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40
JULY-AUGUST 2013
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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
LOYALTY:
THE HALLMARKOF
THE PROFESSIONAL
DIPLOMAT
Once a fnal decision is made by our
political masters, it is the responsibility
of the professional diplomat to execute
it—or step aside and let another do so.
BY ROBERT WI L L I AM DRY
D
iplomatic literature—from
Machiavelli’s advice to his prince
to that of contemporary ambas-
sadors recounting their experi-
ences for the beneft of new
Foreign Service ofcers—doesn’t
spell out codes of conduct for
practitioners. But such sources
do ofer valuable insights into the
attributes of the ideal diplomat.
A common theme in the literature is that the purpose of a
diplomat is to pursue, with every fber of his or her being, “the
national interest.” Defning that term can be tricky, it is safe to
say. But particularly for any diplomat serving at an embassy
or consulate (as opposed to those based at international or
intergovernmental organizations), veering from the ofcial
policy of their countries continues to be the equivalent of pro-
fessional suicide. (However, I certainly do not mean to suggest
that sending an appropriate, constructive Dissent Channel
message is a bad idea.)
I ofer the following refections on loyalty in diplomacy,
Robert William Dry, an FSO from 1981 to 2010, serves on AFSA’s
Professionalism and Ethics Committee. He is an adjunct professor at
Columbia University’s School of International and Public Afairs, and
at New York University’s Wilf Family Department of Politics.
FOCUS
PROFESSIONAL ETHICS