I'm (still) a US diplomat serving overseas. With recent events like the attack on a US diplomatic facility in Benghazi, the tragic death of FSO Anne Smedinghoff, and the new Secretary of State John F. Kerry, I'm hoping to answer any questions about the US Diplomatic Corps you might be wondering about. I did this last year and had a great time - feedback seemed positive as well.

Ask me almost anything - I won't comment on certain topics (my actual identity, specific details of when and where I have served (but I'm happy to discuss generalities), policy decisions, non-public information) but I will give honest answers about my profession.

My views are my own do not reflect the view of the Department of State or the US Government. To the potential critics, I assure you that I am doing this on my own time (not your taxpayer-funded hours) and on my personal computer.

For proof, here is a picture of my Diplomatic Passport in front of the NYT homepage just a few minutes ago. http://imgur.com/3B6hYys

Comments: 266 • Responses: 98  • Date: 

FSSthrowaway1 karma

I am currently on three different registers; one under DS and two under IRM. I have had differing reactions from people within State in regards to how FSOs and FSSs get along. How are specialists viewed by officers? I've heard specialists are basically looked down upon.

And to those that wish to apply, just know that it is a LONG process, and be prepared to wait, and wait, and wait.

anFso2 karma

There is some cultural divide, but honestly I think it's a complete waste of time to get hung up on it (for both sides). Both Generalists and Specialists are essential to the mission, period. Most FSOs and Specialists get along just fine, and acknowledge each other's skills and responsibilities in a courteous and professional manner.

Of course, there are those Specialists who are sore because they don't get Presidential commissions, and those generalists who look down on specialists because they think they aren't important. I just ignore them- that's not my Foreign Service.

[deleted]1 karma


anFso2 karma

Yes, lots of them. I think our living situation is almost universally better than the Peace Corps. Different mission, different circumstances.

[deleted]1 karma

What's the protocol for you in dangerous places like N.Korea/Afghanistan etc? If they start yelling about war, are you required to clear out immediately? Are the hostiles not supposed to attack you?

anFso4 karma

The Taliban doesn't exactly recognize noncombatant status. We're not in North Korea. Working in a war zone just means a lot of extra security.

hoo_doo_voodo_people1 karma

Hi, I understand you can't be specific but what is the best* anecdote you can get away with telling?


From your travels, what do you think is the most/least deserving stereotype of:

  • Americans(the people)

  • America(the country)

  • American culture

Are there any preconceived / stereotypical views held by Americans in general about the 'rest of the world' that you would change if you could?

How often are simple miss-translations the cause of serious misunderstandings, in diplomatic work in general?

What would three things would you change in the world and why?

Have you ever found a snake in the shower?

Have you ever really, really wished you'd stayed in bed that day?

Can I ask more questions?

(edit: formatting)

anFso5 karma

Hmm. I'd have to think about some good gossip.

  • Americans abroad fit the stereotypes. Loud, rude, and generally culturally insensitive. It's deserved.

  • Americans will be Americans. I wouldn't change anything.

  • Not very often.

  • Meh, not going to go there.

  • No snakes in the shower.

  • I've gotten chewed out a couple of times. Those were not great days.

  • Ask away.

Ivanthecow1 karma

Can you discuss what the spouses of fso go through? Do they live abroad or in the states? Are they allowed to live in some countries and not others? What kind of jobs can they get in other.countries?

anFso2 karma

They live abroad or sometimes in the States if the employee is doing an unaccompanied tour to a post where a family member isn't allowed to go due to security concerns. There are a variety of jobs available in embassies, although most skew towards the unskilled side (security escorts, office managers, etc).

nosemaster1 karma

What's the most illegal thing you've done in a foreign country and got away with it due to your diplomatic immunity?

anFso7 karma

I've answered plenty of questions on diplomatic immunity in previous comments. Unfortunately I am pretty straight-laced.

virgilturtle1 karma

All my questions have already been answered and answered well.

This is a great AMA, thank you for doing it.

anFso3 karma

Glad you got something out of it, you are very welcome!

ageagemorimori1 karma

What's your favorite salad dressing?

anFso2 karma

Balsamic Vinaigrette.

CassandraVindicated1 karma

Let's say I'm a lazy motherfucker who wants a cush job overseas. What country offers the best "little work to do" and "much to see/do socially" combinations. Which is the worst?

Along the same lines, which nation is the most prestigious (England?) and which is the most your-career-is-over posting.

anFso4 karma

In my experience there are plenty of FS people who manage to do very little work regardless of where they're posted.

The US Ambassador to the United Kingdom (or, for the pedants, the Court of St. James) is the most prestigious ambassadorship. There are plenty of spots to shuffle people whom the Department wants to forget about. Eritrea, Uganda, Equatorial Guinea, Mali... etc.

hclchicken1 karma

During the wikileaks scandal did you see your name in any of the cables? What was some of the backlash from the release?

anFso2 karma

I am not comfortable discussing Wikileaks, so forgive me for declining to answer your question.