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by bestowing an annual award on a mid-
level Foreign Service officer who best ex-
emplifies the practice of constructive
dissent, a practice we are deeply proud of.
I have now served at Embassy Paris for
more than two years, and have come to
discover that the word “dissent” has no
direct translation in French. In an effort
to explain the concept to my French in-
terlocutors, I describe the American For-
eign Service Association’s annual awards
ceremony, which, in part, honors FS em-
ployees who have shown independent
judgment by challenging the hierarchy on
their own.
This description never fails to interest
and impress my counterparts — a real
compliment in the country of l’esprit cri-
tique. Not only does the word “dissent”
appear to be quintessentially American,
but presenting awards tomen andwomen
who criticize policy and offer solutions is,
as well.
Encouraging Rigorous Debate
My father encouraged (some might
say demanded) rigorous debate among
the dedicated FSOs with whom he
worked. He particularly wanted to hear
from those who disagreed with him. In a
tribute to President John F. Kennedy —
who first appointed him ambassador —
he praised the president’s insistence on
that too-rare quality of the “open mind.”
The president “… surrounded himself
with persons of high intellect, as well as
those of dogged practicality, and relished
both the exposition and the rebuttal of
views,” recalled my father.
Perhaps JFK best articulated this no-
tion in one of his last speeches: “Men who
create power make an indispensable con-
tribution to the nation’s greatness, but the
men who question power make a contri-
bution just as indispensable, for they de-
termine whether we use power or power
uses us.” (To which I would, of course,
add women.)
As ambassador, I have developed an
even deeper appreciation for those offi-
cers who show leadership by bringing in-
tellectual courage and constructive
dissent to policymaking. Someone like
Joel Ehrendreich, the winner of last year’s
Rivkin Award, who, each year, submitted
his dissent against a de facto policy until
a representative of the U.S. government
attended the annual PeaceMemorial Cer-
emony at Hiroshima; or Rachel Schneller,
who — afflicted with Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder resulting from service in
Basra, Iraq — committed herself to cor-
recting the State Department’s failure to
provide adequate mental health care to
diplomats serving in war zones.
Ahead of Their Time
My brother and I have been proud to
honor such individuals, whose intellectual
courage is the real legacy of our family’s
award. They are, in Ambassador Edward
Peck’s words, individuals who “have
demonstrated the courage to challenge the
system from within, no matter the issue
or the consequences of their actions.”
Often ahead of their time, Rivkin
Award winners have paved the way for
new and innovative policies that have
helped to define the role and place of the
United States in an ever-changing world.
Many have gone on to lead some of our
most important diplomatic missions
F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 2
“Serving Abroad ... Through Their Eyes”
In 2012, the Department of Defense and the Department of State will recognize and cele-
brate the 50th anniversary of the Office of ART in Embassies ( through a col-
laborative photography exhibition, “Serving Abroad ... Through Their Eyes.” The exhibition
will serve as a visual record of the experiences of U.S. military and Foreign Service members
while abroad. The images — captured from their daily lives showing friendship, places,
faces, loss or triumph — will bring their personal perspective and voice to a global audience.
Each photograph submitted may be one of up to a thousand selected for display in nu-
merous venues, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Pentagon and other
prominent locations. Submissions will be accepted through Presidents’ Day, Feb. 20. For
full rules and instructions on how to submit an image, please visit
A panel of noted American experts will review the photographs and announce the selec-
tions on Armed Forces Day, May 19. The 10 “best in show” photographers will be invited to
Washington, D.C., where they will participate in the exhibition’s November VIP opening cele-
Rivkin • Continued from page 31
Panel on State
of European Union
and the Euro
On Thursday, Feb. 16, at 2:30 p.m.,
AFSA, in conjunction with the
Foreign Service Journal
, will convene
a panel discussion focusing on the
state of the European Union and
the euro as a common currency.
This event, which will be held at
AFSA headquarters, could hardly be
more timely, as this year marks the
20th anniversary of the Maastricht
Treaty and the 10th anniversary of
the adoption of the euro.
My father encouraged (some
might say, demanded) rigorous
debate among the dedicated
FSOs with whom he worked.