Ambassador John R. Bass Presents His Credentials in Afghanistan

Posted: 2;57 am ET

 

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Remember When the Fight For Reform Used to be Normal in the Foreign Service

Posted: 2:31 am ET

 

All this talk about reorganization …. a retired FSO recently told us that the last time there was a grass roots, officer led call for action for changes in the Foreign Service was in 1999. The officer remembered “stealth RIF of FSOs, expansion of GS and political appointees and virtually no attention to the institution itself and its longstanding, multiple problems.”

 

 

Madeleine K. Albright was secretary of state from 1997 to 2001. She  recently wrote an op-ed about the “hollowing out” of the State Department (see WaPo: The national security emergency we’re not talking about).  Yay! What short memories we have.  We should also note that Warren Christopher who preceded Albright served as secretary of state from 1993-1997 and managed the then unprecedented 27% budget and staffing cuts at the State Department (see The Last Time @StateDept Had a 27% Budget Cut, Congress Killed ACDA and USIA).

As the retired FSO shared the story, a small group of concerned active officers came together and the result was a letter drafted “when the talk became tiresome.”  The letter we’re sharing below appeared as a Department Notice (Thanks X!), was reworked numerous times and eventually gained over 1,500 signatures from ambassadors to secretaries. This was the days before social media, and without the Sounding Board. The FSOs involved sent out the letter via emails and collected signatures at the entrance of the cafeteria in Foggy Bottom.  One FSO subsequently added a crossed but clipped blue ribbon, which by the time the new Secretary of State arrived had spread throughout the Department.  The FSO explained that the ribbon meant “No more blue ribbon panels!”, of which there had already been far too many and no action.

All of this had apparently been timed to be able to address the still unknown next Secretary of State (who turned out to be Colin Powell).  He was met by a sea of clipped blue ribbons the day he arrived and we were told that the movement was one of the things that caused him to announce that he intended to be a COO as well as be CEO of the Department. We understand that two things derailed the effort: 1) one of Powell’s senior manager’s fixation/fear of the strategic in favor of smaller, tactical fixes wherever opportunities presented themselves, and 2) 9/11 happened which set the stage for the real future decline of the Foreign Service and the Department.

The retired FSO said: “The point is that no serious or worthwhile “reform” effort has ever moved forward with any success without active duty initiation and demands, and the fact that there has been none such since the last century is more sadly symptomatic than anything else.  But maybe if today’s officers even have a vague sense that such is both possible and part of their job as officers, maybe there are a few who could still step forward.  At least they should know that such action USED to be normal in the Foreign Service.”

For folks who want to read up on organizational history and behavior, also check out A Theory of Public Bureaucracy: Politics, Personality, and Organization in the State Department.  The books is from 1979 but still worth a read and affords a window into understanding an organization that changes and remains the same all at the same time.

 

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Amb-Designate Callista Gingrich Still Waiting to Present Credentials Six Weeks On?

Posted: 12:14 am ET

 

Ambassador-Designate to the Holy See Callista Gingrich was sworn in at the White House on October 27, 2017. She arrived at post on November 6. As of this writing, the embassy website lists a brief bio of Ambassador-Designate Callista L. Gingrich, as well as Chargé d’Affaires Louis L. Bono.

According to the press archive of the Holy See, the designated top representative of the United States to the Vatican is still waiting to present her credentials six weeks after she arrived at post. Since her arrival, the Pope has received the credentials of the ambassadors from Myanmar, Montenegro, Portugal, Ecuador, Nigeria; and last week, the ambassadors from Yemen, New Zealand, Swaziland, Azerbaijan, Chad, Liechtenstein and India to the Holy See.

On November 9, the Pope received the Credential Letters of the Ambassador of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar to the Holy See

On November 22, the Pope received the Credential Letters of the Ambassador of Montenegro to the Holy See

On November 25, the Pope received the Credential Letters of the Ambassador of Portugal to the Holy See

On December 4, the Pope received the Credential Letters of the Ambassador of Ecuador to the Holy See

On December 9, the Pope received the Credential Letters of the Ambassador of Nigeria to the Holy See

And on December 14, the Holy Father received the credentials of ambassadors from seven countries, the United States excepted. See the Credential Letters of the Ambassadors of Yemen, New Zealand, Swaziland, Azerbaijan, Chad, Liechtenstein and India to the Holy See.

At the December 14 credentialing ceremony, Pope Francis also delivered the following remarks:

I extend a warm welcome to all of you for this presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See on the part of your respective countries: Yemen, New Zealand, Swaziland, Azerbaijan, Chad, Liechtenstein and India. I would ask you to convey to the Heads of State of your respective countries my sentiments of appreciation and esteem, and to assure them of my prayers for them and the people they serve.

At the beginning of your new mission, I am conscious of the diverse countries you represent, and of the various cultural and religious traditions that characterize the history of each of your nations. This gives me the opportunity to emphasize the positive and constructive role that such diversity plays in the concert of nations. The international community faces a series of complex threats to the sustainability of the environment and of the world’s social and human ecology, as well as risks to peace and concord stemming from violent fundamentalist ideologies and regional conflicts, which often appear under the guise of opposing interests and values. Yet it is important to remember that the diversity of the human family is not itself a cause of these challenges to peaceful coexistence. Indeed the centrifugal forces that would drive peoples apart are not found in their differences but in the failure to set out on the path of dialogue and understanding as the most effective means of responding to these challenges.

Your very presence here is a reminder of the key role that dialogue plays in enabling diversity to be lived in an authentic and mutually enhancing way in our increasingly globalized society. Respectful communication leads to cooperation, especially in fostering reconciliation where it is most needed. This cooperation in turn assists the progress of that solidarity which is the condition for the growth of justice and due respect for the dignity, rights and aspirations of all. A commitment to dialogue and cooperation must be the hallmark of every institution of the international community, as well as of every national and local institution, for all are charged with the pursuit of the common good.

The promotion of dialogue, reconciliation and cooperation cannot be taken for granted. The delicate art of diplomacy and the arduous craft of nation-building need to be learned afresh with each new generation. We share the collective responsibility to educate our young people about the importance of these principles that sustain the social order. Passing this precious legacy on to our children and grandchildren will not only secure a peaceful and prosperous future but will also meet the demands of intergenerational justice and of that integral human development that is the right of every man, woman and child.

Dear Ambassadors, as you take up your high responsibilities in the service of your nations, I assure you of the support of the various offices of the Holy See. I offer you my prayerful best wishes for your important work, and upon you, your families, and all your fellow citizens, I willingly invoke an abundance of divine blessings.

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