Foreign Service Journal - June 2013 - page 18

18
JUNE 2013
|
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
CAPITOL HILL AND FOGGY BOTTOM:
BRIDGING THE
CULTURAL DIVIDE
Though the world looks different
from the eastern and western ends
of the National Mall, there are actually
many similarities between the
congressional and diplomatic cultures.
BY CHARL ES A . STEVENSON
Charles A. Stevenson, a lecturer at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced
International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, is the author of
America’s Foreign Policy Toolkit: Key Institutions and Processes
(CQ
Press, 2012). He was a Senate staffer on defense and foreign policy issues
for 22 years and served for a year on the State Department’s Policy Plan-
ning Staff, handling political-military affairs. He also taught FSOs and
military officers at the National War College for 13 years.
FOCUS
ON WORKING WITH CONGRESS
C
apitol Hill might as well be a for-
eign country as far as most Foreign
Service officers are concerned.
Whether as an ambassador-des-
ignate making the rounds or as an
office director giving a substantive
briefing, the average FSO has little
understanding of what drives life
on the Hill. Equally disconcerting,
most members of Congress and their staffs have at best a fuzzy
idea of what an overseas mission is all about.
I’ve worked on the seventh floor of Main State, the Secre-
tary of State’s Policy Planning Staff and the Senate floor of the
Capitol, and have seen people in all those places regularly
misperceive and misunderstand each other. My hope is that
dispelling some of the myths each side believes about the other
might help to bridge the cultural divide between Capitol Hill
and Foggy Bottom.
Myths about the Hill in Foggy Bottom
Myth 1: Congress is only beholden to special interests.
People
at State have a jaded opinion of politicians—not unlike their
fellow citizens, who hold Congress in low esteem no matter
which party is in control. The prevailing view is that lawmakers
1...,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17 19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,...116
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