We don't hear much about ambassadors and other foreign service officers unless something goes wrong, as it did in Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen last week. Their job is to keep things going right, and we don't hear much about that. Embassies are the liason between the United States government and the host country's government, the people on the ground for rapid response.
Nicholas Kralev looks at the many things foreign service officers do and the risks they run.
Jon Lee Anderson observes that things are getting better in Somalia with a peaceful presidential transition and argues that it's time to put an embassy back in Mogadishu.
There are a couple of important points in those two articles: diplomats are most needed when things are difficult, and they can do their jobs only if they do them with a minimum of protection. Since 9/11, the physical isolation of US embassies with concrete barricades and razor wire has been counterproductive. The job of a diplomat is to interact with the citizens of the country to which she is assigned.