The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2021

20 JULY-AUGUST 2021 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL SPEAKING OUT A U.S.-German Look at the Essentials for Modern Diplomacy BY M I RKO KRUPPA AND KENNETH KERO -MENTZ Mirko Kruppa was reelected as chairman of the Staff Council of the German Foreign Ministry ( Auswärtiges Amt ) in November 2020. Since becoming a diplomat in 2001, he has served in Kazakhstan, China, South Africa, Taiwan (R.O.C.) and Russia (E.U.-Delegation in Moscow). Kenneth Kero-Mentz is secretary of AFSA (2019-2021 term). During nearly 21 years in the U.S. Foreign Service he served in Brazil, Germany, Iraq, Sri Lanka and in Washington, D.C., including two years as AFSA’s vice president representing his colleagues from State. He retired in late 2020. Mirko and Ken became friends nearly 15 years ago during Ken’s posting in Berlin, which included a year as a trans-Atlantic diplomatic fellow at the German Foreign Office. Both are dedicated advocates for their respective colleagues and Foreign Services. Over the course of several conversations, they realized both systems have similar challenges and opportunities, and this article is the result. I nternational relations are changing rapidly because of complex challenges, the pace of developments and the number of global actors on the interna- tional stage. Even when living far from international borders in middle America or the middle of Germany, many people understand that global trends affect their daily lives. International competition can lead to lost jobs as economies change, and concerns about the environment and consumer protections have led to grow- ing skepticism toward globalization and even democracy in the U.S., the Euro- pean Union and around the world. And a wave of authoritarianism and unilateral- ism is challenging multilateral peace and security structures. As U.S. and German diplomats, we’re worried, but also hopeful. We face an undeniable need to revive, reform and rei- magine our mission. Success will depend on a nonpartisan consensus within our societies and governments to commit the political and budgetary support neces- sary to bring about modern, attractive and diversity-driven diplomatic services. As representatives of our respective Foreign Services, we believe that the time for such action is now. Here are some of our suggestions for needed reforms in both the United States and Germany as we move forward. Enable Agility, Ensure Diversity Our diplomatic efforts must become more agile. Diplomats need to be politi- cally and structurally empowered to act swiftly to secure a more peaceful, just and prosperous world for all, while seeking compromise in multilateral structures like the European Union and with plural- istic democracies. Multilateral efforts to establish globalized legal standards for the common good naturally limit some sovereignty of nation-states. For example, as a dedicated E.U. member, Germany’s Foreign Service ( Auswärtiges Amt ) acknowledges the growing pressure to adapt our approaches in foreign policy. As an exporting nation, Germany depends on the E.U.’s regulatory power in the world. As a nation-state it continues to defend its national interests; and as Germany is a pluralistic society with a difficult past, its diplomats actively favor compromise over (military) might. Autocratic regimes, by contrast, increasingly feel challenged by (and oppose) the legal standards and global institutions that sustainable globaliza- tion needs to thrive. We must be able to combat our counterparts from autocratic regimes, which are hellbent on short- term tactical wins in their effort to return the international order to power struggles in which the strong dominate the weak. Our diplomatic outreach must seek com- promise and trust-building with allies and adversaries alike. It is also essential to increase diver- sity within our services (which remain, despite earlier efforts, too white and male) and make better use of all our human resources to enhance our cred- ibility and ensure we accomplish our mission on behalf of our governments and the pluralistic societies we represent. Analyzing and explaining political, socioeconomic and cultural develop- ments is what diplomats do best; it’s our raison d’être. We provide insights for our governments to design policies