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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

JULY-AUGUST 2015

29

As part of an effort to expand the important

conversation about the state of the Foreign Service

and diplomacy and to bring in more active-duty FS

voices,

The Foreign Service Journal

sent out a message

to AFSA active-duty members requesting feedback

on the recently released American Academy of

Diplomacy report,

American Diplomacy at Risk

. We

shared the summary statement from the report, the 23

recommendations and links to the abridged and full

versions of the report

(http://bit.ly/ADARlong and http://bit.ly/ADARshort

).

For this issue of the

FSJ

, AAD President Ronald

Neumann provided his overview of the report and the

concerns and recommendations it offers for discus-

sion. What follows is a compilation of the feedback

comments received by the

Journal

in May. We wel-

come and encourage further discussion, so please send

your letters to

journal@afsa.org.

Disclaimer: The contributors to this compilation

are writing in their private capacities, not on behalf of

their agencies. Details about their FS positions are for

information only.

Shawn Dorman, Editor

Major Unanswered Questions

I

can’t say I disagree with any of the key recommendations in

this study, which, like most recent reviews of how to fix our

diplomatic architecture, starts with more money, more person-

nel and fewer politicos in key positions. But I do wonder if it

doesn’t miss some of the major unanswered questions we are

facing as an institution, issues which would require some stra-

tegic decisions before we get to the additional people and cash.

Two issues seem to me to loom large.

First, what is our mission abroad, and are we organized to

accomplish it? I had a debate with a mentor once, in which I

argued for activist microposts that pushed our personnel out as

broadly as we can to match a flatter world (think Parag Khanna

and Thomas Friedman), while developing the capacity to partici-

pate actively in institution-building in fragile states. He argued

that the business of diplomacy is to influence governments,

which is done in capitals.

We are just coming out of a period of incredible diffusion

of personnel across several war zones, having even formed a

bureau to ostensibly support these kinds of operations, and

seem to be parked somewhere between the demarche-laden

capital and the operation-laden field. Do we intend to continue

FOCUS

ON DIPLOMACY: THE PROFESSION

THE STATE OF THE FOREIGN SERVICE

Continuing the

Conversation