The Foreign Service Journal - July/August 2015
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Preface: The Foreign Service is a diverse,

rotating cast of characters. Perhaps you will

find a familiar face in this column, inspired

by the chancery scene in the John Le Carré novel, A Small Town in Germany . Thank

you for the privilege of serving as your

president for the past two years. Let’s all

support the incoming team led by Barbara


he weekly meeting took

place as usual at ten o‘clock

on Friday. It had the air of

a religious procession, with

the congregants filing in to take their

anointed seats around the table. The staff

aide performed a silent roll call to ensure

everyone was in place before the ambas-

sador arrived.

The deputy chief of mission as usual

joined just as the last of the congregants

was seated. “Did you see the item in the

papers this morning about the deaths

from vodka poisoning?” The DCM nod-

ded, “Whah’s Filly?” The station chief was

missing but would no doubt turn up later

in the morning.

The ambassador arrived and set a busi-

ness-like tone. These proceedings were

more about lateral coordination than top-

down communication, and she wanted

to hear from the


The political

counselor, on her

left, went first. On

his third overseas

tour and recently

arrived from deputy directorship of the

country desk, Rawley was the youngest

in the room, except for the staff aide. His

briefing on the political groups behind

the week’s demonstrations was fluent but

lacked the intimate insights gained from

extended on-the-ground contacts. That

would come in time. The DCM was taking

mental notes for an upcoming mentoring


Fernandez was the public affairs

counselor. At 62, still radiating strength

dating to halcyon days as a campus orga-

nizer of protests against South African

apartheid, he built on Rawley’s briefing,

talking about young leaders in the oppo-

sition identified for embassy exchange

programs. Fernandez was wrapping up a

35-year career organizing public diplo-

macy events on four continents.

After the RSO and Consul General

detailed new security and Amcit notifica-

tion measures, USAID Mission Director

Forcier described his visit to a health

clinic project in the ethnic minority com-

munity supporting the demonstrations.

Forcier had acted as Rawley’s embassy

sponsor, with introductions around post

and to the best grocery shopping and

cheap restaurants. Forcier was a key fac-

tor in Rawley and family getting off to a

good start.

“Now for something completely dif-

ferent,” Crabbe called out. He took the

next spot as economic counselor and

focused on support for U.S. export firms

in-country, a theme picked up by the

commercial and agricultural counselors,

with differing emphases. Those three

are well coordinated, thought the DCM,

making a note to ask Crabbe to be acting

in August.

Colonel Kaplan, the military attaché,

seemed stressed. He spoke only of the

many visitors on the horizon. Each U.S.

delegation, headed by a senior general,

wanted a meeting with the country’s chief

of staff, and there was danger of overkill.

The ambassador said she wouldmeet with

Kaplan and the DCM to prioritize and

rationalize the meeting requests.

“Raise your hand if you have com-

pleted the annual conflict of interest

disclosure form due today?” Only the

ambassador and DCM raised their hands.

Jalokby, the management counselor,

sighed. She was sure the ambassador’s

OMS had helped. “I am reporting the rest

of you to Washington.” Jalokby had a way

of getting action; she had grown up in

the Foreign Service and knew the culture

better than anyone else at post.

The final voice around the table was

von Klemm, the community liaison

officer who happened to be Fernan-

dez’s husband. He announced the next

CLO outing to a reptile petting zoo; all

embassy children were invited. Parents

needed to sign liability waivers.

The proceedings were winding down

as the ambassador wished all a good

summer weekend. It was time to go back

to the office and get things done.

Be well, stay safe and keep in touch,




Robert J. Silverman is the president of the American Foreign Service Association.

The Country Team