fired on the vehicle. In response, WCK paused its operations in the region, and the IDF launched an official investigation into the circumstances of the incident, resulting in the dismissal and reprimand of officials involved in the incident. On April 25, José Andrés, founder of WCK, delivered a eulogy to the fallen aid workers at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. On April 28, WCK announced that it would resume operations in Gaza. The mission of aid workers at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza has also been stymied since Israel alleged in late January that 12 members of UNRWA staff took part in the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attacks and asserted that many UNRWA staff are military operatives in Gaza terrorist groups. After an investigation, UNRWA terminated 10 of the 12 accused staff, with the remaining two being deceased. UNRWA maintains that remaining staffers have no ties to Hamas. On April 22, a final report of the Independent Review Group on UNRWA determined that Israeli authorities have yet to provide proof of their claims that U.N. staff are involved with terrorist organizations. UNRWA employs 32,000 people across its area of operations, 13,000 of them in Gaza. Israel’s allegations led 16 countries to pause or suspend funding of $450 million to UNRWA. The U.S. was UNRWA’s chief donor, contributing $300-400 million a year; U.S. Congress officially suspended contributions after an initial pause in funding. Janez Lenarcic, European commissioner for crisis management, called for a resumption in funding for the “Palestinian refugees’ lifeline.” Germany signaled that it would resume funding in the wake of the April 22 report, joining Australia, Canada, and Sweden.

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JUNE 2024 13 New Director at VOA Voice of America (VOA), the broadcasting network run by the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), announced on April 19 that Michael Abramowitz will take over as director this summer. e position is currently held by John Lippman, who has been acting director since October 2023. VOA has not had a permanent director since 2021. Abramowitz has served as president of the nonprofit Freedom House since 2017. Prior to that, he was a director at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum; he also spent 24 years as a reporter and editor at The Washington Post. He wrote “Diplomacy and Democracy: Putting Values into Practice” for the JanuaryFebruary 2021 Foreign Service Journal. Abramowitz told The New York Times he appreciates VOA’s work to counter disinformation from authoritarian countries like China, Russia, and Iran: “These countries are waging ferocious information warfare aimed at undermining democracies, aimed at undermining the United States, and we need to fight back. I think that the VOA is one very important tool for the United States government in this information war.” Abramowitz is a Foreign Service family member: His father, Ambassador Morton Abramowitz, was the 2006 recipient of AFSA’s Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy Award. Dissent at State As the crisis in Gaza has led to massive protests on college campuses across the U.S., dissent within the State Department and other foreign a airs agencies continues. To date, three State Department officials have resigned in protest over the war in Gaza. First was Josh Paul in October 2023; then on March 27, Annelle T his quarterly online journal seeks to inform readers about international issues and diplomacy, promote greater understanding of the Foreign Service and the role of diplomats, and encourage readers to consider a Foreign Service career. American Diplomacy is published in cooperation with the University of North Carolina– Chapel Hill’s College of Arts and Sciences and its curriculum in peace, war, and defense. From analyses of postwar relations between the U.S. and Vietnam to firsthand accounts of American diplomats working under fire, American Diplomacy provides a window into the lives and work of Foreign Service officials abroad. In 2021 it celebrated 25 years of continuous online publication—its archives have grown to include more than 2,000 articles since its inception in 1996. To subscribe, email join— In addition, if you wish to send a submission, email Podcast of the Month: American Diplomacy ( The appearance of a particular site or podcast is for information only and does not constitute an endorsement. Sheline, former foreign affairs officer in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, stepped down in protest. On April 25, Foreign Service Officer Hala Rharrit became the first Foreign Service career diplomat to resign in protest of the war. She was serving as the State Department’s Arabic language spokesperson and as the deputy director for the Dubai Regional Media Hub. On April 29, Rharrit spoke to NPR about her resignation, saying that after 18 years of service to the United States’ Gaza policy, she found it difficult to do her job given the continued flow of U.S. arms to Israel. “The policy really became unacceptable. I was holding out, hoping to try to change things from the inside, until I realized at one point that this policy was undermining U.S. interests. It was destabilizing the Middle East. And it was indeed a failed policy. And with that, I decided I could no longer be part of the department and decided to submit my resignation.” Rharrit maintains that U.S. diplomats are losing credibility: “We could no longer talk about human rights when we were allowing and enabling the mass killing of civilians. We could no longer talk about press freedom when we remained silent on the killing of over a hundred journalists in Gaza.” Asked by NPR host Mary Louise Kelly about whether she had attempted to go through official internal dissent channels before resigning, Rharrit said that yes, she had. Rharrit added her former colleagues at the department are “uneasy” about the policy and unable to talk about it internally: “I’ve never faced that before. We’ve always been able to talk about what’s working, what’s not working. We’ve been able to have very open and frank conversations. This has felt very, very different.” When asked what she would say to Secretary Blinken, she said: “The answer is diplomacy. The answer is us leveraging our influence on Israel, working with our regional partners across the Arab world to put pressure on Hamas to get to a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel, which is a two-state solution that the U.S. has long supported. Arms and bombs are not going to achieve that, only diplomacy will.”

14 JUNE 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Japanese Prime Minister on Relations In a speech to the U.S. Congress on April 11, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida re ected on the longstanding friendship, or tomodachi, between Japan and the United States. In “For the Future: Our Global Partnership,” Kishida a rmed Japan’s commitment to partner with the United States in addressing pressing global issues. “The U.S. shaped the international order in the postwar world through economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power. It championed freedom and democracy,” Kishida said. He went on to address partisan divisions on issues such as foreign war aid: “I detect an undercurrent of self-doubt among some Americans about what your role in the world should be.” Concerns about Russian aggression, stability in the Indo-Pacific region, and rapid development of AI emerged as themes that demand, in Kishida’s eyes, a globally active and engaged United States. “I want to address those Americans who feel the loneliness and exhaustion of being the country that has upheld the international order almost singlehandedly,” Kishida stated. “You are not alone.” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to Congress on April 11, 2024. PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE OF JAPAN Cherry trees bloom in Washington, D.C., April 2024. AFSA/MARK PARKHOMENKO In anticipation of the National Park Service’s rehabilitation project at the Tidal Basin, Kishida said Japan is gifting the United States 250 cherry trees as a gesture of friendship. The new trees will serve as a symbolic gift for the 250th anniversary of U.S. independence in 2026. New State-DoD Agreement on DETOs First Lady Jill Biden hosted an April 17 signing of a DoD Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Departments of State and Defense on Domestic Employees Teleworking Overseas (DETOs). After many months of negotiations, the MOA should reduce some major pain points among certain FS families. The MOA facilitates DETOs for U.S. government employees authorized to accompany DoD sponsors on assignments abroad. It will cover any AFSA member wishing to convert to a DETO position when their DoD spouse has an authorized post change of station (PCS). The MOA clarifies standard operating procedures between State and DoD that will enable our Foreign Service families to stay together by allowing DETO work in areas where DoD has established Military Housing Offices serving military communities. Diplomatic Push in Middle East On April 23, the U.S. Senate passed a security supplemental bill providing $95 billion in military assistance to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. e bill cleared the House of Representatives on April 20; President Biden signed it on April 24. e legislation provides $26 billion in wartime assistance to Israel and humanitarian relief to Gaza. On April 25, the Biden administration announced the appointment of

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JUNE 2024 15 expressed hopes that Hamas will take the deal. “You’ve got to see a political future for the Palestinian people, but you’ve also crucially got to see security for Israel and those two things have to go together,” Cameron said on April 29 during the World Economic Forum meeting in Riyadh. Hiring Cuts Expected Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Ambassador Richard Verma remarked on April 3 that budget cuts for the remainder of 2024 will strain the department: “ e dollars are simply unable to stretch as far as we need to meet the moment.” Verma cited Ukraine, the Middle East, the Indo-Paci c, and global humanitarian needs as major global pressures demanding U.S. attention in the form of a well-resourced and adequately funded Foreign Service. In response to the budget cuts, the State Department expects to have to halve the number of new hires for the remainder of 2024 after the large July orientation class comes in. Recent orientation class cohorts, which now combine generalists and specialists, have been averaging 200-220 Foreign Service members. Blinken in Beijing Against the backdrop of the Biden administration’s restrictive economic measures against China, Secretary Blinken traveled to Beijing the week of April 22 to meet with senior Chinese o cials. Lise Grande as the new coordinator for humanitarian aid to Gaza. The position was created one week after the Hamas Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Grande is the current CEO and president of the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) and will replace Ambassador David Satterfield in the coordinator role. Blinken headed out on his seventh diplomatic mission to the Middle East on April 29. “The most effective way to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, to alleviate the suffering of children, women and men, and to create space for a more just and durable solution is to get a cease-fire and the hostages out,” Blinken told the Gulf Cooperation Council on April 29. On the same day, a Hamas delegation met with Egyptian and Qatari mediators in Cairo to respond to a 40-day cease-fire deal proposed by Israel on April 27. Israel demanded that Hamas release 40 hostages; the deal would also require that Israel release 900 Palestinian prisoners. The international community has been concerned with Israeli plans for a possible offensive in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians are sheltering. Blinken asserted that the U.S. would not support an Israeli ground offensive on Rafah without a “plan to ensure that civilians will not be harmed.” Both Secretary Blinken and British Foreign Secretary David Cameron have First Lady Jill Biden speaks at the White House ceremony to sign DETO MOU, as Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Richard Verma looks on. AFSA/TINA WONG Budget Pressures The pressures on the international affairs budget have become too great. Our process is overwhelmed. We are at a point where it is tiùe to start ùaïing diÒficĬlt cÙoices, ones tÙat Ļe Ùaĺe to make and prioritize. I really feel that this budget does not do that. —Senator James Risch (R-Idaho) during the April 10 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the FY2025 United States Agency for International Development budget request. Expanding the Pie When we try to address one crisis, we often have to use money from somewhere else. We should not have to choose between addressing the climate crisis or helping vulnerable communities adapt to our rapidly changing world. _r ÙoĬsing reÒĬgees ōeeing ĺiolenceƚ _r ÒĬnding antiƪcorrĬētion ērograùsƚ Or strengthening our global health initiatives. We need to expand the pie. —Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) during the April 10 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the FY2025 United States Agency for International Development budget request. HEARD ON THE HILL JOSH

16 JUNE 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL JOSH In ever-increasing numbers, young men and women from England, America, Mexico, Cuba, Latin-America, China, Japan, India, Egypt, Australia, and elsewhere are leaving home to enter technical schools and colleges in other lands. The great, far-reaching influence of this movement is obvious. To grasp and appreciate its full import as a factor in international goodwill, you have only to talk, for example, with an American who has gone to school in Europe, or in England. It brings tolerance, patience, sympathy, a deeper understanding of the other fellow’s “ways.” … Consuls, again, are factors in this migration of students. … Many schools send their printed matter to their consuls abroad, and request help in recruiting students. Time and again, for example, during my consular career, fathers and their sons came to ask about schools in America. … Just what part future consuls will be able to play in securing that world peace which is so urgently needed is hard to say. But from the type of men who are being appointed to consular posts, from the very definite instructions which they receive as to the necessity for cultivating friendly relations, from the ever-growing flow of goods with which they must become familiar and the increasing international travel which they must direct, it seems likely that their opportunities will be even greater than they are at present. May they meet these opportunities with all the diplomacy and efficiency which they can master! —From an article of the same title by Frederick Simpich, American Consular Bulletin (precursor to the FSJ), June 1924. How Consuls Foster Good Will 100 Years Ago

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JUNE 2024 17 Since Blinken’s last visit in June 2023, following an uproar in response to a Chinese spy balloon crossing the United States, relations between China and the U.S. have improved, with more frequent, less confrontational dialogues. Issues such as artificial intelligence, military communications, and counternarcotics have been cited as areas of progress in bilateral relations. Nevertheless, Blinken maintained that “even as we seek to deepen cooperation, where our interests align, the United States is very clear-eyed about the challenges posed by [China] and about our competing visions for the future. America will always defend our core interests and values.” During his meeting with Xi Jinping, Blinken discussed Russian-Chinese military cooperation, Chinese maritime activity in the South China Sea, and the influence China has “to discourage Iran and its proxies from expanding the conflict in the Middle East.” As part of the $95 billion aid package approved by the U.S. Senate on April 23, $2 billion will go toward the foreign military financing program for Taiwan and other Indo-Pacific security partners, and an additional $1.9 billion toward defenserelated expenses provided to Taiwan. On April 24, ahead of Blinken’s visit, China criticized the aid as “violating” U.S. commitments to China. “Overall, the China-U.S. relationship is beginning to stabilize,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Blinken at the outset of their talks. “But at the same time, the negative factors in the relationship are still increasing and building and the relationship is facing all kinds of disruptions.” n This edition of Talking Points was compiled by Mark Parkhomenko and Donna Scaramastra Gorman.

18 JUNE 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL SPEAKING OUT Eric Bernau is a management officer who most recently served in New Delhi. He joined the Foreign Service in 2019 and currently serves as a program analyst with the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Unit. Hogwarts students and Foreign Service officers (FSOs) both begin their adventures with a pathdefining event at the beginning of their journey. Hogwarts students place the sorting hat on their head; close their eyes; whisper “not Slytherin, not Slytherin, not Slytherin”; and wait for a magical hat to shout out their assigned house in front of the entire wizarding school. FSOs receive their first assignments in an equally anxiety-inducing, albeit much less magical, fashion. One would be hard-pressed to find an FSO who couldn’t recall seeing tears of disappointment during their flag ceremony. But does it truly need to be that way? The current assignment process is time-consuming, and the high/medium/ low selection system, which requires new FSOs to rank potential posts by preference, is imprecise. Tasking career development officers (CDOs) to find the optimal assignment distribution for each new class of generalists requires significant effort and is vulnerable to human error and unconscious bias. Just as computers aid accountants to rapidly perform their duties with reduced error, technology can, and should, play a larger role in helping CDOs to assign new hires. Improving the Assignment Process I proposed one possible solution at the department’s 2023 inaugural “Innovation Shark Tank,” a contest to get innovative ideas in front of department leaders that was modeled after the reality television show “Shark Tank.” My “Post Optimization Sorting Tool” (POST) would use an algorithm to match new FSOs with their preferred assignments while still prioritizing the needs of the Foreign Service. POST works by asking all new FSOs to allocate a finite number of points across all the available assignments to represent their lack of interest—not their interest—in each post. That’s an important distinction to note, one that golfers will recognize. By using the “lower is better” scoring system, POST minimizes gamesmanship by preventing an officer from assigning all their points to one assignment, thus trying to force POST to match them to that specific option. Instead, POST presumes the new FSOs are truly “worldwide deployable” and happy with every assignment. This is represented by a default “zero” baseline score. FSOs distribute their finite points across all the assignments to express which assignments are of least interest. POST then optimizes for the lowest possible score among the cohort. Before running POST’s optimization program, CDOs can prioritize the needs of the Foreign Service by setting POST’s constraints to either prevent or force the algorithm to make certain assignments. The CDOs can exclude FSOs from certain assignments, such as out-of-cone assignments or those with a language training requirement where the FSO already speaks that language. CDOs can also force POST to assign an officer to a specific assignment, such as a “fill now” position with a language requirement where only one FSO speaks that language. Thus, while POST would enable FSOs to be more precise with their assignment preferences, CDOs retain control of the process. In just seconds, with the click of a button, CDOs can find the optimal assignThe Foreign Service Deserves Its Own Sorting Hat BY ERIC BERNAU In just seconds, with the click of a button, CDOs can find the optimal assignment distribution for the entire cohort using POST.

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JUNE 2024 19 ment distribution for the entire cohort using POST. They can then analyze the results, add any constraints they overlooked, and re-run the algorithm until they’re satisfied with every generalist-toassignment match. This will save CDOs countless hours without sacrificing any of their control over the process. POST can further mitigate gamesmanship if CDOs include restrictions akin to the current second tour “valid/ invalid” bid concept. For context, a valid bid is a potential follow-on assignment for which the FSO is qualified based on myriad factors such as their cone, language qualifications, and the date they’ll depart from their current assignment. CDOs could use POST to eliminate assignment options, such as nonconsular, out-of-cone positions, or those with a report date that would create an unacceptable training timeline. It’s also important to note that Frontline Systems’ Solver, the Microsoft Excel add-in I used to design POST, is simple, trustworthy, and cost-efficient. Solver doesn’t require CDOs to be tech savvy—anyone who knows how to use Excel will be able to use Solver. In addition, because Solver is already in use by the Department of Defense and other federal government agencies, there aren’t any security-related concerns. Furthermore, a subscription to Solver will set the Department of State back only $2,000 each year—a small investment for a tool that could significantly improve retention rates. Beyond Flag Day In its current form, POST is basically a Blackberry circa 1999. But given the resources, a dedicated team could turn POST into a technological wonder that goes beyond merely assigning positions to new FSOs. And, if the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) were to convert its course catalog into an AI program–readable database, POST could use the database to develop the entire cohort’s training schedule, greatly reducing the administrative burden on training officers. In addition, if each FS member’s personnel file could be converted into a database, second-tour bidding could also be redesigned with the AI program automatically presenting first-tour officers with all valid second-tour bidding options available to them, enabling them to rank order those options before a more complex AI version of POST optimizes their second-tour assignments by tranches. This would eliminate the need for entry-level officers to painstakingly identify all their valid bids independently and the entry-level HR team to validate each of them—currently, FSOs must research each available post to propose intricate training timelines for each potential assignment, ensuring they would depart their current assignment on time, complete all required training for the follow-on assignment, and arrive AFSPA AFSPA/Travel Acts Retirement-Life Communities Clements Worldwide FEDS Protection Peake Management, Inc. Property Specialists, Inc. Promax Management Richey Property Management Windecker Financial Planning, LLC. WJD Management Speaking Out is the Journal’s opinion forum, a place for lively discussion of issues affecting the U.S. Foreign Service and American diplomacy. The views expressed are those of the author; their publication here does not imply endorsement by the American Foreign Service Association. Responses are welcome; send them to

20 JUNE 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL at their next post on time. This system offers fertile ground for human error. An automated training timeline AI could also be implemented across the entire Foreign Service during the bidding process, showing bidders the timelines for all valid permanent change of station (PCS) moves. This would require a dedicated tech-savvy team to implement but would ultimately save FSOs hundreds of thousands of hours departmentwide by automating these laborious processes we’re currently doing manually. A visual explanation of POST can be viewed at POST would be efficient, accurate, transparent, and cost-effective. It may not be as enchanting as the Hogwarts Sorting Ceremony, but POST could help the department improve future FSOs’ first major career-shaping event, resulting in fewer tears on Flag Day. While every FSO commits to worldwide deployment, the department, in turn, must tenaciously pursue innovative solutions such as POST to increase employee satisfaction if it hopes to remain competitive in the Generation Z labor market. n This would eliminate the need for entrylevel officers to painstakingly identify all their valid bids independently.