Diplomatic Discourse is now in print!Buy a copy for your library, your coffee table, your favorite globally-minded person — or just treat yourself.
It is no secret that we often learn the most from those that are — at least on the surface — least like us. Those with atypical backgrounds and unique life stories can have an outsized impact on our lives, challenging our preconceptions and introducing us to new perspectives and ideas.
The writers and editors of The Politic are privileged to attend Yale University, which attracted students from some 118 different countries and territories last year. The University offers more than 50 foreign languages and 600 courses related to international affairs. Indeed, over the last three centuries, Yale has discovered that the best recipe for academic success and global influence requires a diverse group of students. We all benefit from the opportunity to interact with peers from across the country and around the globe.
Of course, it is not just students who benefit from spirited engagement with others; nations, too, need healthy international relations to develop their economies, improve their social and political systems, and solve global problems. In 1972, for instance, President Richard Nixon visited Beijing to formalize relations between the United States and China; today, our two countries have the largest economies in history and arguably the world’s most important bilateral relationship. Moreover, as technological advances have torn down barriers and enabled us to engage with our cohorts on different continents, diplomatic interactions are more critical than ever. The world has become a relatively small place — and global engagement has become increasingly vital.
For this reason, we are proud to introduce “Diplomatic Discourse,” a collection of more than 100 interviews with United States Ambassadors. Throughout the course of the summer, more than 50 Yale students conducted interviews over the telephone, via Skype and email, and in person at embassies on several continents. This series presents two topics in detail: careers in the Foreign Service and contemporary issues facing American embassies. In the coming weeks, we will be publishing still more interviews — for we are eager to learn from even more diplomats.
A project of this scale and depth is unprecedented. Like Stephen Colbert’s Better-Know-A-District for members of Congress, our series strives to be the authority on the perspectives and experiences of the official American representatives to foreign governments. We asked all of the Ambassadors about their experiences — if any — in the Foreign Service, the person or event that has most influenced them, and their critique of American diplomacy today. But we also delved deeply into the specifics of each international relationship.
We discussed WikiLeaks with the U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador. We contemplated the “pivot to Asia” with the U.S. Ambassador to China and women’s rights with the U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. We explored a career in the Foreign Service with William J. Burns, Deputy Secretary of State and the highest ranked career Foreign Service officer in American history. We considered Borat with the U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan. And so much more.
There were so many people involved in this series; it is impossible to acknowledge them all. We would like to thank the U.S. Department of State, the Embassies and the Ambassadors themselves. We would like to thank the staff writers and editors who worked countless hours to finalize this series. We would also like to thank the Yale students who never before wrote for us — but jumped at the chance to speak with policymakers on six different continents.
And, of course, we would like to thank you for reading the stories told by America’s envoys to France and Fiji, Mongolia and Mexico, Haiti and the Holy See. But please don’t let your involvement stop there. We encourage you to send us your feedback, to reach out to the Foreign Service on your own, and, most importantly, to continually strive to learn more from your peers around the globe.
Justin Schuster ’15 and Eric Stern ’15
For extensive interviews with more than 1800 foreign affairs professionals and excerpts covering major (and not so major) Moments in U.S. Diplomatic History, check out our colleagues at www.adst.org.