Arwa Zohar Kolkata India
How to remake the Foreign Service and embassies for today's world
The most underutilized asset in America’s foreign policy arsenal is its network of embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions around the world — 307 in total. All of them are staffed with some of the brightest and most well-trained Americans the country has to offer. But most of them operate under 20th century and sometimes 19th century assumptions of what ends diplomatic outposts are meant to serve.
Congress should consider that U.S. embassies have the capacity to pursue more national ends than just cable reporting, memo writing, consular services and diplomatic representation. Our embassies should be front-line, “whole of government” satellites for U.S. foreign and economic policy.
Most U.S. embassies are equipped with large political sections and comparatively smaller sections for economics. Much of foreign service officers’ time and effort are consumed with reportage: writing cables to Foggy Bottom on matters of party politics, political personalities, election forecasts, GDP numbers and news cycles.