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8
JANUARY 2013
|
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
LETTERS
Thanks for Promoting
Foreign Service Books
Tis year’s edition of “InTeir Own
Write” (
FSJ
, November) was informative
and thought-provoking. As Susan Maitra
noted in her introduction, the majority of
the books were self-published. Te self-
publishing genre
has become
increasingly
sophisticated,
ofering quality
production and
professional
editing for a
price.
What is still
badly missing
is reasonably
priced publicity. Te publicity given
gratis by
Te Foreign Service Journal
is
therefore invaluable.
Last summer I participated in a small-
town book fair in Vermont. Te author
sitting next to me behind his pile of books
was Pulitzer Prize-winner Tom Powers,
author of the best-selling
Te Killing of
Crazy Horse
(Random House, 2010).
Te Christian Science Monitor
called it a
“masterpiece.” It won the
L.A. Times
prize
for history and was a fnalist for the New
York Book Critics Circle Award.
Mr. Powers suggested that we “barter”
(exchange) our books, which was, of
course, fattering to me. For the rest of the
afternoon, we each sold only one book,
mine to a high-school girl named Emma.
Tom Powers is a very genial and
generous man. He took the occasion to
give me a lesson in reality. Te propaga-
tion of even good books, he said, is a very
difcult afair. Tat is why the
FSJ
’s help
is so much appreciated.
John J. Eddy
FSO, retired
Rochester, Vt
.
Ambassadorships for Sale
Retired Ambassador Dennis Jett’s
November Speaking Out column (“Psst!
Hey, Buddy, Wanna Buy an Ambassador-
ship?”) was both signifcant and challeng-
ing. As someone who has long taken the
position that sending novices to repre-
sent our global superpower is not in the
national interest, I would like to add three
points to the discussion that I hope will
take place on this important issue.
To quote from the article, “Diplomacy
is a profession”—and we are the profes-
sionals. In that spirit, AFSA, the organiza-
tion representing us, should take a strong
public stance opposing the practice of
selling ambassadorships. Even if it does
not lead to a reduction in the percent-
age of political appointees, what matters
is that we begin to see ourselves more
clearly as professionals—the most skilled
practitioners of our profession. No other
similarly qualifed group would remain
silent if unlicensed, unskilled or just plain
inexperienced outsiders were put into
senior positions in their profession.
I would note that Amb. Jett does not
call attention to the reasons that the For-
eign Service Act and the president’s letter,
in identical language, give chiefs of mis-
sion (an ambassador’s operational title)
“full responsibility for the coordination,
direction and supervision of all execu-
tive branch agencies” in their country of
assignment.
Te objective is both obvious and
critical: to inject a level of coordination
and control into the implementation end
of foreign policy. (Such control is much
more difcult to achieve during policy
formulation, since no agency can instruct
another.) Tirty-two agencies operate
in our embassies, most numerous in the
more important (read: lots nicer) coun-
tries chosen by political appointees. To
expect a beginner to be able to efectively
perform this critical function is to ignore
the meaning of “experience.”
Te press in other nations, including
some close allies, has expressed concern
that sending a novice instead of a sea-
soned diplomat seems to indicate that we
do not take the relationship seriously. To
use a clumsy analogy, would you be more
comfortable discussing a complicated,
serious medical question with a qualifed
M.D., or with someone who purchased
the diploma a short time ago?
My comments are not in any way
intended to ignore or denigrate the abili-
ties and accomplishments of the appoint
ees, which are in any event irrelevant,
but to oppose the joy of patronage that
rewards them for giving large sums.
Tere is no such thing as on-the-job
training for the boss, which is why gener-
als never command aircraft carriers. Our
nation requires and deserves profession-
als to promote our interests in today’s
world.
Edward Peck
Ambassador, retired
Chevy Chase, Md
.
“Argo”: Rousing If Not
Completely Accurate
An almost fanciful tale of the escape
of six ofcial Americans from the grips of
revolutionary Iran has resurfaced after
more than 30 years in Ben Afeck’s new
hit flm, “Argo.” In it, Afeck, who directs
and stars, tells the story of what used to be
known as “Te Canadian Caper”—before
it was revealed that the rescue was engi-
neered by CIA “exfltration” expert Tony
Mendez, who got the fugitives out posing
as a flm production team.
One participant in the Caper, retired
FSOMark Lijek, outlined his escape, as
well as his role as a consultant to the Argo
flm, in his October
Journal
article, “How
Hollywood Does History.” Lijek illumi-