The Path to Public Service at SEAS


Should Supreme Court Justices Have Term Limits? That ‘Would Be Fine,’ Breyer Says at Harvard IOP Forum


Harvard Right to Life Hosts Anti-Abortion Event With Students For Life President


Harvard Researchers Debunk Popular Sleep Myths in New Study


Journalists Discuss Trump’s Effect on the GOP at Harvard IOP Forum

Foreign Service Morale


Although the McCarthy scare has more than passed its peak in the United States, some branches of the Government, notably the Foreign Service have not yet recovered their peace of mind. The Foreign Service, indeed, has been subjected to a strain which may have had a more damaging affect on its value than the machinations of any individual Senator.

The function of the Foreign Service Officer as a competent and candid reporter of the political, economic, and cultural activities of the country to which he is assigned is his most important duty. It is this phase of his activities which has been most severely damaged. It is not, however, enough to blame McCarthyism for the decline in accurate reporting from the field. The blame lies also in the Dullesian personality and on the Secretary of State's attitude toward policy-making.

Foreign Service Officers, who under Acheson were made to feel that their chief was ready to come to their defense if they were attacked, have seen Dulles shy away from any contact with John Paton Davies or John Service, when these two men were placed on the sacrificial altar of anti-Communism. Men away from Washington were horrified by the State Department's cowardice in the Ladejinsky affair. Although these incidents did not necessarily demand the approach which Acheson took towards the accusations against Alger Hiss and Owen Lattimore, the lack of any outright defense of the State Department against the incursions of the Congress changed the atmosphere in the Foreign Service. From a feeling that the Secretary would at least attempt to protect their reputations, diplomats have come to realize that they are strictly on their own in any battles with Capitol Hill.

As a consequence of this pervasive attitude, the men who should be writing exactly what they see and what they think are submitting reports which in many cases are written to please, or at least not to irritate, powerful groups in Washington. The smarter Foreign Service officers are able to get their point and their observations across under a camouflage of outwardly harmless verbiage. The less acute reporters either say what they know the "right people" want to hear, or say the wrong, though perhaps honest thing and sometimes lose their post, their promotion, or their job. When a report is written with the idea that it will be read ten years from now or that what it says must not offend an important group of people, the report is likely to be somewhat less than honest.

The lack of candor is not, however, a direct corollary of the fear of disagreeing with the head of the Foreign Relations Committee, the representative of the China Lobby, the lobbyist for the American Friends of the Middle East, or the Zionists. The real concern, and this is particularly true in the "trouble spot" areas--The Far East, the Middle East, and the Communist satellites--is that the report may go counter to an adopted party line in the State Department. Men and women who may not be afraid of the accusation of Communism do have a certain natural desire to keep their jobs. They have seen some of their colleagues sent to Mozambique or out of the Foreign Service simply for criticizing American foreign policy, particularly a brand new, bold, forthright, massive policy. Apparently it is perfectly acceptable to write what you think if you are stationed in Australia, but not if you are in Formosa, Beirut, or Belgrade.

Mr. Dulles allegedly said in 1953, when he took office, that he could run the Department with twelve good men (and we assume, true). Unless he takes constructive steps to reassure the career Foreign Service officers of their security and of the necessity for candor in their reports, he may get his wish.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.