The Foreign Service Journal - March 2014 - page 10

10
MARCH 2014
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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
of merit principles, simply asserted that
the department had legal authority to
do what it did in denying me multifunc-
tional eligibility.
Now Mr. Lambrakis calls into ques-
tion the wisdom of the department’s
up-or-out system itself. He writes of
the pernicious effects of a system that
obliges officers “to compete actively, if
not ferociously, against their colleagues
for promotion.”
I had not thought of my experience
as the fault of the up-or-out system
but rather as a woeful skewing of merit
principles within that system. But Mr.
Lambrakis’ comments come as a breath
of fresh air.
As such, his Speaking Out column is
essential reading for anyone seriously
concerned about the integrity and future
of the Foreign Service.
D. Thomas Longo Jr.
FSO, retired
Lawrenceburg, Ind.
Thinking about
George Kennan
I enjoyed reading
Robert J. Silverman’s
was inspired to order
a copy of John Gaddis’
biography of George
Kennan as Silverman
suggested.
Kennan is certainly
a mixed bag. While he
was prescient about the
geopolitics of the Cold
War and the Soviet Union, and is rightly
celebrated for that, as Silverman notes,
“he seems to have shared many of the
prejudices of his day.”
Yet is that really all we have to say
about that? I would point out that not
everybody shared those views; indeed,
many people were free of the conven-
tional prejudices of Kennan’s day. This
problem occurs over and over through-
out history: someone has accomplished
great things for which civilized humanity
is grateful, yet that same individual also
has committed shameful acts or has seri-
ous character flaws.
I also don’t know (yet) whether Gad-
dis discusses Kennan’s outstretched hand
to Stalin’s daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva,
who stayed with the Kennans for some
time after her arrival in the United States.
I was a consular officer at our embassy in
New Delhi when she defected (though I
wasn’t involved in the procedures during
the hours she spent at the embassy, and I
wasn’t the one who issued her visa). But
I believe that the embassy handled the
matter extraordinarily well.
My hat is off to Bob Silverman for
writing on something less stuffy than the
customary President’s Views column—
and for writing well, in the finest tradi-
tion of the Foreign Service.
Larry Lesser
FSO, retired
Washington, D.C.
Minding Couriers
fascinating account of a
diplomatic courier run. It
made me realize that dur-
ing my 27-year career in
the Foreign Service, I never
met a courier.
But what most astounded me was
this passage, pertaining to his arrival in
Guam: “The diplomatic courier is not
allowed to descend planeside at Won
Pat International Airport to retrieve our
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