The Foreign Service Journal, December 2007

D E C E M B E R 2 0 0 7 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 29 epresentatives of more than 30 federal agencies are currently stationed in U.S. embassies, where they manage and advance their particular organization’s agenda based on instructions from headquarters. When their efforts are coordinated under the country team umbrella, they can achieve great things, but this happens far less often than it should. That gap between theory and practice should not sur- prise anyone familiar with organizational behavior in the general sense. But there is an additional problem that is specific to the conduct of international relations. In Washington, during the formulation phase of the foreign policy process, the various agencies are more or less equal. None can give orders to, nor will they ever accept them from, other agencies. As a result, communication lapses can occur, with one agency failing to discuss with or even inform others about what is being planned and where. Meaningful direction and supervision must come from higher levels: the National Security Council, the Cabinet and, ultimately, the president. In foreign affairs, the consequences of such lapses show up overseas in the form of haphazard policy imple- mentation. Without meaningful direction by a higher authority in the field, U.S. foreign policy risks being hamstrung at best, and counterproductive at worst. This is where the State Department, by capitalizing on the presidential mandate given to every chief of mission, can be most effective. Regrettably, however, State has failed to make the best possible use of this unique role. How We Got Here Prior to World War II, few government agencies had overseas representatives. Such employees basically had F O C U S O N C O U N T R Y T E A M M A N A G E M E N T C HIEF - OF -M ISSION A UTHORITY : A P OWERFUL BUT U NDERUSED T OOL T HE S TATE D EPARTMENT SHOULD CAPITALIZE ON THE PRESIDENTIAL MANDATE GIVEN TO EVERY COM TO STRENGTHEN THE COUNTRY TEAM MECHANISM . B Y E DWARD P ECK R Edward L. Peck, a Foreign Service officer from 1956 to 1989, was chief of mission in Baghdad from 1977 to 1980 and ambassador to Mauritania from 1983 to 1985, among many other postings. In 1974, he won AFSA’s William R. Rivkin Award for Constructive Dissent by convincing the Department of State to change the rules for joint caption telegrams worldwide, in order to clarify and protect the chain of command from the Secretary of State to ambassadors. (He may also be the only officer to win a grievance against the State Department and go on to an ambassadorship.) In addition, he proposed and compiled the first “Ambassador’s Handbook” in 1973. Ambassador Peck lectures at FSI and other U.S. gov- ernment institutions on the subject of “Advocacy and Dissent” and does other public speaking and writing. A former retiree representative on the AFSA Governing Board, he is a longtime member of the Awards Com- mittee.