Courtesy Reuters

The American Foreign Service

THE work of the American Foreign Service has often been shrouded in mystery. In reality there is nothing mysterious about it. In kind, it is the work that is being carried on in the United States by hundreds and thousands of men and women, but in the Foreign Service this work is carried on abroad and therefore differences of language, thought and custom play an important part. Specifically, in the Foreign Service we do the following:

1. Representation. The term refers to the fact that in their personal as well as their official relationships, members of the Foreign Service, by a mental process which may be naïve but which is nevertheless all but universal, are considered typical Americans and, whether for good or ill, are judged as such by the foreigners among whom they live.

2. The business of the United States Government in foreign countries. This is of endless variety and of all degrees of complexity.

3. The protection of legitimate American activities abroad, again a matter of infinite variety and complexity.

4. The gathering of information and its incorporation in telegrams, despatches, reports and letters. Sometimes the information is requested; sometimes it is voluntary. Sometimes it is useful; often it is not.

5. The performance of numerous administrative acts, prescribed by law and covered by detailed regulations, in connection with shipping, notarials, passports and immigration.

Most of this work is done by the Foreign Services of other countries, but with us certain special conditions exist and must be emphasized.

Because of our geographical position and our history, Americans firmly believe in avoiding as much as possible any entangling political contact with the rest of the world. That means that we have diplomatic missions in countries where we have no political interests at stake, and that in turn means that our diplomacy at those posts has an artificiality, an unreality, absent from the diplomacy of countries which must follow more realistic and precise political objectives. Our isolation from international political realities often creates a

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