The Foreign Service Journal - March 2018

22 MARCH 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL F describes itself as “the U.S. gove rnment’s main tool for improving transparency in U.S. foreign assistance spending.” And, indeed, it delivers. More than 20 different U.S. government agencies manage aid to more than 100 coun- tries around the world; the site allows users to see exactly where and how that aid is distributed. was initi- ated by the Department of State and USAID. The site’s data analysis tool is managed by State’s Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources. The data was curated by an interagency working group with representation from State, Defense, Agriculture, Commerce, USAID, and Millennium Challenge Corporation. The experts use these indicators, which have been vetted for quality, in their own work. The site includes numbers reported quarterly by government agencies. The figures for assistance are broken down according to whether the aid is “planned,”“obligated” or “spent.” Users can examine the data by agency or by type of assistance (e.g., health, environment, humanitarian) or special project. Users can explore assistance data by country, sector, agency or year on an interactive map. It is also possible to download a complete set of data by country or agency. SITE OF THE MONTH: FOREIGNASSISTANCE.GOV name a few—are still being ably led by career diplomats acting as chiefs of mis- sion or chargé d’affaires, but foreign gov- ernments take note when the ambassador post in their capital remains vacant. Former Ambassadors to Trump: Reassess Your Views on Africa O n Jan. 16 the White House received a letter signed by 78 former ambas- sadors (which later rose to 85 signato- ries) who have collectively represented the United States in 48 different African nations over the past decade. The ambas- sadors wrote to express “deep concern” regarding reports that on Jan. 11 the president referred to African and other countries as “s---holes.” As signatory John Campbell, a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, wrote in a Jan. 18 blog post for the Council on Foreign Relations, the letter “affirms the impor- tance of the multidimensional partner- ships the United States has withmost Afri- can states, which range frombusiness to security to conservation” and “makes the point that a close partnership with Africa is a matter of U.S. national security.” On Jan. 19, The New York Times wrote about the diplomats who have to defend these types of statements to overseas allies. “The president’s rhetoric is so disrespectful that we’re losing the respect and relation- ships that we have spent decades build- ing,” former Ambassador to Qatar Dana Shell Smith told the Times . State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert responded that “the president said that he did not make those comments.” But U/S Goldstein had a dif- ferent response, instructing U.S. diplomats not to deny the remarks but to listen to U.S. partners’ concerns. Excerpts from the letter follow: “We write to express our deep concern regarding reports of your recent remarks about African countries and to attest to the importance of our partnerships withmost of the 54 African nations. “As American ambassadors abroad we have seen Africa’s complex and rich cul- tures, awe-inspiring resilience, and breath- taking generosity and compassion. … “We know that respectful engagement with these countries is a vital part of protecting our own national interests. The United States of America is safer, healthier, more prosperous and better equipped to solve problems that confront all of humanity when we work with, listen to and learn from our African partners. “We hope that you will reassess your views on Africa and its citizens, and rec- ognize the important contributions Afri- cans and African Americans have made and continue to make to our country, our history, and the enduring bonds that will always link Africa and the United States.” Dutch and Cover U .S. ambassadors typically keep a low profile and are scarcely recognizable to the broader public in their countries. But within a week of presenting his credentials to KingWillem-Alexander, Peter Hoekstra was notorious in the Netherlands. On paper, Hoekstra was a good fit for the appointment, which he campaigned hard to secure. A Dutch American, he was born in the northern city of Gron- ingen before emigrating to the United States when he was 3, and he still under- stands the language. But as a Jan. 18 Washington Post article put it, “The new ambassador to The Hague might be Dutch American, but he’s not like anyone the Dutch ever met.”