Saturday, May 25, 2013

Diplomats to Kerry: Choose a career professional as next Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington DC 20520

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We urge that a career foreign affairs professional be appointed as the next Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Such an appointment would support your efforts fully to integrate public diplomacy into U.S. foreign affairs.

No career professional has served as Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Coincidentally or not, today there is a wide consensus that U.S. perspectives are less well understood abroad, and people-to-people exchanges are less robust than they should be. In today’s globalizing but still threatening world, and as our military forces abroad are drawn down, it is more important than ever that America strengthen its “soft power.” For this, public diplomacy is an essential and powerful tool.

A career foreign affairs professional, with years of overseas and Washington experience, is more likely to understand the larger world context and how public diplomacy can help achieve America’s policy goals. And it is challenging to direct and energize public diplomacy if the leadership has brief tours or vacancies are lengthy. Prior to the incumbent Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, leaving after just over a year in office, the previous four served, on average, nearly two years. By comparison, the previous four Under Secretaries for Political Affairs, all career professionals, served, on average, nearly three-and-one-half years. The U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy reports that the position of Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs has been vacant more than 30% of the time since it was created in 1999. The position of Under Secretary for Political Affairs has been vacant only 5% of that time.

Studies by the Defense Science Board, RAND, and other independent groups have found that America’s engagement with foreign publics succeeds best when led by experienced officials having the authority to establish priorities, assign responsibilities, transfer funds, and concur in senior appointments. Leaders must have direct access to you and the President on critical communication issues as policies are formulated and implemented.

When done well, public diplomacy works. Large numbers of foreign heads of government, legislators, and social, economic, and political leaders -- many of them America’s staunch allies and stalwart friends -- have participated in U.S. public diplomacy programs. The University of Southern California recently reported that of individuals exposed to U.S. public diplomacy, 79 percent have used what they learned to bring about positive change in their own communities by running for political office, organizing a civil society group, doing volunteer work, and starting a new business or other projects. Fully 94 percent say the exposure has increased their understanding of U.S. foreign policy, and America’s people, society, and values.

The President’s and your public engagements are among our country’s greatest diplomatic assets. You have over a thousand skilled, culturally-aware, and language-trained public diplomacy officers ready to leverage advanced technology and person-to-person communications skills in order to change foreign outcomes in America’s favor. All they need is truly professional, experienced leadership.


Leonard J. Baldyga, Career Minister (Retired), U.S. Information Agency
Adrian A. Basora, Ambassador (Retired), Director of the Project on Democratic Transitions,
Foreign Policy Research Institute, and Past President, Eisenhower Fellowships
John R. Beyrle, Director, U.S. Russia Foundation, and former Ambassador to Russia and
Barbara K. Bodine, former Ambassador to Yemen
Edward Brynn, former Ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ghana, and Acting Historian of the
Department of State
Brian Carlson, former Ambassador to Latvia and Public Affairs Officer (PAO) in Spain,
Norway, and Bulgaria
John Campbell, Ambassador (Retired), Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies,
Council on Foreign Relations
William Courtney, former Ambassador to Kazakhstan and Georgia
Shaun Donnelly, former Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives
Craig G. Dunkerley, former Special Envoy for Conventional Armed Forces in Europe
Sally Grooms Cowal, former Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, PAO in Mexico, and Deputy
Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs
Walter L. Cutler, former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Zaire
John Evans, former Ambassador to Armenia
Linda Jewell, former Ambassador to Ecuador
Robert Finn, former Ambassador to Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and Opening Chargé d'affaires
in Azerbaijan
Jacob P. Gillespie, former PAO in Spain and El Salvador
Robert R. Gosende, former Special Envoy for Somalia and PAO in the Russian Federation and
South Africa
Donna J. Hamilton, former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs
John R. Hamilton, former Ambassador to Peru and Guatemala
William Harrop, former Ambassador to Israel, Kenya, Zaire, and Guinea, and Inspector General
of the Department of State
Arthur Hartman, Career Ambassador (Retired)
Dennis K. Hays, former Ambassador to Suriname and President of the American Foreign Service
H. Allen Holmes, Ambassador (Retired), former Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-
Military Affairs
Robert E. Hunter, former Ambassador to NATO (non-career) and senior member of the National
Security Council (NSC) Staff
Morris Jacobs, former President of the Public Diplomacy Council
Linda Jewell, former Ambassador to Ecuador and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for
Western Hemisphere Affairs
Joe B. Johnson, Public Diplomacy Council and former PAO in Ireland and Panama
Richard D. Kauzlarich, former Ambassador to Azerbaijan and Bosnia and Herzegovina
Dr. William P. Kiehl, President & CEO, PDWorldwide, and former PAO in Czechoslovakia,
Finland, and Thailand
Melinda Kimble, Senior Fellow, United Nations Foundation, and former Acting Assistant
Secretary of State for Oceans, Environment, and Science
Daniel Kurtzer, former Ambassador to Egypt and Israel.
Bruce Laingen, former Ambassador to Malta and Chargé d'affaires, Tehran
Richard LeBaron, former Ambassador to Kuwait and Founding Coordinator of the Center for
Strategic Counterterrorism Communications
Melvyn Levitsky, former Ambassador to Bulgaria and Brazil, and Assistant Secretary of State
for International Narcotics Matters
Thomas E. McNamara, Ambassador (Retired), former Assistant Secretary of State for
Political-Military Affairs
Richard Miles, former Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, and Georgia
John O'Keefe, former Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic
Thomas R. Pickering, former Ambassador to Nigeria, Jordan, El Salvador, Israel, the United
Nations, India, and Russia, and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
Christopher Ross, Personal Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for Western Sahara,
and former Special Coordinator for Public Diplomacy and Ambassador to Algeria and
William A. Rugh, former Ambassador to Yemen and to the United Arab Emirates, and PAO in
Egypt and Saudi Arabia
Harold H. Saunders, former senior member of the NSC Staff, Director of Intelligence and
Research, and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs
Michael Schneider, Senior Executive Service (Retired), U.S. Information Agency
John W. Shirley, former Ambassador to Tanzania, PAO in Warsaw and Rome, and Counselor of
the U.S. Information Agency
Katherine Shirley, former ambassador to Senegal
Pamela Hyde Smith, former Ambassador to Moldova and PAO in the United Kingdom
Patrick Nickolas Theros, former Ambassador to Qatar
Hans N. Tuch, Career Minister (Retired), former PAO in the USSR, Germany, and Brazil, and
Deputy Chief of Mission in Bulgaria and Brazil
Alexander F. Watson, former Ambassador to Peru, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent
Representative at the United Nations, and Assistant Secretary of State for Western
Hemisphere Affairs
Marcelle M. Wahba, former Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and PAO in Egypt,
Jordan, and Cyprus
Philip C. Wilcox, Jr., Ambassador (Retired), former Chief of Mission in Jerusalem and
Ambassador at Large for Counterterrorism
Kenneth Yalowitz, former Ambassador to Belarus and Georgia

cc. National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilon

Via Brian Carlson (posted here with his kind authorization). See Washington Times article on the letter and also John Brown, "The Ideal Un-Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs," Huffington Post (March 4, 2009)

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