Page 11 - FSJ_11_2012

This is a SEO version of FSJ_11_2012. Click here to view full version

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »
description of diplomatic reporting as an
internal dialogue between professionals
is enlightening and ought to become a
text at the Foreign Service Institute.
Unfortunately, the author apparently
became fxated with the concept of dis-
sent and the idea that only dissenters are
worthy of respect. Perhaps this is a gen-
erational twitch on her part, but it leads
her to a very serious misinterpretation.
A good two-thirds of the book is taken
up with the history of George Kennan,
the “China hands” (e.g., Jack Service and
John Paton Davies) and George Ball,
about whom she is generous and compli-
mentary. Yet she persists in erroneously
labeling them as “dissenters,” implying
that their professional virtues arose from
that status.
In fact, Kennan’s most famous and
signifcant work, the “Long Telegram,”
was the result of a formal request from
the State Department for his analysis of
the Soviet Union, and his recommenda-
tions became the foundation of Ameri-
can foreign policy for almost 50 years.
Gurman makes much of Kennan’s later,
critical remarks about implementation of
deterrence doctrine, but those came after
he had retired from the Foreign Service.
So where is the dissent?
Service and Davies were not dissent-
ers either, but ofcers producing high-
quality, well-received work. Te fact they
were later attacked for partisan political
reasons and forced out of the Foreign Ser-
vice is a travesty of justice, but does not
make them dissenters.
Gurman also labels George Ball a
dissenter, because as a senior member of
the Johnson administration, he argued
for policies and positions that weren’t
adopted. Tis is not dissent; it is partici-
pation in the policy process.
Near the end of her book, the author
discusses the respective dissent programs
of the State Department and of AFSA.
We must thank her for publicizing these
programs, but I do wish she had a better
grasp of what each does and how they
operate. Tat said, her discussion of the
central role of internal reporting, analysis
and discussion to the profession of diplo-
macy is important.
Edward Marks
Ambassador, retired
Washington, D.C.