The job of a diplomat in the United States is extremely demanding as the stakes are always high. From Benjamin Franklin, who is considered the first diplomat of America, to the modern bureau of diplomatic security (DS), the professionals operating in this field are at the forefront of the events occurring in the international affairs arena. It was the diplomats who managed to establish peace after World War II, and it also was them when having to deal with the challenge of communism. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the role of diplomats in contributing to the welfare and security of the United States.
The historic contributions of American Diplomacy date back to the eighteenth century to the establishment of the Treaty with South Carolina between the Cherokee and the South Carolina Province. Throughout the development of the country, diplomats were placed in difficult situations that required immense expertise to ensure the improvement of affairs with potential partners and allies. For instance, in 1979, it became clear how exposed can diplomats can be in their work when fifty-two American citizens and diplomats were held hostage in Iran after the supporters of the Iranian Revolution, the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line, took over the US Embassy in Tehran. Even though the diplomats tried their best to negotiate a peaceful resolution, they were unsuccessful at doing so, and with minimum outside support, spent 444 days in hostage. The crisis had a tremendous impact on US relations with Iran, which led to further complications in discussing nuclear matters.
The high exposure of US diplomatic representatives is a historically important challenge since the welfare and security of the country depended on their work. However, as with the Iran hostage crisis, the events during the US mission in Benghazi, during which an ambassador to Libya and three other American nationals were killed, show that diplomats’ exposure makes them targets of international conflicts. The majority of diplomatic positions are usually not in Paris or Rome but rather in challenging countries, which takes a toll on the personal life of professionals working in the field. However, diplomats serve in order to take American ideals abroad and project international US interests abroad. In addition, due to the close encounters with other countries and gathering knowledge on their ideas and foreign policy trajectories, diplomats are capable of giving immeasurable advice regarding the direction in which US international affairs, which would set the course for the country. Therefore, during their work, American diplomacy plays a vital role in securing critical information systems, investigating fraud related to citizenship or visas, as well as fighting terrorism. Any of the diplomatic efforts and opportunities are targeted at exhausting all available options for establishing peace prior to turning to last-resort options. Therefore, while the military is developed to deter and wage war if necessary, the US diplomacy exists to implement peaceful means to advance the country’s interests as well as safeguard it in terms of national security.
Among the relatively recent diplomatic challenges is the need to promote the economic interests of the US worldwide. The diplomats have to be very active in negotiating the exports of the US in commercial business around the world, which is a highly competitive area in the global landscape. Although, it is essential because the future of the US in many ways depends on its economic strength. Therefore, the business role of US diplomats continues expanding due to the significant reliance of the country on its financial affairs. For instance, in Yemen, a former ambassador was trying to secure the ability of Washington state apple growers to import their produce into the country. In India, ambassadors had worked with the ministry of coal to persuade that US mining products, mainly equipment, were much safer and efficient and therefore, should be provided to workers.
Another critical challenge that should be mentioned is that the work of a diplomat is greatly misunderstood. While the military is praised for winning a battle, it is not easy to understand the battles that US diplomats have every day. Even though the foreign service does a lot for its country, it is sometimes hard to tell because the professionals are not in the US. There should be a higher level of advocacy for diplomats representing American interests overseas for establishing a shared sense of purpose and accomplishment.
To conclude, the work of a diplomat is challenging because the United States is involved in multiple affairs internationally and influences many countries with its foreign policy. Depending on the needs of the US government and the trajectory of the country, diplomats are involved in different areas of work, ranging from terrorism prevention to international trade negotiations. Although, due to their high exposure, diplomats can become targets of terrorist or radical organizations that pursue their goals not in a peaceful manner. There should be more recognition for the work of the DS office since their contributions often remain unnoticed by the public.