Thursday, September 20, 2012

Why Should We Care About Diplomacy?

The murder of our friends and colleagues continues to shine a much needed light on the hard work our countries diplomats do.

I wish I thought that it would last and that Americans would truly come to appreciate our work, which Nick Kralev noted in his recent article, Why Should We Care About Diplomacy?, saying,
"U.S. diplomacy affects the everyday lives of Americans, including their safety and security, their ability to travel and communicate with people in other countries, their employment and overall prosperity. Yet, it is astonishing how little we know about our diplomats, and about their skills and work."

Another nice piece, Diplomats, Security and the Budget, came out yesterday, telling a bit more about our work and how we have been affected by budget cuts. Because those who fight tooth and nail against any cuts to the military budget slash away at ours not realizing the impact it has not just to our ability to do our jobs but to our safety when we do it.

The article, which notes that since 1980 and prior to the murder of Chris, Sean, Rone and Glen, 88 diplomats have died in the line of duty, most the victims of attacks, says:

"The deaths last week of Stevens, Smith, Doherty, and Woods should remind all of us of the extreme risks and daily discomforts that are taken by a great many of the thousands of men and women who staff the more than 260 embassies, consulates, and missions we maintain in 180 separate countries. We should also recognize that our national security is as dependent on men like Christopher Stevens and the work they do in weaving together alliances and bringing stability to strife-torn regions of the world as by our investments in military hardware or our deployment of military personnel. It is a tough, often dirty business—it deserves our respect and appreciation.

It also deserves resources. In each of the last two years, Congress has cut President Obama’s request for U.S. Foreign Service and U.S. Agency for International Development staffing levels despite repeated analysis by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, indicating that our embassies are critically understaffed.

But even more inexcusable are the repeated and deep cuts made to embassy security and construction. Thousands of our diplomatic personnel are serving overseas in facilities that do not come close to meeting the minimal requirements for security established by the so-called Inman commission’s report on overseas diplomatic security to President Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state more than two decades ago."

I believe it is easy for our budget to be slashed because people don't know what we do or the dangers we face. And so telling our story, so that Americans will understand more about what we do, is a big part of the reason I and more than 400 others in the Foreign Service, have blogs. I want to share with you what everyday life is like for a diplomat, what we do and what we endure to serve you. And I hope too that some of you will decide that not only do you think our service is worthwhile, but that you want to join us.

No comments: