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AFSA Scholarships

American Foreign Service

Protective Association


CareFirst Blue Cross

Blue Shield ts

Clements Worldwide

Embassy Risk Management

The Hirshorn Company

McGrath Real Estate Services

Stanford High School

Summer College

WJD Management


While he was a great diplomat,

your father was the first to admit he did

not meet most people’s definition of “diplo-

matic.” Do you think his personal style was

better suited to some regions (Balkans)

than others (Afghanistan)?


Well, we considered calling the

film “Undiplomatic.” I do think he felt a

lot of the niceties of the craft were unnec-

essary, but making sure the interpersonal

dynamics worked was essential to him.

He once said, “diplomacy is a lot like

jazz”—and I think for him a key element

was being able to listen and then adapt

and improvise to make sure the desired

results were achieved.

In Bosnia, that was tricky as hell, but

he was able to achieve it because Serbian

President Slobodan Milosevic understood

toughness and force, two things my father

used to his negotiating advantage. In Bos-

nia, there was also a real effort to make

sure that the approach was diplomacy

backed by force, rather than the other way


Afghanistan was a vastly different situ-

ation. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says

in the film that my father pushed former

President Hamid Karzai too far: “He could

browbeat Milosevic, but you can’t brow-

beat an Afghan.” I am not sure my father

fully understood how his tactics and style

needed to be changed for this part of the

world; he really struggled with it.


What do you think your father

would want Foreign Service members to

understand about what he faced in his role

as Special Representative for Afghanistan

and Pakistan?


I think he was most proud of cre-

ating the deeply impressive SRAP team of

people from all over the government. That

diversity of backgrounds allowed them to

work more dynamically as a group on this

one big thorny problem.

It is no secret that he had a rough go

of it in the Obama administration. Yet he

was eminently loyal to President Obama

and very much believed in the chain of

command. It was very clear to his staff

that they had to respect this, despite their

own frustration with the White House.

He was looking for any opening to

advance diplomatic relations between

Afghanistan and Pakistan. When I inter-

viewed Secretary Clinton, she mentioned

the Transit Trade Agreement that he

helped broker and pointed out that he

was enormously excited about this fairly

small deal. He felt that any progress and

agreements, no matter howminor, could

lead to bigger ones and that you had to

celebrate these accomplishments.

I would hope that Foreign Service

members would be moved by his perse-

verance. I also hope they will be inspired

While my father had enormous respect

for the U.S. military, he did not feel they

should be setting political strategy in

Afghanistan or, really, anywhere else.

In Vietnam, the military took the lead,

and that didn’t turn out so well.