The Foreign Service Journal, September 2017

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | SEPTEMBER 2017 41 FOCUS ON EXEMPLARY PERFORMANCE & CONSTRUCTIVE DISSENT Members of the Foreign Service regularly grapple with the professional and moral dilemma of dissent. The State of Dissent in theForeignService BY HARRY KOPP Former FSO Harry W. Kopp was deputy assistant secretary of State for international trade in the Carter and Reagan administrations. He is the author of several books on diplomacy, including (with John K. Naland) Career Diplomacy: Life and Work in the U.S. Foreign Service , published in its third edition by Georgetown University Press in July. I t is hard to believe now, but there was a time, still within living memory, when presidents talked like this: “Let every public servant know … that this administration recognizes the value of dissent and daring—that we greet healthy controversy as the hallmark of healthy change. Let the public service be a proud and lively career.” That was President John F. Kennedy on Jan. 30, 1961, in his first address to Congress on the State of the Union. Then just 10 days in office, Kennedy sought to dispel the stifling air of suspicion and conformity in which the loyalty oaths, security investigations and anti-communist hysteria of the previous decade had smothered the federal workforce. For the Foreign Service and the Department of State, Ken- nedy’s words were especially welcome. Under pressure from Senator Joseph McCarthy and his supporters, the State Depart- ment in the 1950s conducted a purge of employees who had expressed nonconforming views, conveyed unwanted informa- tion, engaged in unconventional behavior or associated with someone who had. Hundreds of civil servants and Foreign Service officers were fired or marginalized, their careers and reputations destroyed.