KPBS San Diego

Do Presidents Trust the Foreign Service?

By letting career diplomats at the State Department languish, the White House is wasting one of its greatest assets — at its own peril

The main reason the White House does not seem to fully trust the Foreign Service, many career and political appointees say, is that the institution is poorly equipped and ill-prepared to deal with today’s thorniest challenges. The American Academy of Diplomacy said the State Department is “neither educating its staff to the professional level of our allies and competitors nor systematically preparing its future ‘bench’ to assume senior roles”…
Sink or Swim

Why doesn’t America train its diplomats?

“Why did the State Department send a diplomat without the necessary skills — and more importantly, without any training — to a critical posting in the most volatile region in the world on the eve of the Arab uprisings? Could the U.S. response to those uprisings have been more effective had American diplomats there been better trained?…”
America’s Other Army

Interviews with diplomats in the line of fire — an exclusive excerpt

“Preparing for a specific attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility overseas is almost never possible, and evacuations are rarely as orderly as the one in Belgrade. The events in Libya on the night of Sept. 11, 2012, were a tragic reminder of that reality. When the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi came under attack, Ambassador Christopher Stevens was trapped in the burning building…”
AtlanticBeing a Foreign Service Officer After 9/11

A new book offers a thorough picture of how the Foreign Service has changed since 9/11 — interview with author Nicholas Kralev

“9/11 had a profound impact on American diplomacy and the U.S. Foreign Service, both conceptually and practically, in terms of what diplomats do every day. The most significant shift in how Washington thought about the role of diplomacy came in the realization that it’s directly linked to national security — and more importantly, to homeland security. Until then, diplomacy’s mission was seen mostly as protecting and promoting U.S. interests abroad, but not as protecting the homeland and the security of Americans at home…”
The White House’s Secret Diplomatic Weapon

Deputy secretary of state wins accolades, but the Foreign Service struggles to find the next Bill Burns

“William J. Burns has been the secret weapon of U.S. secretaries of state for more than two decades, serving consecutively under three Republicans and three Democrats. So it came as no surprise that John Kerry wanted to be the seventh chief diplomat to lean daily on Burns, currently the country’s highest-ranking career diplomat, by keeping him on as deputy secretary of state, a position to which Burns was appointed by Hillary Clinton…”
Being Good at Raising Money Doesn’t Make You a Good Diplomat

Will foreign policy skills, rather than campaign fundraising, ever matter when it comes to political ambassador appointments?

“The Foreign Service sees clear benefits to having them because of their personal relationships with the president and the need for an outside perspective in any government bureaucracy. The problem with political ambassadors is that there are too many — about 30 percent on average — and that their lack of at least some skills and background needed for the job is apparently no barrier to an appointment. After all, most don’t even speak the language of their host country…”
AmDipTwo Reviews by Former Ambassadors

Michael Cotter: “I wish a book like this had been available when I joined the Foreign Service… It should be required reading for anyone thinking of entering the Foreign Service or who is just interested in exactly what our diplomatic service does. It is that important.”

David Litt: “One of the most compelling contributions of this book is its spotlight on the importance of enhancing career education and training at the State Department… If you really want to know what diplomats do and who they are, get this book. For sure, you will not learn that from any Hollywood movie that still treats the Foreign Service unsparingly, unjustly and, usually, ignorantly.”
Diplomatic Security

In an interview with Washington’s WTOP Radio, Nicholas Kralev talks about security at U.S. diplomatic missions, and the difficulty of maintaining a balance between strict security measures and carrying out American diplomacy in foreign countries.
Powell: There Is a ‘Bias’ Against Diplomats in Washington

“Former Secretary of State Colin Powell says many in Washington — his fellow Republicans in particular — are biased against diplomats, because of a wrong perception that diplomats are indecisive and want to compromise at all cost…”


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