The Foreign Service Journal, September 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | SEPTEMBER 2020 11 experts George Kenney and Marshall Freeman Harris, resigned in protest of our government’s inaction. It is incumbent on us to reflect periodically on what was done to the Bosniacs, Darfuris, Kurds, Rohingyas, Chechens, Palestinians and other vic- timized peoples when confounded by their intransigence and anger. George W. Aldridge FSO, retired Arlington, Texas Keeping Embassies Running I read the July-August Journal on the FS response to the COVID-19 pandemic with interest. It seems that throughout the world, at all posts, everyone was consistent in their effort to repatri- ate Americans back home—if it were possible, we should all get one big group Eagle Award. However, one thing I’ve noticed that is markedly missing in almost all State Department commu- nication, and in the Journal , is appre- ciation and/or stories about those of us who stayed behind, those of us who didn’t take authorized departure but remained at post. We are the warriors ensuring that the embassies continue to run and that there is an American presence (and American Citizen Services) in far-flung locations, even during this pandemic. We forfeited being in the United States and near our loved ones, instead serving our country on the front lines, often in countries with raging COVID- 19, draconian lockdowns and terrible health care situations. It is nice to acknowledge all the hard work that was done in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it would also be nice to allow a tip of the hat for what happens after everyone is evacuated. Thanks to AFSA and the FSJ for all you do. Ubah Khasimuddin Office Management Specialist U.S. Embassy New Delhi Responding to Lessons from Silicon Valley Andrew Moore’s June Speaking Out, “Lessons from Silicon Valley: Practical Suggestions for a Modern Workplace,” was timely and exactly what the State Department needs to hear at this time. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the department to deploy technological and policy changes to cope with unprecedented global challenges. Technological changes that had been in development were deployed rapidly with positive results. Sensible policy changes like teacher language score evaluations at FSI and interview waivers for H2A applicants demon- strate that it is time to review why certain policies are in place. If they can be changed in the face of crisis, are they necessary at normal times, or are they in place because “we’ve always done it this way”? As an entry-level officer with a background in tech, I hope the depart- ment makes the changes Mr. Moore suggests and adopts many additional technologies and policies to modernize. Let the challenges created by COVID-19 be a catalyst for positive change. Daniel Walsh FSO Auckland, New Zealand An Art Based on Science Andrew Moore’s June Speaking Out on lessons from Silicon Valley is a refreshing call for a Foreign Service life in which diplomats spend most of their time serving America, rather than navi- gating bureaucratic mazes to manage their service. Many diplomats likely saw themselves in his all-too-relatable war story of a nine-month saga to get a $50 reimbursement. Yet, while I’m sure most in the State Department agree that we should “modernize diplomacy” and “make it the first tool of foreign policy,” some would unfortunately be quick to explain why each specific innovation Moore proposes for doing so (e.g., the use of advanced analytics in decision memos) “could never be done here.” Those in State’s ranks who cling to “the way things have always been” often justify their reticence to innovation by saying “diplomacy is an art, not a sci- ence” and pointing to a past golden age of diplomacy (that never really existed) to which we should instead return. However, this hagiography ignores the history of reform at State. Far from artists remaking the world, past efforts to bolster diplomacy