The Foreign Service Journal - October 2014 - page 12

t seems to me that in exercising his freedom and
obligation to pick the best man for the job, a
president will wish to give as much importance to
experience in diplomacy, or in a related field, as he
gives to experience when he names a general or an
admiral, and that, in the absence of such experience, he will wish
to assure himself that the person he names possesses qualities and qualifica-
tions that fully compensate for his lack of experience. The possible penalties
of failure to select qualified ambassadors are now so great that no president
will want consciously to risk them.
From the summer of 1953 to the day Mr. Castro rode a tank into Havana,
our ambassadors to Cuba were political appointees, without previous expe-
rience in diplomacy, and unable to communicate with the Cuban people
because they didn’t speak the language of the country. If we should ask
ourselves whether, during those crucial years, we took reasonable advantage
of opportunities open to us to try, through the legitimate exercise of diplomacy
on the spot, to avert the loss of Cuba to communism, the answer would have
to be that we did not. That is a harsh thing to say, in the light of what has hap-
pened in Cuba, but it is true nevertheless.
Perhaps the most powerful reason for naming career ambassadors is that
unless a high and growing percentage of career men are appointed to top jobs,
we won’t have an e¨cient Foreign Service, and without an e¨cient Foreign
Service our national security will be gravely imperiled.
We need well-trained, e¥ective diplomats as much as we need a well-
trained, e¥ective army. Our hope of avoiding a nuclear holocaust depends on
our not having to use our military forces, in large-scale war at least; and our
ability to stave o¥ large-scale war depends to a high degree on the quality of
our diplomacy. The quality of our diplomacy, in turn, will depend on the quality
of the men who carry it out.
—From“The Ambassador” by Willard P. Beaulac,
, October 1964.
The article was a chapter from Beaulac’s book,
Career Diplomat
A Career in the Foreign Service of the United States
(Macmillan, 1966).
50 Years Ago
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