Page 7 - Foreign Service Journal - October, 2012b

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
OCTOBER 2012
7
or several years now, our military
leadership has called repeat-
edly for an enhanced diplomatic
capacity that can meet the mul-
tiplicity of complex contemporary chal-
lenges our nation faces, from terrorism to
climate change. Can we build a stronger
institutional capacity without a career
Foreign Service that develops a deep
senior bench of top-quality professional
diplomats?
As the following charts illustrate, the
trend has been in the opposite direction.
(Te data are drawn from the Web site
of the State Department’s Ofce of the
Historian.)
Exhibit 1 shows the top leadership
positions (deputy secretaries, under-
secretaries, assistant secretaries and
counselor) at the State Department in
periodic snapshots, starting in 1975. Te
total number of positions in this category
has grown from 18 to 33 over 37 years.
Meanwhile, the number of active duty
Foreign Service positions has decreased,
from 11 to 9, and the relative FS share has
fallen from 61 percent to 27.
Exhibit 2 shows an additional group:
the 35 special envoys, representatives,
advisers and coordinators in place today.
Of these, only fve slots (14 percent) are
flled by active-duty Foreign Service
ofcers.
Tis is only a sliver of
the data that AFSA has
started to collect and
examine. But it is more than enough to
trigger a host of sobering questions, start-
ing with this: If the trend continues, for
how much longer will the United States
have a professional diplomatic service?
How can we maintain the quality,
integrity, motivation and professional-
ism of the career Foreign
Service if three-quarters of
the senior leadership posi-
tions in the Department of
State are flled by political
appointments? What impact
does this trend have on its
institutional memory, to
say nothing of the personal
networks built over years
that are so vital for success-
ful diplomacy?
Only an institution with
a strong career diplomatic
service can give sound, can-
did advice to political lead-
ers in order to shape policy
and implement it efectively.
Can we really expect such
advice from an institutional
leadership overwhelmingly
drawn from the advocates of
one party or the other, which
changes hands with every
new administration?
In today’s world, it is hard
to argue that the United
States can aford to make
mistakes on the diplomatic
front because of our military superior-
ity and the strength of our economy, or
simply because we are the “indispens-
able nation.” Te questions raised above
lie at the heart of the future of American
diplomacy and the role we desire to play
overseas in the coming decades.
Please contact me at Johnson@afsa.
org to share your thoughts.
n
Diplomatic Capacity Needs
Professional Institutional Leadership
BY SUSAN R . JOHNSON
PRESIDENT’S VIEWS
Susan R. Johnson is the president of the American Foreign Service Association.
F
Exhibit 2
Exhibit 1
FS Active
Recalled
Other
4
5
26
FS Active
FS Retired/Recalled
Other
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
1975 1995 2005
2012