PUBLISHED BY THE AMERICAN FOREIGN SERVICE ASSOCIATION NOVEMBER 2023 WRITE IN THEIR OWN CIV-MIL PARITY REFUGEES ON CAMPUS REMEMBERING JIM DOBBINS
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | NOVEMBER 2023 5 FS Heritage 53 Once Upon a Time: The U.S. Consulate in Martinique By Sébastien Perrot-Minnot Focus on Foreign Service Authors 20 In Their Own Write We are pleased to present this year’s collection of new books by members of the Foreign Service community and their families. Feature 48 Welcoming Refugees: School Campuses as Sites for Resettlement and Integration By Diya Abdo Appreciation 66 Architect of Nation-Building James F. “Jim” Dobbins 1942-2023 By Fletcher M. Burton November 2023 Volume 100, No. 9 33 Of Related Interest Recent books of interest to the foreign affairs community.
6 NOVEMBER 2023 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL 81 Reflections The Swedish Vasa Order of America By Beatrice Camp 82 Local Lens Istanbul, Türkiye By Dave Panetti On the Cover—Illustration by Davide Bonazzi. Marketplace 76 Real Estate 79 Classifieds 80 Index to Advertisers 7 President’s Views AFSA-PAC and Engagement on Capitol Hill By Tom Yazdgerdi 9 Letter from the Editor Finding the Words By Shawn Dorman 17 Speaking Out The Quest for Reasonable Civ-Mil Parity By Adam R. Pearlman Perspectives Departments 10 Letters 12 Talking Points 69 In Memory AFSA NEWS THE OFFICIAL RECORD OF THE AMERICAN FOREIGN SERVICE ASSOCIATION 59 AFSA Meets with Secretary Blinken 59 Washington Nationals Honor U.S. Foreign Service 60 State VP Voice—Tackling Global Strategic Challenges as a Servant Leader 61 USAID VP Voice—It’s Been a Minute: Time to Reorganize 62 A FSA Welcomes USAID’s Newest Members to HQ 62 U SAID Monthly Meetups 63 A FSA Welcomes New Grievance Counselor 63 N ew Associate Editor Joins the Journal 63 AFSA Governing Board Meeting, Sept. 20, 2023 64 Congratulations to the AAFSW and DACOR Award Winners 65 Foreign Service Grievance Board Appointments 65 AFSA Comments on CDC “Dog Ban” Rulemaking 59
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | NOVEMBER 2023 7 AFSA-PAC and Engagement on Capitol Hill BY TOM YAZDGERDI Tom Yazdgerdi is the president of the American Foreign Service Association. PRESIDENT’S VIEWS Most folks, including many of our members, don’t know that AFSA has a political action committee (PAC). Only when I was elected in 2019 as the AFSA State Department vice president did I become aware of it. In the public eye, PACs tend to be viewed negatively; they are seen as hyperpartisan or awash in big-donor money. But that certainly is not the case with AFSA-PAC. Established in 2002, AFSA-PAC does not rely on member dues or solicit contributions from anyone but our activeduty members and retirees. The funding comes entirely from voluntary member donations. And, of course, the PAC abides by all federal election laws, such as not making disbursements to candidates that exceed the established monetary limits. According to its bylaws, AFSA-PAC does not make contributions to state, county, or local/municipal elections, or to presidential races. Most important, AFSA-PAC is scrupulously nonpartisan in that it contributes equally to Democrats and Republicans who support the Foreign Service, full stop. AFSA-PAC’s focus is on the appropriating and authorizing committees with jurisdiction over Foreign Service management issues, FS staffing, and general foreign affairs matters. (See full bylaws at https:// afsa.org/afsa-pacbylaws.) Contributing to U.S. senators and representatives has given AFSA a seat at the table. I literally had that experience when I attended a recent fundraising dinner for a senator who is a strong supporter of the Foreign Service. At the fundraiser, each of us was given a chance to introduce ourselves and then raise issues of importance to our organizations. Surrounded by high-powered lobbyists representing various industry groups, I definitely felt like the odd man out. But when my turn came to speak, I had the opportunity to tell those assembled what AFSA is all about and what our top priorities are. The senator in question already knew. He promised to fight for career ambassadorial nominees unfairly caught up in Senate holds that usually have nothing to do with the nominees. He also said he would push for passage of the Senate version of the State Department Authorization Act of 2023, which has a number of significant provisions for our members, when the House and Senate meet in conference later in the year. I would like to thank those who have donated to AFSA-PAC and share my view of its importance. Being able to support those in Congress who believe that the United States must have an appropriately funded and staffed Foreign Service is truly indispensable. While there is already a bipartisan core of support for the U.S. Foreign Service in both houses of Congress, AFSA will continue to build on that support with further outreach. As we approach 2024, an election year and the 100th anniversary of both the modern Foreign Service and AFSA, PAC funding will help put us in a position to advocate for policies that help all our members. These policies range in scope from keeping our Service professional and nonpartisan to protecting our pensions and advocating for benefits that make the Foreign Service more attractive, especially for our members at the lower end of the pay scale. The more PAC funding AFSA has, the greater the capacity to engage with additional representatives and senators and their staffs who either pay little attention to the Foreign Service or who may not have a clear idea about what we do for the American people. They should hear about the role of the Foreign Service protecting American citizens abroad and advancing U.S. interests in some of the most difficult and dangerous places in the world, and often far away from loved ones. In other words, the PAC helps AFSA get its foot in the door so that we can tell our story—which is a proud and compelling one that deserves respect and support. If you have any questions on specific PAC activities, please contact AFSA Treasurer and AFSA-PAC Chair John O’Keefe at email@example.com. As always, I welcome hearing your views at yazdgerdi@afsa. org, on this subject or any other matter of interest. Wishing you and your family a joyous Thanksgiving! n
8 NOVEMBER 2023 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL www.sfiprogram.org SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY INITIATIVE SFI-01268 Certified Sourcing Editor in Chief, Director of Publications Shawn Dorman: firstname.lastname@example.org Senior Editor Susan Brady Maitra: email@example.com Managing Editor Kathryn Owens: firstname.lastname@example.org Associate Editor Donna Gorman: email@example.com Publications Coordinator Hannah Harari: firstname.lastname@example.org Business Development Manager— Advertising and Circulation Molly Long: email@example.com Art Director Caryn Suko Smith Editorial Board Vivian Walker, Chair David Bargueño Hon. Robert M. Beecroft Lynette Behnke Jane Carpenter-Rock Gaïna Dávila Steven Hendrix Harry Kopp Aileen Nandi Dan Spokojny Hon. 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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | NOVEMBER 2023 9 Shawn Dorman is the editor of The Foreign Service Journal. LETTER FROM THE EDITOR As we go to press in midOctober, we watch in horror the carnage of the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel from Gaza. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in the region with four U.S. objectives: make clear that the U.S. stands with Israel; prevent the conflict from spreading; work on securing the release of hostages; and address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. As this crisis unfolds, one cannot ignore the stunning fact that the United States has no ambassador to Israel— or Lebanon, or Egypt, or Oman. Also missing, going on three years: State’s counterterrorism coordinator, State’s assistant secretary for human rights, and USAID’s senior Middle East official. AFSA President Tom Yazdgerdi’s October FSJ column looked at the broken nominations and confirmations process that severely delays getting ambassadors and other high-level diplomats into critical posts. From moving nominee lists to and from the White House more quickly to doing something to curb individual senators from putting months-long holds on nominees, it needs fixing. This is an urgent national security problem that must be solved by the administration and Congress together. Perhaps this Middle East crisis will be the catalyst for change. Meanwhile, when you need to take a break from the crushing news cycle, this month’s focus celebrates writing and publishing in the FS community. The books in this year’s “In Their Own Write” collection tell Foreign Service stories through memoir and fiction. And there are histories and biographies, as well as books on policy, management, and regional themes. The “Of Related Interest” section highlights a selection of timely foreign affairs books. This month’s Feature, “Welcoming Refugees: School Campuses as Sites for Resettlement and Integration,” by Professor Diya Abdo, tells how the nonprofit Every Campus A Refuge can now connect with the State Department’s new Welcome Corps program allowing Americans to directly support refugees in their communities. In “The Quest for Reasonable Civ-Mil Parity,” attorney and FS family member Adam Pearlman speaks out on the June 2023 Executive Order 14100 (on advancing economic opportunity for military spouses) and the lost opportunity to also support Foreign Service families. In the Appreciation for James “Jim” Dobbins, Fletcher Burton shares recollections of this “Architect of Nation-Building.” And In FS Heritage, “Once Upon a Time: The U.S. Consulate in Martinique,” Sébastien Perrot-Minnot tells the intriguing story of this nearly two-century-old consulate that closed its doors in 1993. In the Reflection, Bea Camp recounts the 1992 presentation of “The Swedish Vasa Order of America.” Be well, and be in touch. n Finding the Words BY SHAWN DORMAN
10 NOVEMBER 2023 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL LETTERS Supporting FS Singles I’m responding to AFSA’s member newsletter of Aug. 22, announcing the 2023 Harriman Award for Constructive Dissent recognizing Christophe Triplett, a first-tour management officer, for advocating for locally employed (LE) staff in samesex relationships, and to the September 2023 FSJ on Foreign Service families. Regarding support for Foreign Service families, including LGBT+ personnel with partners, yes, it’s very important to do that. Just as important, the Foreign Service needs to support singles without “partners,” too. We should treat singles equally by allowing them to designate a plus-one. We don’t need labels, because everybody needs somebody—whether a blood relative, heterosexual or gay partner, or friend. This is important because for years now, singles without partners, who are mostly single heterosexual women, have been discriminated against on many levels. We have received much less overall compensation and no money for travel of a plus-one to help us with packing, health concerns, or emotional well-being. Foreign Service personnel should not need a sexual and/or legalized relationship to designate a plus-one. Action Requested: Get rid of labels and allow every employee going overseas to designate a plus-one to receive the same benefits as married or gay partnered personnel. Support single heterosexual women, too! J Carson FSO, retired Sarasota, Florida The Biden Administration and Immigration The Biden administration’s enforcement of existing immigration law is a farce and an abdication of promises made to legal intending immigrants and locally employed (LE) staff colleagues awaiting Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) processing. While Secretary of State Antony Blinken and those in his chain of command must support the administration’s decision not to enforce existing law under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), AFSA does not have to do so. AFSA should vigorously condemn the current approach, which provides instantaneous self-selecting immigration opportunities to scofflaws, the vast majority of whom hold not even a penumbra of justification for entering the United States uninvited. To the extent the Biden administration enforces the law, it plays a zero-sum game—which is to say, those foolish enough to seek immigration through legal means are punished with additional years of delay. Understandably, this dichotomy has had a devastating impact on the morale of our consular colleagues, both on the visa line and those supervising them, who spend millions of dollars and thousands of hours laboring to uphold the illusion that immigration into the United States continues to be a dignified, controlled process. Much worse, the same policy that makes a mockery of the spirit of the INA is now requiring a slavish adherence to the letter of that act, which identifies annual allocation limits to designated “buckets.” AFSA members may not be aware that because SIV applicants draw from the same “bucket” as those unaccompanied minors flooding into the country, SIV processing may be delayed by as much as 10 years. For all the lip service that State and AFSA give to supporting our LE staff colleagues, we are supposed to stand by silently as they are told to put their plans on hold for years, to make room for those who have earned no place in the process. Our foreign employees worked entire careers in good faith, many at great sacrifice and even personal risk, in the hope of qualifying for an SIV so they could start their lives over again as legal permanent residents (many of whom eventually become our most dedicated American citizens). Implementation of INA is today a bipartisan mess, many years in the making. As the independent voice of foreign affairs professionals, it is incumbent on AFSA to insist loudly that Congress overhaul the current law. The Senate could take up H.R. 3599, passed this year by the House, which substantially increases the numbers of legal immigrants—something both sides of the aisle appear to agree on—and facilitates easier visas for seasonal agricultural workers. Or Congress could start from scratch, if necessary. Our betrayal of LE colleagues must be remedied immediately. Without full enforcement of immigration law as envisioned by the legislative branch, we effectively have no border. Without a say into who enters our country and when, we have lost the ability to choose who we are as a society and a nation. Michael A. McCarthy Ambassador, retired and Nicholas M. Hill SFS, retired n Share your thoughts about this month’s issue. Submit letters to the editor: email@example.com
12 NOVEMBER 2023 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL TALKING POINTS State Adopts a “Learning Policy” On Sept. 8, Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources Richard Verma sent a departmentwide email announcing the State Department’s adoption of its first Learning Policy, which he called a “key milestone in the Secretary’s Modernization Agenda.” Verma wrote that the policy “is intended to redefine our approach to learning, prioritize learning as part of our culture, and empower learning partnerships between employees and managers.” It offers every employee the opportunity to spend up to 40 hours in nonmandatory training on topics of their choosing. That said, the new courses and training are being presented for now as optional and encouraged, but not “required.” The program will be managed jointly by the Bureau of Global Talent Management and the Foreign Service Institute. As a first step in creating the new Learning Policy, GTM and FSI rolled out a “Core Curriculum” on April 10 (see June 2023 Talking Points). Courses in the curriculum cover essential skills including supervisory leadership, congressional relations, negotiation and presentation, and interagency work. For more on the Learning Policy, employees can visit the Learning@State website. Blinken’s Kyiv Visit Eclipsed by Missile Attack Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Sept. 6 to show support for the nation as it defends itself from Russia. But the initiative was overshadowed by a Russian airstrike that killed at least 16 civilians and injured another 31 in the Ukrainian city of Kostyantynivka just hours after his visit concluded. While in Kyiv, Blinken met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba, and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. He also joined embassy personnel for a meet and greet, where he told the audience: “Never go to someone’s home without bringing a housewarming gift. We come bearing some further assistance for Ukraine across multiple areas, but that assistance doesn’t actually mean anything unless it is used effectively, and so many of you every single day are working closely with our Ukrainian colleagues to make sure that the assistance we’re providing is being used effectively and is being used properly.” Indeed, while in Kyiv, the Secretary announced that the U.S. government would be providing more than $1 billion in additional aid to Ukraine. The trip marked Blinken’s fourth visit to Ukraine since the war began in February 2022, and his first overnight stay. Meanwhile, across the border, the Russian government expelled two American diplomats on Sept. 14, giving them just seven days to leave the country. The two were accused of conducting “illegal activity” and “maintaining contact” with Robert Shonov, a 25-year employee of the U.S. consulate general in Vladivostok who was arrested in May 2023 and accused of illegally passing information to the Americans. Secretary Urges Partial Return to the Office In a Sept. 11 departmentwide message regarding the future of telework, Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote: “We need to recalibrate our approach— increasing our in-person presence to ensure we’re working as an integrated team, committed to engaging the American people and operating with the highest standards of security.” The Secretary stopped short of requesting a full-time return to the office but explained that in-person work is needed to conduct day-to-day diplomacy: “Much of our team requires regular access to classified materials, systems, and meetings. When it comes Staff at U.S. Embassy Kyiv assemble for a meet and greet with Secretary Blinken on Sept. 7, 2023. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | NOVEMBER 2023 13 The State Department isn’t [the Department of Defense]: ‘We don’t have weapon systems; we have diplomats, armed with experience and hard-won expertise. Not having Senate-vetted and -confirmed ambassadors in the field during a crisis is like fighting a battle with needed weaponry sitting in storage.’ —Senior FSO (ret.) Alan Eyre, quoted in Robbie Gramer, “There’s No American Ambassador in Israel,” Foreign Policy, Oct. 9. Contemporary Quote domestic and foreign policies and building strong alliances. Read the entire speech here: https://bit.ly/ Blinken-SAIS-speech. FSO Mark Lambert New Head of “China House” at State Foreign Service Officer Mark Lambert has been selected as the department’s next head of the Office of China Coordination, known informally as China House. The office was formed in December 2022 to “responsibly manage our competition with the People’s Republic of China” by bringing together experts in international security, technology, and strategic communications. In a press release announcing its creation, the Office of the Spokesperson wrote that the Secretary and the department are “committed to ensuring we have the talent, tools, and resources to successfully execute U.S. policy and strategy towards the PRC as the most complex and consequential geopolitical challenge we face.” Lambert has served as deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs since 2021. He previously served as special envoy for North Korean affairs and as director of the Office of Korean Affairs. Lambert has served in Hanoi, Beijing (twice), Bangkok, Tokyo, Iraq, and Bogotá. Foreign Policy calls to cultivating relationships—with other governments or agencies, the private sector, or civil society—there’s no substitute for engaging face-to-face. And in-office interactions—collaborating on a memo, mentoring a new employee, bumping into a coworker in the cafeteria—help strengthen our culture and creativity, especially for those who have joined State in the past two years and lack a common baseline for understanding department norms.” “Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach,” he wrote, “we’ll continue to make decisions about telework eligibility based on individual positions and circumstances, using our Mobility Assessment Tool. Ultimately, we expect most full-time employees will physically be in the office three to four times per week.” Secretary Blinken on American Diplomacy in a New Era On Sept. 13, Secretary of State Antony Blinken was invited to deliver remarks at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. The Secretary talked about his formative years as a practitioner of diplomacy and compared that period to today, which he calls “another hinge moment in history.” “What we’re experiencing now is more than a test of the post–Cold War order,” said Blinken. “It’s the end of it.” He talked about the movement toward autocracy by Russia, China, and others; the potentially negative influence of corporations on diplomacy; and the lack of trust citizens have in their governments all across the globe, including in the United States. He also outlined an American vision for the future, which requires linking our Secretary Blinken delivers remarks at SAIS, Sept. 13. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
14 NOVEMBER 2023 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL his new job “one of the most important diplomatic assignments in Washington at a time when the State Department has faced staffing issues and criticism from Capitol Hill over its management of China-related policies.” In other staffing news, former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has been nominated by President Biden to be the next U.S. ambassador to Israel, replacing Tom Nides. David Huitema, a State Department ethics official, has been nominated to lead the Office of Government Ethics. USAID Hiring Practices Prompt Senate Concern On Sept. 8, three U.S. senators wrote to USAID Administrator Samantha Power to express concerns about hiring practices at USAID. Senators Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Bernie Sanders (Ind.-Vt.) wrote of their “concerns about long-standing workforce challenges and the increasing reliance on non-career, temporary hires.” The senators quoted AFSA’s position, as published in a Foreign Service Journal article by then–USAID Vice President Jason Singer: “Decades of hiring workarounds and the agency’s patchwork, fragmented, and seemingly ad hoc approach to strategic workforce planning have diluted USAID’s career employee workforce, complicating operations, management, and agencyunion relations.” The senators asked a series of questions regarding USAID’s failure to provide a Workforce Report addressing the issues already raised by Congress, the agency’s failure to follow workforce recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office, its failure to consider Confirm State Department Officials The scenes in Israel are devastating beyond comprehension. … This is an all hands on deck moment in history, and the administration needs a Senate-confirmed American diplomat present in every capital in the region as soon as possible. Right now, we don’t have a U.S. Ambassador in place in Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Oman, or Kuwait. USAID hasn’t had an Assistant Administrator for the Middle East for nearly three years—a role that will be essential to the deployment of emergency economic and humanitarian aid in response to this crisis. The State Department’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism—which leads the Department’s efforts to defeat terrorism abroad—has been awaiting confirmation for nearly two years. Now is not the time for politics. The Senate should confirm those awaiting votes the day we are back in session, and immediately schedule committee hearings to expedite confirmation of the remainder. Democrats and Republicans must work together to support our ally Israel. The nominees for U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, Oman, Kuwait and the State Department’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism await a vote on the Senate floor. The nominees for U.S. Ambassadors to Israel and Egypt, and the USAID Assistant Administrator for the Middle East await committee hearings. —Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) in an Oct. 8 statement. HEARD ON THE HILL JOSH AFSA’s recommendations for addressing workforce problems, its extensive use of noncareer staff, and more. The senators asked Power to respond to their questions in writing by Oct. 31. Read the entire letter at https://bit.ly/ Power-ask. AI and the Future of Diplomacy Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a hot topic in the world of diplomacy as the department and others look at ways to use AI to streamline their workload while combating improper use and maintaining security. Earlier this year, the State Department added a new section to the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) addressing AI policy, 20 FAM 200. During a Sept. 7 meeting of the FOIA Advisory Committee, Giorleny Altamirano Rayo, chief data scientist at the State Department’s Center for Analytics, said that the department would launch its first-ever “enterprise AI strategy” in October, “laying out the framework so that the department can responsibly, safely and securely harness the capabilities of AI to advance our work.” Eric Stein, deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Global Information Services, told the audience that State is working on a pilot program that uses AI to reduce the yearslong Freedom of Information Act backlog. The department also recently began using AI to help with the declassification process for old documents. In June, the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy hosted a virtual conference to discuss the use of AI in public diplomacy. More than 200 people logged on to hear from panelists Alexander Hunt, a public affairs officer at U.S. Embassy Conakry; Jessica Brandt, policy director for the Brookings
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | NOVEMBER 2023 15 Institution’s Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technology Initiative; and Ilan Manor, a senior lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Vivian Walker, the executive director and designated federal officer for the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, moderated the event and later wrote a blog post about it for the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy. Hunt explained the ways his staff in Conakry uses ChatGPT to “super charge” their work, offering a demonstration and explaining how to get the most out of the service. He stressed, however, that his team is trained to consider anything produced by ChatGPT to be “a starting point” for the final draft. Manor encouraged the audience to “imagine a ‘StateGPT’ able to analyze decades of internal documents generated by the State Department. Diplomats could view this internal AI to track changes in other nations’ policy priorities, identify shifts in foreign public opinion, or even identify changes in how America narrates its policies around the world.” Jessica Brandt discussed how autocrats use AI and large language models to create mass propaganda campaigns, and offered ideas for using AI and public diplomacy to fight these campaigns. A full transcript of the event can be found at https://bit.ly/State-AI-event. State’s First-Ever TopSecret Cloud Strategy The State Department’s chief information officer (CIO) and director of the Technology and Innovation Office spoke on the Federal News Network’s “Ask the CIO” program on Aug. 28. CIO Jimmy Hall Jr. talked about the department’s strategic plan and its firstever top-secret cloud strategy, which, he said, offered a “road map” for modernizing IT infrastructure and improving efficiency and security with cloud computing while still meeting strategic objectives. “What we’re looking for is a secure environment,” said Hall. “One that’s coupled with a data strategy, and that enables our analysts and diplomats to enjoy the benefits of either open source intelligence or some of the more classified sources of intelligence that they have a need to know.” The strategy will not be publicly released, Hall said. Iran and Saudi Arabia Exchange Ambassadors For the first time in seven years, Iran and Saudi Arabia have exchanged ambassadors. Iran officially reopened its embassy in Saudi Arabia in June following years of hostility between the two nations that began when Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran were attacked by protestors in All four Services have a lot in common. … • The Foreign Service represents an attractive career to university students in all four countries on a par with and sometimes higher than other professions. … • Most individual officers are sure their career choice has been the right one. They have a sense of satisfaction about their work and only a normal amount of conviction that they are overworked and underpaid. • There is a growing concern over the role of economics in international relations and a feeling that Foreign Services must produce economically trained officers in order to remain competitive with other government agencies interested in this field. • There is almost no feeling that a nation’s Foreign Service should mirror the nation. Quality is a more important consideration; “elitism” is not an ugly word when applied to ability and intellect. • There is some attention being given to the role of women in Foreign Services and an awareness that a woman’s career may have to suffer if she marries. There is no intention, however, to offer special consideration to women and their careers at the expense of smooth operation of the Service. —FSO Pratt Byrd, from an article of the same title in the November 1973 FSJ. The article is based on a case study the author prepared during the Senior Seminar in Foreign Policy. A Look at Four Foreign Services: Brazil–West Germany–Israel–Japan, Part II 50 Years Ago
16 NOVEMBER 2023 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL O ne of the many excellent podcast series from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, This Does Not Compute focuses on the fields of cybersecurity, internet governance, space policy, intelligence, and other areas of technology policy. Past episodes have featured the Treasury Department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis; the future of Meta’s Threads, which was introduced as an alternative to the floundering X (formerly Twitter); and the effects of disinformation on the Asian American community. In a recent episode titled “Lessons from History: Technology and Policymaking,” host Caitlin Chin talks with historian Jason Steinhauer about artificial intelligence (AI) and disinformation. Steinhauer is the author of the bestselling History, Disrupted: How Social Media and the World Wide Web Have Changed the Past, which was highlighted in the November 2022 FSJ. In this episode, Steinhauer, founding director of the Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest at Villanova University, talks about how policymakers can use their knowledge of history to address modern challenges like AI and online disinformation. Podcast of the Month: This Does Not Compute (www.csis.org/podcasts/does-not-compute) The appearance of a particular site or podcast is for information only and does not constitute an endorsement. 2016. The rift led to instability in neighboring Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. But on Sept. 5, the two nations once again exchanged ambassadors. On Sept. 18, five Americans jailed in Iran were released in a prisoner swap, leading to hope for further negotiations on other issues, such as a new nuclear deal. Five Iranians were also released from U.S. custody, and the U.S. agreed to grant Tehran access to $6 billion of its reserves that had been frozen overseas. Secretary Speaks with American Imprisoned in Russia On Aug. 16, Secretary Blinken spoke by telephone with Paul Whelan, an American who has been wrongfully detained in Russia for more than four years. This marks the second time the Secretary has personally spoken with Whelan. A source told CNN that Blinken told Whelan: “Keep the faith, and we’re doing everything we can to bring you home as soon as possible.” Several other Americans are currently in prison in Russia, including Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and Marc Fogel, a former teacher at the Anglo-American School of Moscow, which was forced to close by the Russian government in May. U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy met with both Whelan and Gershkovich in September. n This edition of Talking Points was compiled by Donna Scaramastra Gorman. AFSPA afspa.org/openseason afspa.org/aip BlueCross BlueShield Federal Employee Program www.fepblue.org/covered Clements Worldwide Clements.com/fsj Chambers Theory Property Management www.chamberstheory.com FEDS Protection fedsprotection.com Property Specialists, Inc. PropertySpecialistsinc.com Richey Property Management RicheyPM.com/foreignservice Senior Living Foundation slfoundation.org WJD Management wjdpm.com
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | NOVEMBER 2023 17 SPEAKING OUT Adam R. Pearlman, a State Department eligible family member (EFM), is a senior attorney and the managing director of Lexpat Global Services, LLC, a firm he founded with another EFM. He is also a former civil servant whose prior government service includes both the State Department and Defense Department. The opinions and characterizations in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the U.S. government. W hen President Biden signed Executive Order (E.O.) 14100 on June 9, 2023, it could have been a landmark initiative by the chief executive and head of state to benefit the families of all U.S. public servants who sacrifice so much while serving our country overseas. But it wasn’t. Instead, the well-intentioned initiative “to advance economic opportunity for military spouses” once again formally recognized the sacrifices of military families to the exclusion of all others. It must be said up front and unambiguously: Noting and advocating for the needs of nonmilitary families—including those in the foreign affairs, intelligence, and law enforcement communities—who experience similar hardships to those of military families, is not to detract from the consideration military service members and their families receive from the White House and Congress. Members of the military and their families earn the benefits and thanks they receive, and there is still more work to be done to support them. It is simply past time to inculcate the same gratitude for nonmilitary sacrifices in policy, law, and high-level rhetoric as well. From Rhetoric to Policy Since President Biden took office, this White House has repeatedly taken special notice of military spouses and families, including in no fewer than 24 presidential proclamations in addition to several other important policy measures such as the National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, and the Military Parental Leave Program. The June executive order, “Advancing Economic Security for Military and Veteran Spouses, Military Caregivers, and Survivors,” gives tangible form to several elements of the administration’s oft-stated support for military families in a document that carries the force and effect of law within the executive branch. The E.O. recognizes “that military spouses are an underserved community” and prescribes a wide range of initiatives to benefit military spouses and families, including: • Directing the development of a governmentwide Strategic Plan on Hiring and Retention for Military and Veteran Spouses, Caregivers, and Survivors; • Increasing federal job postings utilizing the Military Spouse Non-competitive Appointing Authority; • Expanding training on the employment of military and veteran spouses, caregivers, and survivors across federal agencies; • Setting governmentwide standards to improve the domestic employee teleworking overseas (DETO) program; • Directing the Office of Personnel Management to issue guidance to agencies outlining telework and remote work flexibility for military spouses and caregivers; • Encouraging federal agencies to collaborate to place a military spouse or caregiver in another position following changes to support continuity of care or relocation due to a permanent change of station (PCS) that makes it untenable for them to continue in their existing position; • Reinforcing the importance of considering remote work options for military spouses when reevaluating or entering agreements with host nations; • Developing tailored resources for military and veteran spouse entrepreneurs, including additional Small Business Administration consideration to support them “in starting and sustaining their businesses”; • Bolstering military families’ access to child care; • Encouraging federal agencies to grant administrative leave for military spouses in conjunction with PCS moves; • Amending legal assistance instructions across the military departments to allow families to receive advice related to employment under status of forces agreements or other host nation agreements; and • Improving the collection of data on military and veteran spouses, caregivers, and survivors in the federal workforce. And . . . What About Everyone Else? The near-monthly recognition of the bona fide hardships endured by military The Quest for Reasonable Civ-Mil Parity BY ADAM R. PEARLMAN
18 NOVEMBER 2023 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL families, and now formalizing that via executive order, stands in sharp contrast to the White House’s one-line nod to “those who uproot their lives every few years when a [public servant] family member’s job calls on them to find a new home” in the 2023 Proclamation on Public Service Recognition Week. To be sure, not everything has been at a standstill. The Foreign Service Families Act of 2021 (FSFA) was a major achievement in closing certain gaps between military and overseas nonmilitary service considerations. The FSFA applies provisions of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act concerning residential leases and cell phone contracts to members of the U.S. Foreign Service, compels in-state tuition for Foreign Service children, and directs the Secretary of State to do more to promote family member employment. As AFSA Advocacy Director Kim Greenplate wrote in the March 2022 FSJ: “The [FSFA] achieves more for Foreign Service parity with the U.S. military than any effort in recent memory.” Even so, the department’s data show that of the more than 12,000 nonmilitary adult family members based overseas, 55 percent (more than 7,000) are not employed. It is reasonable also to assume that many more are underemployed. In raw numbers, the number of U.S. government civilians and their family members based abroad is relatively small compared to our uniformed colleagues and counterparts. But military families also tend to live on large, secure, fairly well-resourced installations with on-site American health care, education facilities, banking, commissaries, and retail exchanges. The families of Foreign Service members and others often spend as much or more time overseas but are posted in less supportive places with higher hardship scores because of their isolation, persistent security threats, lack of modern health care, and/or insufficient schooling options. All of that comes on top of the regular moves every two to three years, like the military, and spouses having few meaningful opportunities to maintain or advance their careers either inside the mission or on the local economy. What Needs to Be Done There are certainly differences between military and nonmilitary service, and with them come some unique problem sets, needs, and solutions. The family situations of enlisted members of the military, for example, tend to differ greatly from those of the officer ranks and of officers in nonmilitary agencies. As military spouse Melissa Sullivan wrote in The Washington Post in July, some data show that family food insecurity is a significant problem in the enlisted ranks. And with deployments to some countries, such as to NATO ally Italy, military spouses are prohibited from working off-base at all without losing their status. But, as noted earlier, the unemployment rate of nonmilitary spouses is staggering, and the terms of many bilateral work agreements (BWAs), at posts where they apply, also leave much to be desired in terms of both content and clarity. Indeed, lack of any sort of interpretive guidance from the State Department leaves U.S. employers who might otherwise be flexible with teleworking FS spouses with uncertainty concerning possible corporate tax or tort liability. Finding that exposure unacceptable, some companies have put their FS-spouse employee(s) in the untenable position of having to either stay behind (and, presumably, collect a separate maintenance allowance from the State Department), or resign. Just as the E.O. calls for legal assistance judge advocates to provide military spouses advice related to employment, the State Department can do more to bring clarity to BWAs. Considering all of the above, and in full acknowledgment that there are legislative underpinnings to certain benefits exclusive to military families, we should be able to expect the president, the White House, and the U.S. government to be more inclusive of nonmilitary public servants’ spouses and families when devising economic opportunity and professional advancement programs in consideration for the inherent and imposed hardships of frequent overseas moves in their extraordinary service to the United States. From that perspective, E.O. 14100 took a big step in the wrong direction, and unnecessarily so. Indeed, the text of the FSFA itself demonstrates just how easy it is to include language benefiting “member[s] of a qualifying Federal service” versus simply “the Armed Forces.” The Foreign Service Families Act of 2021 itself demonstrates just how easy it is to include language benefiting “member[s] of a qualifying Federal service” versus simply “the Armed Forces.”
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | NOVEMBER 2023 19 Some measures that should be undertaken by the State Department immediately include: • Advocate for a follow-on executive order that incorporates nonmilitary families into the provisions of E.O. 14100; • Advocate for consistent rules and parity between the Military Spouse Noncompetitive Appointing Authority and those applicable to spouses of appropriate nonmilitary employees and officers serving overseas; • Provide interpretive guidance for bilateral work agreements and/or other relevant instruments at each post where a family member is working outside the mission so spouses and their employers have clarity on their tax and/or other liability exposure, particularly concerning remote work for U.S. companies; • Negotiate local income tax immunity or exemption for teleworking U.S. government spouses, and relevant tax and tort protections for their U.S.-based employers into BWAs; • Develop a governmentwide policy allowing federal employees and thirdparty contractors to work remotely on U.S. government business on employing- or contracting-agency approved equipment from U.S. embassy-approved housing, perhaps by including such provisions in the current legislative proposal that would provide military spouses with more U.S. government telework options; • Conduct a thorough review of economic and professional opportunity programs, preferences, and benefits available to military spouses and family members to determine whether there is a legal or otherwise sound policy rationale for excluding civilian employee spouses and family members from each of the identified programs, preferences, and benefits; and • Ensure the interests of nonmilitary families are represented during the process of further updating the DETO program, as further discussed in last month’s issue of the FSJ. n 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
20 NOVEMBER 2023 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL WRITE FOCUS ON FOREIGN SERVICE AUTHORS IN THEIR OWN DAVIDE BONAZZI
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | NOVEMBER 2023 21 For inclusion, books must be available for purchase. Please note that we use publisher list prices as of press time. Also note: Inclusion of a book in this collection does not imply endorsement by the American Foreign Service Association or the FSJ. AFSA welcomes the opportunity to share the news of books published by members of the FS community but does not vouch for the contents of the books. Further: We feature only one book by each author, chosen by the author, and list other titles in the author note. This year, in addition to six works of history or biography and five books on policy and issues, we have 12 memoirs, 19 works of fiction, and two volumes of poetry. Another three titles under “Potpourri” include a book on birding in Brazil. We also include a selection of recent books “of related interest” to diplomats and their families that were not written by FS authors. It takes a village to put this collection together. This year, it was assembled by Publications Coordinator Hannah Harari and written by Associate Editor Donna Gorman. —Shawn Dorman, Editor in Chief The Foreign Service Journal is pleased to present our 22nd annual Foreign Service authors roundup. We compile “In Their Own Write” for publication to celebrate the wealth of literary talent within the Foreign Service community and to give our readers a chance to support colleagues by sampling their wares. The collection of titles here, in particular the memoirs, is also a terrific resource for anyone contemplating a career in international affairs. And it comes to you in time for holiday shopping. Each entry contains full publication details along with a brief commentary. All listings are for the paperback edition unless there is only a hardcover edition, and where an e-book is available that is noted. This year our list of books written, edited, or translated by Foreign Service personnel and their family members stands at 47, down from 62 last year. The list is not a definitive record of works by FS authors; as always, we rely on the authors themselves to bring their books to our attention. If your recent book is not presented here, please let us know and we can add it to next year’s collection. We accept submissions for the November FSJ all year, by mail or email to email@example.com. MEMOIRS Spanish Connections: My Diplomatic Journey from Venezuela to Equatorial Guinea Mark L. Asquino, independently published, 2023, $19.99/paperback, e-book available, 350 pages. Growing up, Mark Asquino was fascinated by his mom’s tale of an uncle who may—or may not—have fought and died in the Spanish Civil War. This fascination led to a lifelong interest in all things Spanish and an eventual, almost accidental, career as a Foreign Service officer with the U.S. Information Agency. Asquino’s memoir, Spanish Connections, tells the tale of his roundabout road into the Foreign Service, which he joined in 1978 after completing his Ph.D. and serving as a Fulbright lecturer in Spain. He covers the pain of passing the exam and languishing on the hiring list, surviving A-100, and convincing his mom that his new career path in the “foreign legion” wasn’t as dangerous as she imagined after watching the 1952 spy thriller “Diplomatic Courier.” During his three decades in the Foreign Service, Asquino served in Latin America, Europe, Central Asia, and Africa, capping off his career as ambassador to Spanish-speaking Equatorial Guinea. He writes about going through a divorce while serving in Madrid, attending the funeral of a Kazakh contact who was assassinated, seeking medical care for a sick parent from overseas, and dealing with his own spiral into depression that needed to be treated medically while he was in Russian language training. All these stories are woven into tales of his work and colleagues at each post. Ambassador Mark Asquino retired in 2015. He and his wife, Jane, live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he is president of Global Santa Fe. Kept: An American Househusband in Paris Gregory E. Buford, Moontower Press, 2022, $11.99/paperback, e-book available, 240 pages. In this follow-up to his first memoir, An American Househusband in India, author Gregory Buford lands in Paris with his three children and his wife, Foreign Service Officer Dana Williams. But before he can get there, he first needs to survive life as a stay-at-home dad in Arlington, Virginia, and a series of disastrous job interviews with the CIA.