The May 14 Tuesday Opinion essay by Kori N. Schake and Brett McGurk, “A GI bill for U.S. diplomacy,” presented an interesting proposal to build a talent base for our Foreign Service corps — and one that resonated with particular clarity for me. A week ago, a granddaughter received a modest scholarship from her high school for her contributions to her school. Altogether, more than 50 students at her high school received scholarships, most in the $500-to-$2,000 range, from entities such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other enterprises.
But what stood out to all in attendance that day was the presence of an Army sergeant sent to represent the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. ROTC sponsored two scholarships at this high school in the outer suburbs of Washington: one for $169,000 and another for $160,000. I searched the Internet for information about a similar program at the State Department and found none. While one can only applaud the students who received these scholarships, I can’t help but wonder just how many of these are being issued throughout the country to future reserve officers this year.
One reaps what one sows. As the State Department’s budget shrivels and its career talent leaves in droves, it doesn’t take much imagination to conclude that a fallow field will leave us starving for quality diplomats at the very moment in history that our top global competitor, China, is building its largest diplomatic corps ever. Can the Trump administration be any less strategic?
Larry J. Wilson, Alexandria