America’s diplomatic service, with nearly 7900 Foreign Service Officers (FSOs), is the largest in the world. Its officers pass through rigorous processes of selection and promotion and are highly regarded around the world. They are sometimes judged to be “good overseas, mediocre in Washington,” as a consequence of professional development that prizes language and regional expertise over strategic preparation, as well as the growing role of the National Security Council (NSC) staff in policy making. FSOs, nonetheless, play important roles in providing the analysis that shapes and influences policy as well as through secondment to the NSC staff. Under the Trump Administration, however, the department has suffered from budget cuts, unfilled leadership positions, and a pattern of politicization that will take many years to remedy.
KeywordsUnited States America Foreign Service FSO Diplomacy Diplomats Foreign policy
The author wishes to thank the following diplomats and scholars consulted in researching and writing this chapter: Shawn Dorman, Sharon Hardy, Julie Nutte, David O’Neill, Robert Scott, Patricia Scroggs, and Donald Yamamoto.
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