resident Bush’s first group of new ambassadorsrecently completed the Foreign Service Institute’straining program. Although they and theirspouses were an experienced group—two sena-tors, a governor, former ambassadors, State Departmentofficials and successful business executives—they allfound the FSI briefings helpful and expressed gratitudefor the chance to attend the course. We all recognize thatFSI’s programs in management or language training, aswell as conferences and crisis-gaming, are why the insti-tute is one of the U.S. government’s most valuableresources.On the last day of the FSI course, I spoke to the ambas-sadors and told them to take seriously their role as thePresident’s personal representatives. At the same time, Iencouraged them to have great fun in their new assign-ments. Fortunately, the two are not mutually exclusive.To emphasize the breadth of their responsibility, Idescribed my own schedule that day—four foreign min-isters had been in for meetings, while on the previousday there had been five. I mentioned to them that in yearspast such visitors might have wanted to discuss ideologyor strategy or arms sales. But these foreign ministers hadsat there across from me all wanting to talk about thesame subject—economics. They wanted to know how toattract business, jobs, trade and investment.Something similar had happened a few weeks earlieron my Balkans trip. At a meeting of regional foreign min-isters, I spoke first, followed by the other ministers. Eachseemed to be saying the same thing—words stronglyendorsing democracy, open markets and trade.What I heard was so uplifting that I asked for another“intervention,” as remarks in such meetings are called. Ireminded my counterparts that only 10 years ago, whenI chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff, they were all on my tar-get list—every single one of their countries—all of themin the old Eastern Bloc.The point I was making to the new ambassadors withthese stories was that so much has changed in virtuallyevery corner of the globe—and all for the better. Neverhave the fundamental ideas underlying American for-eign policy been more welcome.
Our AmbassadorsPlay a Crucial Role
My final point about this new world of ideas had to dowith being corrected recently on something I had beensaying. I received an e-mail from someone who tookissue with my statement that diplomacy is our nation’sfirst line of defense. My cyber correspondent correctlysaid there is nothing “Maginot-Line” or fortress-likeabout our advocacy of these new ideas; our foreign poli-cy and our diplomats are not a first line of
butrather a first line of
That more accurately reflectsthe claim that democratic institutions and free marketscan liberate the minds and spirits of human beings every-where, a case for democracy we are making to the world.Part of this effort means having qualified ambassadorswho understand the crucial role they play in our mission. Just as important is making sure diplomatic efforts getthe support and back-up they need. FSI’s preparatoryand refresher programs are perfect examples of such ableassistance.I have routinely emphasized the importance of gettingthe financial resources the Department needs to providethe necessary support structure. I have been testifying before Congress about our immediate priorities: people,embassies and information technology. Some specificsinclude: $134.5 million to recruit, hire and train sufficientpersonnel; $1.3 billion for embassy construction, refurbish-ment and security; and $210 million for universal access tothe Internet and modernized classified networks.Reorganization is another priority. For example, Statehas a chief financial officer who has no control over theforeign operations portion of the budget, two thirds ofthe entire budget. So we are establishing an assistant sec-retary for Resources and Management. This person willoversee the full budget and financial planning for theDepartment as a whole.No better example of the important nature of our workexists than the support our new ambassadors have gottenfrom the Department prior to their assignments. I knowthey will also receive the support from all of you in thefield once they arrive. That’s why I felt so good aboutwishing them well. I knew some great professionals anddedicated Americans would soon be welcoming themwarmly and giving them the best of advice and help.