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Obama administration.



notes that the memo does

not address what would happen if Mr.

Assad is forced from power. That point

was also made by Vice President Joseph

Biden, in an interview with “CBS This Morning” on June 21.

“The president and I and previous

presidents support the right of any dip-

lomat to have a secure channel to voice

a different view,” Biden said. “But there

is not a single, solitary recommenda-

tion that I saw that has a single, solitary

answer attached to it—how to do what

they’re talking about.”

Writing on,


FSO Joseph Cassidy says that this isn’t

the first sign of an insurrection; rather, it

means the system is working. Use of the

Dissent Channel is different from normal

policy tussles, he explains, because the

message reaches the highest levels of the

department, including the Secretary of


Cassidy notes that State Department

officials should and do debate and argue

among themselves, because they care

deeply about the outcomes of the foreign

policy they help to make and implement.

Most of the dissenters are mid-level

officers who have been involved in the

administration’s policy on Syria in the

last five years.

The last U.S. ambassador to Syria,

career FSO Robert Ford, resigned from

the Foreign Service over his disagree-

ment with Syria policy. Now a senior fel-

low at the Middle East Institute, Ford told

The Daily Beast

on June 20: “The dissent

memo should wake us up… we need to

reconsider our approach.”

Meanwhile, the question of who

leaked the memo and why is being hotly

debated. And then there’s the question

of how the


had the details of the

Secretary’s “private” meeting with eight

of the dissenters the same day. There will

be more to this story.

—Gemma Dvorak, Associate Editor,

and Shawn Dorman, Editor

Canadian Foreign

Service: A Plea for



ormer Canadian diplomat and

current Director of the Mackenzie-

Papineau Group Bruce Mabley calls on

the new Liberal Party government to

restore the Canadian Foreign Service as

“a true diplomatic corps” in an article in Open Canada , a digital public polic



Mabley’s plea is bound to resonate

with members of the U.S. Foreign Ser-

vice. He highlights inadequate training,

excessive lateral movement between

the Civil and Foreign Services and a lack

of transparency as factors in what he

describes as the long CFS decline.

Though engaged in the national

foreign policy conversation, the Cana-

dian public has little sense of the work

of the Foreign Service, Mabley argues,

making it very difficult to create a public

constituency to support reforms. High-

level officials with no FS experience are

tasked with making budget decisions,

often trimming long-term programs in

favor of expanding travel and hospitality

budgets, he adds.

Among other things, Dr. Mabley

recommends restoring the CFS’s meri-

tocratic promotions and evaluations

system. Also needed, he says, are better

training opportunities for mid-level offi-

cers and a drastic reduction in the num-

ber of Civil Service employees allowed

to move into Foreign Service positions.

He advises that more attention be

paid to the well-being of Foreign Service

families to increase retention rates.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new

government may be unable to deliver

on its many foreign policy promises,

Mabley says, if it does not first reform

the Foreign Service.

Daryl Copeland, another former

Canadian diplomat and now a senior

fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs

Institute, speaks often about the need

for reform in the Canadian Foreign


Following a June 2 presentation at AFSA, Copeland told the FSJ : “We nee


to re-profile our presentational network,

get away from cookie-cutter embas-

While so many Americans are cynical these days about our civil

servants, we came away thankful that we have smart, experienced and

hard-working people like Ambassador [Eric] Rubin and his staff. They are

dedicated to maintaining stability in this complicated corner of our shaky

world. The thought that someone as experienced as Rubin could be replaced

by a new president with a political appointment (a crony or fundraiser)

who had no previous experience or interest in that country (as often

happens) is heartbreaking.

—Rick Steves, author and TV host, at a dinner with career FSO U.S. Ambassador

to Bulgaria Eric Rubin, reported in

The Huffington Post on May 31.

Contemporary Quote