The American Ambassador and the Future
The experiences recounted in this book by American ambassadors and their deputies are from the latter half of the twentieth century, a period that saw the rise of the United States of America as the one major world power. The same period saw the collapse of the old order, the colonial empires of Great Britain, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, and finally even of the Soviet Union. Having the Soviets and Communist movement as the clear enemies of the free world gave some sense of focus and order to American foreign policy towards other nations, and in 1992 it can be said that American foreign policy was triumphant, at least for the short term. These ambassadors were, in effect, successful field commanders in a worldwide diplomatic battle against the Communist forces. What will the accounts of American ambassadors be like taken from men and women who serve during the twenty-first century?
While it is always dangerous to predict the future, certain trends seem to speak of as great if not greater role for our ambassadors during the next century. The United States with all its warts and blemishes has emerged as the only power that can project policy leadership throughout the world. While the record can be uneven it has pushed for matters of world concern such as democracy, human rights, protecting the environment, economic cooperation, and fighting the narcotics trade. Issues may change but the United States predictably will be in the forefront and American ambassadors will continue to be on the cutting edge of American foreign policy in their countries of assignment.