This recent column by Roger Cohen on the “slow unraveling” of the State Department reminds us of the enormous contributions of so many US Foreign Service officers “driven by the determination to make a difference and extend the reach of human decency.” At the moment, career diplomats with decades of experience find little welcome from an administration that seems determined to cut funding for foreign aid and leave dozens of senior State posts unfilled, despite the growing flashpoints of conflict around the globe.
The need for thoughtful, informed diplomacy and educated and skilled practitioners has never been so clear. The world is in the process of restructuring itself – redefining identity, good governance, economic relations, security, rights and obligations, and even the meaning of citizen and nation-state. Driven by forces beyond the control of any one person, political entity, or economic actor and fueled by intrusive technology that can overwhelm with data pollution and warring visions of reality, the boundaries between domestic concerns and international demands continue to blur.
The signs of spring are everywhere. The Capital Weather Gang decreed that the threat of snow is over. The Cherry Blossoms are due to be at peak bloom the end of March. And, Georgetown students are back from Spring Break and the Easter weekend. Graduation is just around the corner. A perfect time for our wrap up of the past academic year at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy and a preview of coming attractions, including plans for our 40th Anniversary in 2018 !
Welcome to the inaugural issue of the ISD newsletter, “Despatches.” The beginning of the new academic year also marks my first anniversary as director, which seems an apt time to review where we are and where we see ISD going. My predecessors, starting with Ambassador David Newsom, with the strong support of a succession of deans from Peter Krogh to our new leader, Joel Hellman, have shaped an Institute that fills a unique niche in the world of diplomacy.