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10

NOVEMBER 2016

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

LETTERS

We Are the Foreign

Service

Kudos to John Fer for his letter “Time

to Be a ‘State’ Person” in the September issue of The Foreign Service Journal .

John is quite right, none of us should

feel beholden to political interests.

Indeed, to serve the national interest

our political leaders need (whether

or not they always appreciate it at the

time) our independent, professional

advice and counsel. This is why the

Rogers Act of 1924 was passed and the

professional Foreign Service created.

For that matter, none of us should feel

beholden to any particular agency. As

career Foreign Service officers, we are

members of a professional cadre of com-

missioned officers of the United States

representing State, USAID, FCS, FAS, BBG

and APHIS, as well as retirees from each.

Our oath is to the Constitution. Like

our Civil Service and political appointee

colleagues, like uniformed and civilian

members of the armed services, like

doctors and lawyers and teachers and

so many others, we are members of a

distinct profession with stringent entry

requirements that selects us to perform

a distinct role that encumbers upon us a

distinct ethical obligation.

Certainly each individual agency

needs to have its own initiatives to

attend to internal matters. And to take

ownership of the profession of diplo-

macy, we certainly need joint initiatives

together with our Civil Service and

political-appointee colleagues, both

within and across agencies.

But to uphold our oath, fulfill our

duty and properly serve the national

interest, let’s make sure that these ini-

tiatives speak clearly to the distinctive-

ness of the Foreign Service, and educate

and prepare us as commissioned offi-

cers of all agencies for carrying out our

special role and upholding our special

ethical obligations.

We, the undersigned, are Foreign

Service officers, active-duty and retired,

from State and other foreign affairs

agencies:

Marshall Adair

Amb. James Bishop

Anne Bodine

Angela Dickey

Robert Dry

Mary Ellen T. Gilroy

Eva Groening

Timothy F. Haynes

Amb. Dennis Hays

Aaron Held

Susan R. Johnson

Stephanie Kinney

Amb. Alphonse F. La Porta

Amb. Michael Lemmon

Amb. John Limbert

Amb. Edward Marks

Kiki Skagen Munshi

Kit Norland

Amb. David Passage

Amb. Charles A. Ray

Michael S. Ross

Amb. Lange Schermerhorn

Amb. Emil Skodon

Edward G. Stafford

Amb. Clyde Taylor

September’s Dissent

Coverage

Profound, sincere congratulations

for the

September issue of the Journal

,

which presented the AFSA awards for

constructive dissent in a manner and to

an extent that was necessary, deserved

and very well done.

Ambassador Stephenson’s Presi-

dent’s Views, Shawn Dorman’s Letter

from the Editor, plus the Spotlight on

Awards and the coverage of the awards

ceremony should make a meaningful

contribution to a necessary, expanded

and more in-depth understanding of

the purpose of AFSA’s dissent awards.

They honor challenges to foreign policy

as well as to management and person-

nel policies, while the State Depart-

ment’s Dissent Channel is exclusively

directed at foreign policy issues.

During the more than two

decades I spent serving on the

AFSA Awards Committee, I found

that the key problem facing the

dissent awards was the limited

understanding of the significant

difference between them and all

the other awards given out by

all organizations affiliated with

the U.S. government: The AFSA

dissent awards are

not

for superior per-

formance of assigned duties.

While superior performance fully

merits the attention it receives, dissent

comes from the dissenter, not from the

job description.

Retiree VP Tom Boyatt, who won two

constructive dissent awards and was the

author of a failed Dissent Channel effort

described in his September column,

provides meaningful illustrations of

the what and how of that system, and

underlines the separation. The Dissent

Channel puts the issue in the hands

of the administration, where there are

rules and procedures.

Constructive dissent leaves the pro-

cess in the hands of the dissenters, to be

dealt with as they decide. There may be a

potential risk involved in making waves,

but it is highly instructive to learn that

winners of AFSA’s dissent awards, as a

group, have had promotional success in

the career at much higher rates than the

rest of the individuals at their rank. That

is a fact worth noting.

Ed Peck

Ambassador, retired

Chevy Chase, Md.