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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

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SEPTEMBER 2017

7

s I beginmy second term as

AFSA president, having been

elected on a platformof con-

tinuing the work begun two

years ago by the Strong Diplomacy slate,

I reviewedmy very first President’s Views column.

In that maiden column, I made this

commitment:

“I will speak to everyone during my ten-

ure as AFSA president of the extraordinary

demands that are made of the extraordi-

nary people who answer the call to serve.

“As part of our pledge to worldwide

availability, we in the Foreign Service

willingly agree—in fact, work hard to

prevail in a highly competitive selection

process—to take on a career that requires

us to serve in remote corners of the globe,

often in unsafe and unhealthy conditions

of genuine hardship, where good schools

for our kids and decent jobs for our

spouses are rare.

“We willingly agree to rotate jobs every

two to three years as part of our competi-

tive up-or-out promotions system. While

that means we never get to settle com-

fortably in a job and a place we love, we

know this is the path to the broad range

of experience we need to grow as Foreign

Service profession-

als and prepare

to lead America’s

foreign policy.

“Ours is a

remarkable story of

service, of deliver-

ing for our country

in the face of unique challenges. I want

us to own that story, to take pride and

find strength in it, and to share it with the

American people.”

I renew that commitment to you

now, as I begin my second and final

term as AFSA president, and I ask that

you continue to do your part to own our

story and to tell it effectively to our fellow

Americans.

Why? Because it is working. I see con-

crete evidence that our fellow Americans

increasingly know who we are, what we

do, and why it matters.

For instance, in its reporting on the

moving ceremony on Foreign Service

Day, May 5, at which we in Washington

and many of you at posts around the

world paused for a moment to honor

the 248 fallen colleagues whose names

appear on AFSA’s memorial plaques, The Washington Post refers to the “nobility” of the Foreign Service.

And in his July 28

New York Times

Sunday Review piece, Roger Cohen writes, “Over the years, in war zones

and

outside them, I’ve known American For-

eign Service officers for whom the word

‘noble’ was not misplaced.”

So have I, and, so, I suspect, have you.

Explicit support for the Foreign Service

now clearly extends to Capitol Hill, where

the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

in late July voted out the 2018 State autho-

rization bill. I encourage you to read the entire bill, but particularly want to draw

your attention to Section 101, “Sense of

the Congress on Importance of Depart-

ment of State’s Work,” which is essentially

a tribute to the Foreign Service and the

importance of our work.

Section 101 asserts that “United States

global engagement is key,” and “United

States leadership is indispensable in light

of the many complex and interconnected

threats facing the United States and the

world”—challenges that “cannot be

addressed without sustained and robust

United States diplomatic and develop-

ment leadership.”

The “vital” work of State and USAID,

Section 101 states, “is critical to the pro-

jection of American power and leadership

worldwide, and without which Americans

would be less safe, our economic power

would be diminished, and global stability

and prosperity would suffer.”

If this language sounds familiar, it

should, as it echoes messages AFSA has

been pushing out across the country, as

well as on the Hill, for many months now.

In a word: Nine in 10 Americans favor

strong American global leadership, which

is unthinkable without a strong, profes-

sional Foreign Service deployed around

the world protecting and defending

America’s people, interests and values.

To all of you who took up and deliv-

ered this message, I say thank you—and

please keep up the good work. Own your

story of remarkable service. Polish it. Tell

it with pride. Every time you do, you make

the Foreign Service stronger by building

broad and enduring support for us and

the essential work we do to maintain

America’s global leadership.

n

Ambassador Barbara Stephenson is the president of the American Foreign Service Association.

Building Enduring Support for

the Foreign Service

BY BARBARA STEPHENSON

A

PRESIDENT’S VIEWS