The Foreign Service Journal - March 2014 - page 8

MARCH 2014
am honored and humbled by the
opportunity to serve as the editor of
Foreign Service Journal
When I was a first-tour officer in
newly independent Kyrgyzstan in the
early 1990s—before reliable Internet
access, blogs and regular e-mail, when a
phone call cost $3 per minute—I saw
Foreign Service Journal
as a lifeline (even
if it did take three months to arrive by
pouch to neighboring Kazakhstan, only
to sit awaiting a Bishkek vehicle to make
the trek over the mountains to fetch it).
I appreciated the
then, as I
do today, as a connection to home, to
Washington, to colleagues far and wide
and to the Foreign Service issues of the
day. I also felt the connection to AFSA in
the background, there just in case. I didn’t
knowmuch about what AFSA did for us
members other than send the
, but
for me that was enough.
That sentiment held in spite of an
unfortunatemiscommunication with the
magazine in 1993, when I shared a copy
of a letter home with the
editor to ask
if shemight be interested in “this type” of
I didn’t get a response, but about
five months later an issue of the
showed up featuring an excerpt from
my letter. It was a somewhat wide-eyed
account of Embassy Bishkek’s early days,
including my third week on the job, serv-
ing as airport control officer for a 24-hour
visit from then-Vice President Al Gore.
Prevented by fog from landing in Almaty,
Air Force Two had headed to Bishkek,
landing safely onto a sheet of ice—a day
early with one hour’s notice.
The problem (other than not being
consulted about the article) was the
typo. My sentence—“Most people appear
to like President Akayev”—had been
changed to “Most people do not appear
to like President Akayev.”The ambassador
was contacted by the foreign minister.
Thankfully, no real harmwas done; but it
struck me at the time, as it does now, that
a small but well-placed magazine
noticed and spark discussion!
As a former Foreign Service political
officer and AFSA veteran with a dozen
years’ experience as an
editor and FS
Books editor and publisher, I feel ready for
this job. I can promise to build on Steve
Honley’s track record, with commitment
and dedication to the magazine, our read-
ers and authors, and our elected AFSA
As you know, diplomacy is one of the
most interesting and least understood
professions. Doing outreach related to
Inside a U.S. Embassy
books, I’ve
given talks about the Foreign Service at
universities and high schools, and at the
U.S. European Command. I have seen
firsthand the utility of sharing Foreign
Service experience and views.
Under the upgraded and expanded
AFSA Communications umbrella, our
small teamwill do its utmost to maintain
high standards and take the magazine
to the next level. Specifically, we want
to establish a more robust online pres-
ence for
content and discussion,
building greater synergy with other AFSA
publications and media, and continue to
take on the tough issues.
As editor of this 90-year-old publica-
tion, my primary aim is to make sure that
AFSA’s tag line—“The Voice of the Foreign
Service”—actually plays out in the pages
of the
. The magazine is both for
you and about you.
occupies a unique space.
It is an in-house publication for the pro-
fession and union, with our AFSA News
department regularly covering associa-
tion business. At the same time, it is an
outward-facing platform for discussion of
the profession and the role of the Foreign
Service in diplomacy and development.
The military has dozens of publications
and institutions for their own to share
perspectives on their role in world events
and foreign affairs. The Foreign Service,
not so much. As AFSA’s flagship publica-
tion—nonprofit and nongovernmental—
is in an ideal position to air
perspectives from inside and outside the
foreign affairs agencies.
Together, we can use
The Foreign
Service Journal
to share ideas, help raise
awareness and, potentially, even move the
conversation forward. I invite you to write
for these pages; after all, they are
pages. Please be in touch with your ideas
and your submissions. You can always
reach me at
I look forward to working with you.
And I promise to let you know before we
put your article into print!
Coming Home
Shawn Dorman is the editor of
The Foreign Service Journal.
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