I hope that this missive finds you all well. I don’t normally send holiday letters, but
the year 2015 promises to be a momentous one, and I wanted to share it with
each of you.
Since my retirement from the Foreign Service in 2012, I have
been actively involved with the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA),
mainly with AFSA’s Committee on the Foreign Service Profession and Ethics
(PEC), which I chaired from 2012 until the summer of 2014, and working with the
outreach staff in explaining the Foreign Service and foreign affairs issues to
audiences such as ROAD Scholars and others. I also served as the chair of the
AFSA working group that developed the Chief of Mission Guidelines in 2013.
I have throughout my career been intensely interested in
enhancing the Foreign Service as a career, and now in my retirement I have been
able to take an active part in efforts to achieve that. After careful thought,
I am now ready to take the next step, and am running for the position of Vice
President-Retirees on the AFSA Governing Board in 2015.
I ask your support in what will be a challenging race. Along
with nine other colleagues I am running as part of the Future Forward
AFSA slate. Any active duty or retired AFSA member of any foreign affairs
agency can vote.
For those of you who cannot vote, I ask your help in getting
the word out online
on Facebook or Twitter. You can also copy the Future Forward AFSA URL, http://www.futureforwardafsa.com/
and share it on other social media sites, such as LinkedIn and Tumblr.
The next couple of months will be busy, but I’m looking forward
to it, and with your help, I’ll be able to move my involvement to the next
level – to work with like-minded colleagues to build on AFSA’s strong record of
accomplishment and maintain it as an independent voice for the Foreign Service,
and to help build a Foreign Service that is capable of addressing our nation’s
most complex diplomatic challenges.
You were recently quoted in the local press as saying, “You
just have to be suspicious as to why the administration would not want our
participation” in reference to your claim that the White House has not sought ‘Congressional
input into the negotiations over the Iran nuclear arms deal.’
As someone who served as an American diplomat for more than
30 years, I can agree with you that congressional input and advice on sensitive
negotiations is important, and is a crucial element of American foreign policy.
But, I must also say that I’m surprised that you would wonder why the current
administration would be reluctant to consult you and your colleagues at this
point in our history.
There’s an old saying I recall from growing up in East Texas
– ‘Sleep with dogs, and wake up with fleas.’ These days, Senator, you have made
your bed with a pack of undisciplined pups that don’t seem to have been house
broken. Let’s look at the record, and maybe you’ll see what I mean.
The most recent, and in my view most egregious, action was
the signing and transmission to Iran a letter signed by 47 Republican senators
basically threatening to ‘overrule any deal made by the current administration.’
That even the Iranian foreign minister points out how inappropriate such a
missive is should not be lost on someone with as much time in the Senate as you
have. These 47, supposedly intelligent people, seem to have forgotten that
there are legitimate and appropriate channels to express congressional
disapproval of treaties and agreements, and none of them involve the direct
communication with a foreign power.
Speaking of foreign powers, when the GOP speaker of the
House issued an invitation to a foreign head of government to speak before
congress regarding an issue currently being negotiated with the P-5 – without the
courtesy of even informing the President in advance – this was not just a
breach of protocol. It was a disingenuous and devious act that displayed
disdain and disrespect not just for the incumbent, but for the office of the
The GOP tantrums over presidential executive
orders, which was accompanied by a ton of disinformation and outright
falsehoods regarding the number of executive orders president Obama has issued,
was more like playground squabbling than the deliberations of rational people
who have the good of the whole country at heart. Executive orders, while not
explicitly provided for in the Constitution, have been a part of our politics
for many years. Presidents have been issuing them for ages: Here are some
examples of who issued how many:
Bush, G.H.W. 169
Bush, G.W. 291
I find the GOP’s sometimes rabid opposition to the
Affordable Care Act mind boggling. Can’t your colleagues read and recall history,
or are they just ignorant? The current legislation is eerily similar to a
Republican proposal that failed to make it through a Democrat-controlled
congress, and much like legislation former presidential-candidate Romney passed
into law when he was a governor. What’s going through the minds of the
opponents of a law that finally provides affordable health coverage to
Americans who were previously left out in the cold?
Let’s get real. You consult people you trust, and that trust
must be earned. What have most of your colleagues—yourself included—done to
earn anyone’s trust lately? Maybe if you’d put the good of the people, and not
just a narrow minority of the most wealthy, ahead of getting reelected, it
would be easier to make the kind of compromises and take the actions that would
restore sanity to American politics and clear the toxic fumes from the air.
I sincerely hope you are reflecting on that in the days
ahead. Let’s roll up the papers and smack a few unruly pups on the nose to
dissuade them from doing their ‘business’ on the carpet.