Changes In The Foreign Service Essay, Research Paper
Changes in the Foreign Service
Since February 8, President Clinton has appointed nine foreign ambassadors. The countries included in these appointments are Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, Australia, Bangladesh, Poland, Kyrgz Republic, Mongolia, and Laos. These individuals have degrees from Yale, Harvard, the University of Alaska, Emory, George Washington University and several others (U.S. Newswire). In some cases, these individuals can speak as many as five different languages. There seems to be a very real public perception that ambassador’s role in other countries is more ceremonial than a reflection of America’s foreign objectives. The perception is that this group of individuals and their appointments are a remnant of the Jacksonian spoils system.
On February 10, Clinton made a statement on embassy security initiatives and increasing their funding. Not only a simple increase, but a doubling of the federal funding of embassies abroad. More than $1.1 billion will be included in the 2001 budget to reduce further loss of life from terrorist attacks on our overseas diplomatic missions. Over $200 million will go into actual security measures (perimeter barriers, alarms, etc.) to defend these individuals from those individuals who desire no intervention from the United States. One might ask if all these measures are necessary to view ourselves as a humanitarian superpower. If terrorists attack an American embassy, there is a greater message to be heard. Foreign policy and the ambassador system represent an agreement between the host country and the United States. The host is just as responsible for insuring the security of our diplomats as we are, but if there is no cooperation then there is no diplomacy. Terrorist acts upon United States embassies could be viewed as a growing animosity towards our interventionist style and now there are nine new targets.
In the Rosati text, there is an essay on the “tradition of ‘political’ ambassadors” (161). This work cites that individuals appointed as ambassadors are from outside the Foreign Service, in most cases. All nine of Clinton’s appointees are career members of the Foreign Service with considerable education and experience abroad. These terrorist attacks over the last few years on American embassies have made this title less gratuitous to political supporters. In 1988, Bush appointed Melvin Sembler as ambassador to Australia for his $100,000 contribution to the Republican Party. In the 2000, Clinton appoints Edward William Gnehm Jr. to head America’s foreign policy effort in Australia. Gnehm is currently Director General of the Foreign Service, Director of Personnel at the State Department and was ambassador to Kuwait from 1990-1994 (US Newswire). This is a direct comparison of two individuals that could represent a trend in the Foreign Service. The current appointee to Australia is more than qualified to conduct foreign policy objectives than a Florida shopping center developer. Another consideration is that Bush had already set precedent by appointing outside the Foreign Service, Clinton could have done the same thing with little or no attention.
The international climate and the United States role in directing and shaping what it considers to be worthy of intervention are vital to the evolution of the Foreign Service. The text discusses the “old boy network” (Rosati 162) that used to be present in this part of America’s growing bureaucracy. One’s class and background used to be the sole criteria for entrance into the foreign service, but one only gains acceptance into this program through a demanding merit system and rigorous exams, now. Service abroad increases one’s chances of advancement and ultimately more exotic assignments. The honor of becoming a foreign diplomat is considerable to the members of the Foreign Service and increased appointments from within may represent a trend in policy. No longer is diplomacy a gift for the wealthy political contributors, but a job for those with the experience and education to get the job done. Animosity towards America’s interventionist policy will lead to increased staff and representation abroad or will eventually cause the United States to isolate itself from those problems that have no direct effect on our own system.