965 Items

Flags stand arrayed

State Department Photo/Public Domain

Analysis & Opinions - Economist

America’s foreign service

| Nov. 20, 2020

Joe Biden, the president-elect, wants to end his country’s “forever wars” and believes diplomacy should be “the first instrument of American power”. He promises to reinvest in America’s hollowed-out diplomatic corps, the better to nurture alliances and tackle the global issues of the future, such as climate change and great-power competition. But how to make the foreign service fit for the future? Two new reports, one from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a think-tank, the other the result of an extensive project at Harvard University, offer thoughts.

Both say the State Department is in crisis. Its problems stretch back well beyond the Trump administration but have deepened dramatically under it. Morale is low, budgets are squeezed and the foreign service is suffering from an exodus of talent. Diplomats’ careers are stymied by the politicisation of senior posts. For the first time in a century, not one of the 23 Senate-confirmed assistant-secretary positions is a serving career official, and 43% of ambassadors are political appointees, also a modern record. The story on diversity is dismal: in March the Senior Foreign Service was 90% white and 69% male. Only five of 189 ambassadors are African-American (over their two terms, Barack Obama appointed 46 African-American ambassadors and George W. Bush had 44). Under Donald Trump, a quarter-century trend of rising female ambassadors has gone into reverse.

Great Seal of the United States

U.S. Embassy to Costa Rica

Presentation - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

The American Diplomacy Project: A U.S. Diplomatic Service for the 21st Century

On November 17, Ambassadors Nicholas Burns, Marc Grossman, and Marcie Ries officially launched their report, “A U.S. Diplomatic Service for the 21st Century,”published as part of the American Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School.  These distinguished career Foreign Service Officers, and report co-authors, shared their recommendations on how to rebuild, reform, and reimagine the U.S. Foreign Service so that America can have the strongest and most effective diplomatic service to defend our country and advance its interests. 

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

A U.S. Diplomatic Service for the 21st Century

Many of the most serious challenges the United States will face in 2021 and beyond will require our diplomats to take the lead. These include the return of great power competition, leading a global response to the pandemic and its consequences, supporting American companies overseas during a devastating recession, mounting a major effort on climate change, negotiating an end to the Afghan and Iraq wars, and helping American citizens in every corner of the world who need the support of their government. Morale in the State Department, however, is at an all-time low and efforts to promote greater racial and ethnic diversity have failed just when the country needs women and men of all backgrounds as our primary link to nearly every country in the world. There are challenges to be met inside the Foreign Service, including an honest self-assessment of the Service’s internal culture.

A supporter of President-elect Joe Biden (left) exchanges viewpoints with supporters of President Trump outside the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg on Nov. 7

JULIO CORTEZ/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Analysis & Opinions - The Boston Globe

To rebuild, look abroad

| Nov. 16, 2020

The United States manages relationships with almost 200 nations and, even with a tiny number that are truly enemies, we have almost always found ways to keep engagement alive. With this engagement we position ourselves to be more secure, stable, and influential, through building bridges, finding mutual interests, and creating coalitions. So why can’t we apply the same approach to ourselves, when we have far more in common among 50 states than we do with 200 nations?

Joe Biden

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Analysis & Opinions - CNN

Amanpour: Pramila Jayapal, Federica Mogherini, Barry Richard, and Ben Smith

| Nov. 10, 2020

U.S Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal joins Christiane Amanpour to discuss President Trump's refusal to concede, the future of health care, and Kamala Harris making history. Then, Former EU Foreign Affairs head Federica Mogherini breaks down Europe’s response to Joe Biden’s presidential win. Former Attorney for the George W. Bush Campaign Barry Richard talks to Amanpour about President Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud. Turning to the future of media post-Trump, Walter Isaacson speaks to media columnist Ben Smith.

Nicholas Burns

CNN

Analysis & Opinions - PRI's The World

As US election winds down, the transition ahead could be treacherous

| Nov. 06, 2020

Although the results of the US presidential election are not official yet, all indicators point to a victory for Democratic candidate Joe Biden. But the transfer of presidential power looks like it will be difficult. If President Donald Trump refuses to concede, what would it mean for the United States’ standing and how it conducts itself on the global stage? Nicholas Burns, a former US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, talks with The World’s Marco Werman.

Capitol Building

Tyrone Turner / DCist/WAMU

Analysis & Opinions

Foreign Policy and the 2020 Election

| Nov. 04, 2020

Ambassador Nicholas Burns, the Roy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations at the Harvard Kennedy School, spoke in a virtual webinar for CCWA on October 26, 2020. Ambassador Burns discussed the role of foreign policy in the 2020 election and the changing role of the United States in the world. During Q&A, the Ambassador addressed emerging global powers and the U.S. foreign service, among other global issues.

Analysis & Opinions

The Crisis in Transatlantic Relations and Other Global Challenges

| Oct. 29, 2020

Ambassador Nicholas Burns will discuss the evolving U.S. relationship with Europe ahead of the November U.S. Presidential Election and the challenges presented by the COVID-19 and economic crises. This event is sponsored by Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies in partnership with the Center for West European Studies, the Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies, Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence and the Center for Global Studies at the University of Washington.