American diplomacy has vastly changed over the past three decades, Robert F. Worth says in his recent New York Times magazine article. The increased emphasis on security for diplomats, he says, has changed the way we negotiate abroad. And the death of J. Christopher Stevens in Benghazi only highlights some of these changes.
From Worth's piece:
Lost in all this partisan wrangling was the fact that American diplomacy has already undergone vast changes in the past few decades and is now so heavily encumbered by fortresslike embassies, body armor and motorcades that it is almost unrecognizable. In 1985 there were about 150 security officers in U.S. embassies abroad, and now there are about 900. That does not include the military officers and advisers, whose presence in many embassies -- especially in the Middle East -- can change the atmosphere. Security has gone from a marginal concern to the very heart of American interactions with other countries.
The barriers are there for a reason: Stevens's death attests to that, as do those of Americans in Beirut, Baghdad and other violent places. But the reaction to the attack in Benghazi crystallized a sense among many diplomats that risks are less acceptable in Washington than they once were, that the mantra of "security" will only grow louder. As a result, some of the country's most distinguished former ambassadors are now asking anew what diplomacy can achieve at such a remove.
Worth, a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, will join The Daily Circuit Wednesday to discuss how American diplomacy has changed and what it means for the future.
Edward P. Djerejian, founding director of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, will also join the discussion.
"When I looked at security measures, if I was satisfied, I was always relatively satisfied," said Djerejian, a former ambassador to Syria and Israel, in The New York Times. "I used to tell my security guys, 'O.K., we built a 16-foot wall, but there is such a thing as a 17-foot ladder.' That is what we saw happen in Cairo."
VIDEO: Djerejian speaks to CNN on Gaza crisis