Honoring our U.S. Foreign Service
Representing America’s interests and values was a great honor while working for the U.S. State Department in six countries over 32-plus years. To recognize the critical work done by America’s diplomats and development professionals, the U.S. Senate designated the first Friday in May each year as Foreign Service Day.
On Friday, May 3, we acknowledged the contributions made by U.S. embassies and consulates in almost every country worldwide. America’s diplomatic missions are operated and staffed by members of the U.S. Foreign Service who have learned local languages and customs and know how to navigate in distant and often dangerous locations. Indeed, 250 have perished in service to our nation.
Our Foreign Service staff seek to enhance our national security and advance our economic prosperity while they manage our relations with other countries, represent the U.S. and our people, assist Americans abroad and address transnational issues like pandemics.
Our businesses rely on our diplomats to establish common rules, remove obstacles and level the playing field so they can compete and operate overseas. Expanding our global reach creates new opportunities and opens markets. The State Department, working with other agencies, helped promote exports from New Mexico worth $3.6 billion in 2017 while supporting about 14,958 jobs (2016) attracting foreign direct investment into New Mexico that yielded another 20,200 jobs (2015). See www.state.gov/r/pa/map/219890.htm.
Simply put, economic diplomacy by the Foreign Service is increasingly critical as our country faces growing challenges to our global leadership, particularly from rising powers such as China. For our nation and our state to be successful, we must make full use of all of our diplomatic resources to maintain America’s global leadership. If the U.S. doesn’t lead, who will?
Brian L. Goldbeck lives in Santa Fe.