The Foreign Service Journal - September 2014 - page 59

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
SEPTEMBER 2014
59
AFSA NEWS
Ambassador Seeks Change to
Cumbersome Clearance Policy
AFSA CONSTRUCT I VE D I SSENT AWARDS : THE CHR I ST I AN A . HERTER AWARD
FOR A SENIOR FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICER
Ambassador Jonathan
Addleton, a USAID officer,
was the State Department’s
senior civilian representative
for southern Afghanistan,
based in Kandahar, when he
urged a systematic review
of the department’s public
affairs policy. He believed its
complex system for reviewing
requests by Foreign Service
personnel to speak and write
was cumbersome and overly
risk-averse.
“I have always been
strongly interested in commu-
nications, outreach and public
diplomacy,”Addleton says. He
notes that he had been disap-
pointed by the many “missed
opportunities” for communica-
tion over the years, he says.
“At times it is tempting to
simply ‘give up’ in the face of a
complicated, exhausting and
opaque process that typically
takes much longer than it
should.”
Two events occurred that
spurred him to write the Dis-
sent Channel message that
earned him the AFSA award.
The first was the length of time
and number of steps it took to
get a book-length manuscript
on Mongolia cleared before it
could move forward
to publication
(
Mongolia and the
United States: A
Diplomatic History,
2013
).“Something
is seriously amiss
when it takes longer
to officially clear a
book-length manu-
script than it does
to write or translate
it,” he notes.
The second
concerned an op-ed
on the “two Malalas”
he wrote for publication in
the Pashto language press in
Kandahar (see p. 44). State
Department officials killed
the piece on the grounds that
publication would feed con-
spiracy theories then emerging
in Pakistan that the U.S. was
somehow behind the attack on
the young Pakistani girl.
Addleton’s dissent mes-
sage made the case for a more
creative and rapid response on
public affairs issues, conclud-
ing: “Whether driven by policy
sensitivities that seek to avoid
directness in countries where
radical Islamist agendas drive
our discourse, or because of
institutional structures that
deaden our creativity and flex-
ibility, we are somehow unable
to engage with confidence on
the ideas we hold dear. For all
our efforts to become more
streamlined, our public affairs
culture and overly complex
review processes remain far
too cautious and risk-averse.
This needs to change.”
Jonathan Addleton joined
the Foreign Service as a USAID
officer in 1984 and is currently
the Regional USAIDMission
Director for Central Asia
based in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
He previously served as U.S.
ambassador to Mongolia,
and at posts in Afghanistan,
Belgium, Pakistan, Cambo-
dia, Jordan, South Africa and
Yemen. Addleton and his wife,
Fiona Mary Riach, have been
married 29 years and have
three children.
“My sincere hope is that
this award will raise further
awareness about this issue
and expand efforts to some-
how streamline the process,”
Addleton says.“More local
approaches are also needed,
pushing approval authority
much closer to the field.”
n
Amb. Jonathan Addleton meets with Haji Gulzar,
chairman of the Peace Council in Zabul province,
southern Afghanistan, in the fall of 2012.
Amb. Jonathan Addleton at the ceremony.
Profiles of award winners compiled by Debra Blome.
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AFSA/JOAQUINSOSA
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