Zed Tarar

Last month, the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy published a report by three Rangel Fellows at the Harvard Kennedy School that found that approximately a third of Foreign Service Officers were actively looking to leave the State Department. The following is a response to this report by a current Foreign Service Officer.

A flag flies at half mast outside a State Department building. (Image: State Department, Flickr)

“This is the worst posting I’ve ever had,” a colleague confessed to me recently, lamenting, “I’m not allowed to do my job.” With over two decades under their belt and serving in a large European capital, this seasoned diplomat’s frustrations stemmed from a lack of…


Parliamentary diplomacy has its limits.

Philip Anstrén

This piece is part of a series on engagement with Taiwan.

The European Parliament plenary chamber (Image: diamond geezer on Flickr)

The European Parliament’s (EP) International Trade Committee (INTA) is running out of patience. For years, the committee has been nudging the European Commission to fulfil its promise to negotiate a bilateral investment agreement (BIA) with Taiwan. So far, it has nothing to show for it, not even an impact assessment. In frustration, INTA recently ramped up the pressure on the Commission. In a draft opinion, it stated emphatically that it “considers it necessary to conclude” a BIA with Taiwan.

The EP and its members (MEPs) have long…


Japan faces domestic and international backlash as pandemic rages.

Eleanor Shiori Hughes

The Olympic Rings on display on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on Monday, July 19th as part of NBC Olympics’ “Rings Across America” tour (Image: Eleanor Shiori Hughes)

Today, at long last, the world watches as Japan raises the curtain for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 (+1) Games. Times have undoubtedly changed since Tokyo last hosted the summer Olympics back in 1964, when my mother — a native Tokyoite — attended the marathon event as a young spectator. At the time, Japan was still in the process of integrating itself into a dynamic and increasingly interconnected world. But as the 2020 Games mission states, “The Tokyo 1964 Games completely transformed Japan.” …


Emily Crane Linn and Kit Evans

The next month may very well determine whether Libya unifies under a stable government — or plunges back into civil war. In recent months, ISD has published several resources to help students of diplomacy understand the issues at play.

The Gurgi Mosque in Tripoli, Libya (Image: Ziyad El Baz on Unsplash)

After this month’s failed talks among Libyan political leaders in Geneva, the country’s tenuous progress toward elections, peace, and unity is once again in doubt. The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) convened the talks to enable the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) to negotiate a legal framework for the country’s upcoming elections, scheduled…


Christiana Metaxas

The following blog post is based on a report the author researched and produced through the ISD Fellows in Diplomacy program. Read the full report.

An oil tanker (Image: Cameron Venti, Unsplash)

This month, a U.S. delegation attended a ministerial meeting of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) for the first time since joining as a permanent observer member in March of 2021. The EMGF, a multilateral energy diplomacy forum, was established to promote regional energy cooperation after the discovery of eight offshore natural gas fields in the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of Cyprus, Egypt, and Israel — as well as off the coast of…


A new report published by ISD finds that more than 30% of Foreign Service Officers are looking for the exits — and no, it’s not just because of Trump.

Emily Crane Linn

The State Department is facing an impending retention crisis: an estimated 31 percent of current Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) are seriously considering leaving the Foreign Service and are actively exploring their options. Of these officers, about a third plan to leave within the next year, and over half plan to leave within the next five years. This points to an impending spike in attrition well above the Department’s historical averages — and ought to give State Department leadership serious pause.

Secretary Antony J. Blinken participates in a Town Hall with U.S. Mission Nigeria and U.S. Mission Kenya employees and family members from the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on April 27, 2021. (Image: State Department, Freddie Everett)

These were the top findings of a new study conducted by a group of graduate students at…


Emily Crane Linn

Dr. Maria Rendon (image: ISD)

Dr. Maria Rendon joined the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy in May as the director of the Donald F. McHenry Global Public Service Fellows Program and will lead the program into its second full year. Dr. Rendon is a retired USAID Foreign Service Officer specializing in democracy and governance, civilian-military cooperation and humanitarian aid. She began her career at USAID as a pioneer of democracy and governance programs in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union, and has since gone on to implement governance programs in Egypt, Indonesia, and the Philippines. At her last…


Heera Kamboj

This review of Nina Jankowicz’ recent book How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict, is part of a series of reviews of books on the topic of disinformation.

How to Lose the Information War (Image: Bloomsbury Publishing Inc.)

“Past is prologue” and “History does not repeat, but echoes” are two phrases that students in my Spring 2021 course,“Deepfakes, Disinformation, Diplomacy, and Democracy,” were likely sick of hearing. But Nina Jankowicz’ recent book How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict proves these concepts many times over. …


And how to escape our institutional malaise

Zed Tarar

This piece is part of a series on Leadership by members of the broader ISD community. In this post, current FSO Zed Tarar calls for the Foreign Service to look to the streaming giant Netflix as a model for innovation and institutional culture.

A desk in front of a window with a computer displaying Netflix, a lamp, and a mug
A desk in front of a window with a computer displaying Netflix, a lamp, and a mug
An office space ready for Netflix (Image: Clay Banks/Unsplash)

“‘Dirty Dick’ edges Europe off map: Holbrooke’s tantrums and swashbuckling tactics have led to a triumph for U.S. diplomacy,” blazed The Guardian’s headline on November 24, 1995, declaring an end to the years’ long bloody conflict in Yugoslavia. The newspaper credited career diplomat Richard Holbrooke, known for his brash style and propensity to speak truth…


The United States should put businesses — small and large — at the core of its economic diplomacy.

Puru Trivedi and Maggi Chambers

Then Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a speech focused on U.S. and Pacific regional trade policy at the Boeing Co.’s 737 Airplane Factory in Renton, Washington, on May 19, 2015 (Image: State Department/Flickr)

Diplomacy: Historically viewed as an exclusive circle which only invited diplomats and global elites to the conversation.

In the past, business and academia typically stood on the sidelines as government officials told them what to expect or engaged them only under desperate circumstances.

In today’s global economy, this practice is no longer feasible. The international exchange of ideas and information involves complexities — from disinformation to blockchain technologies — that few reckoned with even a decade ago. Diplomacy today includes all of us and requires specific participation from the business community.

Economic diplomacy is not…

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