THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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