The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2012

of us at all, they tend to do so in terms of good manners, a carefully balanced approach, extensive use of the passive voice and, perhaps as much as anything else, conflict avoidance. “In the real world, however, only the Foreign Service, acting through AFSA, publicly commends members who are willing to advocate and pursue changes in policies or management. No similar program exists in any other organization.” It is important to emphasize that the subject of the dissent does not have to be related to foreign policy. It can involve a management issue, consular policy or personnel regulations. Nom- inees may have used the formal State Department Dissent Channel to ex- press their views, but that is an entirely separate program from AFSA’s own constructive dissent awards. From 1968 through 2011, AFSA conferred the Harriman Award on 36 entry-level officers and, collectively, the Embassy Tehran hostages (in ab- sentia in 1980 and in person in 1981). Over the same period, the Rivkin Award went to 43 mid-level FSOs, as well as the Iran hostages and, in 1994, a group of 13 officers who dissented over the Clinton administration’s initial refusal to intervene in Bosnia. In addition to the group awards for the Iran hostages in 1980 and 1981, 38 Senior Foreign Service officers re- ceived the Herter Award from 1969 through 2011. And since 2000, 10 spe- cialists have won the Harris Award for constructive dissent. AFSA also issued a special posthu- mous award for constructive dissent in 2002 to Hiram “Harry” Bingham IV. Disobeying State Department orders, Bingham issued life-saving visas to more than 2,000 Jews and anti-Nazi refugees in Marseilles in 1940 and 1941, for which he was eventually forced out of the Foreign Service. The names of all past winners of constructive dissent awards are posted on AFSA’s Web site ( dissent_and_other_awards.aspx). Even new entrants to the Foreign Service will likely recognize the names of at least some recipients. Here is a small sampling of awardees and the is- sues about which they dissented. Calling the Honor Roll John Paul Vann received the 1968 Herter Award for his recommenda- tions about U.S. policy as deputy di- rector of the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support program in Vietnam. His nomination termed him “a controversial figure, a man who insisted on maintaining his independence and integrity at all costs. … His judgments have been repeat- edly proven right by time.” Three decades later, Edmund Mc- Williams would win the same award while serving as political counselor in Jakarta. Long before the resignation of President Suharto, McWilliams had a “seemingly prescient view of In- donesia’s imminent political transi- tion.” As the colleague who nominated McWilliams in 1998 observed: “No in- dividual within the embassy did more to promote a U.S. reappraisal of the distribution of benefits from Indone- sia’s economic growth and of the na- tion’s readiness for fundamental politi- cal reform. … Never have I served with anyone more aggressive and tena- cious in challenging existing policies, while encouraging lively debate of the issues in the embassy.” Ron Schlicher received the Herter Award in 2004 for work in two Middle Eastern hot spots. His assignment as consul general in Jerusalem from 2000 to 2003 — just as the Palestinian in- tifada moved from street protests to the systematic application of terrorism — was marked by exceptional report- ing and advice. As the award nomina- tion states, “He demonstrated un- matched intellectual integrity in pro- viding a continual flow of advice and information, which frequently chal- lenged long-held assumptions.” As if that performance were not impressive enough, during his 2003- 2004 tour in Iraq Schlicher created and ran the Coalition Provincial Au- thority’s Office of Provincial Out- reach. There his reporting challenged many of the assumptions under which the U.S. government had been oper- ating, and gave the CPA a new ability to influence Iraqi opinion in a coordi- nated way. Anthony Quainton received the Rivkin Award in 1972 for his reporting and analysis during the India-Pakistan crisis the previous year. (Later pro- moted to ambassador, he would go on to earn the Herter Award in 1984.) His nomination read, in part: “He is always able to question whether the accepted policy genuinely fulfills U.S. needs and make innovative proposals for constructive change. He has the knack of taking the initiative and putting forward a new and some- times dissenting view when that view is critical to a policy decision being made. He has the ability to argue his case skillfully and aggressively but without offense. … In other words, Mr. Quainton has demonstrated that a middle-ranking officer can have major impact upon policy.” Long before the Arab Spring, For- eign Service officers were not just monitoring the democratization move- 40 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / J U LY- A U G U S T 2 0 1 2 The question for each of us should be, “W hy am I not expressing my disagreement? — not, “Will I hurt my career if I dissent?”