Diplomats defend themselves against Perry criticism
Photo: AFP/Getty Images
November 10th, 2011
03:05 PM ET

Diplomats defend themselves against Perry criticism

By Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty

Foreign Service officers are firing back at Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry's charges that some State Department employees are not working in the best interest of the country.

In a written statement, the American Foreign Service Association said Thursday the Texas governor's comments "reflect a serious misunderstanding" of the role of Foreign Service officers "in promoting American interests overseas."

In a radio program this week with Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, Perry said, "I'm not sure our State Department serves us well."

"I'm not talking about the secretary of state here. I'm talking about the career diplomats and the secretary of state who, all too often, may not be making decisions, or giving advice to the administration that's in this country's best interest."

Perry added that Congress might have to take action to ensure the nation's diplomatic corps is doing work that benefits America.

The AFSA statement called diplomacy "a vital instrument for ensuring national security, along with the military."

"Foreign Service professionals carry out their role with exemplary dedication all over the world, including war zones and other dangerous regions," the statement said.

Hundreds of American diplomats have given their lives in the line of duty, the association said, and listed six U.S. ambassadors who have died, 14 who have "made the ultimate sacrifice at the hands of terrorists or drug traffickers," and noted that the bombings of U.S. embassies in Beirut in 1983 and 1985 and in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998 "killed scores more."

AFSA is the professional association and labor union of the U.S. Foreign Service, representing 28,000 active and retired employees.

The organization, in its statement, said diplomats, often separated from their families, draw on expertise gained by living and working in countries around the world to "provide sound advice for policy decisions regardless of which party is in power."

"We need more diplomacy, not less," the organization added, "and we need more, not less, support from our political leaders and citizens for their work to defend and advance our interests abroad."

soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. KansasGirl

    LanceNYC, you educate yourself.

    Congress has the purse-strings...no money, no diplomatic corps.

    November 10, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Reply
  2. G D

    jJust one of a thousand "serious misunderstandings" by Perry. OOPS!

    November 10, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Reply
  3. Jay

    Folks in Texas feel Oklahoma is foreign. How can Perry understand something more complex like the real Foreign Service?

    November 10, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Reply
  4. KansasGirl

    Why on earth does the U.S. foreign service have a union?

    I agree with Perry. Any government entity that does this is working against the taxpayers that support their operation.

    Pray tell, who is at the table representing the American citizens?

    We've seen how well that has worked for the blue states that we will be forced to bail.

    November 10, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Reply
    • Trader Joe

      "Any government entity that does this is working against the taxpayers that support their operation."

      What is it specifically that they are doing that is "working against the taxpayers?" Perry couldn't come up with anything specific, maybe you can.

      "We've seen how well that has worked for the blue states that we will be forced to bail."

      You might want to check the story about the Alabama county that's defaulting – biggest municpal default in history.

      November 10, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Reply
      • KansasGirl

        You ask what the government unions are doing to work against the taxpayers?

        Read your second comment.

        November 10, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
  5. Me

    I really don't expect much from a guy from Turnip Truck, Texas.

    November 10, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Reply
    • KansasGirl

      I don't expect much from a "community organizer" either. Pffft.

      November 10, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Reply
  6. Kris Craig

    This is the sort of reactionary nonsense we have come to expect from radical Republicans like Perry. He gets an idea in his head that our diplomats aren't opposing policies that he believes they should oppose. Then, without any thought or reflection, he blurts out that our diplomats aren't doing their duty. And, as if his foot isn't already jammed far enough into his mouth, he then proceeds to suggest that the diplomatic corps should start taking orders directly from Congress, essentially forcing them to enforce the political agenda of whichever party happens to be in the majority at that moment.

    This isn't new for Perry. A few months ago, you may all remember, Perry suggested that Texas should actually secede from the union! Apparently, he forgot that they already tried that once and it didn't work out too well for them.

    Perry is a prime example of the modern Republican politician who hypes everything and has an utter lack of intellectual discipline.

    November 10, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Reply
    • KansasGirl

      Darn straight the diplomatic corps should take orders from Congress.

      Who do you think they get their "resources" from? Besides the taxpayers.

      I'll be waiting to see how you feel when we have a Repulican President.

      You want to see "radical"? OWS!!

      November 10, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Reply
      • LanceNYC

        You obviously have zero knowledge of foreign policy. Your "resource" comment highlights this. Please educate yourself.

        November 10, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
      • Diplomat111

        The State Department is under the Executive Office. The President is Commander-in-Chief and sets the policy for the United States. Do you know how disorganized our foreign policy would be if we had to take orders from Congress? There are 50 Senators and 435 Representatives, each of which is working for their constituencies. While they control the purse strings, the President has the pen, and in a Congress which is this deadlocked, there will never be a clear policy to follow since they could never override a Presidential veto.

        November 12, 2011 at 7:39 am |
  7. SMM

    As a former Foreign Service Officer, I am dismayed that a candidate for the presidency should be so ignorant of the role of the State Department and Foreign Service Officers. In FS training, the nonpartisan nature of an officer's duty is stressed. Officers are sworn to support the foreign policy of the United States, regardless of the party in power. They provide facts from the ground and draw thoughtful conclusions. They may disagree with policy in private and may register objections through channels, but in public, they support the president.

    Fortunately, Governor Perry is eliminating himself from the competition. I can only hope that other possible candidates do not share his ignorance.

    November 10, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Reply
    • KansasGirl

      Yeah, you're believable SSM.

      November 10, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Reply
  8. ThinkAgain

    If Democrats had lobbied even 1/10th of this kind of criticism at GW Bush, Parry and the rest of the Republicans would have called them unpatriotic and aiding our enemies.

    Which explains why the GOP has spent so much time, effort and money on demonizing President Obama. Republicans don't care about our country, all they care about is party.

    November 10, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Reply
  9. ThinkAgain

    What the eff does Parry know about the dealings of our State Department? When was the last time he was at a high-level briefing?

    I'll tell you who's not working in the best interest of our country: Parry and all his yahoo followers who think this idiot from Texas could EVER lead the greatest nation in the world.

    November 10, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Reply
    • KansasGirl

      Perry shows more sense than this "community organizer" we've had to deal with.

      So off to Bali O.

      I'm sure he depressed since his "pal" Love is taking a hike. Hehe.

      November 10, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Reply
  10. Thomas

    Don't wast the paper , Perry can't read !

    Musharraf has been critical of the White House's recent suspension of $800 million in U.S. aid to the Pakistani military, saying the decreased aid will hurt his country and hinder its fight against terrorism. Perry did not directly criticize the federal decision, but he said he hoped the two governments could work their way through the conflicts and get "on the same page of the hymnbook."

    November 10, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Reply
    • KansasGirl

      Thomas, I'm sure Bibi feels O's love.

      November 10, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Reply

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