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American Ambassadors

A Guide for Aspiring Diplomats and Foreign Service Officers

Palgrave Macmillan

Authors:

  • Written by a former career diplomat with 28 years of experience in the State Department

  • Offers a practical guide to becoming an ambassador, including the nomination and confirmation process

  • Contrasts the approaches of the Biden and Trump administrations when selecting ambassadors

Buying options

eBook USD 24.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-83769-3
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book USD 34.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

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Table of contents (7 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xliii
  2. A Brief History of the Title

    • Dennis C. Jett
    Pages 1-30
  3. Becoming an Ambassador—The Political Route

    • Dennis C. Jett
    Pages 73-129
  4. The Last Steps—Clearance and Confirmation

    • Dennis C. Jett
    Pages 131-166
  5. What an Ambassador Does

    • Dennis C. Jett
    Pages 167-213
  6. Where Ambassadors Go

    • Dennis C. Jett
    Pages 215-255
  7. Why It Matters and How It Might Be Changed

    • Dennis C. Jett
    Pages 257-305
  8. Back Matter

    Pages 307-437

About this book

If you ever wondered who becomes an American ambassador and why, this is the book for you. It describes how Foreign Service officers become ambassadors by rising up through the ranks, and why they typically make up about 70 percent of the total number of ambassadors. It also covers where the other 30 percent come from—the political appointees who get the job because they helped elect the president by supporting him as a campaign contributor, a political ally, or a personal friend. It explains why, despite being illegal and a threat to national security, selling the title of ambassador remains a common practice that is also unique to the United States. It considers why some suggestions for reform are misguided, what might be done, and why who the president is matters so much in determining how well the United States will be represented abroad.

This updated and revised edition of Jett's classic book not only provides a timely overview of American ambassadorship for Foreign Service Officers, aspiring diplomats, and interested citizens, but also calls for much-needed reform, describing the dire implications of failing to change our ambassadorial appointments process for the future of American diplomatic practice and foreign policy.

Dennis C. Jett is Professor of International Affairs at Penn State University, USA. As a career diplomat, he served as Ambassador to Peru and Mozambique and in four other countries. He has a Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa.


Keywords

  • diplomacy
  • international affairs
  • American foreign policy
  • State Department
  • ambassadors
  • presidential appointees
  • career diplomats
  • Foreign Service
  • campaign contributions
  • abuse of power
  • corruption
  • American embassies
  • President Trump
  • Gordon Sondland
  • diplomatic history
  • Foreign Service Act of 1980
  • civil servants
  • diplomatic representation
  • hard power
  • soft power

Reviews

“Ambassador Dennis Jett offers an unvarnished and insightful analysis of why people are selected for the coveted position of ambassador and how they are evaluated once they take office.  His unsparing criticism of political appointees with no foreign policy background is valid, as is his call for the meritorious selection of Foreign Service Officers who are chosen for the job.  Ambassador Jett's knife-like critique is born out of his genuine concern for America's ability to support democracy, human rights, and open markets in an increasingly competitive world when a significant portion of American ambassadors lack the skills to do so.”

—    Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr. (Ret.) former Director General of the Foreign Service


“A book that sparkles in its candid explanations of how US ambassadors are chosen, perform, and should be chosen and perform as well as lucid and amusing commentary on current US foreign policy and practice.”

—Ambassador Dan Simpson (Ret.), Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


“A thought-provoking, important contribution to the study of diplomacy in general, and to the role of the American ambassador specifically.”

—Peter Van Buren, US Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.), author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People


“This book makes a compelling case that ambassadors who know little about the countries to which they are accredited, or the conduct of diplomacy, cannot represent the United States nearly as effectively as can the career professionals of the US Foreign Service.”

—Steven Alan Honley, editor, Foreign Service Journal (2001–2014)


“If you worry that the US risks losing its footing in the world, it is due in no small part to money corrupting the ambassadorial appointment process and political gridlock in Washington. This book should be a must-read for every member of Congress.”

—James Bruno, author and journalist


“This book will interest anyone who cares about America’s future in world affairs and enjoys an informative and provocative read.”

—Ambassador Kenneth L. Brown (Ret.), former president of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (2001-2014).

Authors and Affiliations

  • School of International Affairs, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, USA

    Dennis C. Jett

About the author

Dennis C. Jett is Professor of International Affairs at Penn State University, USA. As a career diplomat, he served as Ambassador to Peru and Mozambique and in four other countries. He has a Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa.

Bibliographic Information

Buying options

eBook USD 24.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-83769-3
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book USD 34.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)