Washington, Nov.15 : Current and former American diplomats see a new chance to advance American interests if Barack Obama, the nation's 44th president to be, keeps his promises to devote more resources to the diplomatic corps and foreign aid. In e-mails to The Washington Times, diplomats from four continents said goodwill toward the United States has increased dramatically since Obama's election and is already making a difference in their daily work.
John K. Naland, president of the American Foreign Service Association, the diplomats' union, said it was crucial to bolster the resources devoted to diplomacy to sustain the positive new feelings.
"The expectation of the Foreign Service is that President-elect Obama will follow through on his campaign pledges by asking Congress for additional funding for diplomacy and development assistance," Naland said.
"Those funds are needed because, without adequate numbers of properly resourced and well-trained diplomats and development professionals, no amount of personal diplomacy by the president, vice president or secretary of state will single-handedly restore our nation's role as the world's leader in global affairs."
During the campaign, Obama made a number of promises to boost diplomacy.
In March, he said he would "invest in our civilian capacity to operate alongside our troops in post-conflict zones and on humanitarian and stabilization missions. Instead of shuttering consulates in tough corners of the world, it's time to grow our Foreign Service and to expand [the U.S. Agency for International Development]."
The current shortages make it difficult for diplomats to take time off for training. At the same time, more training is necessary given the expanded duties assigned to diplomats in recent years, from nation building to lobbying for free trade, Naland said.