The Foreign Service Journal - May 2014 - page 12

MAY 2014
Sending Their Best
to Washington
s AFSA delves ever deeper into
the issue of political ambassadors,
we have often made the case that our
counterparts around the world do not
contend with the same level of political
patronage when it comes to the selec-
tion of ambassadors—and particularly
those being dispatched to the capitals
of important allies. But would the actual
statistics bear out the anecdotal evi-
dence supporting that conclusion?
After researching every ambassador
currently stationed in Washington (167
in all) and scrutinizing their biogra-
phies, it turns out we were even more
right than we knew.
To aid in our analysis, we divided
these officials into three categories:
career members of their country’s For-
eign Service; highly experienced former
government members; and political
appointees. The chart shown here tells
the story vividly. Only 13 of the 167
could be categorized as political appoin-
tees—just 7.8 percent. In comparison, 37
percent of America’s ambassadors sta-
tioned overseas were political appoin-
tees as of April 1.
As we broke the data down even
further, we discovered that not a single
member of NATO, the Group of 20 or the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations
has a politically appointed ambassador
representing it in Washington. The only
nations with such political appointees in
Washington are Haiti, Jamaica, Kenya,
Kosovo, Lesotho, Mauritania, Moldova,
Panama, Rwanda, Serbia, Sri Lanka,
Trinidad & Tobago and Zambia.
Clearly, almost every country in the
world believes that its bilateral rela-
tionship with the United States is so
important that only highly qualified and
experienced diplomats or government
ministers are entrusted with conduct-
ing it.
We invite you to investigate the list
by visiting
(Note that the data there is accurate
as of March 18; subsequent personnel
changes may affect the accuracy of the
data.) AFSA’s document,
Guidelines for
Successful Performance as a Chief of Mis-
, is available online at
sgeir Sigfússon,
AFSA Director of New Media
Addition by
n a March 24 statement known as the
the United States
and its closest allies formally suspended
Russia from membership in the “Group
of 8” industrialized democracies.
As a result, the body will now revert
to its Group of 7 structure, which dates
back to 1976 and brings together finance
ministers and central bank governors
from Canada, France, Germany, Italy,
Japan, the United Kingdom and the
United States.
The Hague Declaration reads, in part:
“This Group came together because of
shared beliefs and shared responsibili-
ties. Russia’s actions in recent weeks are
not consistent with them.
Under these circum-
stances, we will not partici-
pate in the planned Sochi
“We will suspend our
participation in the Group
of 8 until Russia changes
course and the environ-
ment comes back to where
the G-8 is able to have a
meaningful discussion,
and will meet again in G-7
format at the same time
as planned, in June 2014,
in Brussels, to discuss the
broad agenda we have
“We have also advised
our foreign ministers not
Jeff Lau
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