The Foreign Service Journal - July/August 2014 - page 9

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
JULY-AUGUST 2014
9
Promoting Professional
Discourse
I have been following with great
enthusiasm what I see as a new direction
for AFSA, and hope you will keep it up. I
was initially skeptical of the Chief-of-Mis-
sion Guidelines project, thinking it would
just serve to create a rift between the
career and political sides of the house.
But in the end it seems to have laid down
a marker that was both important and
helpful, an initiative that to my mind
is much more useful than the kind of
sniveling AFSA was engaged in over the
previous several years.
I have also enjoyed Robert J. Silver-
man’s recent President’s Views columns,
starting with the defense of nationbuild-
ing and the references to George Ken-
nan’s work. In regard to the question of
why the Foreign Service doesn’t seem to
produce any Ken-
nans these days, I
conducted a project
for the Council on
Emerging National
Security Affairs
several years ago
titled “The Search
Points) reported on
that project.
I wonder if AFSA might serve as a
venue for searching for that post-con-
tainment national security doctrine that
has eluded us for more than two decades
now. Perhaps AFSA could run a “Calling
Mr./Ms. X” contest in which contestants
get two pages to write a “Short Telegram,”
and AFSA publishes them online with a
bit of fanfare.
There are a lot of new ideas out there
that are cowed by the system, and a lot
LETTERS
of creativity that is crushed
over time. Just compare the
bright eyes of entry-level
officers with the tired cyni-
cism of so many mid-level
and senior-level officers.
In any case, I ammuch
more enthused by an AFSA
that raises the level of intellec-
tual and professional discourse
than one that just goes after
that third tranche of overseas
comparability pay. Keep it up!
Keith W. Mines
FSO
Embassy Tel Aviv
Get Rid of “Up or Out”
I was pleased and flattered that
Thomas Longo, writing in your March
issue, f
t
previously aware of Mr. Longo’s
sad experience, I am familiar with
similar outcomes created by the
up-or-out rules embedded in the
Foreign Service Act of 1980.
Despite that history, some FSOs
may share the viewpoint of Tyler
Sparks, whose Speaking Out column
in the April
FSJ
calls for reviving
the Powell Fellows Program. Such
efforts to hand-pick young officers for
privileged, fast-track assignments to the
top may work in the military. But, like
up or out, I don’t think such favoritism is
appropriate for the much smaller Foreign
Service. When we copy from the military,
it is wise to be carefully selective.
So, FSOs unite! If up or out is to be
repealed or overhauled, it will require a
campaign like what we “Young Turks”
on the 1970 AFSA Governing Board
orchestrated to turn AFSA into our labor
union—with spectacularly
good results ever since.
FSOs, start tweeting
on your social networks
and writing to
The Foreign
Service Journal
to make
that happen. You have
nothing but your rival-
ries to lose!
George B. Lambrakis
FSO, retired
London, U.K.
Thank You, AFSA!
My son’s university of choice, and of
heart, added my housing (in Europe!)
to my salary in computing his financial
award package. In fact, all the schools
did.
I will say as a proud mom that my son
received a wonderful merit scholarship,
but we still had a long way to go to meet
the costs for this small private university.
I asked for an appeal, explaining that
the cost of our housing is not added to
my salary; nor do I see it or feel it! My
appeal was denied.
This school truly wanted my son as
much as my son wanted to go and was
not being difficult. They were just follow-
ing the rules set by the Free Application
for Federal Student Aid, known as FAFSA,
which is used by the U.S. Department of
Education to determine the “expected
family contribution” to paying for college.
I called AFSA and was put in touch
with James Yorke. Without hesitation, Mr.
Yorke became a champion for my son.
He wrote a letter to the vice president of
financial aid at the university, and AFSA
State VP Matthew Asada signed it. The
letter clarified how the practice of adding
Foreign Service housing to income is off
target.
This appeal was approved, and the
revised award package was outstanding.
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