Diplomats for a Nonpartisan Foreign Service
In the face of massive danger, over 1100 American Foreign Service officers recently volunteered for the 145 openings in our embassy and other diplomatic offices across Iraq. Former Foreign Service officers Ambassador L. Paul Bremer and now Ambassador John Negroponte agreed to take on perhaps the single most dangerous position in the world as head of the U.S. effort in Iraq. When the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were devastated by terrorist bombings in 1998, Foreign Service officers emerged from the rubble and kept doing their work.
President Bush and President Clinton knew, as their predecessors learned, that they could trust the Foreign Service to serve them without regard to party. This trust has been hard won as a number of Presidents have come to office distrusting the Service, convinced of a political bias - most often based on loyal service to the outgoing administration.
The undersigned have held responsible positions for the planning and execution of American foreign and national security policy in Republican and Democratic administrations; fifteen of us were career Foreign Service officers. Clearly former diplomats and military officers as individuals have the right, even the responsibility to participate in the political life of our country, and a number have gone on to hold elected office, including in Congress. Others have been called back to duty as political appointees. They have done so as individuals, not as spokesmen for their profession, and this is as it should be. To do otherwise we believe risks undermining the confidence of our elected leaders in the professionalism and integrity of our foreign and military services.
On June 16th, as the current presidential campaign went into high gear, a group calling itself "Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change" issued a statement attacking the Bush Administration's foreign policy and established a website and organization to defeat President Bush in November.
Their unprecedented political statement elicited considerable comment in both the American and foreign press about supposed disenchantment in the career diplomatic and military services with the current administration. The impression that this created, that there is consensus among experienced diplomats and military officers about this administration's policies, is simply wrong. Among the signers of our statement are supporters of this administration's policies and those who are critics. "Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change" also stimulated at least two other campaigns among former career officers - one explicitly for President Bush and the other for Senator Kerry.
A core principle and deeply held tradition of our foreign and military services is now at risk. A president must be able to count on the career services to remain above the political fray, provide disinterested advice, and faithfully execute decisions taken.
We are immensely proud of the current generation in our Service and cannot remain silent while their professional integrity is put at risk. Across the globe, in circumstances of great danger and difficulty, we are the front line of America's interests. As the walls of the entrance to the State Department attest, even more ambassadors have been killed in the line of duty than flag officers since the Vietnam War. Under Secretary Powell's leadership, the morale and loyalty of the Foreign Service are high.
Whoever is elected this November must be able to count on the unquestioned, passionate commitment to nonpartisanship by the professionals of the foreign and uniformed services of the United States. We are confident the candidates for election this November - of whichever party - will respect and appreciate our determination that our career services remain and be seen as truly apolitical, in the best interests of our country.
The Honorable Michael H. Armacost
Ambassador to Japan, 1989
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, 1984
Ambassador to the Philippines, 1982
The Honorable Thomas D. Boyatt
Ambassador to Columbia, 1983
President of the American Foreign Service Association, 1971
The Honorable Everett Ellis Briggs
Ambassador to Portugal, 1990
Special Assistant to the President, 1989
Ambassador to Honduras, 1986
Ambassador to Panama, 1982
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, 1980
The Honorable Frank C. Carlucci
Secretary of Defense, 1987
Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, 1986
Ambassador to Portugal, 1975
The Honorable Lawrence S. Eagleburger
Secretary of State, 1991
Deputy Secretary of State, 1988
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, 1982
Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, 1981
Ambassador to Yugoslavia, 1977
The Honorable Charles Hill
Executive Secretary of the State Department and Executive Assistant to the Secretary, 1983
The Honorable Max M. Kampelman
Ambassador to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, 1987
Counselor to the Department of State, 1985
Ambassador and Head of the U.S. Delegation to the Negotiations with the USSR on Nuclear and Space Arms, 1985
The Honorable Henry A. Kissinger
Secretary of State, 1973
Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, 1969
The Honorable George Landau
Ambassador to Venezuela, 1982
Ambassador to Chile, 1977
Ambassador to Paraguay, 1972
The Honorable Melvyn Levitsky
Ambassador to Brazil, 1994
Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics Matters, 1989