The architecture of diplomacy has changed from stunning and utilitarian to blast-resistant and aloof. But the paradox remains that US diplomats face serious threats and yet rely on access, interaction, and face-to-face dialogue in order to do their jobs.
Diplomacy is a dangerous profession. You cannot exert influence by whispering in diplomatic code to your government counterparts behind closed doors. You do not spread American values — especially in places where passions are high, governments fragile and guns plentiful — by remote control from Washington. You have to get out from behind the walls and engage with people. We know this can put us in harm’s way; our people in the Benghazi consulate knew it. And they did their jobs anyway.
That is because, hokey as it sounds, the people who represent us overseas really do believe they can make a difference. They confront violent behavior and strong passions with American leadership, smart power and peaceful means.
We must make that work safer.