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32

MAY 2015

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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

requirements.

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.

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