Inside the World of Diplomacy: The U.S. Foreign Service in a Changing World

Inside the World of Diplomacy: The U.S. Foreign Service in a Changing World

Inside the World of Diplomacy: The U.S. Foreign Service in a Changing World

Inside the World of Diplomacy: The U.S. Foreign Service in a Changing World

Synopsis

Ambassador Finger provides an insider's view of significant events in American diplomacy since World War II. Also included are insightful appraisals of Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Bush, Lodge, Stevenson, and Goldberg. He goes on to portray dramatic changes in the American Foreign Service which has become a merit service of outstanding men and women of varied ethnic backgrounds, chosen from all parts of the country on the basis of highly competitive entrance examinations.

Finger also dispels the canard that a diplomat is someone sent abroad to lie for his country. He argues that, on the contrary, a reputation for integrity is essential for effective diplomacy. This is particularly true at the United Nations. Finger spent 15 years there and relates from experience salient situations where diplomatic skill, effective advocacy, and the cultivation of friendship and trust have contributed to the maintenance of peace and the establishment of significant development programs. He further demonstrates how permanent representatives who were close to the president were able to have crucial influence on major American policies. This insightful guide to contemporary American foreign policy and the workings of both the Foreign Service and the United Nations will be of interest to scholars and students of American diplomacy as well as candidates for the Foreign Service.

Excerpt

A satirical definition holds: “A diplomat is someone sent abroad to lie for his country.” It reflects a popular misconception. In my 26 years as an American diplomat I found that lying is the worst way to carry out effective diplomacy. Once duplicity is revealed and a reputation for integrity is lost, a diplomat becomes useless or worse.

Another misperception is that the U.S. Foreign Service is made up of rich young men from Ivy League colleges who spend most of their time on high living abroad. There may have been some basis for that perception before World War II, but certainly not since then. Entry into the Foreign Service is based on extremely difficult written and oral examinations. When I took the exams in 1946, only about 7 percent passed. Now I believe the figure is closer to 2 percent. Of course, no test can guarantee performance, but I found my Foreign Service colleagues to have exceptional ability and integrity.

Also, they represented a cross-section of America—different religions and races, varied financial circumstances, graduates of universities across the country, some from law schools—but alike in ability and dedication. My own background was that of a Jewish boy who grew up in Brooklyn. My father died when I was three, and I did all the “Horatio Alger” jobs from the age of eight—selling and delivering newspapers, peddling bananas, selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door—certainly not the popular image of an American diplomat.

Graduating from Ohio University during the Great Depression at age nineteen with the ambition of becoming a professor of American history . . .

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