The Foreign Service Journal - January/February 2017
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of the United States of America and have no other agenda but to

serve the administration.

The Foreign Service’s representational tradition is steeped

in honest and clear reporting to the host government, as well

as to the Department of State. This is the central focus of the

Service; officers are trained to call it as they see it. Reporting in

this manner provides the administration with a solid basis for

making critical policy decisions that could impact U.S. interests

in a foreign region.

George V. Corinaldi

FSO, retired

Potomac, Maryland

Bridge Divisions

E pluribus unum

. That is the motto that points the way to making

America great again. Seek compromises that bridge the divisions

in our society, not “solutions” that only make them worse.

On foreign policy, “offshore balancing” beats “right to pro-

tect” every time.

Carleton S. Coon Jr.

Ambassador, retired

Woodville, Virginia

We Tell You What You Need to Hear

As your own foreign policy preferences have figured only mini-

mally in your campaign, I hope you will give consideration to the

views of the professionals in the U.S. Foreign Service who will be

entrusted to carry out White House guidance.

The Foreign Service is not stacked against you.

Career Foreign

Service officers entered into public service not to promote a

particular agenda, but to promote the considered goals of official

U.S. foreign policy as determined by the president and foreign

policy advisers. They want to serve their country, and they join

the Foreign Service with the expectation that they will serve

under various administrations with varying political goals and


The Foreign Service has a record of accurate reporting.

Do not

be surprised if your Secretary of State tells you that the Foreign

Service overemphasizes negative views. Traditional diplomacy

effects change in incremental steps, and there are more than 190

countries that our diplomats will be informing of your wishes.

They each have to be addressed in ways that will make them

understand—and hopefully accept—any new directions you

wish to take; and, undoubtedly, there will be pushback, both

from friends and from adversaries. When your embassies inform

you of such pushback, please don’t “shoot the messenger.”

The Foreign Service will tell you what you need to hear, not

what you want to hear.

When Foreign Service officers suggest

modifications or even changes in your policies, you will need to

hear those points expressed loudly and clearly, and as accurately

as possible. Such messages may be annoying, but they are essen-

tial to help you gain the full benefit of the Service’s expertise in

various substantive and geographical areas. As a matter of fact,

we have institutionalized such disagreement with a “dissent

channel.” Our professional association, AFSA, can tell you more

about this mechanism.

Leon Weintraub

FSO, retired

Potomac, Maryland

We Are Not Your Enemy

In honesty, President Trump, you were not our choice. Hill-

ary Clinton, despite the campaign hyperbole, was a reasonably

effective Secretary of State—given that President Barack Obama

essentially made foreign policy. But Secretary Clinton advanced

U.S. interests in human rights and particularly women’s rights

around the globe. She paidmore attention and gave more sympa-

thy to Foreign Service personnel and issues than has often been

the case for Secretaries of State. We appreciated her.

That said, however, it does not make Foreign Service personnel

your enemies. We are professionals in assessing, analyzing, pre-

dicting and addressing the policies and attitudes of foreign govern-

ments, nonstate actors and those opposed to U.S. interests.

We want you to be successful. We want the United States of

America to advance its interests withmaximum effectiveness, leav-

ing friends and allies reassured and enemies deterred fromhostile


If you have a leaky basement, you call a plumber. If you have a

pain in your gut, you see a doctor. If you want to build a house, you

hire an architect. The plumber, doctor and architect are profession-

als; they don’t care about your politics or personality.

You get the point. If you want foreign policy expertise, the For-

eign Service consists of consummate professionals. Use us.

David T. Jones

Senior FSO, retired

Arlington, Virginia