Is diplomacy a real profession?

The U.S. government doesn’t always value diplomacy — especially in peacetime — as much as defense and intelligence, and it doesn’t invest sufficiently in the professional development of its diplomats, American Foreign Service Association President Susan Johnson says on this week’s episode of “Conversations with Nicholas Kralev.”

She also talks about why diplomacy should be viewed as a serious profession, and why political appointees at the State Department should be fewer than they currently are. In a self-criticism, she concedes that the department is “struggling how to explain to the American people the many things that American diplomats overseas do for the American citizen or for American business.”

“During and after major conflicts, we tend to appreciate diplomacy more, because we see the important role it plays both in preventing and resolving or dealing with conflicts,” Johnson says. “But then in times in which the United States finds itself to be a superpower in a unipolar world, diplomacy seemed perhaps less important.”

A member of the Senior Foreign Service, Johnson has served in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. She was elected president of the diplomats’ professional association in 2009.

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