THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
This, then, is the dilemma
the Foreign Service faces:
Does modern security make
diplomacy too difficult,
if not impossible?
RSOs were committed to meeting the needs of chiefs of mission
and their staff members to conduct diplomatic business, and
I am confident that is still true today. To be sure, sometimes
complex special procedures were in place which imposed
delays, but at the end of the day most officers acknowledged
and supported the security policies. These arrangements were
not perfect, but the essential business of diplomacy carried on
even in circumstances where there were very real dangers.
Not an Impossible Task
That said, there is an unavoidable price to be paid for
enhanced security measures. Some foreign contacts are turned
off from visiting what they sometimes call “fortress embassies,”
and even those willing to run the security gauntlet have a hard
time creating the easy and open relationships of the past. Lim-
ited resources can make staff travel more difficult.
One should not be Panglossian about the situation. There
are tensions. There are resentments. And there can be unnec-
essary rigidity. However, protecting our diplomats must be
our top priority. We can never eliminate all threats, but we
can minimize them. Several U.S. ambassadors have been
kidnapped and murdered, and numerous embassies rocketed
and bombed. As the attack on Amb. Lippert demonstrates, our
diplomats will remain targets.
Security officers and diplomats are all in the diplomacy
business together, and must work for the collective good and
safety of our missions. Diplomats must accept some restric-
tions, just as security officers must accommodate mission
Diplomatic security triage will be needed to balance risks
and requirements in a world where America’s active role
remains crucial. In short, we must manage risks in a dangerous
world. Fortunately, this is not an impossible task.