Despatches

December 2017 Despatches

December 7, 2017

Dear Friends of ISD,
While the very notion of diplomacy as a tool of national policy is under assault, with an ill-conceived “redesign” of our State Department underway that threatens to weaken the country’s diplomatic capacity for decades to come, we have been encouraged by the growing ranks of diplomacy’s supporters and by those who have taken a public stance in its defense. Last evening I attended the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s 2017 Tribute Dinner and the theme throughout was the centrality of a strong, professional diplomacy and development establishment to a strong and prosperous country. Coalition members include leaders in the business and faith communities and non-governmental organizations as well as retired military, Foreign Service, and others who have served the country. It was a powerful and affirming evening.

The concerns about our diplomacy and about our professional diplomatic service – Foreign Service, Civil Service, and development officers – are shared not only within the ranks of those directly affected by the assault, as voiced eloquently by Ambassador Barbara Stephenson of AFSA, Ambassadors Nicholas Burns and Ryan Crocker, by the American Academy of Diplomacy, and by new next-gen advocacy groups like fp4America, but by an impressively bipartisan collection of senior leaders from both houses of Congress and key committees on Foreign Affairs, Appropriations, and Armed Services. Our partners in the military – such as General Tony Zinni and Admiral James Stavridis, as last evening’s honorees on behalf of the Coalition’s National Security Advisory Council – defend the need for a strong diplomacy with the same tenacity with which they have defended the country “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

As my colleague Madeleine K. Albright recently remarked, “The United States relies on diplomacy as our first line of defense – to cement alliances, build coalitions, address global problems, and find ways to protect our interests without resorting to military force.” Secretary Jim Mattis put it more directly, “If you don’t fund the Department of State fully, then I need to buy more ammunition.”

In an increasingly volatile and uncertain global landscape, the costs of diplomatic mistakes and misadventures simply could not be higher. In this new reality, the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy faces a new urgency in its mission as educator to the next generation of diplomats, policymakers, and practitioners; as a knowledge creator and conveyor, through the expanded diplomacy Case Studies Library; and as a convener of academics, scholars, and practitioners in its series of distinguished annual lectures and working groups on emerging diplomatic challenges.

We invite you to read more about our recent activities and the plans for our 40th anniversary year. I hope you can join us for some of the events we have lined up for 2018, and others to come.
We welcome your support at whatever level for ISD’s work in 2018 and beyond. Your support allows us to continue our work to enhance and expand the understanding and appreciation of diplomacy as the core tool in our national security. Please contact us directly at diplomacy@georgetown.edu, or click on this link. We each have many demands on our time and gift-giving, and we are thankful that the Institute’s mission and programs are among your interests and priorities.
All best wishes for the New Year,

Barbara K. Bodine