Foggy Bottom Sage Strikes Again: In Time for EERs

The State Department’s in-house mag called “State” is mostly a “happy-talk” rag as one of our blogging friends like to call it — but really it’s not all that bad. The April issue includes the 2008 promotion stats (see which cone is up, check out pdf pp.38-41).

And one of its redeeming c0ntents has always been — at least to me, its second to the last page which contains the work of FSO/cartoonist, Brian Aggeler. I think of Brian as sort of the sage of Foggy Bottom, except that like most FSOs, he’s paid to go work anywhere in the world, but D.C. (i.e. all FS employees are worldwide available). Sorry, I don’t feel like calling him worldwide available sage.

The last time I heard, he was somewhere in Asia. But he has not forgotten that April brings spring and rain, and EER time (employee evaluation report). Never mind spring and rain, the last one is nothing to sneeze at — if you’re interested in your career and promotion prospects. In fact, the annual EER phase (which could take up weeks on of your time) is an opportunity to practice your diplomatic negotiation and appeasement engagement skills with your rating officer/reviewing officer.

screencapture of Brian Aggeler’s cartoon in State Magazine, April 2009

Want to take out that “focus on details” phrase? Negotiate that! Want to take out a praise/dammit sentence that your boss absolutely wants to put in — negotiate that. It’s a ‘diplomacy starts at home’ kind of thing — just don’t stalk out in anger at the guy who signs the dotted line if you don’t get your way, or interpersonal skills could go into the next EER cycle. A good rule of diplomacy should be — never, ever let anyone see you sweat, even when the other guy fires a Taepodong-2 missile. That goes for EERs, too.

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Foggy Bottom Sage Strikes Again: In Time for EERs

The State Department’s in-house mag called “State” is mostly a “happy-talk” rag as one of our blogging friends like to call it — but really it’s not all that bad. The April issue includes the 2008 promotion stats (see which cone is up, check out pdf pp.38-41).

And one of its redeeming c0ntents has always been — at least to me, its second to the last page which contains the work of FSO/cartoonist, Brian Aggeler. I think of Brian as sort of the sage of Foggy Bottom, except that like most FSOs, he’s paid to go work anywhere in the world, but D.C. (i.e. all FS employees are worldwide available). Sorry, I don’t feel like calling him worldwide available sage.

The last time I heard, he was somewhere in Asia. But he has not forgotten that April brings spring and rain, and EER time (employee evaluation report). Never mind spring and rain, the last one is nothing to sneeze at — if you’re interested in your career and promotion prospects. In fact, the annual EER phase (which could take up weeks on of your time) is an opportunity to practice your diplomatic negotiation and appeasement engagement skills with your rating officer/reviewing officer.

screencapture of Brian Aggeler’s cartoon in State Magazine, April 2009

Want to take out that “focus on details” phrase? Negotiate that! Want to take out a praise/dammit sentence that your boss absolutely wants to put in — negotiate that. It’s a ‘diplomacy starts at home’ kind of thing — just don’t stalk out in anger at the guy who signs the dotted line if you don’t get your way, or interpersonal skills could go into the next EER cycle. A good rule of diplomacy should be — never, ever let anyone see you sweat, even when the other guy fires a Taepodong-2 missile. That goes for EERs, too.

Where’s Our Man in Iraq?

John Kael Weston who spent four years as a State Department political officer in Iraq penned an Op-Ed in yesterday’s edition of NYT, Where’s Our Man in Iraq?

“The list of issues that will confront our new ambassador is long: Arab-Kurd tensions. The lack of an oil revenue-sharing law. The status of the city of Kirkuk. Iran as next-door neighbor. Disputed territories. Nonsectarian security forces. New governing coalitions. Human rights for detainees. (Abu Ghraib hangs heavily here still.) To make progress on each front, an ambassador’s last-word voice — sometimes soft and sometimes loud — is required in delicate, closed-door discussions with Iraqi leaders.”

Read the whole thing here.

Related Post:
Baghdad Won’t See Chris Hill Until After 4/20 …

Where’s Our Man in Iraq?

John Kael Weston who spent four years as a State Department political officer in Iraq penned an Op-Ed in yesterday’s edition of NYT, Where’s Our Man in Iraq?

“The list of issues that will confront our new ambassador is long: Arab-Kurd tensions. The lack of an oil revenue-sharing law. The status of the city of Kirkuk. Iran as next-door neighbor. Disputed territories. Nonsectarian security forces. New governing coalitions. Human rights for detainees. (Abu Ghraib hangs heavily here still.) To make progress on each front, an ambassador’s last-word voice — sometimes soft and sometimes loud — is required in delicate, closed-door discussions with Iraqi leaders.”

Read the whole thing here.

Related Post:
Baghdad Won’t See Chris Hill Until After 4/20 …

Insider Quote: Connecting Blindly

No one wants greater access to the Afghan people and USAID projects more than the agency’s dedicated Foreign Service officers do. The fact that they get out so rarely drives down morale inside the embassy and makes it harder to recruit aid workers. I am convinced that they would accept more (and reasonable) risk with better training and equipment. But regular requests to Washington to reassess the security rules that govern our economic assistance have fallen mostly on deaf ears. Meanwhile, USAID officers ask how they can connect with a country they mostly cannot see.

Mark Ward
An Afghan Aid Disconnect
Friday, December 26, 2008; Page A23

Ward was acting assistant administrator for Asia at the U.S. Agency for International Development from 2006 to 2008 and earlier served as a USAID mission director in Pakistan.

Insider Quote: Connecting Blindly

No one wants greater access to the Afghan people and USAID projects more than the agency’s dedicated Foreign Service officers do. The fact that they get out so rarely drives down morale inside the embassy and makes it harder to recruit aid workers. I am convinced that they would accept more (and reasonable) risk with better training and equipment. But regular requests to Washington to reassess the security rules that govern our economic assistance have fallen mostly on deaf ears. Meanwhile, USAID officers ask how they can connect with a country they mostly cannot see.

Mark Ward
An Afghan Aid Disconnect
Friday, December 26, 2008; Page A23

Ward was acting assistant administrator for Asia at the U.S. Agency for International Development from 2006 to 2008 and earlier served as a USAID mission director in Pakistan.