By BRIAN L. GOLDBECK
To protect Americans overseas and advance U.S. interests, I was proud to represent America in 10 posts in seven countries over my 32 years of service with the U.S. State Department.
I write this in advance of Foreign Service Day May 7, a day Congress designated honoring our active-duty and retired members of the Foreign Service, including some 250 Ambassadors and others that perished overseas while serving our nation.
This past year’s devastation and uncertainty has been difficult for everyone. This includes our 15,600 Foreign Service members that have remained on the front lines throughout the pandemic, working to bring more than 100,000 Americans home safely and continuing to protect and serve America’s interests abroad. Indeed, this included our U.S. Consul General in Wuhan, China, a colleague and friend plus his family, as he and his staff coordinated the safe return of Americans from that Covid-19 epicenter.
Diplomacy is our first line of defense, neutralizing issues before they become threats to Americans. However, for diplomacy to take the premier place in our foreign policy, we must once again strengthen our Foreign Service.
Our diplomats are overstretched, and our embassies and consulates are understaffed. China has eclipsed us with more diplomatic outposts and overseas diplomatic personnel with increased funding and giving more foreign aid as well.
This year has demonstrated the need for increased global engagement and the importance of U.S. global leadership. Clearly, others will lead if the U.S. does not. America’s diplomats are on the ground in countries all over the world, often in dangerous and difficult locations, representing America’s interests.
Let’s make sure the U.S. has the necessary personnel and resources to meet the needs of the American people now and in the future.