The Future of the Foreign Service

Carlos Pascual
Carlos Pascual Former U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Senior Vice President for Global Energy - IHS Markit, Former Brookings expert

March 31, 2008

Carlos Pascual joins Kojo Nnamdi and guests to explore the difficulties confronting the United States’ diplomatic corps in a time of evolving international challenges.

Kojo Nnamdi, host: The State Department employs roughly 19,000 people. There are about 6,600 diplomats, and the State Department has a budget of about $36 billion dollars.

Carlos Pascual, we know that in many capitals around the world, and indeed in many rural outposts around the world, the U.S. government today is not the most popular of institutions. How difficult would you assess the task that now poses for diplomats?

Carlos Pascual: Well certainly the attitude towards the United States actually influences the capacity to get the job done. Over the past years, U.S. favorability ratings across the world have actually decreased. A part of that is a perception of a failure of American policy and a sense of American interventionism, which has caused a negative reaction throughout the world and particularly the Muslim world. And so the irony of what we face now, is an increased recognition that in order to succeed in foreign policy, you have to work with local partners. The U.S. military even found that in Anbar province. Yet at the same time, the appreciation for the United States and what it stands for has declined. So it’s a much tougher task than it was before. And it means that in order to succeed, you really have to have an understanding and a capacity to operate in a local environment, and communicate with people in a way that will be convincing to them, that demonstrates you have their interest in mind as well as the interests of the United States.

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