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MARCH 2015


Defining Diversity

A letter in the December



to all white males shown in an honored

group on the cover of the September

issue and pleads for more diversity.

I recall serving with a group of white

males who could not have been more

diverse in backgrounds and experience—

one a


family descendant,

one the son of holocaust survivors and

another who was the first in the family

to go to college from a remote place in


Life in the Foreign Service is a rich

experience because of the real diversity of

individuals we work with and enjoy, not

by photo representation of demographic

or other groups.

The Foreign Service exists to be an

effective instrument to advance American

foreign policy interests. I have served and

negotiated in many places, fromNorth

Korea to South Africa. I don’t recall that

the folks on the other side of the table

ever cared if the U.S. teamwas composed

of Aleut lads or the sons of Vermont hill

farmers. Whoever we were, we were rec-

ognized as representing the United States,

and dealt with accordingly.

Herbert Levin

FSO, retired

New York City, N.Y.

Useful Focus on


I amwriting to express my

appreciation for the December issue of the FSJ , focusing on Afghanistan. My only direct

connection with that country

is a week I spent there a very long time

ago. But no American citizen can afford

to be unconcerned about its present state

and its likely future. From that standpoint

I found the three focus articles in your

December issue to be truly valuable.

They were serious articles, worthy of a

serious publication, and indeed likely to

be of interest to people inside the govern-

ment. To be sure, they presented three

distinct perspectives. But when taken

together they gave a definite feel for what

is really going on there.

I also appreciated the December Letter

from the Editor, setting out the issue’s con-

tents and significance and how the articles

related to each other. I found it helpful

in my reading of them. I hope for similar

articles and letters in forthcoming issues.

The Rev. Theodore L. Lewis

FSO and FSR, retired

Germantown, Md.

“Up or Out,” Redux

In the November Journal , FSOMatt Weiller lambasted George Lambrakis’

denunciation of “Up or Out” (Septem-

ber Speaking Out). He said the view was

“severely dated,” asserting that more, not

less, up or out is necessary in order to

weed out officers for “areas of conduct,

suitability and discipline (known as CSD)

and performance management issues.”

Mr. Weiller is conflating two separate

matters. It is one thing to be able

to weed out officers for

legitimate reasons. But

it is quite another thing

for the State Department

to eat its seed corn by

involuntarily separating

perfectly good officers

through the promotion

panel process.

Employee Evaluation

Reports are inflated, and

promotion panels are chal-

lenged to identify the true best performers

based on EER after EER of imaginative

writing. But so much more that is unre-

lated to performance impinges on the

process: limited promotion numbers for