Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Note from Secretary Rice

Len Baldyga forwards a cable that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently sent to all U.S. diplomatic and consular posts around the world. In it, she thanks U.S. diplomats for tolerating the State Department's redeployment of personnel from comfy, overstaffed places like Germany to more wretched, frequently isolated but vital postings.

The Secretary also explicitly puts Embassy Baghdad at the top of the heap in terms of getting first pick of staff—which is hardly necessary to emphasize to U.S. diplomats, who understand that the only route to advancement at State is through the Green Zone:


1. Around the world, the men and women of the Department are doing important work. The work may vary, from traditional partnership and alliance building to the cutting edge of transformational diplomacy. Whatever your work, it is all necessary and vital to our nation's security.

2. I am very grateful, and pleased, that so many of you have responded to the Director General's call to serve in difficult posts. The changes he has instituted are making a difference for Iraq and all of our difficult yet critical posts. Those changes, together with global repositioning, are ensuring that more of the Foreign Service and the Civil Service are on the ground in transitioning countries. It is there, on the frontlines of diplomacy, that I believe we can have the greatest immediate impact.

3. As I am sure you are aware, the number of unaccompanied and limited accompanied posts has grown in recent years. The decision to serve at these posts requires personal sacrifice. I would like to extend a personal thank you to each and everyone of you who have made this decision. I would especially like to acknowledge the difficulties such service imposes on our families. We are now preparing for 2008 openings, and I am committed first and foremost to ensuring that Embassy Baghdad has the staff it needs.

4. Why is all of this so important? I believe we are at a crossroads in history. The decisions we make and the actions we take will shape our world for years to come. I believe that we, like our predecessors, must actively commit to building a better world where terror, injustice, and extremism cannot gain a foothold. To win this struggle, we must mobilize more than our military. We must also deploy our democratic principles, our development assistance, our compassion, and the power of ideas.

5. I, therefore, encourage each of you -- and your families -- to look to the future, consider where you can best make a difference, and then pursue the assignments and training that will get you there. I encourage you to serve in transitioning countries, to learn their culture and their language -- from Arabic to Chinese to Hindi -- and to share the principles and the story of the American people. I especially encourage your continued commitment to serve at our most difficult and essential posts, such as Baghdad and Kabul.

6. In the past, those who helped shape a better future became the leaders of their time, and of this Department. I urge you to seize the opportunities before you and lead.

7. Thank you again for your commitment to public service.

Item number six is perhaps the most interesting; Secretary Rice calls on staffers to sacrifice but also publicly implies a quid pro quo: Work hard now at your hardship posting and you too can be great, and perhaps even stride in the footsteps of Cordell Hull and Dean Acheson.

It's a small bit of inspiration, but it may be vital for U.S. diplomats to hear as it places them in a larger context of diplomacy stretching all the way back to the first Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson.

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