The AFSA Challenge: Prove This Theory Wrong

DissentImage by PaDumBumPsh via Flickr

Francesca Kelly in the latest issue of AFSANews writes:

On June 18, AFSA honored seven members of the Foreign Service community for their extraordinary work in the field, including three who were honored for their constructive dissent. These individuals serve as an inspiration to all members of the Foreign Service.

However, two AFSA constructive dissent awards were not given out at the ceremony: the Herter Award for a senior FSO, and the Harriman Award for an entry-level officer. Why not? Because there was not a single nomination in either of these two categories. In trying to determine the reason for this, one AFSA staffer astutely postulated: “The entry-level officers are too junior to rock the boat, and the senior FSOs don’t want to jeopardize their position of power.” This may well be true.

And once we started thinking about it, we wanted to find out. So AFSA is offering a challenge to the FS community worldwide: Prove this theory wrong.

Of course, before anyone can pick up the AFSA challenge, somebody has to pick up the dissent challenge. As Ambassador Ed Peck writes: “The basic criterion for winning an AFSA dissent award is clear: you must take up the cudgels, but strictly within the system. Resigning eliminates any element of risk, and going public takes the issue outside the system. Either action therefore removes eligibility for an award.”

Read A Challenge to Honor Dissent, FSJ November 2009, p.51, online edition.

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