foreign service

Former VOA senior advisor extends William Burns' parting thoughts for diplomats to USIB

Boko Haram’s horrifying abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria ignited universal calls for help to “bring back our girls.” President Barack Obama responded with urgency, but lost in the story is that one tool the United States would like to have at our disposal is hampered by the absence of U.S. ambassadors in neighboring Cameroon and Niger.

Former U.S. ambassador Richard Hoagland, a career foreign service officer, spoke candidly at a gay pride conference this week about the difficulties gay diplomats faced in the not-so-distant past.

April 2, 2014

The future is now. The economic crisis has sped up globalization, and we are already living in a new era.

April 2, 2014

The future is now. The economic crisis has sped up globalization, and we are already living in a new era. The strength of the BRICS countries has to compete with growth in the “double MIT” (Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey and Malaysia, India, and Thailand) and more. Of the world’s major global companies, 25% are in these countries.

Diplomacy, like negotiation and card playing, is an old, traditional ‘art’. To succeed at all three, the player needs an edge over his or her opponents, an edge based on preparation, confidence and cultural acuity. The more you know going in, the greater your chances of ultimate success.

In June, Michael T. Sestak, a former cop and naval officer who went on to work for the US Foreign Service in Vietnam, was brought before a judge in Washington, DC on corruption charges. Sestak was allegedly a major part of one of the most lucrative illegal visa scams in history—while he was employed at the US consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, he had a side business rubber-stamping fraudulent visa applications for paying clients fed to him by a Vietnamese-American family, a gig that netted nearly $10 million all together according to the Department of Justice.

The State Department has closed a total of 19 diplomatic posts in the Middle East, North Africa, and East Africa and has ordered the U.S. Embassy in Yemen evacuated. But what exactly does that mean for U.S. missions and U.S. citizens abroad? To find out, we talked to a current State Department Foreign Service officer who is on detail at the American Foreign Service Association, a union for diplomats.

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