Page 7 - FSJ June 2012

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J U N E 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
Last September the AFSA
Governing Board identified five
strategic goals for its term,
which runs through July 2013.
Strengthening professionalism
and effectiveness in the context
of diplomacy and the Foreign
Servicewas one of the five goals they set.
Since then, a number of my columns
have focused on facets of that broad
topic. I have examined such questions
as whether Marine Corps culture has
any lessons for us; why a code of pro-
fessional ethics and conduct is impor-
tant for the Foreign Service, both as an
institution and a profession; and
whether the perception of the Foreign
Service as elitist is justified, or accu-
rately describes the nature of our pro-
fession and service.
The responses to those columns
have been encouraging and show that
several of these ideas resonate with
members, both active-duty and retired.
What emerges as the central question is
this: How can we strengthen our diplo-
matic and development services?
If America wants to maintain a lead-
ership role and real influence in global
affairs in an ever more complex envi-
ronment, it will needmore instruments
in its statecraft toolbox than a strong,
well-resourced professional military
force. It requires an equally strong, pro-
fessional and well-resourced cadre of
diplomatic and development profes-
U.S. military interventions
and diplomacy have both had a
deep impact on world affairs.
The outcome of diplomatic ef-
forts may not be as visible and
dramatic as that of military in-
terventions but, in the words of
the diplomat and scholar Alan Hen-
drikson, it is often “consequential.” Our
engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan
provide themost recent and clearest ex-
amples of howmilitary effort and diplo-
macy are intertwined.
Flowing from last fall’s strategic plan-
ning retreat, the AFSA Governing
Board approved the establishment of an
AFSAProfessionalismandEthics Com-
mittee at its April meeting. The new
committee has a broad mandate to de-
velop and recommend programs, proj-
ects and initiatives to the Governing
Board encompassing such issues as re-
inforcing the Foreign Service’s identity,
core values and esprit de corps;
strengthening professional education
and training, formulating a professional
code of ethics and conduct; reviewing
AFSA’s constructive dissent awards pro-
gramwith a view to using it more effec-
tively to improve professionalism;
offering input on the content of exhibits
and outreach of theDiplomacy Center/
Museum of American Diplomacy, as
well as other ideas ourmembers suggest.
We are now in the process of stand-
ing up the AFSA Professionalism and
Ethics Committee. This involves defin-
ing and formalizing its mandate inmore
detail, and adopting and implementing
a work plan based on specific projects
or practical initiatives. We anticipate its
membership will comemostly from the
active-duty Foreign Service, with some
retiree participation and with a recently
retired ambassador or senior officer as
chair, given the time constraints on
active-duty members.
AFSA will provide some staff sup-
port, but we expect, at least in the initial
phase, that committeemembers will be
able to engage substantively with time
and ideas. Once organized and focused
on a work plan and specific activities,
the time commitment should be simi-
lar to that required of FSJ Editorial
Board members.
The scope of the Professionalism
and Ethics Committee’s work will
match the scope of its members’ am-
bition and the Governing Board’s sup-
port. Indeed, the number of AFSA
members who have already expressed
interest in participating and proposed
areas to pursue suggests that this new
committee will have a rich range of is-
sues to explore. It may need to estab-
lish subunits or advisory and con-
sultative groups to facilitate its work,
but this is not cast in stone and we will
adjust as we proceed.
If you would be interested in partic-
ipating in some way in the committee’s
work, please contact me at johnson@
Establishing the New AFSA
Professionalism and Ethics Committee
R. J