Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'll Bet I've Met More Diplomats Than Rick Perry Has.

I've met lots and lots and lots of diplomats over the past decade or so. Heck, I even married one.

But of course, I'm not a diplomat myself. Which is why I can say, very undiplomatically, that Rick Perry is a moron. Go read this and see if you don't agree: http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/11/07/perry-questions-intentions-of-american-diplomats/. Said Mr. Perry: “I’m not sure our State Department serves us well. I’m not talking about the Secretary of State here. I’m talking about the career diplomats and the Secretary of State who, all too often, may not be making decisions, or giving advice to the administration that’s in this country’s best interest.”

Here's the way it works, Mr. Perry, since you're clearly not too familiar with how the Foreign Service operates. The U.S. Department of State looks for the smartest people it can find, and then, if it can interest them in a low-paying, lonely and dangerous job, somewhere in the far reaches of the globe, it hires them.

We have Republican diplomats. We have Democratic diplomats. We have gay diplomats. We have diplomats who oppose gay marriage. We have Muslim diplomats and Jewish diplomats, and girl and boy diplomats. Single parents can be diplomats, as can childless singles. We might even have (or at least we might have had, until today) diplomats who are Rick Perry supporters. We have just about every type of diplomat you can imagine, because we represent a fairly diverse cross-section of America.

What we don't have, Mr. Perry, are diplomats who joined the Foreign Service because they wanted to give screwed-up advice directly to President. You won't find a single person in the entire State Department who joined solely to get rich, or to advance a personal agenda at some great cost to our nation.

People don't always agree with each other in the Foreign Service, and people don't always get along on a personal level. But Foreign Service officers always advance the agenda of our government, without fail. And they work together, no matter their personal beliefs. Because that is what they were hired to do. Imagine that, if you will: Democrats and Republicans, all working together on behalf of our nation - it happens every single day in the Foreign Service.

I'm guessing our pal Rick Perry hasn't actually met a Foreign Service officer before. But he probably knows there aren't a whole lot of them out there (I'm told it is still true that there are more military band members than there are FSOs). Since there aren't a lot of FSOs, maybe he figures it's okay to insult the whole lot of them - after all, even if every single one of us votes against him, we don't have enough votes to collectively guarantee a loss for him. And here's the kicker: if he somehow manages to pull off a victory, those very same Foreign Service officers whom he just mindlessly insulted will stand up and support his policies across the globe.

Because that's what the Foreign Service is about. Diplomats support American ideals in every country across the globe, often at great risk to themselves and their families. Diplomats (and their boss, the Secretary of State) don't set their own policies. Rather, they serve as boots on the ground, the eyes and ears of the President in every corner of the globe. Diplomats report back what they see and hear and think in these countries that Rick Perry has probably never considered visiting. They present the facts - and yes, they present their own educated opinions - so that our President has the information he needs to create and direct policy. Once the President decides on policy, these same diplomats work to advance his agenda. Not their own agendas, mind you. Never their own agendas.

If they feel strongly enough that they can't support the President's policies, they resign. It happens, on occasion. If you suddenly find that you can't support current policy, you resign, and you go look for a job in the private sector, where you are allowed to disagree publicly with our nation's policies, and where you probably make more money, too.

But the rest of those diplomats work for the United States of America. They don't work for the Republicans, and they don't work for the Democrats. They work for us, for our country. Always.

And shame on you, Mr. Perry, for suggesting otherwise just so you could win a few votes. Shame on you.


carrie said... [Reply]

Thank you for stating what needed to be said and you said it so well! He IS a moron and a few other choice words.

Connie said... [Reply]

Very well said Donna. I am sharing this!

Becca said... [Reply]

wow, who the hell is advising him???

Camille said... [Reply]


Kelly said... [Reply]


World Travelers said... [Reply]

Nicely done!!!!

Jeanae and Mike said... [Reply]


Amanda said... [Reply]

Wow, you said it perfectly!

Alison K. said... [Reply]

As an ex-diplomat, I very much appreciated what you had to say. The foreign service doesn't get a lot of glory and few people understand that it is more than just a day job.


Rachel said... [Reply]

THANK YOU for this beautiful defense of FSOs. I wanted to post a response to Perry on my blog but I got too worked up just thinking of all the things I had to say. Now I can just link to you :) Very well said.

Dakota said... [Reply]

You've once again nailed the sentiments of the entire Foreign Service. Well done.

Kevin said... [Reply]

Excellent - thanks for a thoughtful and impassioned defense of the Foreign Service!

Roxie H. said... [Reply]

Well said, Donna. Thanks and regards from old friends from the Almaty days

Daniel M. Hirsch said... [Reply]

Very well said.

Daniel M. Hirsch said... [Reply]
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Katie said... [Reply]

Thank you Donna. My husband is in Iraq and hasn't seen our me or two daughters (2 years and 9 months) since June. Comments like Perry's make me want to cry in anger, frustration and sadness. This needed to be said. Thanks again.

Kelly said... [Reply]

I just linked to you, by the way.

bdriver2 said... [Reply]

As the son of a diplomat, and a hopeful future diplomat, I think you may be the yin to my yang. Haha. Very well put!

Mia said... [Reply]

Go, Donna! Clearly, someone had to spell it out for him.

Milena said... [Reply]

Thank you for this - it needs to somehow get to the papers. For some reason this seems to be the year of FSO bashing. First Congress, now Perry. Thank you for defending mys husband, like yours, who works 16 hour days and we barely see because he is working underpaid, like a dog to give screwed up advice.

Nomads By Nature said... [Reply]


LeesOnTheGo said... [Reply]

Eloquently and humorously said, Donna! Thank you for posting this! I linked to it here.



Rachel said... [Reply]

This is what I have been trying to say. Perfect.

Camille said... [Reply]

Donna - send this in to Newsweek. Please! More people need to read it. You have captured our collective reactions perfectly!

EricaJGreen said... [Reply]

Thank you. My sentiments exactly. Well said. I'm going to share it.

abusofia said... [Reply]

I've worked around FSOs for a number of years and am as proud of them as I am my military service (I was a bandsman!) and the military service of my wife and numerous family members.

Thank you for a great post!

Sandy said... [Reply]

...and then they [Rick] came for me...

Daniela Swider said... [Reply]

Terrific post! I agree with Camille, you need to send it in to newsweek or the likes. This does deserve a wider audience!

Emily said... [Reply]


Ken said... [Reply]

I agree with everything you said EXCEPT that you failed to recognize the Specialists that also are a part of the Foreign Service. Not everyone in the Foreign Service is an FSO, an error that many FSOs and their spouses seem to forget.

Donna said... [Reply]

@Ken - actually, my husband is a specialist, not an FSO, so I can say with certainty that there are some specialists out there who are even more dedicated and all-around awesome than your average FSO. I simply chose to refer to FSOs as a category, rather than referring to FSOs and Specialists, because it made it easier to read. But I definitely didn't intend to leave out the specialists. Apologies if it appeared that way.

Bucky said... [Reply]

Of course Mr. Perry is a moron. But there is much more to his statement and what he hoped to accomplish. He and his advisors are not at all concerned that he has insulted the FSO's (including my family members). You are a relatively small group and not a substantial voting block. His point was to insult ALL government workers and government as a whole. It was a tea party "dog whistle". Those of us who what you do, how you do it and what sacrifices you make know better and we will let others know as well.

Heather said... [Reply]

Well said. Although Mr. Perry is not the first (or the last) politician to trash the Foreign Service on the campaign trail.

Safirka said... [Reply]

Well said, indeed. Best wishes from an old (and long-retired) ambassador.

Popster said... [Reply]

You made the Washington Post. You go girl.


Mark Daniels said... [Reply]

I personally feel that our Foreign Service are bright, dedicated patriots to whom our country owes a great deal. This kind of disparaging rhetoric regarding our career foreign service people is commonplace in both parties during presidential election campaigns. Both FDR and JFK disparaged the "striped pants boys." Politicians can get away with such disrespect for dedicated public servants because, there are so few in or related to the Foreign Service; the pol sounds tough while not offending a large constituent group. It's disgraceful and Perry's criticisms are just the latest in a long and unfortunate American tradition. But on this Veteran's Day, when we honor America's military veterans, I want to also pay honor to the Foreign Service personnel and their families, present and past, for all they do for our country.

Adrian Pratt said... [Reply]

I'm sure you saw you were quoted in the Washington Post today. Well done and well said.

Lynne said... [Reply]

Once again you stand up for the 12,000 beautifully and eloquently. I wish I wrote as well as you!

Brooke said... [Reply]
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The Expatresse said... [Reply]

You go, girl. You go.

Unknown said... [Reply]

History records so many instances of FS-bashing. The FS and all at State are easy prey. Thanks for stating clearly what needs to be said from an ex-20-year FSO.

MaryjoO said... [Reply]

Donna -- we love you. I've spent my life trying to explain "what" "we" do ... and here you go -- you've said it all. Many many hugs to you and family, too.

Political Cookie Monster said... [Reply]

...and Donna, I'll bet you have slept with more diplomats than Rick Perry too. In a world of instantaneous communication, video conferencing, daily international transportation options, and the internet, diplomats on the ground in a country have become rendered useless. I do not want some trust fund baby who got their cushy state department job based on who their daddy knows speaking for me or my country. THEY are typically empty suits.

Donna said... [Reply]

It's just the one diplomat, Political Cookie Monster. And you're absolutely right - I wouldn't want trust fund babies who hadn't earned their own way into the Foreign Service speaking on my behalf, either. That's why I'm glad they have such rigorous testing, for both officers and specialists. You can't buy your way around the test no matter who your daddy is.

Deborah said... [Reply]

@PCM- seriously? This just in- internet renders global travel obsolete. I mean, it is the WORLD WIDE web.

Sara said... [Reply]

Точно and hi from Mexico. And by the way, in the newer HR nomenclature all USDH FS are considered "FSOs" just some Generalists and others Specialists.

Nomads By Nature said... [Reply]

Donna -- a great response to PCM's snarky remark. You will make a wonderful diplomat for the State Department. You are already an awesome one.

The Johnsons said... [Reply]

Wow! Well said and done!

Please post the link to your Washington Post quote!

Just US said... [Reply]

LOVED IT!! Thank you for writing this response!

Please. Write your own stuff.