u.s. department of state
The Foreign Service, our country’s irreplaceable asset for understanding and interacting with a complex and dangerous world, is facing perhaps its greatest crisis. President Trump’s draconian budget cuts for the State Department and his dismissive attitude toward our diplomats and diplomacy itself threaten to dismantle a great foreign service just when we need it most.
Two former ambassadors have rebuked the White House in an increasingly vocal backlash against its efforts to sideline the State Department. “Our leadership ranks are being depleted at a dizzying speed,” Barbara Stephenson, a former U.S. ambassador to Panama and current president of the American Foreign Service Association, the union for foreign service officers, wrote in a letter for the December 2017 issue of the Foreign Service Journal.
One of the most eye-opening moments of my time as the deputy assistant secretary for digital strategy at the U.S. State Department occurred on a trip to the country of Georgia, aimed at helping the government build its digital capacity to better serve its population. Our message was the same advice we’d given to countless governments: Focus on Facebook. It was the dominant player. Elites tended to use Twitter. Google ads were worth it if you had the money. But for governments wanting to reach real people on a global scale, Facebook was the scalable, smart solution.
Can sports increase dialogue and cultural understanding between people around the world? The U.S. State Department believes so — and has tapped Salisbury University’s Dr. Dean Ravizza to assist. Recently, for a 10-day Israeli/Palestinian basketball program, the Princess Anne resident designed a series of lectures and activities emphasizing concepts such as negotiation, teamwork and group dynamics.