Regarding Leon Weintraub’s July 23 Outlook essay, “Five Myths: The Foreign Service”:
As long as we are educating Americans on the misconceptions of the Foreign Service, we should also acknowledge the hard work and technical expertise of Foreign Service officers and specialists from multiple federal agencies.
Weintraub, like many career State Department Foreign Service officers, failed to acknowledge that the State Department is not the only U.S. federal agency with Foreign Service officers. This is not a small omission. Foreign Service officers work in the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service, U.S. Agency for International Development, Foreign Agricultural Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and Broadcasting Board of Governors. These officers are also commissioned by the president and take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. Foreign Service officers and specialists from these agencies all help implement an administration’s foreign policy in embassies abroad.
The State Department serves as the coordinating federal agency for U.S. policy interests, and its Foreign Service officers comprise the diplomatic corps. Effective diplomacy, however, includes an ability to represent, among other things, U.S. commercial, agricultural and foreign assistance interests on behalf of taxpayers and businesses. USAID, in addition to providing humanitarian relief efforts globally, has been a prominent player in strengthening foreign democracies through programs focused on economic, health, education, environmental and judicial reform. These agencies and their Foreign Service officers bring technical expertise as part of our foreign policy toolkit, helping to fortify diplomatic efforts.
Stephen Callahan, Annandale
The writer is a retired senior USAID Foreign Service officer who has worked for USAID and the State Department in South Africa, Peru, Romania, El Salvador, Botswana, Kenya and Malawi.