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Foreign Disservice

The U.S. Foreign Service needs a decentralized leadership style that enables U.S. embassies overseas to promote freedom effectively and to combat tyranny. That level of decentralization requires ambassadors who understand what the president of the United States wants to accomplish and who are educated in new methods that achieve and measure progress toward those goals. To this end, a comprehensive reform of the Foreign Service must instill a positive and effective model that grants personnel the time and incentive to focus on communicating with local people rather than filling out endless reports to Washington. Local language proficiency and local community interactions must be an integral part of the job. Indeed, diplomats should receive a significant extra monthly payment for language proficiency.

At the same time, a new Foreign Service officer (FSO) education program must dramatically expand the requirements for learning new doctrines and new capabilities. The Foreign Service of the future must have a clear vision of understanding the world and of how to best report back to the United States, while effectively and aggressively representing American values to the world. An appropriate training program would highlight the strategies the U.S. government is following both to make the United States safer and to increase security, health, prosperity, and freedom worldwide. This emphasis would help FSOs strengthen U.S. ties with populations around the globe.

Such an effort will require a Foreign Service that is at least 40 percent larger so that its personnel can take on career-enriching assignments outside of their traditional duties. It also requires the development of continuing education so FSOs can absorb new lessons about diplomacy and communication, learn new strategies and new skills, and continue to develop throughout their careers.

FSOs must learn to work in a new and integrated interagency system with accountability and transparency, such that U.S. military capabilities can be coordinated with civilian and nongovernmental U.S. activities overseas. In the age of mass communication and democratization, the doctrine of a 21st-century State Department must include a more aggressive and effective representation for the United States around the world. FSOs should master this doctrine and should be measured against it.

Finally, FSOs should take on a one-year assignment outside the State Department after their sixth year of service and a two-year tour outside the department after their 14th year of service. Officers with significant experience outside the State Department tend to display greater realism and sophistication compared to those who have rarely ventured beyond the department's closed culture.

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Members Only

For nearly half a century, the United Nations condemned prejudice in all its forms. It spoke out against racism, discrimination against women, and the abuse of migrant workers. But it wasn’t until 1994 that the U.N. Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) passed a resolution explicitly condemning anti-Semitism.

Ironically, even as the UNHRC was making (belated) history by condemning hatred of Jews, the delegation from the Jewish state could only watch from the sidelines. For more than 40 years, Israel has been the only U.N. member denied representation on the world body's most important agencies -- not just the UNHRC, but also the Security Council, the World Court, UNICEF, and the Economic and Social Council.

Israel's second-class (or, in this case, last-class) status is a byproduct of geography. In the early 1960s, as a growing number of nations joined the United Nations, the member states organized themselves into five regional groupings: Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Western Europe and Others Group (WEOG). Although not formally enshrined in the U.N. Charter, these regional blocs have become entrenched within the U.N. system, acting as de facto voting blocs and, more importantly, as forums for nominating member states to serve on U.N. agencies.

Geographically, Israel belongs in the Asia group. But, the Arab countries have repeatedly blackballed the Jewish state from joining. So, in 1993, Israel turned west and began lobbying for a place in WEOG, which includes Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Some European states -- Italy, Ireland, and Spain -- had reservations about accepting Israel into the Western democracy club. But U.S. pressure finally compelled weog to grant Israel temporary membership in 2000, subject to review every four years.

In 2003, a nomination from WEOG won Israel a vice chairmanship on the General Assembly Working Group on Disarmament -- the country's first committee assignment since 1961. Yet, other plum committees remain outside of Israel's diplomatic reach due to the conditions of its temporary membership. Israel can only participate in WEOG activities at the U.N. headquarters in New York, effectively shutting it out from bodies in Geneva that include the World Intellectual Property Organization and the International Labour Organization's Governing Body. Israel also agreed that its affiliation with WEOG would not upset the regional grouping's existing timetable for rotating membership in U.N. agencies. That means it will be more than a decade before Israel can be nominated for a seat on the Security Council. And weog won't have an opening for the Economic and Social Council, which coordinates the work of dozens of prominent U.N. agencies and commissions, until 2021.