The Foreign Service Journal, December 2023

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | DECEMBER 2023 39 of officers who were caught up in the Trump administration scandal over Ukraine. These and many other initiatives show just how important AFSA is and how it has responded to the needs of individual officers and the Service as a whole. FSJ: As you know, AFSA also honors dissent within the system through its annual awards. What has been your experience with dissent? Any advice for colleagues on whether, when, and how to speak up if they disagree with a policy? JFT: I have always thought AFSA’s support for dissent through its annual awards was a critical component of AFSA’s mission. I tried in the embassies I led to encourage anyone with alternative views about our policy or the direction of our mission to come forward and tell me and the DCM. I thought it best to have a healthy internal discussion. We could then fix the problems at post and/or share with the department alternative views on how to deal with the situation we confronted in the country to which we were assigned. Perspectives on Diplomacy FSJ: What are the essential ingredients for a successful diplomat? JFT: I don’t think there is one specific model for a successful diplomat. The Foreign Service is a very diverse group of personalities, and overall we are enhanced by that mix. Clearly, the best FSOs are empathetic and adept in social situations. They love to represent their country and the American people in foreign countries. They are practical problem-solvers and need to be good negotiators. I was very fortunate as my career developed to have had some extraordinary mentors and bosses. Among them were Tom Simons, Lynn Pascoe, Jim Collins, Roz Ridgway, Sandy Vershbow, Larry Napper, Beth Jones, and Tom Pickering. FSJ: As you know, the Foreign Service reaches its centennial in 2024. What would you say will be the top three issues for American diplomacy in the coming years? JFT: I think the United States faces a vast array of new challenges. The international order which we have known since World War II is now being seriously challenged by China and Russia. They are promoting authoritarianism over democracy. We see resurgent attempts at imperial-style domination instead of respect for sovereign independent states. International security has been challenged. War, terror, and instability afflict our world, as we see in Ukraine, the Middle East, and Africa. President Putin has stopped complying with the New START treaty, and both Russia and China are expanding their nuclear arsenals and developing new technologies for delivering nuclear weapons. We cannot manage this alone; we need strong alliances and effective multilateral diplomacy to achieve our national goals. We will also have to confront a number of existential threats to our world. Climate change is already wreaking havoc in many ways around the world. Artificial intelligence will transform every aspect of life. COVID-19 has taught us the threat posed by pandemics. It is really a staggering list of issues that our country and new generations of the U.S. Foreign Service will have to confront. There is, by the way, an excellent new book by Andrew Hoehn and Thom Shanker, Age of Danger, which provides a very readable survey of the array of challenges and threats we face. FSJ: What is your advice to current members of the Foreign Service who may be considering leaving the Service? JFT: Everyone considering leaving the Service has their own reasons. Sometimes it is policy; sometimes it is family or other personal issues; and sometimes it is because the individual does not feel they are achieving what they’re capable of in the Foreign Service. This is why mentorship is so important. Every officer needs to feel that they can discuss their problems, their needs, and their future with a sympathetic boss or mentor. FSJ: Do you recommend a career in the Foreign Service to young people today? Why or why not? JFT: Yes, absolutely. I think it is a wonderful career. That said, I tell university audiences that individuals considering a Foreign Service career should look at all aspects of the career before they make the decision: living abroad away from family for long periods, serving in danger posts or in unaccompanied assignments, the impact of Foreign Service on the life and career of a spouse or partner, having and raising kids in the Foreign Service. There are more. I try to make sure that young people considering this career go in with their eyes as wide open as possible. People often forget about the substantial progress Georgia made in reforming its economy and fighting corruption in the years before the war.