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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

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NOVEMBER 2016

13

Foreign Policy Matters

I n June, the Pew Research Center con- ducted a national survey to find out

what issues have been most important to

voters in this election season.

Not surprisingly, the economy comes

first. But 75 percent of the respondents

said that foreign policy would be “very

important” to their vote. This is a sig-

nificant increase from the 2012 election,

when just 60 percent said that foreign

policy would influence the way they voted.

In the 2016 race, both Democrats (73

percent) and Republicans (76 percent)

regard foreign policy as a major consider-

ation in their decision.

—Gemma Dvorak, Associate Editor

220 Career Diplomats

Sign Election Letter

Opposing Trump

A

group of 75 retired senior Foreign

Service officers, most of them

former ambassadors, signed an open

letter commenting on the presidential

election, declaring that “None of us will

vote for Donald J. Trump” and endorsing

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

The letter, dated Sept. 21, was linked

to a Sept. 22 Washington Post article by Karen DeYoung. In it, the diploma

ts

note: “We have proudly represented

every president since Richard Nixon as

ambassadors or senior State Depart-

ment officials in Senate-confirmed posi-

tions. We have served Republican and

Democratic presidents with pride and

enthusiasm.”

Career diplomats serve whatever

administration is in power and have a long

tradition of nonpartisanship. They are also,

while on active duty, subject to restrictions

on political activity by the Hatch Act.

So it is highly unusual when dozens

sign their names to a political letter like

this. Their explanation: “Very simply, this

election is different from any election we

can recall. One of the candidates—Donald

J. Trump—is entirely unqualified to serve

as president and commander-in-chief. He

is ignorant of the complex nature of the

challenges facing our country, from Russia

to ISIS to nuclear proliferation to refugees

to drugs, but he has expressed no interest

in being educated.”

This is the first time many of the signa-

tories have publicly endorsed a candidate

for president. The letter says that they are

doing so “because the stakes in this elec-

tion are so high.”

The letter was one of a number of joint

public statements signed by retired high-

level government officials and military

officers during this election cycle. Most of

the letters and statements have focused

on issues related to national security.

The Trump campaign responded

with a statement including the following:

“How terribly weak and ineffective for a

bunch of career overseas bureaucrats to

send a letter or cable saying they want

to keep things exactly as they are now,

and they’re rallying around fellow insider

Hillary Clinton. The world has become

a more dangerous place on their watch,

and they need to step up and own it.”

As of Oct. 24, the group had created a

website

(https://ambsforclinton.word

press.com/), and the number of signato-

ries had risen to 220—more than 120 of

whom were appointed to their posts by

Republican presidents.

—Shawn Dorman, Editor

Diplomats and

Parking Tickets—

A City’s Scourge

I

t seems that there is little any city can

do to protect itself from diplomats

who avoid paying parking fines and

speeding tickets.

In New York City, the total bill for

parking tickets issued to diplomats at

the United Nations was more than $16

million as of March 2016. This in spite

of a drastic reduction in unpaid fines in

2002 after the city refused to re-register

any car with a large outstanding debt.

The worst offender among U.N. dip-

lomats in New York is Egypt, with more

than $2 million worth of fines, according to The Guardian .

An even more serious problem than

unpaid fines is diplomats who flout

drunk-driving and dangerous driving laws

abroad. In Ottawa, Canada, in January

2001, a senior Russian diplomat, Andrei

Knyazev, lost control of his car on the way

back from an ice-fishing party, killing one

person and seriously injuring another. He

couldn’t be prosecuted in Canada, but

was eventually jailed in Russia.

U.S. diplomats have also been involved

in dangerous driving abroad, with inci-

dents recorded in Lahore, Islamabad and

Nairobi in the last five years.

TALKING POINTS