The Foreign Service Journal - July/August 2014 - page 52

52
JULY-AUGUST 2014
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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
AFSA NEWS
performance. Our intent at the outset of the project was to
launch it publicly at a time when there were few if any pending
nominations, in the hope that it wouldn’t be seen as politically
motivated or aimed at any individuals.
As luck would have it, however, several ambassadorial nomi-
nations drew intense negative media attention in January, and
our project got caught up in that flurry of coverage. The plus side,
I suppose, is that it ensured our guidelines received more public
attention than they might have in a less volatile environment.
Why Not the Best?
The Guidelines for Successful Performance as a Chief of
Mission were never designed as a cure for every flaw in the
ambassadorial nomination process. Nor were they intended
to replace existing laws and regulations. They were meant to
supplement existing rules, and to be easy to understand and
apply to the process of assessing whether those selected to be
the president’s representatives abroad are truly up to the job.
As such, the guidelines are a first step in enhancing the
professionalism of the practice of American diplomacy. We live
in a complex world that is in many ways even more dangerous
than the age of nuclear standoff that characterized the Cold
War. If the United States is to thrive in the 21st century, it is
imperative that we effectively use every available instrument
of national power, including diplomacy. Toward that end, chiefs
of mission, as the leaders of our overseas diplomatic missions,
are key to their effective functioning.
AFSA is under no illusions that the document will solve all of
the problems associated with the COM selection process. Its
adoption would, however, bring a greater degree of transpar-
ency and consistency to the process, ensuring that all nomi-
nees are judged according to a common set of standards.
No document, no matter how well-intended, can guarantee
success. But, the criteria set out in these guidelines are good
determinants of effective performance. They are based upon
the collective experiences of the 10 members of the working
group, all of whom have served successfully as ambassa-
dors—several at more than one post, and in some of our most
challenging overseas environments.
Still, any set of guidelines can only be effective if those
involved in the ambassadorial selection process commit to
using them as a uniform set of standards against which to
assess nominees. It remains our hope that will turn out to be
the case.
n
The guidelines are a first step in
enhancing the professionalism of the
practice of American diplomacy.
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