Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  73 / 104 Next Page
Basic version Information
Show Menu
Previous Page 73 / 104 Next Page
Page Background





An Insider’s Look at How U.S.

Ambassadors Are Selected

On June 11, AFSA welcomed

Ambassador (ret.) Dennis

Jett to discuss his new book,

American Ambassadors: The

Past, Present, and Future

of America’s Diplomats

(Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

The book offers an insider’s

look at the evolution of the

ambassadorial selection

process and the debate over

political appointees’ qualifi-

cations for the job.

Jett provided historical

background on the earliest

U.S. ambassadors, explaining

that in the late 19th century,

the general attitude toward

diplomats was that “anyone

could do it, with a little on-

the-job training.” However,

that didn’t stop many from

coveting the role, such as

Charles Guiteau, who assas-

Ambassador Dennis Jett suggests language testing for chief-of-mission

candidates and publishing their scores for consideration during the

confirmation process.


Continued on page 74

sinated President James

Garfield when he was denied

a diplomatic post in Vienna.

This event gave birth to a

reform movement that led to

passage of the Pendleton and

Rogers Acts. According to

Jett, these acts changed the

system to ensure that people

are hired and promoted on

the basis of merit.

Jett then turned to today’s

process, describing the dif-

ferent paths to ambassador-

ship taken by career diplo-

mats and political appointees

and how their appointment

ratios have fluctuated by


Responding to a review in

The Foreign Service Journal’


April issue, which faulted

American Ambassadors