The Foreign Service Journal - March 2018

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MARCH 2018 11 LETTERS Fantastic December Issue Thanks so much for the fan- tastic December FSJ highlighting diplomacy and how what we do matters. From the AFSA presi- dent’s column (“Time to Ask Why”) onward, it was comfor t- ing to read. Michele Hopper FS Family Member Community Liaison Office–Assistant U.S. Consulate Frankfurt Deploy FS Force Multipliers With the Foreign Service under siege, Ambassador Barbara Stephenson and AFSA have been waging a spirited defense. A recent essay from RAND Cor- poration analyst Michael Mazarr (War on the Rocks, Oct. 30) is especially pertinent to this debate. It presents a compelling argument for the primacy of diplomacy in national security. Unlike the Cold War, when America successfully faced off against a single lethal foe, today America, on its own, simply cannot afford the blood and treasure necessary to deter the multiple adversaries we face—Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and jihadist terrorists, not to mention coping with global risks from climate change, pandemics and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruc- tion. If America defies this reality, it will collapse just as surely as the Soviet Union did. Military power remains an essential pillar of national security, but not the only one. Indeed, overreliance on the application of military power has led to strategic blunders in the past, from Vietnam to Iraq. Advancing national interests in the multipolar world of the 21st century will require the United States to leverage its other indispensable assets—its demo- cratic values, the rich diversity of its people, its open economy and the rules- based international order created from the rubble of World War II. These are the very aspirations that define American exceptionalism in the history of nations and that rally support from people around the world. To bring these strengths fully into play, diplomacy must move to the forefront in protecting national security. Rather than a tool of first resort, Amer- ica’s unmatched military capabilities are the critical enabler for skillful diplomacy that can solidify alliances, resolve dis- putes and promote international coop- eration on issues of national interest. Significantly, civilian and military leaders of America’s defense establishment have consistently grasped the role of military power in service of diplomacy. This raises the question of how to strengthen public consensus around that idea. While diplomats must continue vigorously defending their profession, they lack the domestic constituency to gain traction among the wider public. Moreover, their arguments will too often be interpreted as self-serving, rather than rooted in the national interest. The Foreign Service needs to mobi- lize its own “force multipliers”—a broad coalition of wise warriors and other like-minded citizens who can make the most persuasive case for renewing the country’s commitment to the primacy of diplomacy in securing the peace. Art Kobler FSO Minister Counselor, retired Hong Kong Bemused and Unamused In the December issue of The Foreign Service Journal , Ambassador Barbara Stephenson and FSJ Editor Shawn Dor- man reprise the plaintive duet of “Why, oh why, is the State Department treated so badly?” Assuming the question is not rhetorical, but rather a request for help understanding the actions of a demand- ing supervisor and an unimpressed public, I’ll take that question. The first step is to reread both com- mentaries with fresh eyes and pick out the message inside the message, which is replete with unvarnished, if possibly unintended, elitism. Much like AFSA offerings in other forums, they both offer a cartoonish message of brave, well- trained experts under siege by a coterie of slack-jawed bumpkins who couldn’t spell, let alone define “national interest.” Which, speaking as one who has relo- cated far beyond the Potomac, is tripe. Then we should examine “accom- plishment.” Amb. Stephenson uses a military analogy, which is unfortunate for her argument: the leaders of any army with the history of failure and retreat State has suffered in the past 15 years would have been cashiered long since, to public acclaim. Let’s review four problems in which State Depart- ment “experts” have dabbled recently. Libya, anyone? We violated an agree- ment to depose Muammar Gaddafi, with what result? How about failure to enforce the Budapest Memorandum when Vladimir Putin changed national boundaries in Europe by force? Perhaps the Syrian “Red Line” and subsequent abandonment of the once-successful opposition to the tender mercies of Putin, Assad and their Iranian enforc- ers? That’s not the only Iranian problem of course; but North Korea already has