Career Diplomacy: Life and Work in the US Foreign Service, Kopp & Naland (3rd Ed Excerpt)

Posted: 12:25 am ET
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’]


Georgetown University Press has published a third edition of the book Career Diplomacy: Life and Work in the US Foreign Service. It is also available in Kindle Edition (excerpt below). The second edition was published in 2011. This is still the best book to read to get to know the U.S. Foreign Service. 

Former Ambassador John Negroponte calls the book “a masterful summary of the roles and responsibilities of our modern day diplomatic service.” Retired General David Petraeus calls it “the classic work on the diplomatic profession, providing a comprehensive, thoughtful, and frank portrayal of the US Foreign Service, past, present, and future.”  The third edition is authored by Harry W. Kopp (the 2008 edition was co-authored with Charles A. Gillespie, Georgetown University Press,)  and John K. Naland, who was president of the American Foreign Service Association from 2001-2003 and again from 2007-2009.

Career Diplomacy is an insider’s guide to the Foreign Service as an institution, a profession, and a career. In this thoroughly revised third edition, Kopp and Naland provide an up-to-date, authoritative, and candid account of the life and work of professional US diplomats, who advance and protect this country’s national security interests around the globe. The authors explore the five career tracks–consular, political, economic, management, and public diplomacy–through their own experience and through interviews with more than a hundred current and former members of the Foreign Service. They lay out what to expect in a Foreign Service career, from the entrance exam through midcareer and into the senior service–how to get in, get around, and get ahead.

New in the third edition: – A discussion of the relationship of the Foreign Service and the Department of State to other agencies, and to the combatant commands; An expanded analysis of hiring procedures; Commentary on political appointments and running an agency staffed by both Civil Service and Foreign Service personnel; A fresh examination of the changing nature and demographics of the Foreign Service.

Read an excerpt below courtesy of Kindle Preview:


WhirledView: Benghazi and State: Where do the bucks stop?

WhirledView’s Patricia Kushlis (a 27-year veteran of the Foreign Service) asks, where the bucks stop on Benghazi?

Why, at the lower floors absolutely, where else?

But — we heard that people inside the building have been asking/discussing uncomfortable questions like — by what process did the State Department chose one NEA deputy assistant secretary (DAS) who may or may not have had Libya in his portfolio and three Diplomatic Security (DS) officials for discipline?  What were the criteria for such discipline?  Why were the NEA Assistant Secretary and Principal Assistant Secretary (PDAS) not in the mix? Who made the decision? Also on what basis did Administration/Department officials decide to extend the “temporary” Benghazi presence by another year?  On the basis of what criteria did Department leaders recently designate top-priority high risk, high threat posts?

All that we’ve talked about in our previous postings.

New Diplomatic Security Office to Monitor 17 High Threat Diplomatic Missions (With ARB Update)

State Dept’s New High Threat Posts Are Not All Danger Posts

Accountability Review Board Fallout: Who Will be Nudged to Leave, Resign, Retire? Go Draw a Straw

How long will the State Dept’s bureaucratic firewall hold at the bureau level?

Patricia’s post asking where those darn bucks should stop is good reading because so far those bucks have not stopped spinning.  She talks about leadership or lack thereof insider the big house, some of the characters in this badly done episode and a possible resolution in the next season.  Excerpt below:

The report corroborates that multiple mistakes were made – not just that tragic night – but in the months before. They go deep into the heart of the system’s weaknesses.  Leadership – or actually lack thereof – is a problem the report alludes to with capital Ls although names of officials above the Assistant Secretary, or bureaucratic Firewall, as Diplopundit put it, are missing. This might be adequate for a networked organization but the State Department is institutionalized hierarchy personified and the report tells us that news of the attack was being called in as it happened to State’s 24/7 Diplomatic Security Center and relayed to the NSC and elsewhere.  At least that piece of the building apparently works as it should.
Before Hillary Clinton set foot in the department, she knew that it suffered from severe financial and administrative stress.  She smartly established a Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources bringing in Jack LewObama’s current Chief of Staff and now nominee to become the next Treasury Secretary – to fill the new position.  Lew lasted at State about a year, spent his time addressing budgetary deficiencies and much to his credit, got Congress to approve major funding increases for the beleagured department before he moved on and over to the White House.

Hillary didn’t, however, tackle other flashing yellow light administrative shortcomings – leaving management of the department and the embassies to Patrick F. Kennedy who had been brought back to State by mentor and then Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte in 2007. But before that Kennedy had been Chief of Staff at the US Transition Unit in Baghdad in 2004 where he worked for Negroponte and had held the same position in the CPA (2003) – a period of chaos in Iraq when millions upon millions of dollars disappeared.

Why Hillary kept Kennedy in the position after her arrival in 2009 is a mystery.  Anyone who was responsible for coordinating the reorganization of the foreign affairs agencies under Madeleine Albright – a real hash job whose Sandy-like after-effects reverberate today – or forbidding American Embassy officers from  attending Obama’s speech in Berlin July 24, 2008 on the grounds it was partisan politics despite the fact that Americans have the freedom to assemble under the US Constitution shrieks foremost, in my view, of a serious lack of judgment.

Deja Vu All Over Again

Then there’s that thorny not-so-little issue of State’s mismangement of diplomatic security  in Africa August 7, 1998 when Al Qaeda blew up the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killing over 220 people including 12 Americans and injuring over 4,000.

For the record: Kennedy was Acting Under Secretary for Management from 1996-7 and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security in 1998 and  Eric Boswell’s first carnation as  Head of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (he was in the same position when Benghazi ignited in September, was supposedly fired but is apparently still in place) was from 1996-98. So Boswell and Kennedy would have been in top management positions in State responsible for Embassy security when then US Ambassador Prudence Bushnell’s requests for better security for Nairobi had been refused.


It’s too late for Hillary to houseclean as she should have four years ago.  Calling her up to the Hill to confess guilt – or deflect blame – won’t make a difference in the next encounter between American diplomats and militant Islamic terrorists.  But John Kerry, her likely successor, should make tending State’s garden, investigating its Byzantine byways as well as focusing on its financial and human resources – a top priority.  Benghazi needn’t have happened.  There needn’t be a reprise.

Read in full here. 

If Senator Kerry is confirmed, we’d really like to see him stay home some more and and not try and break Condi or Hillary’s travel records. There are lots of stuff that really needs fixing right there inside The Building.

domani spero sig

Related articles

New Embassy Digs Debut in Baghdad

U.S. Amb. Ryan Crocker, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, and Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte at dedication ceremony for new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq (photo from

Yesterday, U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker officially dedicated the new American Embassy in Baghdad in the presence of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte. Iraqi dignitaries and close to 1,000 invited guests witnessed the U.S. Marine Security Guard detachment ceremonially raise the American flag in front of the Embassy’s main Chancery Building. This was accompanied by a rendition of the U.S. National Anthem and music from the U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division Band.

According to the official news release from Foggy Bottom, this is the largest American Embassy structure to date, and its scale reflects the importance of the U.S.-Iraq bilateral relationship. Construction began in 2005 and was completed in 2008 at a total cost of $592 million. More than 1,200 U.S. diplomats, service members and government officials and staff from 14 federal agencies work and live on the Embassy compound.

We’ve never had an embassy quite like this ever. In fact when I read the open source description of this compound, it reminds me a lot more of the military base where I used to shop back in Virginia than any diplomatic compound. Well, it’s a diplomatic compound in a war zone, so what can you expect? Some vital stats are in order, I think:

Construction work – 2005-2008

Claim to fame: Most expensive diplomatic outpost in the world

Total cost – $592 million
(VOA is reporting more than $600million, USAToday is reporting $700million)

Operating cost – reportedly $1.2 billion annually
(One US official said the cost of running the new complex is expected to be so exorbitant that the US will be forced to rent out part of the space)

Buildings: 21 buildings

Embassy compound size: 104 acres
(For comparison, the Vatican City covers 108.7 acres, the United Nations compound in New York is 17 acres and the Washington’s National Mall covers 309.2 acres; and new embassy compound projects elsewhere typically cover 10 acres)

Blast-resistant apartments: 619

Helipad: 1

Morale Welfare Recreation Facilities (a military term but I don’t think DOS has yet come up with a name that corresponds to MWR; definitely can’t call these CLO facilities). According to press reports, the following facilities are available inside the compound:

Tennis courts (read about tennis and other courts at the NEC from Ed in Brigantine here)

Landscaped swimming pool

Pool house

Recreation Center (bomb-resistant with well-equipped gym; see pictures here)

Department store

Community Center

Beauty Salon

Movie theater

American Club

It sounds to me like the only things missing are: a chapel, a school (it reportedly is in the plans) and a playground. William Langewiesche in The Mega-Bunker of Baghdad (Vanity Fair, November 2007) writes:

“[…] compound is largely self-sustaining, and contains its own power generators, water wells, drinking-water treatment plant, sewage plant, fire station, irrigation system, Internet uplink, secure intranet, telephone center (Virginia area code), cell-phone network (New York area code), mail service, fuel depot, food and supply warehouses, vehicle-repair garage, and workshops. At the core stands the embassy itself, a massive exercise in the New American Bunker style, with recessed slits for windows, a filtered and pressurized air-conditioning system against chemical or biological attack, and sufficient office space for hundreds of staff. Both the ambassador and deputy ambassador have been awarded fortified residences grand enough to allow for elegant diplomatic receptions even with the possibility of mortar rounds dropping in from above. “

Wouldn’t you want to be in an embassy like this during a pandemic when official Americans overseas will be ordered to “shelter in place?

Anyway, Ed in Brigantine posted something about the new embassy compound last year and I thought this would be a good time to revisit his post:

“did a tour of the new embassy compound. you can read much about it in a vanity fair article of some months ago, but ed’s scoop: nice apartments, good office space, lots of creature comforts unheard of at most embassies (indoor pool, gyms, weight/exercise room, concession space for burger king, etc., etc..) but, as we cannot go out and shop on the local economy [a]s we would normally do, well, everything must be provided inside the hardened structures where we’ll live and work. sucha shame – most people in the foreign service like to get out with the locals – shopping in the souk, buying brochettes from street vendors in conakry, water from vendors in the djma il fna in marrakesh, etc. but, to keep us safe, we’ll here be behind the walls and isolated away from the populace – rather self-defeating of public diplomacy efforts.

still, it is a nice complex, though the line of site babyon hotel and nearby apartment complex will give snipers a great opportunity – though they’d likely get to do that only once, and not live to regret it.”

Ed in Brigantine
(occasional comments about living and working in Beautiful Baghdad, the Mesopotamian Metropolis between the Rivers) has not posted anything after May 30, 2008. I am presuming that he has now rotated out of Iraq. He has some photos of the NEC from May 2008 here . Meanwhile Mike in Baghdad, who is currently hosted by BaghdadAnne’s website has also some new pictures of the new embassy compound taken some three weeks ago here .