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MAY 2015


Striking a Proper Balance

Despite those objections, freedom

of movement has already been severely

constrained in many high-risk countries,

many of which have even been desig-

nated unaccompanied posts. Heavy

travel restrictions are in place for U.S.

government employees, and whole cities

and regions are off-limits.

This, then, is the dilemma the Foreign Service faces: Does

modern security make diplomacy too difficult, if not impos-


Do access controls, designed to keep malefactors out, also

keep out our own citizens, critical sources of information or the

wider foreign public whom we seek to influence? Does a preoc-

cupation with security outside the official compound lead to

unnecessary travel restrictions?

Does the need for all staff to travel in fully armored vehicles,

or for an ambassador to have bodyguards, inhibit the practice

of diplomacy? In short, is it now too difficult for officers to get

out to gather the information they need or to interact with

foreign officials whom they wish to influence, or to carry out

essential program management and oversight?

Based on my experience in the field and in Washington, I

would have to say such concerns are somewhat exaggerated.

When I was ambassador to Lima from 1989 to 1992, at the

height of threats from Shining Path insurgents, our designation

as a critical terrorist threat post never prevented me from car-

rying out my responsibilities.

Yes, I chafed under much of the protection and the occa-

sionally intrusive steps required when I wished to travel

outside the capital or attend a social event. But even though my

entire staff and I were living under the constant threat of rocket

attacks, car bombs and kidnappings, our team of RSOs made it

possible for us to do our jobs and even travel to remote parts of


Similarly, as DS assistant secretary, I traveled to critical-

threat posts on every continent to see for myself how our

enhanced security policies operated in real life. I found that

Congress never appropriated enough

funds to build all the chanceries needed

to carry out the Inman Commission's



A U.S. Marine

talks with an FBI

investigator in

front of Embassy

Dar es Salaam

on Aug. 15, 1998.

Eight days earlier,

bombs had

exploded almost


there and at

Embassy Nairobi,

killing 224 people

and wounding

more than 5,000.