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JUNE 2017


Academy of Diplomacy

on the Budget

I appreciated the Journal ’s April Talking Points item reporting on various speeches

and comments in defense of proper fund-

ing for the State Department budget. The

American Academy of Diplomacy also

weighed in.

In March we sent identical letters to

Senators Cardin, Corker, Graham, Leahy,

McConnell and Schumer; and to Repre-

sentatives Engel, Lowey, McCarthy, Pelosi,

Rogers and Royce signed by myself and

our chairman, former Under Secretary

for Political Affairs Ambassador Thomas


We were joined in this by the Council

of American Ambassadors, an organiza-

tion representing former non-career

ambassadors from both parties. The signa-

tures of its chairman, Ambassador Bruce

S. Gelb, and Chairman Emeritus Ambas-

sador William J. vanden Heuvel, gave the

letter a strong endorsement outside the

career ranks.

Some excerpts from our letter follow:

“[We] believe the proposed magnitude

of the cuts to the State Department budget

pose serious risks to American security. ...

“Diplomacy is most often the first line

of America’s defense. When the Islamic

State suddenly appeared in Mali, it was

our embassy that was able to recommend

action based on knowing the difference

between terrorists and local political

actors who needed support.

“When Ebola inWest Africa threatened

a worldwide pandemic, it was our Foreign

Service that remained in place to establish

the bases for and support the multiagency

health efforts deployed to stop the disease


“It is to our embassies that American

citizens turn for security and evacua-

tion abroad. Our embassies’ commercial

work supports U.S. companies and citizen

entrepreneurs in selling abroad. ...

“Our contributions to refugees and

development are critical to avoid humani-

tarian crises from spiraling into conflicts

that would draw in the United States and

promote violent extremism. ...

“U.S. public diplomacy fights radi-

calism. Educational exchanges over

the years have enabled hundreds of

thousands of foreign students truly to

understand Americans and American

culture. ...

“These few examples should show

why so many American military leaders

are deeply opposed to the current budget

proposals. They recognize that when

diplomacy is not permitted to do its job

the chances of Americans dying in war

increase. ...

“The Academy, representing the most

experienced and distinguished former

American diplomats, both career and

non-career, and the Council have never

opposed all cuts to the State Department


“The Academy’s detailed study Ameri- can Diplomacy at Risk (2015) proposed

many reductions. We believe streamlin-

ing is possible, and we can make propos-

als to that end. However, the current

budget proposals will damage American

national security and should be rejected.”

The Academy is continuing to put

forth ideas for rational restructuring of

the State Department. We believe that

our ranks include a large reservoir of

experience that could usefully be drawn

on as the State Department considers

how to reorganize. We have offered our

services in any way the department may



Ronald E. Neumann

Ambassador, retired

President, American Academy of


Arlington, Virginia