Foreign Policy Blogs

America’s Diplomats: Film Review by Scott Bleiweis


The latest documentary in the Foreign Policy Association’s Great Decisions series is “America’s Diplomats.” It aims at shedding light on the vitally important but little understood role of diplomacy—representing the ideals and policies of the United States abroad.

While not easily definable, the actions and efforts of the US’ diplomatic corps—today, the State Department’s Foreign Service Officers—maintain U.S. relations with virtually every country on the planet.

As the documentary rightly points out, the dangerous situations in which diplomats are often placed only come to the forefront when something terrible happens. The storming of the U.S. embassy in Iran and the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi made national headlines.

Yet, every day diplomats put themselves in harms way and work tirelessly to advance American interests and strengthen ties between the U.S. and other governments as well as the local population—which is just as, if not more, important.

“America’s Diplomats” presents a brief history of American diplomacy, starting when the Continental Congress sent Benjamin Franklin to France in order to secure their support of the revolution. Major milestones of American diplomatic successes are presented, from negotiating the acquisition of the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon, to U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke’s efforts to establish peace in the Balkans, culminating in the 1995 Dayton Accords.

The film also discusses how U.S. diplomats have also taken on a larger role in developing American economic and trade presence abroad, as well as fostering cooperation on transnational issues such as protecting the environment.

Of particular interest is the coverage of how diplomacy today is changing, especially with regard to technology and the availability of instant communication. Imagine how the Cuban Missile Crisis might have unfolded differently in the era of constant and immediate communication. While diplomats are trying to adapt and utilize technology to provide better support, there seems to be more questions in this area than answers.

Hopefully “America’s Diplomats” will make more people aware of vital role diplomats play in “delivering” America to the rest of the world.

To get more information, please visit the America’s Diplomats website.




Scott Bleiweis

Scott Bleiweis writes on international relations topics for FPA. He has a M.A. in democracy studies and conflict resolution from the University of Denver, and a B.A. in Politics/International Studies from Brandeis University. Scott was formerly a Fulbright education scholar in Bulgaria (views in this blog are his own, and do not represent those of the Fulbright organization or U.S. government).

Scott supports Winston Churchill's characterization of the complex form of government known as democracy: “Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”