The Foreign Service Journal - April 2017
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APRIL 2017



The department gave me the chance

to be part of, and to lead, amazing inter-

agency teams at embassies abroad, in

the European Bureau and at the White

House. These were great organizations;

but it was only when I spent 11/2 years

in the Political-Military Bureau and five

years in the International Security and

Nonproliferation Bureau, that I came

to fully value the true strength of the

department, a Civil Service

cadre every bit as talented

as the Foreign Service. It was

perhaps my highest honor

to learn from, to guide and to

take credit for the accomplish-

ments of the deepest bench of

experts in any agency.

The State Department owes

me nothing. But we still owe

America a lot. We still have a

duty—you have a duty, to stay and

give your best professional guidance,

with loyalty, to the new administration.

Because a foreign policy without profes-

sionals is, by definition, an amateur

foreign policy. You will help to frame and

make the choices. Because that is


we do.

Diplomacy in Detail

Our work is little understood by our

fellow Americans, a fact that is some-

times exploited for political purpose.

When I have the opportunity to speak

to audiences across this amazing land,

I explain: “We do not have a Depart-

ment of State—we do not have a foreign

policy—because we love foreigners. We

do it because we love Americans.”

We want Americans to prosper, to sell

the world’s best food and the world’s best

products everywhere in the world. We

want Americans to be protected and safe

when they are abroad, whether they are

missionaries, tourists, students, business-

men or (for those you have done consular

work) the occasional false messiah.

We want Americans to sleep the

sleep of the righteous, knowing that the

smallest fraction of their tax dollar goes

to ease poverty and reduce injustice. We

want them to know that our consular

officers are the first of many lines of

defense against those who would come

to the United States with evil

purpose. We want the families

of America’s heroes—our ser-

vicemen—to know that their

loved ones are not put into

danger simply because of a

failure to pursue nonmili-

tary solutions.

And we want Ameri-

cans to know that the

torch borne by the

Statue of Liberty is not just

a magnet for immigrants: It is a projec-

tor, shining the promise of democracy

around the world. The United States is

the world’s greatest economic power and

the world’s greatest military power; and,

with your vigilance, it always will be. But

the greatest power we project is hope, the

promise that people can establish liberty

in their own country without leaving it.

I’ve seen it in the country second

dearest to my heart: Serbia. I saw democ-

racy born in Serbia. I saw it stolen. I saw

and played a minor role in its restora-

tion. And I know this: that if a generation

stands up and insists upon defending the

rights of the people, they will succeed.

And if the next generation stands up and

resists every corrosive attack on democ-

racy, they will triumph.

If we wall ourselves off from the world,

we will extinguish Liberty’s projection,

as surely as if, as the Gospel says, we hid

our lamp under a bushel basket. If we do

not respect other nations and their citi-

zens, we cannot demand respect for our

citizens. If our public statements become

indistinguishable from disinformation

and propaganda, we will lose our cred-

ibility. If we choose to play our cards that

way, we will lose that game to the masters

in Moscow.

If our interaction with other countries

is only a business transaction, rather than

a partnership with allies and friends, we

will lose that game too. China practically

invented transactional diplomacy, and if

we choose to play their game, Beijing will

run the table.

Business made America great, as it

always has, and business leaders are

among our most important partners. But

let’s be clear: despite the similarities, a

dog is not a cat. Baseball is not football.

And diplomacy is not a business. Human

rights are not a business. And democracy

is, most assuredly, not a business.

Why We Do It

Each of us came to this work with

our identities more or less fully formed,

and we have preserved our values, with

greater or lesser success, against the

professional deformation caused by any

bureaucracy. I myself came here with

my identity framed: as a Christian, as an

Eagle Scout, as a taxpayer.

These didn’t require me to go into

the State Department, but they define

my obligations as a citizen: to spend tax

dollars wisely; to look out for the best

interests of the United States and its

people; to share the best of America with

the world; and to be not only optimistic,

but also—to use a word so suddenly

fallen from favor—altruistic.

I line up with Steven Pinker. In his


The Better Angels of Our Nature


Pinker describes the “escalator of

reason”—“an intensifying application

of knowledge and rationality to human